How Did We Get Here? Part One

FEBRUARY 2 / Marilyn Milavsky


It is not a coincidence that we are in a convergence of crises right now.

Climate disruption, Economic disruption, Social disruption.

Social imbalances and ecological imbalances resulting from human activity have created the economic imbalances which will have long-term consequences.

In fact, we have created the perfect conditions for more viruses to erupt. Viruses that maintain a symbiotic relationship with animals are being released into the air, and become toxic and even deadly when transferred to humans.

According to Fritjof Capra, Professor at Schumacher College, and currently teaching at the University of California Berkeley along with other experts in the field of systemic thinking, we are becoming more aware that these are systemic problems which require systemic solutions. It is impossible to focus on one area without understanding the inter-relatedness of the other major issues that we are encountering.

The question is, “How do we learn to self-organize in ways that accommodate a much broader view
and understanding of the impact from our decisions when there are so many problems to face at the same time?”

This is a journey that begins with ourselves and requires us to examine how we relate to one another.

It requires a shift in perspective, and the recognition that there are many points of view to consider. We discover there are many understandings of ‘What does it means to be human? Can we embrace the notion that we have the capacity to widen and deepen a more expansive understanding of a situation without automatically passing judgement on someone else’s point of view? Self-reflection plays an important role in understanding how our own beliefs and biases may preclude us from finding a more appropriate way to relate, to behave, and to make good decisions.

I was recently in the UK at Schumacher College attending a course on regenerative economics. I learned that there are three Great Divides currently happening in the world today: the separation of Self from nature; the separation of Self from others; the separation of Self from Self. The separation of Self from Self relates to the separation of body, mind and spirit. These three elements make up ‘ourself’ however, they are more interrelated than we have historically been taught.

Until recently, students in medical schools have learned more about the function of the various organs in our body and our brain, and less about the interconnections these functions have and the effect each has on the other parts. In fact, we now know our bodies, mind and spirit can be considered one eco-system with every cell playing a role in what makes us ‘whole’. There is much to be said about how deeply-felt experiences also impact us physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

Once we realize how expansive our thinking can potentially be, we can then lay the ground work for re-imagining a positive future to benefit people and the planet. Well known MIT educator Otto Scharmer, author of the book, ‘Learning from an Emerging Future’, states that the future requires us to tap into a deeper level of our humanity by being able to sense, feel and actualize a future. To do so, we must shift the inner place from which we operate. He emphasizes that this is the most important undertaking of our time and that the divide between our ‘Self’ and our ‘Future Self’ represents one’s greatest potential.

I believe that a new way of thinking and being in the world where we collectively care more about others will lead us into a positive future. We have the capacity already to do this. We just need to believe that our actions matter and become the change we want, as Gandhi has so famously said. Our conversations with others in our communities can have a ripple effect and lead to positive collective action and a more cohesive society. Our efforts will co-inspire and co-create an emerging future that values the well-being of all.