Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Food Fight

I just finished listening to an interview with Ken Wilber and Jim Garrison, and then i watched these two videos. This is a blurb about the interview from Integral Naked: "Taking this sort of evolutionary view can actually be a great source of solace for those who might feel somewhat overwhelmed in the face of our current global crises, as feelings of hopelessness and desperation begin to seep in through the cracks of disillusionment. If evolution has shown us anything at all, it is a silent yet unyielding current that tirelessly flows toward ever-greater depth, complexity, and emergence—like a mighty river that patiently but relentlessly carves through anything in it's path, there is nothing that can stop this extraordinary force. Evolution has never taken a U-turn—even when the asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs struck the earth, it only cleared the path for mammals to inherit the planet, marking a critical leap forward for the evolution of life. We are not separate from this evolutionary process—indeed, humanity itself is the vehicle through which evolution is slowly becoming self-aware. And by recognizing this fact we can consciously bear the responsibility of our extraordinary heritage, billions of years in the making, and continue to breathe life and light into a long-slumbering universe. We are evolution—all of our beauty, brilliance, and blemishes—and that is itself a tremendous source of faith, guidance, and inspiration.

From this evolutionary perspective, the question seems to shift from the detached and disempowered "can we make it through this?," to the much more positive and pragmatic "how is this going to go down, and how can I help?" One thing is clear: we are dealing with an entirely new set of global challenges, the likes of which are absolutely unprecedented, and which will require nothing less than an Integral perspective to even begin to address. Our problems are so inextricably interwoven, that none of them can be addressed individually without making the others worse—our environmental crises, our economic crises, our energy crises, our culture-wars crises, and nearly every other crisis we are currently facing all need to be addressed simultaneously, or else our very best intentions incur disastrous results.

An immediate example of this can be seen in America's efforts to invest in biofuel technologies, which is made from food crops such as corn and sugar cane, in reaction to oil prices approaching $100 per barrel. 25% of the country's corn supply is currently being dedicated to developing viable ethanol-based alternatives to fossil fuels, which is in turn raising the costs of corn in the global food market, exacerbating the already horrific food crisis the world is currently experiencing. If we are not careful, and do not approach these problems with the level of sophistication that they demand, our very best intentions will likely incur devastating effects upon many of the vulnerable populations of our world.

Add to that the fact that it requires a fairly advanced cognitive capacity to even be able to recognize many of these global crises, and a similarly-advanced moral intelligence to care enough to do anything about it, and things might begin to seem dire indeed—especially since the people with this level of cognitive and moral sophistication form a painful minority in the world, and their voices are often lost in the white noise of our increasingly lowest-common-denominator focused media.

So if that's the bad news of our current predicament—that all these problems are really massive, really tangled, and people are dying right now because it is so damned difficult to untangle—what, then, is the good news? As Jim and Ken mention, we already have everything we need to solve the majority of these problems, in terms of the technological means that are required. We are not short on technological solutions, we are short on will. As Ken says in the interview: "Nobody on this planet goes to bed at night hungry because of lack of food. They go to bed at night hungry because of lack of political ideas, and the lack of political systems to get them the food." Adding to our previous example, we are currently in the midst of a horrific food crisis, as food costs continue to skyrocket around the world, and millions of men, women, and children are forced to starve to death—and yet, this crisis does not stem from any sort of real food shortage. In fact, many economists claim that we currently have a global food surplus—and though what exactly "food surplus" means remains a highly debated topic, it suggests exactly the sorts of politically systemic problems we are actually struggling with.

There is more good news—we are currently witnessing the evolutionary rise of a new stage of psychological development, the only one properly equipped with the right tools to make sense of our tangled web of a world. A new generation of Integral thinkers are beginning to emerge, just as our world begins to cry for an Integral response. It is happening around the globe, on both elite and grassroots levels of influence—and make no mistake about it, they are the future of this world, if a future is to be had. As Jim mentions, "everything we're doing now is happening within the context of a grand historical denouement that is not too distant down the trail...."—and only the rise of Integral consciousness allows for the sort of synthesis between spiritual realization and civic duty that we so desperately need. And you, assuming you have any interest at all in such Integral topics as these, are part of this evolutionary wave, and by simply acknowledging this fact you vow not to remain an idle spectator to the world, but an evolutionary agent within it.

So, finally, we come to the all-important question: "what now?" As Integral thinkers, practitioners, leaders, artists, and activists, it is essential that we live up to a new standard of global citizenship, in which some sort of civic engagement becomes as intrinsic to our personal practice as any meditation, study, or physical exercise. These inner-focused practices must be allowed to come to fruition and find full expression in the world, or else we begin to swallow our own light, rather than sharing it with those who need it most."

and then I watched this great example of vangard jazz and dance art.

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May all beings be Free and in Love.

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