“Stop it! You are not here to speak of whether to give to the begging children. You are here to end hunger on the planet. Shift your thinking!”
In that small room in Chennai with other activists from all over the world, and from those words by The Hunger Project president of India, Lalita Banavali, my view of life altered forever. Think globally.
I brought this thinking as I was initiated into the Elders group of The Mankind Project of southern Oregon. And I brought this thinking to the planning session the following Sunday as Michael moderated the creation of our new Mission and Vision Statement.
I believe in the “Think Globally Act Locally” bumper sticker. And that the Mission Statement of every group of concerned citizens should contain a “Think Globally” statement at its core.
If such a statement is not at the core of a group, I believe that no matter the good it accomplishes, that will have little impact other than to have the members feel better about themselves. This is good of course, but not impactful.
Such a result might have been sufficient in a different world, one where our population was small and our ecosystems thrived. Useful in a world when we had a series of problems to be solved. Then small groups might have had an impact. Now a local group with merely local thinking can only have a local impact
We no longer have that good and simple world. Now we have a world that is out of control, one that has been described as having run off the cliff in the same way Wile E. Coyote runs off the cartoon cliff and pumps his legs in mid-air for a bit before looking down. And then crashes.
We no longer have a world with problems-to-be-solved, as every activist group assumes, wants and hopes … and often deludes itself that such is true. It is not true. Our worldwide issues are so large and so intertwined that they are like a house of cards. Remove one base card and it all falls. So too our world. Instead of a problem-solution world, we live in a predicament. And predicaments, by their very nature, cannot be solved. They just are.
Two of the simplest ways we can speak this predicament: If every person in the world were to continue to live their present lifestyle, unchanged, it would take 1.5 earths to sustain those lifestyles. We have one earth. This one is even more informative: If everyone in the world lived a lifestyle like you and me, average Americans, it would take five earths to sustain itself. We have one earth.
Humanity cannot live this way much longer. We have crossed the point of no return.
We delude ourselves daily and interminably with these two bottom-line beliefs, both wrong. “Business-as-usual”.“Progress at All Costs.” With these driving us, mostly unconsciously, we are killing the planet. We are tearing up our very nest with our hubris. We assume that we can devastate our beautiful blue and green planet without repercussions. Worse, these are not just something we believe, these are our contexts for life. These are where we ‘come from’… in our day-to-day lives.
We simply assume next Monday will be like last Monday. One week it will not be so. Next Monday will be a horror of unimaginable events.
We humans are facing a future of unimaginable death, famine and suffering. We are facing a future whereby our lives-as-we- have-known-them will be altered forever, most of us dying long before we hoped and dreamed. There are terms for this scenario, this most-probably unavoidable scenario ̶ “The Long Emergency”, “The Crunch” and “The End Of The World As We Know It (TEOTWAWKI)”
Put another way, we are in a crisis, long aborning and soon to climax. Perhaps in ten years: perhaps this year. It matters not what the trigger is – EMP, terrorist attack, economic breakdown, global warming … there are so many possible. The result will be economic disintegration and a resultant loss of electrical power for decades. With that loss of electrical power comes the loss of transportation, communication, and with those will come loss of food supply and water supply. This crisis is likely to have the outcome of the loss of perhaps 95% of our population, perhaps all of us who are not family farmers or not indigenous tribal members. With neither drinking water nor food coming transported the cities and suburbs means their inhabitants will most likely die in place. Water and food refugees will flood the countryside in desparate survival-search. And find nothing but early death.
Yet, in the face of this horror, never before experienced by humans, there is a bright spot… if we can stand far enough above.
Humanity… as a species will survive. We humans are almost infinitely adaptable and can survive in the coldest and the hottest temperature and can eat almost anything. And this statistic is also good news, at least from that dispassionate view: if only one in a million of us survive, that still leaves 750 individuals. If many are young girls, young women, that means a few hundred Eves to re-establish human beings as a species. This may be sufficient.
Let us step even further and look at a cosmic law that also is in play: “Transformation is Preceded by Crisis.” I believe in this law as inexorable. Barbara Marx Hubbard has extensively written how this law applies at all levels, from atoms to molecules, to simple organisms and, ultimately to all levels of life, perhaps to the entire cosmos. Certainly it applies to the human species and to all our endeavors. Another way to say it is, “Things have to get worse before they can get better.”
In our instance, we live inside a worldview of You OR Me, an immature worldview based on the twin assumptions that there are shortages and that we are not connected. We have evolved (some would say devolved) from the natural world of You AND Me so far that we are at the end of this era of You OR Me. The pendulum of change is at its extreme ̶ discord, strife, war, exploitation of other humans and of the planet itself. Coupled with denial, we are smashing against the wall of self-destruction.
What will be on the other side of this abyss? What will be transformed? It is my fondest hope (ah, may it not be mere hopium) that humanity will be wiser. With that worldwide holocaust in our immediate history, perhaps we will have learned. Perhaps we will create a world that works for everyone with no one left out… that mature world of You AND Me that we now refer to as Heaven or Nirvana or Utopia.
So, if all that be true… or at least is a possible story with significant usefulness, then what must be the Mission, what must be the Vision of an organization on this side of the abyss that takes this all into account?
It seems to me, and possibly to others, that any mission statement must, firstly, take such a crisis-future and a transformed-distant-future into account. Secondly, it musttake actions now, right now, whose results might be available to those generations “on the other side” who, looking back, can find the seeds to plant in their midst, seeds which provide the basic precepts of a You AND Me worldview, seeds of a great life for all, seeds for a sustainable life on our planet.
What, then, are the roles of such benevolent organizations? (I like to call them Seymour Conspiracies… organizations who are co-conspirators to do the world good, named after Seymour Glass, a character in a short story written in 1948 by J.D. Salinger, “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” who is shell-shocked and firmly believes that the world is conspiring to do him good.)
I believe this is, at its core, an issue in the realm of beingness. It is not so much a question of doing, though doingness flows from the first. Thisglobal issue raises both a personal and an organizational set of questions ̶ “How do I be in the face of chaos?” “How do WE be with each other and those outside the organization?” It is, at its heart, a question of service, for a Seymour Conspiracy is in service to the greater good. And that greater good, no matter the horrendous circumstances, is for the world on the other side of the abyss, perhaps that transformed world of You AND me.
So what group of us is most valuable to serve? Who of us is most necessary for humanity’s future? Who must survive?
I wonder if that group we must endeavor to serve, that group that needs the greatest protection, that group which offers the most promise for transformation … is the young girls. For these will be the originators of our new world, our most precious and necessary members. They will be our Eves.
And perhaps our present groups must also consider offering great protection to those who protect and teach the young girls. These would appear to be the strong young men, our warriors of protection. And also offer great protection to that group of wise older women, once revered as Crones, who both teach the young and who carry profound spiritual and survival teachings from this side of the abyss to that distant place.
So let us consider creating Mission Statements and Vision Statements that are larger than our day-to-day world, that are larger than our You OR Me worldview. Let us have Mission and Vision Statements that are worthy of our greatest honor, of our greatest aspirations for ourselves and for our species itself.
And let us co-create vision statements that are worthy of God, the God that is without and the God that is within.