There is an Alternative
The status quo of Western industrial civilization is thoroughly grounded in dominator hierarchies and an Enlightenment philosophy that rationalizes and normalizes separation, industrialism, and neoliberalism. It is failing us in many ways and destroying our life-support system in the process. This prevailing paradigm is so ubiquitous and deeply entrenched that many people feel our plight is hopeless. Therefore, foundational to paradigm shift is becoming aware that there is a rational and spiritually fulfilling systemic alternative to the dominant paradigm/business-as-usual/status quo that is within our capabilities to implement. This alternative is sustainable because it is holistically integrated with a living planet and builds on the prime activity of living organisms--that is, the tendency to self-organize into networks or relationships of mutual support that are increasingly diverse and that benefit the web of life. Life supports more life, and one of the ways it does this is by making it rather enjoyable overall. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either trying to exploit you or make you feel worse than they do--or probably both.
I propose that the focus in systemic change work, as opposed to mere reform, must be to dig up the diseased root of the status quo and replace it. We can no longer be satisfied with clipping its many branches. Or, to use my favorite analogy, while I agree that the raging single-issue fires must be put out, we must also incapacitate the arsonist and not let our efforts be diluted by dedicating limited resources to continuously drafting more volunteer firemen who quickly burn out themselves.
As we build the new, we can’t forget to also compassionately offer hospice to the dying paradigm as it draws its last wheezing gasps. Occasionally euthanasia may be the most rational as well as merciful option. The latter runs the gamut from stopping corporate welfare, taxpayer subsidies for industry, and financial market bail-outs and subsidies, outlawing mountain top removal and fracking, abolishing corporate personhood and the Electoral College, and replacing our market economy dependent on the growth of excess, waste and increasing inequality.
The Alternative’s Systemic Framework to Ground Change
Connecting the Dots develops a framework we can build on that is systemic, comprehensive, cohesive, coherent, and fully congruent with natural systems principles. This framework then provides a foundation for the toolkit that’s filled with non-hierarchical social, organizational, and communication processes and methods as well as strategies and actions that will empower anyone motivated to participate in movement-building and social change because they explicitly work with life and support a sustainable future that returns meaning to human progress and potential. Thus, when fully implemented, this alternative requires much less energy than the status quo while improving quality of life and staying within the planet’s carrying capacity-- in huge contrast to the phenomenal amount of energy required to sustain the 24x7 propaganda machine of Industrial Empire and global corporatization founded on the fantasy that our finite life-support system is an ever expandable and expendable resource and that we are separate from and dominant over it.
While the individual tools are all effective on their own, their real power comes from their interactive relationships within the overarching tool that is the framework itself. Within this framework, the tools and their interactions become paradigm shifting. Therefore Connecting the Dots starts by developing the framework first in order to lay the foundation for why the tools are necessary and how they fit together and support one another in an interdependent manner to facilitate change. The framework is comprehensive enough to provide a rational narrative for how we got to this point, what must be stopped, and what it can be replaced with along with supportive evidence that draws from the latest findings in systems science, ecology, psychology, physics, and age-old spiritual wisdom of partnership cultures in which people understood they were part of the web of life. Together these findings synergistically increase the probability of a sustainable paradigm shift occurring.
However, this framework is not a list of the Top Ten Things You Can Do, nor is it dogmatic. This is a dynamic process open to refinement that is based on evidence that supports the following assumptions:
- The universe is friendly to life and its evolution.
- We have the knowledge and ability to create a consciously guided paradigm shift that is spiritually fulfilling, emotionally healthy and scientifically rational.
- This shift is a superior alternative to hierarchies of domination that separate and exploit for private profit, elite control and other pathologies.
Focuses on improving quality of life, rebuilding community, and healing the ecosystems necessary for life, potential, and a productive economy (in that order);
provides a pragmatic response to global warming, resource depletion, never-ending war, injustice, inequity, and the loss of democratic freedoms and liberties; and
is based on globally shared values, the common goal of a sustainable future, and the scientific evidence for the natural systems principles that create and sustain life through networks of mutual support and reciprocity.
The framework makes clear how our current rapidly converging crises in the personal, social, and environmental realms logically emerge from dominator hierarchies, disconnection, and the pathological sense of the other that emerges from them. It shows how an effective response must be based on doing things fundamentally differently, not on merely reforming the industrial system and its markets in order to make them a little less bad. Change begins by making new choices among those choices that are available to us that can be rationally, emotionally, and spiritually evaluated for how well they support the goals of ecological integrity, social justice, economic equity, and participatory democracy. In other words, once we are aware of them, we can and must make choices that support the necessary core attributes of a truly sustainable future.
We don’t need to wait for a higher consciousness to evolve or emerge. All we have to do is quit allowing our current consciousness to be hampered and thwarted to benefit the few. Instead of being victimized by narrow measures that are pathological (greed, selfishness, and arrogance), we can help each other remember how to be fully human--responsibly contributing members of a living species in community on a living planet who work together in cultural autonomy (this isn’t a paradox) to increase opportunities for us and all other species to reach our personal and social potentials.
One requirement for this effort to be successful is the creation of coalitions capable of drawing together a critical mass to support and implement these systemic changes. Within the framework, building successful multi-issue coalitions requires learning and becoming skilled at non-hierarchical methods and processes. Gaining the skills and experiencing the power of these non-hierarchical tools for organizing, communicating, sharing leadership, and making decisions can support a paradigm shift of this magnitude within the rapidly closing window of opportunity climate scientists tell us we have left available to us.
The framework also provides a foundation for other projects that are integral to the successful transition to a sustainable future. These include 1) making regional assessments of environmental and economic carrying capacity, 2) developing sustainability indicators, 3) supporting local investment in community supported sustainable industries, including right livelihood that provides a living wage, 4) establishing relocalized steady-state economics, and 5) implementing an Earth jurisprudence to ground democratic governance through policy, regulation and law.
A sustainable future is what we’re all fundamentally striving to achieve. Even without using the same terminology, the environmental, peace, justice, and democracy movements all have the same end-game in mind. My guiding axiom is that true justice is not possible without sustainability, and without justice there will never be peace. And peace on Earth requires peace with Earth.