Our survival game

The last century we discovered a lot. We learned to exploit the power of machines, industrialization, mass production, chemicals, plastics, computers and the internet.
Fiercely competing among ourselves for mastery and profit we maximized our efforts to grow and develop society to an unprecedented level of consumption and waste.
Within 1oo years we totally changed the face of the planet.
And as we witness today the planet adapts to that influence. Alas in an unpleasant and unforseen way. The depleted resources, ravaged landscapes and ruined ecosystems lead to unstable and volatile climate change. Already 40% of the fauna species is now extinct. The thawing North Pole today is currently totally surrounded by unexpectted immense forest fires. The now dry boreal forest, with all the life in it is defenseless.
Humanity has created big risks for survival of itself and many other species. Life as a whole on earth is under threat.
Like sorcerers apprentices we thought we could do anything we wanted. We created like Gods, but could not foresee the implications and consequences of our creating.
We can never stop iterating between expression and adaption. So now it is time to adapt. What behaviour should humans develop in order to survive?

Observing humanity quickly shows what is lacking. The global warming happens to the whole planet. Yet humans have not yet developed the skills to respond as a whole. Humans always have competed with other species and between themselves for resources.

So now we are forced to learn to collaborate effectively very quickly. Luckily humans are great at adapting. And we do have the technology available. Communication and organizing has never been more easy. But the art of communicating in a effective and generative way is still very much in its infancy. Currently my best approach is learned from Marshall Rosenberg who pioneered Non Violent Communication. That is based on understanding that all we do is driven by our needs. They define all we do. All the rest is strategy.

That perspective allows us to employ the deliberations from our neo cortex, that has been developed and trained well in our society. Strategizing is at the core of modern organizations. This is a great tool at our our disposal.

Thinking about ourself in real needs is the part that urgently needs our attention and energy. Many of us have learnt to survive by denying very basic human needs, like recognition, touch, connection, spontaneity and many many more.
Getting to recognise and acknowledge them is the first step. Unmet needs are very often translated into embodied trauma, so there is a lot of healing and repatterning to be dealt with.

So if we want to survive, we need to stop changing the world around us and change ourselves first, in order to be able to behave as the great family that we factually are.

Value

Universal value would be value that enables, supports and maintains life. As a whole and in all it’s constituent parts. And wholeness seems by causality be forced to sacrifice parts in response to the unavoidable turbulence that is part of life itself. That necessity brings us to reconsider the meaning of value within any perceived wholeness, such as a system. So there seems to be a natural order, a hierarchy of values with the whole of life at its top.

They say it is lonely at the top. But that is only when the wholeness is denied. When other parts are denied or subdued at the honour of the top particle.

Thomas Goorden heeft lef.

Al jaren weet mijn Antwerpse vriend Thomas Goorden perfect te verwoorden waar het vandaag om dient te gaan en hij heeft het lef om daarbij de koe daadwerkelijk bij te horens te vatten.
Vandaag 7 februari vat hij op facebook de huidige stand van zaken in onze verkruimelende samenleving als volgt samen:

Nu iedereen toch een beetje wakker begint te worden over het klimaat, een nachtmerrie die al twintig jaar door m’n hoofd raast, is het misschien tijd om eens te praten over hoe het (ongeveer) zou kunnen gaan mochten we daadwerkelijk een globale catastrophe willen vermijden.

Maar eerst is het belangrijk te weten dat dit geen of/of verhaal is. Eigenlijk moet je bijna alles wat hieronder staat doen en wellicht quasi tegelijk aan beginnen of een maatregel met equivalente “sterkte”. Verder ook vermelden dat dit natuurlijk niet alle mogelijkheden zijn, dit zijn diegene die ik persoonlijk ken en geloofwaardig vind. En ja, van sommige zaken ga je écht schrikken, zeker het tempo waarop het allemaal moet gebeuren.

Eerst en vooral een compleet moratorium op nieuwe bronnen van CO2. Dat maakt dat de petrochemische industrie nooit meer kan uitbreiden, enkel vervangen en krimpen. Dat maakt een aantal aangekondigde projecten, zoals de nieuwe Ineos schaliegas-naar-plastic-fabriek 100% onmogelijk.

Er zou onmiddellijk gestart moeten worden aan een zo groot mogelijke “Carbon Capture” installatie om de bestaande CO2 uitstoot (dus geen nieuwe!) op te vangen en onder de grond te duwen. Daarmee dekken we – misschien – nog de 10% meest onmisbare delen van de huidige 20e eeuwse industrie over 20 jaar. Pakweg 1-2 Mton CO2 zou dan per jaar opgeslagen kunnen worden.

Een zeer snel einde aan fossiele voertuigen. Vanaf 2024 geen diesels en “gewone benzine” meer op de markt, vanaf 2028 zelfs geen hybride voertuigen meer.

Omdat dit wellicht niet mogelijk is met ons huidige vervoerssysteem, moeten we aan een werkelijk megalomaan tempo alternatieven opbouwen. Deelwagens kunnen heel veel opvangen (personenwagens worden 95% van de tijd niet gebruikt, wat het 1 van de minst efficiënte transportmethodes maakt). Gratis parkeerkaarten moeten op pakweg 5 jaar uitgefaseerd zijn.

Vliegverkeer wordt eerst normaal belast en geleidelijk komt daar een CO2 tax bij. Daar tegenover verwacht ik heel erg veel hogesnelheidslijnen voor de trein binnen Europa. Op 4u naar Madrid of Barcelona, zoiets. Transatlantische reizen moeten compleet anders. Maar voor mijn part wordt het normaal dat je een soort “reissabbatical” kan maken om de zoveel jaar, waarbij je met bijvoorbeeld heel grote zeilboten wat verdere bestemmingen bezoekt. Tot over een paar maanden! It’s been done before.

40% van ons wegennet wordt geschrapt. (Nederland doet het met zo “weinig”.) Dat geeft ons de ruimte die nodig is om op een onwaarschijnlijk tempo drie dingen te doen met de vrijgekomen ruimte:
– Fietspaden te bouwen. Ook voor “licht elektrisch, snel vervoer” kunnen we bijkomend plaats maken. (Denk aan fietspaden waar je 30km/u mag rijden met een elektrische bakfiets.)
– Openbaar vervoer, met name “light rail”. (Voor zover we dat niet onder de grond krijgen.)
– Bomen. Ja, bomen!

Massa’s bomen. Denk aan een 3-voudiging van wat er nu nog in ons landje recht staat. Met name in steden zouden we massaal parkeerplaatsen moeten openbreken om er bomen te zetten. Dit heeft niet alleen te maken met de bijzondere capaciteit van bomen om CO2 op te slorpen (tot 22kg per jaar, 1 ton in totaal). Het is ook hoogstnoodzakelijk om onze steden leefbaar te houden tijdens de verschroeiende zomers en (mogelijk) bijzondere koudefronten – zoals in de VS momenteel – die er nog aan zullen komen.

Hout zal ook nooit meer verbrand mogen worden. Da’s een raar idee, maar toch is het zo. Wanneer een boom toch gekapt wordt (bijvoorbeeld als ze niet genoeg CO2 meer opnemen), dan kan het eventueel nog als bouwmateriaal, maar anders moet het hout begraven worden. Ja, dat hoorde je goed. Net zoals bij carbon capture is dit de enige richting waar we met al die CO2 naartoe kunnen: terug naar waar het ooit allemaal zat.

Qua energie kijk je naar een maximalisatie van windenergie en zonne-energie. Eigenlijk zou je geen dak meer mogen bouwen zonder dat er zonnepanelen in verwerkt zitten. Daarnaast vind ik het tijdelijk openhouden van de meest recente kerncentrales die we toch al hebben persoonlijk geen taboe. Het had vermeden kunnen worden, maar onze politici waren daarvoor gewoon te dom. Gascentrales zijn een beetje zielig, omdat we daarmee alweer een CO2-bron maken die we moeten compenseren.

De vleesindustrie moet quasi integraal verdwijnen op 10-15 jaar tijd. Dat vergt een radicale ombouw naar andere bronnen van proteïnen. A rato van 5-10% reductie per jaar zal dus een soort permanente crisis nodig zijn in de vleesindustrie. Moet iedereen plots veganistisch worden? Nee, maar vis of vlees eten wordt binnen pakweg 15 jaar even ongewoon als slagroomtaarten. Dat eet je – hopelijk – ook niet elke dag.

Ja, dit klinkt allemaal nogal futuristisch. En voor sommige aspecten zie je wellicht ook hoeveel weerstand er zou zijn. Maar we zouden er dus ongeveer morgen aan moeten beginnen. Dat dit mij existentiële angsten geeft is wellicht niet verwonderlijk. Als ik hoor hoe veel mensen nog praten, dan is er weinig reden tot hoop.

Daarom is mijn voorspelling van wat er zal gebeuren veel, veel donkerder. Naarmate de klok verder tikt zal het klimaatprotest omslaan in iets dat veel meer op een opstand lijkt. In de chaos die daarop volgt, zal er eenvoudigweg niet genoeg organisatie meer mogelijk zijn voor dit soort visie. Onze korte-termijn-denkende-apen-hersentjes kunnen schijnbaar niet veel anders.

Zelf heb ik al 10 jaar geen auto meer, ben bewust in de stad komen wonen, eet al even lang steeds minder vlees en vis en de voorbije 2 jaar begon ik ook actief vliegreizen te vermijden. Ondertussen heb ik ook een succesvol bedrijf kunnen opbouwen en dankzij co-housing is ook wonen best fijn gebleven zonder al te veel ruimte op te slokken. Ook niet aan kinderen begonnen, maar ik begrijp dat dat voor veel mensen écht een brug te ver zou zijn. Maar dus, het kan. Echt. Je moet wel de knop in je hoofd omdraaien.

(Als je nog steeds weerstand voelt, bedenk dan eens even hoe het alternatief er uitziet… Het zal écht niet meer zo relatief zorgeloos zijn zoals nu.)


Purpose and identity: Who are we?

I engaged in the GCC because I wanted to spend my energy and time to help solve the wicked global challenges. Since then I have been on a journey. Which brought me to the deepest places. Places where according to some wisdom the solutions are hidden: within my self. So I feel I actually am on track, while many around me complain the lack of action.

On our Global Collaboration Challenge

This article is written in order to word my personal perspective and the state of the situation and to find my place in it.  So this is just my personal perspective, the way I see it. I am aware that this implies a limited point of view and I am keen to learn from others to get a wider understanding.

Since september 2017 I have been engaging in the Global Challenges Collaboration. This is motivated by my own quest: how to have better conversations. I thought (and still think) better conversations are a key ingredient for better collaborations. Since then we had many conversations, long and winding explorations. And I learned a lot since then. Mostly to listen. My focus has changed too. I started out wanting to change the world around me, bringing the fruits of my thinking and learning. Eager to share my findings with my peers. Grateful to spend time with like minded conscious and intelligent adults bringing their views to the shared space.
In the beginning there was a strong shared felt sense that the old solutions had in fact become part of the problem and that we need radical different approaches if we want to survive as a species. And the new approach would have to recognise, acknowledge and honour the innate intrinsic value of every single human on the planet.

Since then we have been floating around on this immense ocean of words. Many participants have brought their approaches, insights and methods to the table. But very little has been picked up by others, let alone being taken and applied by others. It is hard to bring the results of your lifelong journey, your very best, back to the group to find them ignored or only politely listened to. The only group patterns are the different weekly meetings and some sharing on the GCC facebook page and chats.

The tension between the original ambition and the lack of group coherence is huge. Many participants show frustration. Especially the ´do-ers´. The talkers and feelers seem less stressed about it. But the void is clear and acknowledged by all.

I am contemplating this myself. My current understanding is quite different from a year ago. It has changed a lot since then. Today I am moved to put words on my immature thoughts. Hoping the practise of writing will stimulate the emergence of coherence and clarity around that.

I suspect that the root of todays brutal extractive economy has been identified. It is trauma. Individual and collective trauma. This insight totally changed my vision on collaboration. Seen through this lens new technologies or methods will not help. Only deep healing will open the way to wholeness and wholesome behaviour.

So since then I stopped contributing to the solution pile and focused my time and attention to the wicked challenge of healing myself. While meanwhile practising being of value and service to my fellow humans. And as intended from the start, this new approach means to recognise, acknowledge and honour the innate intrinsic value of every single human on the planet. Yet, to my surprise I had to start with healing myself.

This does not help my original purpose to have better conversations. It does not make my conversations easier. Although my personal discovery is as old as the world, it is not a popular approach. It is way easier to project the cause of any discomfort outside one self. So now any turmoil has become a practise ground: If anything in me is triggered, what tension in me wants to be resolved? Because I think all I have is my perception.

Optimal society

Still orienting into the new year and where to invest my time, attention and energy. One of the learnings of the last that sticks with me is that all the solutions are already invented. But to agree and collaborate on a large scale turns out to be very hard. The preference to promote individual preferences is recognised, but there are more obstacles.
We humans seem to have a strong biological bias to serve the interest of the ingroup above interests that rationaly are equially or even more important. So we need to organise acknowledging our natural limitations here. I think that I would be more happy personally knowing the individuals that form my life. The Dunbar number limits that to 148.
This makes me wonder what a society would look like if it consisted of interlinking small networks of that size. Would it prevent exclusion?

What is the GCC to me?

Short first guess, writing this on Sunday 23rd December 2018: The GCC does not exist as a well defined entity. To me the GCC is not a group, tribe, community or any other form defined by boundaries. One of the properties ´it´ does have is that it — until now – is unconditionally open. Part of ´my´ parttaking in the new way of ´doing us differently´ is to be inclusive. A consequence of that it includes all the shit anyone can bring. I am aware of that. It is just a part of the learning to me.

The GCC is at this moment a rythmic pattern of Zoom Sessions and some attributed virtual sites, the most important being the open group page on Facebook. And maybe I could also call the GCC a meme. It is an unfolding story that is still slowly forming through the experiences of those who take part in the conversations.

This explains why I personally have not tried to have group agreements or other rules, norms, guidelines. Nor have I tried to create projects, definitions or anything. It felt that adding my stuff to the huge pile of ideas, views, proposals and solutions would only complicate. That said I am not in the GCC just to pass the time with conversations.

As a result of meeting regularly, personal connections and bonds are formed. Those evoke all the habitual, instinctive, emotional, functional, deliberate patterns and meanings that I have experienced in other gatherings. Those need to find their proper place in what I am trying to discover by participating in the GCC conversations.

My focus is to discover the new patterns of behavior that allow us to rise above the problems we face as humanity. So far I am surprised that we – the regular participants – have not made any significant new discovery. This brings me to hold the current hypothesis that there might not exist totally new behaviors. It seems we might need to work with what exists and distill the best practises, behaviors and theories out of all what history provides.

So after a year and a half of participating, I notice myself returning to earlier learnings, after having been present in the group expecting and hoping to be surprised. The biggest surprise however is that there weren´t any. I witnessed a totally natural evolution that followed precisely all the rules of the game. So for the last weeks I notice I am returning to the definitions offered by my favorite authors. They all describe these rules in different language, from different disciplines. The most important being:

  • Stephen Wolfram
  • Manfred Eigen
  • Clare Graves
  • Saswitha

What I conclude from their thinking that – no matter what else is out there- in this here universe we are bound and defined by the natural laws of that universe. So if we want harmony for the human society in a thriving healthy world we need to deeply understand those laws and how they play out.

This is what I have been doing and my current assumption seems to be that the only thing I have is the autonomy over my own being and doing. So my response to the challenge of ´doing us differently´ is to do me differently first. That could well take my lifetime.

Meanwhile I fully support anybody in his of hers own journey. By writing this I made explicit my current understanding. The GCC probably will continue to gell and solidify into some structure that will support the intentions of the most committed contributors. I assume that it will be surprisingly common in its final appearance.

Wether it will allow and / or support ´doing us differently´’ in an efficient and effective way will – in my mind- depend on how wisely we will be able to design and enginee this cooperative space.

And I just noticed this is al very true and coherent reasoning for me but as well only ´half the truth´. What is missing is all the unseen outside of our abilities to perceive. There is the present universe and beyond that there seems to be something multidimensional. Sind a few days I labeled it ´Gurdieff space´ following a conversation with people to whom he is a teacher.

I attribute all the wonders, synchronisities and serependities to originate form there serving some higher purpose. My life is ful of unexpected surprises and I am open to all the surprises that will happen around what is known as thee ´GCC´…

What have we got

Another brief braindump. Thinking from principles one might say that all that we got is time and attention. Providing there is space and energy to use that.
Those four simple words seem to define ´All that is´ in this here reality. Ping me if I am missing somenthing. So we might have a concept, a meaning frame in which we can think about how we use our time and attention to serve a thriving life. Also for ´All that is´.

Fully aware that there also is ´All that is not´. Or would that be this empty space around us?  OK. Let´s put exploring this on the docket.

Time is one of the things that seems easy to measure. With the precision of an atom clock. Measuring energy is doable as well, but currently less stnardised and straightforward as timekeeping.
This is an interesting thought when we look at the way society and its economy is currently organised.

What would an economy look like in which only those two measures are valuable?

The human element

My main current conundrum seems to be this human. This creature that is me, you and us too. Form early childhood I learned that love would heal everything. It remains an important message in the fragmented society. I have believed this and therefore always heavily invested in this. And all my long term relations suffocated anyway. I now still suspect it is true, but it seems to be what I call a half truth. The unseen part is missing and so the whole concept fails in the long run. I was blind to the other part.

The other fundamental part is the very personal unique individuality we also have. My hunch is that a healthy relation between togetherness and being alone with ‘myself’ could be my most important lesson now.