A Philosophy for Our Times

It appears that the Earth is in a transition that could lead to a new, higher level of organization and, in Pierre de Chardin’s sense, “interiorization”, producing a new emergent consciousness.

This transition is like what happened when cells evolved to form individual insects and plants and animals and, eventually, humans.  And, these individuals came to have a coherent consciousness that could guide the – now unified – collection of cells.

It appears that humanity is a key vehicle for this new higher level of organization for the Earth.  However, the Earth is at a very unstable point in its evolution.  In a systems theory context it will either evolve or devolve.

So, In order to survive, individual humans have to evolve to the next level of consciousness and connect to form the emergent Earth’s next level of organization, coherence, and, yes probably, consciousness.  Let’s call that “Planetary Consciousness.”

Planetary Philosophy

To succeed, this Planetary Consciousness needs to be expressed in a straightforward unifying philosophy – a Planetary Philosophy – a Philosophy for Our Times – with a set of simple, self-evident, powerful core principles (assumptions) that are so clear and so self-evident that it is virtually impossible for anyone to deny them.  And these principles need to provide clear guidance so that anyone and everyone can immediately understand whether an action contributes to evolution or devolution.  What are these principles?  Let’s start with three.

1)  One Planet:  First there is a realization that we are One Planet.

Each human being has a body that is made of the Earth.  We are made of the Earth.  We are not something outside of the Earth.  Our bones, our blood, our muscles, every cell in our bodies are all composed of materials that come from the Earth.  These materials are still part of the Earth even as they are composing our bodies.

Where is the boundary between our little portion of the Earth that is our body and the rest of the Earth?  We are continually breathing in air from the Earth and breathing out air into the Earth.  We are continually eating and drinking parts of the Earth and then giving back feces and urine to the Earth. We are continually seeing and hearing and smelling and tasting and touching parts of the Earth and we are continually taking actions that affect the Earth, picking something up, opening a door, digging in a garden, or driving a car.

There is no place where it is possible to draw a line and say that is where I begin and the Earth stops.  Intellectually, we know this is true.  According to relativity physics, everything is connected and an action any place affects every place, at least a little bit.  Also, according to ecology, any action affects the whole ecology, at least a little bit.  And, it is certainly clear that the Earth is one ecology.

So, we are a part of the Earth and the Earth is a part of us. What we experience is something that the Earth is experiencing. Our experience is the Earth experiencing other aspects of itself.  Each of us lives a life that is one strand woven together to form the fabric made up of all of the strands of all of the lives of everything alive on Earth.

We cannot, we must not deny that everything that we do to the Earth we do to ourselves.  Everything that everyone does to the Earth they do to us.  If we humans disrupt the very narrow and very fragile tolerances that permit human life on Earth, then the result will be that the part of the Earth that is humanity will cease to exist.  If we disrupt the narrow and fragile tolerances that permit organic life on Earth, then the result will be that the part of the Earth that is organic life will cease to exist.

And humans now certainly are forces for disruption.  Climate change, massive pollution, forest destruction, and species extinction are all symptoms of this disruption.  It is almost as if we were at war with the Earth, which means we are at war with ourselves.

What we do to the Earth, we do to ourselves.  There is no separation.  We need to make peace with the planet.  Let’s call this aspect of the philosophy “One Planet.”
2)  One People:  Second, there is a realization that we are One People.

Without question the fact that we are one species, one people, has to be true, because we are one Earth.  Since the body of each human being is made of the one Earth, we are all intimately linked together.

Since anything that any member of the human species does affects the Earth; and, since the Earth forms the body of every member of the human species; and, since anything that affects a part of the Earth affects all of the Earth; therefore, anything that any member of the human species does affects every other member of the human species.

However, we live in a much more intimate relationship with each other even than that.  At any moment any cell or any virus in the body of any human being could mutate to become a virulent disease that could become a pandemic that could potentially kill every other member of the human species.

Inventions, like the telephone, the light bulb, and the internet rapidly diffuse throughout the human species.  One terrorist with nuclear weapons could destroy an awful lot of us.  A few of us in political leadership can make peace or start a war.  A few of us in economic leadership can create prosperity or poverty for the rest of us.

The health and wellbeing of each individual in the human species profoundly affects the health and wellbeing of the whole species.  The human species is going to survive as a whole – not just some dominant part of the species.  What we do to each other we do to us all, to the whole species.  Let’s call this aspect of the philosophy “One People.”

3)  One Purpose:  Third, we have One Purpose.  It is the responsibility of each individual human alive right now to be part of the solution or else he or she is part of the problem.

According to Systems Theory, when a system in a steady state of equilibrium takes in too much new content – new forces, new elements, new relationships – it goes into a state of disequilibrium, which is unstable.  At that point, the system has to evolve and transform to a new, higher form of organization or else devolve into a new, lower form of organization.

The Earth is a system.  The human species is a sub-system of the Earth.  The system of the Earth and the sub-system of the human species have entered a state of profound disequilibrium.  Humanity and the Earth must now either evolve to a higher level of organization or devolve to a lower level of organization.

We see the instability caused by and causing this disequilibrium where ever we look.  Climate change; habitat destruction and species die-off; failing and failed states; the poverty, hunger, and disease that affect half the population of the human species; economic recession; wars and the threat of larger wars; the list goes on and on.

We need a new and better system for the human species and the Earth—a system that yields: peace among people and peace with the Earth; health and wellbeing for all people on a healthy planet;  and an opportunity for each person to live a satisfying life and make a contribution to the whole.

We need to evolve to a higher level of organization or we are going to devolve to a lower level of organization as a planet and it is likely that the human species won’t be a part of the lower level of organization, if it comes to that.  The time is short.  We all have to act right now.  Let’s call this aspect of the philosophy “One Purpose.”

A Planetary Movement

To manifest a Planetary Philosophy, we need to build a Planetary Movement oriented by some version of the principles of One Planet, One People, and One Purpose.  There must be some magic number of people that are needed to join the Planetary Movement and live according to its philosophy in order to reach the tipping point when the new consciousness takes off and starts building massive positive momentum.

We need a movement that generates examples of the new system so that we can learn to create better examples so that we come to understand what the new system looks like and feels like.  We need a movement that includes enough people so that we reach a tipping point and the direction shifts and we start building momentum for the new way of life.
Each of us needs to identify what our contributions are to Planetary Evolution and make those contributions or else we are contributing to Planetary Devolution.

We don’t have much time, so it’s important to get to the tipping point as soon as possible.  However, it’s got to be the right tipping point.  A significant error at this point could prove fatal.  It is important for a Planetary Movement to include a powerful self-corrective characteristic.

What would a thriving, growing, powerful Planetary Movement look like? How does it get launched?  Get organized?  Engage with the great religions?  Engage with culture, with politics, with business, and with science/technology?

It’s important to recognize that a Planetary Movement is a transitional movement.  We are trying to get to the higher level of planetary organization and intelligence.  We don’t know what that will be like and we don’t know what that will be called.  But we can be sure that, once we have made the transition to the higher level of organization, we will have created a platform from which to begin another cycle of creativity and evolution.

As with other forms of evolution, the successful initial examples of the Planetary Movement ought to manifest the higher level of order and be much more efficient, profitable, enjoyable, and powerful than current organizational manifestations of the Earth in crisis.

So the challenge is to build powerful examples of the Planetary Movement that have within themselves the ability to inspire and to replicate themselves and then to connect all of these examples into a much larger integrated example and then to begin the process again.

However, we need to realize that the Planetary Movement transcends any organization or set of organizations.  We need to move too fast, grow too large, and expand too rapidly for the Movement to be encompassed by just one organization or even one set of organizations.  The Planetary Movement needs to be a true Movement of many organizational forms.

We also need to realize that many examples of the Planetary Movement already exist, already are in place, and already are producing significant progress.  However, it could be very useful to adopt a guiding philosophy that could help weave the many strands of the Movement together and help spin out the many new strands that need to be created.

Each of us can take on this challenge in our own lives by treating ourselves as specific examples of Planetary Consciousness and then by practicing the Planetary Philosophy however it manifests for each of us, through our family lives, our social lives, and our work lives.  We are One Planet.  We are One People.  We have One Purpose.  Let’s get moving.