There has been predictable upset in response to the government’s spending review. No-one expected that cuts would be popular or that students would relish paying more for education.
In the words of a famous prayer, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.” The coalition is challenging us to engage with a fundamental shift. The cuts will clearly create a vacuum in many areas of society. What has to happen for the gaps to be filled? Who do we have to be to make a contribution? What would be a constructive role for second-tier approaches?
The I and the We
One aspect that we need to be alert to arises from the interest many of us have in areas like “conscious evolution” and “evolutionary enlightenment”. Typically we have come towards Integral and SDi because of an interest in personal expansion, in the collective shift of human consciousness, or both. This is a very powerful and natural development which arises from our human connectedness, our desire to know ourselves and each other, and our connection through human spirit. It has strong roots in Green, taking off the Orange matter-oriented perceptual framework and embracing one another.
For many of us, this also connects into the Turquoise Values system, where human connectedness forms a part of our holistic view of the world and our relationship with the Divine. Turquoise moves further away from scientific materialism, adding the non-ordinary reality of intuitive connection, entering into our engagement with the Akashic field and exloring post-modern shamanism.
This is exciting territory and is a strong piece of the impulse that takes us into second tier, but it contains two major risks that I want to talk about because they affect how we look at both Money and Big Society. Potentially both risks could undermine the global shift by creating a disfunctional and unbalanced form of second tier thinking.
So listen up folks! The shift I have just described moved through the Orange-Green transition and then leapt into Turquoise, often with a mixture of real and aspirational Values. Many of us are naturally inclined to make our up-spiral journey with a preference for the cool colours – the “We /us/ our” parts of the spectrum. In the Green phase, this may overbalance into disapproval of the Orange system or into personal failure to maintain financial stability. But even if we avoid these pitfalls, what happens next? The next stage is Yellow, right? What are we doing with Yellow?
Yellow is the stage at which we must ensure that we have all of the first-tier stack in a healthy balance. On its way, humanity has grown to almost 7 billion. Many live in huge cities which are unsustainable without technology. Billions are dependent on a network of complex global resource relationships based in money, raw materials circulation, manufacture of goods and non-indigenous foods like chocolate, bananas and coffee, some close to addiction-levels. For some the expression “I like chocolate” has the same weight as “I like to breathe”.
Most of our current difficulties arise in the fragile or broken balancing systems which we all depend on. Crisis-ridden economics, climatic instability, distorted guttony-famine food distribution, tattered ecological webs, sweat-shop production and political / religious tensions. All of these are embedded in Values-based conflicts, whether Afghan Red warlords, Blue Iranian Ayatollahs, toxic Orange global finance and mega-corporations or unresourcable Green social care systems.
The leadership task is presumably to avoid collapse. Looked at from the planet’s point of view, it might be hard to be certain whether humanity is an evolutionary step forward. Species come and species go; does Gaia mourn the dinosaurs? From her point of view It is at least arguable that the best next step in evolution is a massive cull of our species. Perhaps just 1 or 2 billion would be sustainable. Hands up! Are you voting for this? Are you happy that the 6 in 7 to die will include your friends, your children or you personally? Have you reached non-attachment to life itself?
Let’s assume that like me, you haven’t. And let’s also recognise that it takes a scaled-up world to produce big industries. Many of the products we value cannot be produced by localised ecnomies. We need copper mines to produce the winding-wire for wind generators. We need complex chemical and electronics production to manufacture solar cells. The oil industry doesn’t just run cars, it makes polytunnels. Do you know which pieces of this big picture we can do without. Are you ready to become a smallholding farmer?
Managing this complex web of relationships, whether logistical, technical, political, economic, social or ecological is the primary task as we emerge from first tier. We cannot manage this complexity without a new economic system*. We cannot bring large corporations into balanced decision-making and functionality using Blue-Orange leadership approaches. These are practical problems demanding practical intelligence.
Yellow is the second-tier survival Values system – the revisit of Beige. It is about our collective ability to feed 7 billion people and to preserve the habitat of our species. It is not about the survival of the planet. Cockroaches, mole rats, seaweed, bacteria, trees and insects can all outlive us. It’s about us.
The two major risks I can see manifesting now are ones which afflict the very people who should be the most aware, most capable of making a contribution to the change, and both arise in our transition from Green through Yellow into Turquoise.
Risk 1. Some people would like to ignore Yellow. They may be following an Upper Left pathway, developing their consciousness and seeking personal enlightenment. There is nothing wrong with that in itself. Like everything, it’s a question of balance. If we get too stuck in our own wounds, shadow-work and personal issues, we can become narcissistic stuff-junkies. Imagining that this is the gateway to the Turquoise holy temple, we actually fail to make it out of first tier. We know everything that there is to know about Orange prosperity affirmations, everything that our parents did that damaged our inner Red and Purple. Our visualisation maps are filled with tropical beaches, perfect houses and soul-mates who will give to us without pause (expecting nothing). Not you or me of course, but other people we know, supported by a huge industry of help-yourself gurus in a Green-tinted Ponzi scheme.
Those of us who have narrowly avoided or emerged from this swamp may take another Yellow-avoidance route. Becoming throughly versed in the mechanisms of consciousness, we know that the world changes as it changes. Rather than being stuck in Upper Left, we imagine that collective consciousness in Lower Left quadrant will get us to the temple. There’s no need to actually do anything in the external world. As long as we get ourselves clear, and join in the global meditations we can assure the world’s future by making shifts on the non-material plane. We don’t have to concern ourselves with how the changes happen because the Universe will do this. Everything will happen in the quantum realms of the Divine. Once again, this approach is not wrong in itself – it contains a portion of the truth. Conscious evolution is a piece of the puzzle, and it deserves our attention; but on its own it’s a dangerous fantasy. Part of the response from a conscious universe takes place through OUR action. My favourite quote of all is the Islamic “Trust in Allah, but first tether thy camel”. In the unbalanced state, there are neither camels, tethers or stakes. It’s a fantasy world for bliss-ninnies, a paradise where we can enjoy the effortlessly virtuous contribution we make in the comfort and privacy of our own heads .
Yellow and Turquoise come as a pair. If we skip Yellow we are inclined to miss out the two Right quadrants altogether, arriving at the borders of Turquoise without suitcase or passport. Rather than being in the world but not of it, we will be neither of nor in it. We could imagine that we have throughly transcended our material nature, a perspective which is likely to draw some harsh earthly lessons. I am reminded of the aide who said that “it cost millions to keep Gandhi in poverty”. I suspect that Gandhi was well aware of this; it is the world’s perceptions that were being adjusted.
Which brings me to Risk 2, which is a repeat in second tier of the arrogance that has caused humans to think themselves masters of the planet. There is a strand of thinking totally focused on HUMAN conscious emergence. As supposedly the only species which demonstrates self-awareness, we are truly special. We are the pinnacle of evolving consciousness. If we get ourselves clear all problems will be solved. WE will know what to do.
If you don’t do Turquoise, don’t accept the existence of a holistic reality, of a connected non-material world, of a modern shamanism (Jean Houston) and of mystics without monasteries (Caroline Myss) then skip this paragraph and the next**. If you do accept it then it should be evident to you that many parts of the natural world also have a spiritual component. We are not the only creatures with spirit within and we are also not the only parts of the spirit world that know who we are.
Nature itself is made up of millions of forms of intelligence that work together to manifest the material world – from the devas and nature spirits of the worms, insects and plant life. These intelligences know how to co-create, responding to the blueprint provided by the universe of natural consciousness that surrounds them***. They did it before humanity existed and will continue after we have gone – which we will be if we attempt to create a new world which is as ignorant of and disconnected from them as the first-tier one has been. We are not the only form of self-awareness and it an extreme arrogance to imagine that we can evolve our consciousness in separation from theirs. And since they are among our greatest and most powerful potential allies it would also be stupid. They are our key to the world of the right quadrants because they make our natural systems work.
So what is it that we have to do? Are we, the consciously evolving and integrally aware to be leaders or bystanders in the transition? Will we raise our voices in shaping the new reality? I see these issues with our money systems and our social structures as the test beds for brilliant theories like SD and Integral, the opportunities to put our integral consciousness to practical work and to show that we have understood what Jean Houston means by Social Artistry.
Exteriors: Money and Big Society
In September, I wrote about the Values system shifts visible within these changes, about how the fragility of the Orange system undermines the funding base for our Green impulses, and how that Green system has been delivered from a Blue process-oriented, centralised and bureaucratic mindset. This is how I described the need for us to achieve a second-tier approach to these issues:- “The next stage, which SDi labels YELLOW, is characterised by the need for flexible, responsive structures and processes and by the requirement to hold all six preceding stages in a healthy overall balance. That is a complex task. Because each stage has been bigger than the previous, the time of transition coincides with a very complex and interwoven world, one in which change is increasingly rapid. The “Big Society”, with its stated ambition to deliver power and influence back into localities and communities has the potential to facilitate the increased flexibility and responsiveness to local conditions that we will need. The core problem is that very few people know how to engineer such a change”.
More recently I have described issues with money system. Similar challenges are present there. I put the problem in personal terms, saying:- “It’s not about money, it’s about Values. What is important to you? Do you want to put the Money first? Do you want to put Care first? Do you think that if the taxes were lower and the economy stronger Care would occur automatically? What will be important to the people of this country as the value of our income and our assets slide inexorably during the years to come? Will the Nation be willing to spend one hour less in front of the TV, in order to do something for a neighbour? Can we cope if the iphone becomes a luxury and not a necessity?”
I bring these two extracts together because they illustrate the change we are dealing with. Britain is being called to move from a consumer-oriented culture which has relied on the State for many of its societal needs, to a care-oriented culture in which people are able to balance their material aspirations with their collective human needs. This is equivalent in scale to the 1939 shift from peacetime to wartime thinking, but without the blatant external pressure which ensured a constructive response, and delivered into a more individualistic culture with less allegiance to order.
This huge shift will not happen by itself. Public sector organisations are not equipped with the skills and understanding that will be needed. The corporate sector generally still lacks the societal awareness or the systemic complexity to embrace the new agenda easily. The established third sector is over-stretched, and much of it lacks the managerial skills (or the regulatory permission) to expand its capacity and to shift from process-oriented compliance with standards into outcome-focused and locally responsive service delivery. Community impulses will need significant support if they are to create forms which are not stuck in old-style mini- bureaucracies, distorted by personal fiefdoms or paralysed by indecisive consensual direction-finding. “Dad’s Army” is not what’s needed.
If my prediction of worsening economic conditions is even half-way right, we will be trying to make this shift during a time of increased survival fears which will push us down-spiral. Some of these responses may be healthy; we may see a re-emergence of duty to contain the me-first Red and Orange impulses and a stimulus to community care activities. Some may not. Such times provide fertile soil for the growth of demagogues, for scapegoating of minorities. Some Blue zealots will think that a police state is the answer and some Red warlords will seek to usurp the power that this offers. Just as WWII brought a banding together, it also brought black markets and corruption. Our widespread surveillance capability could equally easily be used to support a police state or to restrict criminality. What determines the outcome?
One answer is that fear will be greater if our leaders (at all levels) are not prepared for such scenarios. There will need to be some very well-thought and well-crafted messages, channelling each values system into healthful responses. But messages will be mere propaganda and dismissed as such, without a parallel stream of action which moves rapidly and radically, first to maintain as much of normal life as possible and second to begin delivering the new world at speed. It will be these actions which inhibit a collective down-spiral response. It has been encouraging in this regard to see how fast the coalition are able to operate and to hear that there are some complex thinkers among them (take a look, for example at Francis Maude’s presentation on www.thersa.org). But they will need an unprecedented level of responsible support from news media, and to make expert use of the social technology channels.
The Centre for Human Emergence has expertise in the kinds of organisational structure, leadership thinking and cultural awareness that these new times will need at every level****. It will need many like us to provide support with training, consultancy and direct assistance. This will not be a time for faint-heartedness and neither is it a time for being stuck in our individual upper-left quadrant self-doubt. We will need the self-esteem to recognise that we are at least partially-sighted kings in a land full of blindness. We will need to employ our tolerance and humility to listen and learn, but not to hand over power to those who merely spout old dogmas. We will need our balance of heart, soul and wisdom, both in making today’s decisions and in the flexibility to change them in response to tomorrow’s events. We will need to challenge our level of enlightenment in the mirror of real-world engagement.
For sure, we will need to be adept at presencing, at sensing what to do next, at being light on our feet, focussing on today’s problems and the most pressing solutions. At the same time we will need to see the whole picture, to embrace action in many directions at once. We will have to maintain our strong focus on our own chosen tasks while keeping a sharp peripheral vision in order to mesh with the tasks of others, thinking collectively, acting individually. This calls for new systems that provide connectivity between the hundreds of worthy causes. When we see something that needs doing, don’t start a new movement; find out who is already doing it and join in. It’s up to us to join the dots, provide the string that weaves the mesh.
This will be a world in which enlightened is as enlightened does. We need to see the change that is coming, be the change that we wish to see in the world and do the change that the world needs done.
Many are called. Who will stand up?
* To find out about the characteristics of the new money system, download “Future Money” from www.spiralworld.net . Go on, you’re worth it.
** If you don’t think that the holisitic perspective is real then you are trapped in a matter-oriented worldview and need to read “God’s Ecology” for an eyes-open perspective on the the non-material world. Also, coincidentally, available from www.spiralworld.net
*** There are numerous references for this, many of which are in the back of “God’s Ecology”. Machaelle Small Wright’s Perelandra books, Malidoma Some’s “Of Water and the Spirit” and the writings of Dorothy Maclean are good places to start.
**** For a view of the kind of changes that are needed in organisations in order to deliver a functional future read the CHE policy paper “Managing the cultural shift: Complex challenges, societal change and the collaborative future.” To be found on www.humanemergence.org.uk