How do we bring about the more just and compassionate society we long for in the New Year?
How do we remain centered, effective and positive in the presence of the many challenges we face?
How do we move towards a closer alignment with our values in all aspects of our lives?
How do we cultivate our personal resilience, kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity?
These are the questions I am pondering at the beginning of this year as I contemplate the best way to be an effective participant in the Great Turning – the shift in society and all its institutions necessary to bring about a socially just, environmentally sounds and spiritually fulfilling human presence on planet Earth.
I recognize that some might question the need for such a broad context for Essential Knowledge for Transition – a series of talks and resources on the money and banking system, the economic system and the financial system and healthier alternatives thereof. Yet, after presenting this material on 35 occasions to communities of engaged citizens in 2013 I realized that acquiring an understanding of those systems can be emotionally challenging and that such knowledge can only be transformed into social change if at the same time we engage in a personal transformation.
Maybe the theme for 2014 could be integration referring to both the need to integrate the work of personal and societal transformation and also the need to integrate our personal spiritual and moral values with all aspects of our life, including the economic, investing and livelihood choices we make.
The fact that Pope Francis has been speaking about economics (see quote below) indicates to me that the time has come for such integration.
In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which becomes the only rule (Pope Francis)
The concept of integration also relates to the need to understand our existential interconnectedness, what Thich Nhat Hanh calls it our interbeing with all members of society and the natural world.
This recent TED talk, which was never published on the TED website because considered too controversial, presents such interconnected view of our economy and leads Nick Hanauer – a multi-millionaire, to call for higher taxes on the rich for the benefit of all.
Professor Richard Wolff in the first 10′ of his recent Economic Update also highlights the importance of an integrated understanding of our economic system.
Let’s take inspiration for our engagement with the world from these words by Albert Einstein:
A human being is part of the whole – the universe. We experience thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of love and compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.