- Dead asleep.
At this stage there seem to be no fundamental
problems, just some shortcomings in human
organization, behaviour and morality that can be fixed
with the proper attention to rule-making. People at
this stage tend to live their lives happily, with
occasional outbursts of annoyance around election
times or the quarterly corporate earnings seasons.
- Awareness of one
fundamental problem. Whether it's Climate
Change, overpopulation, Peak Oil, chemical pollution,
oceanic over-fishing, biodiversity loss, corporatism,
economic instability or sociopolitical injustice, one
problem seems to engage the attention completely.
People at this stage tend to become ardent activists
for their chosen cause. They tend to be very vocal
about their personal issue, and blind to any others.
- Awareness of many
problems. As people let in more evidence from
different domains, the awareness of complexity begins
to grow. At this point a person worries about
the prioritization of problems in terms of their
immediacy and degree of impact. People at this stage
may become reluctant to acknowledge new problems - for
example, someone who is committed to fighting for
social justice and against climate change may not
recognize the problem of resource depletion.
They may feel that the problem space is already
complex enough, and the addition of any new concerns
will only dilute the effort that needs to be focused
on solving the "highest priority" problem.
- Awareness of the
interconnections between the many problems.
The realization that a solution in one domain may
worsen a problem in another marks the beginning of
large-scale system-level thinking. It also marks the
transition from thinking of the situation in terms of
a set of problems
to thinking of it in terms of a predicament. At
this point the possibility that there may not be a
solution begins to raise its head.
People who arrive at this stage tend to withdraw into tight circles of like-minded individuals in order to trade insights and deepen their understanding of what's going on. These circles are necessarily small, both because personal dialogue is essential for this depth of exploration, and because there just aren't very many people who have arrived at this level of understanding.
- Awareness that the predicament encompasses all aspects of life. This includes everything we do, how we do it, our relationships with each other, as well as our treatment of the rest of the biosphere and the physical planet. With this realization, the floodgates open, and no problem is exempt from consideration or acceptance. The very concept of a "Solution" is seen through, and cast aside as a waste of effort.
I would comfortably say I am at step 5, but this has only happened fairly recently. The past few years have been been a move from 3-4 as I spent a lot of time online doing research, reading a ton of books, and talking to a lot of people.
I hope in some way this blog can help bring people along in their awareness and ultimately lead to self-awareness. The problems that confront this modern era have roots reaching back thousands, if not millions of years. Some of them are tied into the fundamental laws of nature. But if I have learned one thing in my time as a Vipassana meditator, it is that everything is impermanent. Change is inevitable and we can change ourselves at a very deep and fundamental level. In order to fix the problems facing life on planet earth, we must first confront the problems that lie within. The liberation of humanity first lies in the liberation of the self from suffering.