As a fundamental part of creation, change is never negotiable. If you live in this Universe, it just happens. Think about it. Without change, our Universe would not exist. There would be no evolution; no novelty; no life. When it comes to change, there are always two important questions. Are you paying attention to the changes that are coming, and have you prepared for the day they arrive.
On second thought, I guess we actually have two more choices when confronted with change. We can openly accept the reality of change and actively prepare for its arrival, or we can attempt to deny and resist it by sticking our head in the sand. Given that change is inevitable, passively waiting for it to take over control of our lives will only create pain and suffering. The denial of change almost always creates a sense of powerlessness in our lives. Better to meet it head on.
In either case, whether we accept the reality of change, or resist it… critical change “is” coming. And regardless of how we choose to respond, it’s coming a lot sooner than most believe.
Three Big Changes Are Coming: How Each Will Impact You And Me
I believe the first critical change that’s coming will happen in our global economic system. It needs to be replaced. It is a badly dysfunctional system based on two fundamentally flawed and dangerous illusions…
a) the illusion that exponential growth; whether unlimited economic growth, unlimited growth in human population, unlimited endless resource depletion, or unlimited growth in wealth and wealth inequality, is possible on a finite and fragile world... it’s not. And
b) the childhood illusion that humanity is separate from the rest of creation. We are not.
Our planet, our global economic system, and our human civilization are all intimately interconnected and interdependent. If we continue to destroy our world and its life support system through the unlimited, exponential consumption of our planet’s limited resources, our future as a species will be limited to only a few more generations. 97% of all climate scientists are telling us that we are destroying our planetary life support system. What they fail to tell us is the simple fact that human civilization as we know it will end long before the last human dies.
We know from our study of nature that a mature, healthy, sustainable ecosystem, produces no waste. All byproducts are in some way useful to other living systems in the ecosystem. In fact, there is no concept called waste in nature. No “holon” or “part” of a healthy ecosystem benefits at the expense of other “holons” or “parts” of the system. The self-interest of the parts is always in balance with the interests of the larger “holon” or “whole” they are part of. Unfortunately, our human global economic system, as currently structured, is far too narcissistically self-focused. It is an unsustainable economic system in which everything is considered a resource or commodity to be exploited in the never-ending pursuit of profit and greed. The waste produced is sent to landfills where it will take thousands of years to recycle. Some of the waste will never decompose.
It is becoming increasingly obvious. Without a radical change in our current greed based economic system, humanity and many of our planet’s living species will almost certainly not survive. In the words of Thomas Berry… “We are talking only to ourselves. We are not talking to the rivers. We are not listening to the wind and the climate. Most of the disasters that are happening now are consequences of that spiritual autism.”
Bottom Line: The future cannot resemble the past. Whether “sustainably” deconstructed, or violently deconstructed through a collapse of the human civilization that supports it, our current economic system will end soon. The illusion of unlimited economic expansion, and the rapidly growing inequality of wealth have already brought our global economic system to the early stages of collapse.
The vast global inequality of wealth already controlled by the Western World has resulted in a large majority of humans on our planet living under the burden of overwhelming hunger and poverty… and human population is estimated to grow from 7 billion to over 10 billion by mid-century! Given that Americans represent only about 6% of the world’s population, there is simply no way our planet can realistically offer the other 94% of people alive today the levels of wealth and consumption of natural resources currently enjoyed by Americans. And even in America, an estimated 50% of all of its people are struggling with hunger and poverty. There is a dangerous reality that the world is trying to ignore. Hungry people get angry. Powerless people get angry. People without hope get angry. People who live in poverty get angry. Displaced people get angry. In every nation on the planet, including our own, we are already witnessing a rapidly growing anger and violence created by hunger, poverty, and the lack of hope for a better future.
It’s an obvious global reality we are attempting to ignore… at our peril.
Our system of global capitalism needs to change… and soon. We need to replace it while there is still time for humanity to “sustainably” deconstruct it. Unfortunately, the world is attempting to ignore the issue. As I will talk about below, the laws of nature are clear. Living systems survive only when they embrace the concept of shared resources and mutual benefit. Stated differently, the resources of our planet need to be shared equally between all of Earth’s living systems… soon.
The second critical change will happen when we end our dependence on gas and petroleum. Our current use of carbon-based energy sources are warming our planet to increasingly dangerous temperatures. Carbon can no longer be the energy source that powers our world or our global economic system. Gaia’s negative feedback systems are already groaning under the burden of global warming. She has already begun to increase the intensification of her storms in an attempt to reestablish balance in her life support systems. Until we end our dependence on carbon emitting energy sources, the global climate changes and storm intensification we are witnessing will continue to grow.
Petroleum created our modern human civilization, but there are growing signs that the oil industry is in the process of being fundamentally transformed. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the age of oil is coming to an end. The journey toward the end of a petroleum fueled world is beginning. In fact, it’s estimated that peak global oil demand could be reached by 2020.
Fortunately, there is a growing global awareness in our collective human consciousness that carbon needs to remain in the ground. Governments around the world are beginning to invest increasing amounts of money in wind and solar energy sources, and other non-carbon fuel sources.
Bottom line: Change is coming. As we replace our dependence on petroleum (a good thing), we will see significant political and economic fallout (a bad thing) as the nations and multi-national corporations that depend on oil for their survival begin to struggle with decreasing financial resources and economic instability. This of course will translate into more angry people around the world.
The sustainable deconstruction of our petroleum based human culture, and the sustainable deconstruction of our current global economic system are not going to come without conflict and suffering. Ultimately, I suspect that these two transformations, and the changes in human culture they will set in motion, are going to challenge the creativity of humanity more than any other events in human history. But when we look back on this transformation someday, I believe we will see these two changes as the most important drivers of growth in human consciousness humanity has every witnessed. I believe they will create a new and exciting era in human culture… in the words of Barbara Marx Hubbard, “an era of universal humanity.”
The two changes above will create the third critical change. Humanity will learn to embrace the laws of nature and learns to live in a right relationship with nature. Like the two changes above, this shift in consciousness will not be optional. As I pointed out above, biology is teaching us that nature is based primarily on cooperation, and a mutual benefit sharing of our planet’s resources, between all of our planet’s living systems… not a survival of the fittest as previously believed.
A way to understand the concept of “right relationship with nature” is to consider the trillions of cells in the human body. Every cell supports the health and well-being of the entire human body and all of its organs. And every organ in the body supports the health and well-being of all of the body’s cells. No one organ or living system within the body withholds or dominates the resources of the body at the expense of other parts of the body. For example, the heart does not withhold the blood and sell it to the highest bidder in the body. The human body is an interconnected matrix. This concept of shared resources used by all of nature, and all of the living biological systems on Earth, is called “mutual benefit.”
Thomas Berry defined the words “mutual benefit” in this way… “Since we receive sustaining life through Mother Earth, our choices need to be for the good of all with whom we share this planet. We are to fit into the whole interconnected matrix.”
Human civilization needs to learn how to embrace this concept… not just with other humans, but with all of Earth’s living systems… systems that we are entirely dependent on for our own survival! This will require a mandatory redistribution of the planet’s wealth and resources. There are going to be a lot of folks who will be upset and angry. Mutual benefit represents a radical shift in worldview… and worldviews do not go peacefully into the night.
Unfortunately, we are not currently embracing the wisdom of Gaia or Thomas Berry. We are creating an angry world. We are not eradicating extreme poverty, wealth inequality, global carbon pollution, or creating a sustainable global economy. The majority of humanity alive on our planet today are still trapped in the greed and self-focused illusions of separateness adopted by our collective primitive ego in early childhood.
Bottom Line: Nature writes the laws, and we need to listen when she talks to us through “the wind and the climate changes” that are happening. We are an integral part of the living systems matrix of life on Earth. We are not a species separate from the rest of creation. We are not giving back to the other living systems so-as-to support their health and well-being. We are using the resources of our planet for our own self-interests and creating wastes that no other living systems can utilize as food or sources of energy.
We are currently a self-focused adolescent species irresponsibly exploiting the resources of our planet for our own benefit. We are creating our wealth at the expense, suffering, and death of other people and other life forms that share this planet with us. We are in the process of destroying our environment at the peril of future generations. We have lost our ethical and moral grounding as a species. We no longer have the ability to embrace the natural world as a “thou” relationship. We have turned the world and nature into an object; an “it”.
We need to mature and awaken the collective consciousness of our species. We need to evolve beyond our current self-focused adolescence and embrace a more awakened and spiritually enlightened global human consciousness. And nature is clearly getting impatient with our lack of progress.
I believe the changes I’ve listed above are coming. They have to. We are destroying our planets life support system. We are creating far too much violence, suffering, and anger. Nature will survive without the human species, but the human species, and especially human civilization, will not survive unless nature’s life support system are healthy and stable. Stated simply, nature “will” win… not humanity.
In the words of Wendell Berry… “Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.”
We are being challenged to move beyond our current self-focused adolescent narcissism and begin to embrace a more mature, evolved, and awakened adult consciousness. If we fail “to listen to the wind and the climate” our future survival as a species is going to be very problematic.
We are on a path that is unsustainable. We need to embrace the changes that are coming. They will be painful, but I am convinced they are the path to a viable future. We need to embrace them and work together to find solutions to the challenges they will introduce.
I do not believe we have a choice in the matter. We are rapidly heading toward climate destabilization, the collapse of human civilization as we know it, and perhaps even the end of our human species. We need to awaken our collective human consciousness to the simple but profound reality that we are an interdependent part of the living matrix on this planet and totally dependent on it’s health and well-being… and Nature is telling us that we are running out of time to get in a right relationship with her and the other living systems on this planet.
My hope for all of us is that we can awaken our collective human consciousness from the reality distorting beliefs and dangerous adolescent illusions of our childhood primitive ego in time to reverse the course we’ve been on for the last few centuries. On the hopeful side, I see signs that humanity is beginning to awaken its collective consciousness and evolve spiritually. On the less hopeful side, we need to accelerate the rate at which we are working to embrace the three changes I’ve listed above. We need to do more. And we need to do it now. We are rapidly running out of time.
If we fail to awaken and respond quickly, I am convinced Nature will win the struggle we are currently having with her. In fact, you can pretty much count on it. As Wendell Berry reminds us… “she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do”… and Nature is clearly getting impatient with our lack of progress.
In the meantime, the changes we talked about above are coming…