Untitled, by Gregory Orr

“This is what was bequeathed us:
This earth the beloved left
And, leaving,
Left to us.

No other world
But this one:
Willows and the river
And the factory
With its black smokestacks.

No other shore, only this bank
On which the living gather.

No meaning but what we find here.
No purpose but what we make.

That, and the beloved’s clear instructions:
Turn me into song; sing me awake.”

WHY WE ARE

Every day we see more evidence of a profound disconnection

between what is happening in our everyday lives and what is happening to our ecosystem and global community. Complex and interconnected global threats such as climate change, ecosystem collapse, economic and social injustice and global conflict are growing.  These problems are screaming for comprehensive interventions, yet they are either being denied, ignored or addressed piecemeal.

 

It’s past time for us to bring our collective genius, resources and experience together and go “all-in” on addressing them.

Despite these threats, we continue to operate from a business-as-usual mentality, working in silos towards our personal goals, sleepwalking into the Apocalypse.

It’s time we start a new conversation, with inquiry:

Why are we not working together to minimize or avert the ruin of our home, food supply, energy resources, and planet?  

Why are we not seeing these challenges and mobilizing all of our resources toward addressing them collectively?

Why are we continuing to exploit and extract resources and nutrients from our planet without replenishing them?

Why are we curious and wise enough to rigorously investigate and learn the workings of the human body and natural ecosystems like forests, but seemingly not interested in rigorously investigating systems of human behavior? 

For example, when we see a tree growing crookedly, we don’t judge or label it; we inquire into the cause, such as seeking light. Yet, we constantly blame and label each other as greedy or ignorant, selfish or evil instead of looking at the underlying conditions that cause these behaviors to emerge. We are Nature and we are governed by its laws.

How can we break out of the only way we know how to be, discover and embrace our interdependence, become raw, trusting and caring with each other so that we can find our capacity to live in balance with each other and Mother Earth?

Evolutionary biology, neuroscience, psychology and sociology explain why we are trapped in the status quo.

We have evolved three nearly-intractable systems that keep us from working together:

Our Nervous System

We are wired for survival, to protect ‘ME’ and my DNA (“brand”, family, religion, etc). Our brains are designed to conserve energy, locking us into automatic and unconscious habits. We are wired to fear our differences. We naturally avoid fear, pain and discomfort.

Our Psycho-Social System

Our egos develop beliefs and identities, to which they become attached, and our egos resist change. We can’t show weakness; we need to be “in the know.” Even though we are surrounded by people, we feel alone; we learn that we have to fend for ourselves (“I’m on my own”). 

Our Social-Reward System

Like many mammals, our survival depends on being accepted by the pack. Most people conform to our society’s values – looking good, accumulating wealth and material goods, and seeking accolades. These extrinsic values dominate our lives. Stepping out of the pack, choosing our own path, often comes at a great social cost, which stifles our internal moral compasses.

Living in balance as one of the species in Nature’s web of life will require us to transcend these hard-wired systems responsible for maintaining status quo.

To do this we must:

1

PAUSE and reflect on how these three systems are keeping us on a collision course.

2

Recognize that we are ONE human family living on this ONE planet; we CAN take care of each other and our home. We CAN challenge ourselves to choose to shift our values and priorities, to break our deeply ingrained, comfortable habits that numb us to our shared predicament.

3

Because we are social beings, we can only evolve through interacting. Although the neurological, psychological and social  systems that keep us self-serving, fearful and disconnected seem nearly intractable, we can dramatically shift them by immersing ourselves in safe and supportive social environments, governed by life-expanding values and healthy reward systems.

WE NEED TO COME TOGETHER!

We are an integral part of the fabric of our ecosystem, and we can’t continue to exploit it as if our planet and its resources are infinite.

Our pursuit of material wealth is responsible for the exploitation of our planet, and has little to do with what’s truly important to us. Relationships are what we really care about; who we touch and what contributions we make in people’s hearts and minds. People on their deathbeds do not regret not buying that expensive watch or those shoes; they wish they had spent more time with their families and friends.  

 

So many of us are afflicted with feelings of insecurity – not feeling worthy or good enough; we pursue material worth and accolades to squelch these feelings. These are mere distractions! We don’t need any of these things, we have each other. We are ENOUGH!

WE NEED TO COME TOGETHER!

We are an integral part of the fabric of our ecosystem, and we can’t continue to exploit it as if our planet and its resources are infinite.

Our pursuit of material wealth is responsible for the exploitation of our planet, and has little to do with what’s truly important to us. Relationships are what we really care about; who we touch and what contributions we make in people’s hearts and minds. People on their deathbeds do not regret not buying that expensive watch or those shoes; they wish they had spent more time with their families and friends.  

 

So many of us are afflicted with feelings of insecurity – not feeling worthy or good enough; we pursue material worth and accolades to squelch these feelings. These are mere distractions! We don’t need any of these things, we have each other. We are ENOUGH!

We must get out of the boxes and labels that define and limit us. We are being confronted with a very difficult life situation that requires us to mobilize with our full strength, but we don’t know how to do this; we don’t have the tools.

We need to be able to see the triggers that cause us to run away from each other, in love and in work relationships.

We are dependent on each other, yet we don’t trust those relationships.

We don’t have tolerance for staying in the fire, to trust that we can work it out and learn together.

We must get out of the boxes and labels that define and limit us. We are being confronted with a very difficult life situation that requires us to mobilize with our full strength, but we don’t know how to do this; we don’t have the tools.

We need to be able to see the triggers that cause us to run away from each other, in love and in work relationships.

We are dependent on each other, yet we don’t trust those relationships.

We don’t have tolerance for staying in the fire, to trust that we can work it out and learn together.

We must get out of the boxes and labels that define and limit us. We are being confronted with a very difficult life situation that requires us to mobilize with our full strength, but we don’t know how to do this; we don’t have the tools.

We need to be able to see the triggers that cause us to run away from each other, in love and in work relationships.

We are dependent on each other, yet we don’t trust those relationships.

We don’t have tolerance for staying in the fire, to trust that we can work it out and learn together.

This moment is asking for a different quality of humanity, to listen deeply and emerge and evolve through trial and error.

We will need to intercept our conditioned behaviors and create whole new ways of being and relating to one another.

We need to enable each other to find within ourselves the direction and strength to mobilize us to meet this moment’s evolutionary challenge.

This moment is asking for a different quality of humanity, to listen deeply and emerge and evolve through trial and error.

We will need to intercept our conditioned behaviors and create whole new ways of being and relating to one another.

We need to enable each other to find within ourselves the direction and strength to mobilize us to meet this moment’s evolutionary challenge.

THIS IS NOT GOING TO BE EASY!

It requires us to stretch beyond our comfort zones and courageously confront deep survival fears.

It’s not something we are wired to do. We can’t do it alone because our habitual behaviors are invisible to us and are socially rewarded.

We need each other’s support – to reflect our blind spots and hold us accountable to act from our shared purpose. The more quickly we fail, the faster we can achieve and design a new system of relationship between people.

THIS IS NOT GOING TO BE EASY!

It requires us to stretch beyond our comfort zones and courageously confront deep survival fears.

It’s not something we are wired to do. We can’t do it alone because our habitual behaviors are invisible to us and are socially rewarded.

We need each other’s support – to reflect our blind spots and hold us accountable to act from our shared purpose. The more quickly we fail, the faster we can achieve and design a new system of relationship between people.

THIS IS NOT GOING TO BE EASY!

It requires us to stretch beyond our comfort zones and courageously confront deep survival fears.

It’s not something we are wired to do. We can’t do it alone because our habitual behaviors are invisible to us and are socially rewarded.

We need each other’s support – to reflect our blind spots and hold us accountable to act from our shared purpose. The more quickly we fail, the faster we can achieve and design a new system of relationship between people.

WE CAN DO THIS.

By designing and immersing ourselves in environments that will radically and simultaneously challenge all three systems – neurological, psychological, social – and evolve solutions from within that environment.

We are part of the Sacred.

It’s our mandate to come together in Integrated Cooperation. Only in this way can we bring about a truly cooperative and interdependent Human Nature.  

WE CAN DO THIS.

By designing and immersing ourselves in environments that will radically and simultaneously challenge all three systems – neurological, psychological, social – and evolve solutions from within that environment.

We are part of the Sacred.

It’s our mandate to come together in Integrated Cooperation. Only in this way can we bring about a truly cooperative and interdependent Human Nature.