How to approach the interconnected problems of our world

Human evolution is at a stage where we face a wide range of interconnected social, economic, technological and environmental problems that could lead to worldwide catastrophe. These problems form what are called ‘wicked problems‘ in the sense that they are interconnected, and solving one part of the problem may lead to a worsening of another part.

To approach these interconnected problems, we need an interconnected approach which taps into the distributed, diverse, co-creative, and collective intelligence of humanity and the ecological intelligence of the Earth, and which connects humanity at a higher consciousness level than the level from which our interconnected problems were first created.

Bottom-up, non-hierarchical, open-sourced, networked, peer-to-peer methodologies have a great potential in creating vast global coordinated actions. And already there are frequently occurring worldwide movements begun in a matter of days and weeks.

The interconnected solutions to these interconnected problems will come from moving humanity into the Empathic Age. When the amount of empathy increases in a system, solutions to many problems miraculously emerge – solutions that cannot just be rationally thought out – the solution arises out of the energy of connection with each other and with nature. Empathic communication methods and facilitation processes can help dramatically in guiding different people, demographics to understand and connect with each other. We can open-source the development and propagation of empathic communication and facilitation processes that bring people together can accelerate the oncoming of the Empathic Age. And our ability to empathise will increase as we do innerwork and become more self-aware.

Science and technology hold great potential in connecting us, whilst at the same time it holds the potential for runaway problems, and disconnecting us from our beingness. Technology can become like cancer cells, replicating without communication and coordination with other cells. To balance this out, we need to reconnect to our bodies, our emotions, to our communities, to indigenous wisdom, to nature and to earth.

In the Ken Wilber Integral theory approach each level of individual and social development transcends and includes the previous level. As we transcend to higher levels of rational development, we need to also include our emotions and our body awareness. We also want guide humanity to transcend the rational stage and move into higher consciousness ways of knowing.

In terms of social development, humanity transcended to a global stage of development, but in the process it has broken down rather than included the hyperlocal (town block and neighborhood level) and local (town level) stages of development ; our global economic, political, and technological forces have often ripped apart our local communities and structures. Humanity can launch a vast movement to relocalize and retribalize the economic, healthcare, entertainment, justice, political, education and food production sectors of our society. This is different than returning to previous local and tribal ways of life, because our local centers can be part a worldwide evolutionary learning network and cultural laboratory which prototypes methodologies, and then shares and picks up best practices and innovations. These best practices can model more empathic, connection-based, energy-based, and less dualistic processes for the different sectors of our societies. Punitive justice becomes restorative justice, transaction economics becomes a trust and sharing based economics, command-and-control politics becomes a facilitate synergy politics, ‘soaking up information’ education becomes transformational education, and reductionist and synthetic based medicine becomes holistic and energetic based medicine.

A social system works best when the social system has parts at all size scales (hyperlocal, local, …intermediary size scales…,global) which are autonomous, which can function to self-maintain, and self-heal itself (i.e. its holarchic. Relocalization helps bring about this structure.

Complex systems evolve so that each part plays many functions at once (called stacking functions in permaculture). If we attempt to organize the parts in a way so that they perform one function better without understanding the whole, leading to some roles that the parts play being destroyed, then the system will emerge malfunctioning side-effects. We will then have to try and find new solutions to those new malfunctions, which will then lead to more side-effects etc.. When the parts are not organized holistically at one level, they lead to side-effects at all size scales. For instance monoculture agriculture, or mono-use zoning of how neighborhoods seem to be well-ordered and allow easier top-down management. But they lead to all sorts of inefficiencies and mulitplying problems as we attempt to remedy those inefficiencies. In a healthy system parts/actions will often be playing a multiplicity of roles at the same time, roles that may be social, economic, agricultural, educational, healthcare, and entertainment at the same time. The way to approach a complex system at the hyperlocal and local scales is not an ordered top-down plan, and a command-and-control methodology, but rather an observe, listen, grow, tend, facilitate approach. The complex system then evolves into a state where it is adaptive and resilient, and where parts play multiple roles. The effects then ripple out to all size scales.

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4 thoughts on “How to approach the interconnected problems of our world

  1. I suggest reading The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout, Harvard psychologist. She suggests that her clinical work leads her to estimate that 4% of the population is sociopathic. They gravitate into positions of power. They have no conscience, no empathy and they think we empaths are ridiculous, but easy to manipulate.

    Until your theory includes a way to wrench power away from sociopaths and keep it away, you don’t have a chance. They will find ways to control others – money, war, propaganda, they don’t care.

    Why do the politicians just not care if millions of people lose their houses, their health care, their jobs, their lives. Why? Because they are incapable of empathy. Your project will founder unless you understand this and structure your ideology to avoid their power grab.

    Paul Palmer

  2. We are, regardless of how we organize ourselves, bound to live in a holarchic organic system. That we organize based on private property/physical ownership of land, personal privacy, objectification of the process of nature, self-interest, and according to a cubic, square, grid-like aesthetic, are all reflections of the same problematic cultural worldview, and point to a social ignorance of the fact that we live in a holarchic system. We are isolated by nationality, borders – Global North vs Global South, by social strata, by city and neighborhood, by apartment and lot; and we are also fragmented and isolated in our personal lives, in our minds, in our bodies. The same square, rigid, tense, and externalized process of objectification underwrites all of these, and the results co-reinforce each other from the level of the psyche to the level of global economics. I think you are absolutely correct that a “relocalization” and “retribalization” of our cultural expressions is the direction that we need to move. I also think that working with degenerative power will show itself to be the greatest hindrance to the institutionalization of these efforts. To “relocalize” and “retribalize” our economic institutions, for example, will require nothing short of a full blown cultural catharsis and revolutionary mobilization that is rooted in an altogether different set of linguistic-cultural categories and processes. A movement that is living from a different set of assumptions. You’re basically talking about convincing the Global Arms Industry that it should voluntarily shut down. Given the rapid genocide of indigenous people worldwide over the last 500 years, it is difficult to say – and even more difficult to demonstrate – what the requirements of such a worldview will be, in order to make it both resilient in the context of the modern world, as well as a complete embodiment of the kinds of listening and power necessary to take root even in the hearts of sheep. The good news is that time never started and won’t be stopping, and that Nature grows on trees, so when it really comes down to it, you might be able to avoid it for a while, but eventually that snake is gonna bite you.

    Thanks for the great article!

  3. I read about a third of the way through the text, noted perhaps a couple of times when anthropological terms were used out of context. I scanned the rest and read the comments. I suspect you would be interested in my mathematical theory of sociology. Here’s a post copied here that I made to the World Citizens Yahoo group:

    My recent post to the World Citizens Yahoo group sent to them 12/11/13:
    In 1969 I finished my last year of high school. I had college level math and science courses and better than passing grades in all classes except US Government. That meant I was officially a high school drop out as it was a required course. My high school sweet-heart and I went to Canada where we were accepted as landed immigrants and we planned to stay there if I was drafted to go to Vietnam. My draft lottery number came up as safe from being drafted and we returned to California. In that US Government class, I first had a seat near the front but asked too many embarrassing questions and was relegated to a seat in the back and my raised hand never called upon again. Seemed they did not want me in that class and I came to not want to be there either. I remember asking a question about the Bill of Rights, how does listing or declaring “rights” cause them to be respected? I could pose the same question here. I see at the bottom of the form for applying for world citizenship I am asked to send in a fee in US dollars. I suppose since nation-states are the only game in town the world citizen process must pay homage to them as real.
    When I was about seven years old my father published a book of his experiences in Syria working for US AID. In that book, “Foreign Aid: Our Tragic Experiment,” he informed of corruption in the agency he was working for and he was fired and not allowed to work for a government agency again. He had a degree in entomology and went back to school and attained teaching credentials as well as a degree in political science. He authored a study on the availability of research materials. That study led to the creation of the first computerized library catalog for which he is now remembered as a founding father. He was also a joint author of a study on how computers could aid urban existence. This was well before there were personal computers or the internet. He also was pivotal in stopping development that would destroy habitat of endangered species and helped found some wildlife preserves.
    In 1974 I read Buckminster Fuller’s book “Utopia or Oblivion” which led to my resolving to never seek a college degree. I then took the GED exam and entered college where I was free to study and conduct research as my parents had set up a trust fund that allowed me to devote full time to my studies. I composed a few major research projects that first year of college with one being “Intentional Communities: Alternative Lifestyles” where a woman twice my age and myself listed pros and cons of past and present attempts by people to drop out of conventional society and form their own. I also conducted a study “Nutritional Protection from Adverse Environmental Conditions” where I attempted to scope out what kind of dangers common disregard for our biosphere was bringing. I also conducted a study of the then proposed California Nuclear Safeguards Initiative which brought me into knowledge of how regulatory agencies do the opposite of their stated intent, control the public to protect private vested interests. My paper “Socioeconomic Abuse of Medicinal and Therapeutic Plant Products” during that first year of college focused on what caused misinformation to be spread wide and far, propaganda campaigns to squelch effective and efficient life sustaining and enhancing information. The desire for money appears as a powerful corrupting influence.
    In June of 1976 I resided in a cabin deep within old redwoods, far from electricity and plumbing where the quiet was more than any place I had lived before. One evening, a few days after being told and adopting methods of how one might make themselves attuned to receiving visions, with my papers before me on a table, I realized the task of figuring out how to organize people was one of survival. I remember thinking to myself that I was aware that money did not work. I saw a mathematical equation and a network diagram. It made a lot of sense to me but I questioned my sanity as no social endeavor seemed/seems to follow any chief engineering precept. I arranged a session with a psychiatrist who told me there was no evidence of insanity and that I just had an idea. I went back to college, full time for four years and then off and on since then. I studied math, computer science and sociology.
    Before entering college again I met with Buckminster Fuller in San Francisco at a little presentation he gave in the fall of ’76. Afterward I showed him the digraph of my idea and said I had a lot of work to do and he said “Appears you’ve done a lot already.” In 1980 I had suggested at my college in New Mexico where my step-dad was head of the math department, that we get Buckminster Fuller to speak. I chauffeured him between the airport and his hotel and he had dinner at our house. He was able to spend hours looking at some of the research I had conducted into my social theory. Before he left on the jet the next morning he told me “There appears to be a reasonable excitation.” This was shortly before he died. We corresponded once before he passed away and he shared that anything worthy would get support.
    In my fourth year of college I authored a research paper “Functional and Evolutionary Implications of Societal Patterning” where I looked at the descriptive statistics that resulted from historical and anthropological research into past socialization attempts. This was the deductive logic approach to researching my social theory and the trends, ever less longevity of these socializing experiments and ever greater population coverage, suggests something very akin to my social theory does appear to be what we are seeking, continual real-time dissolution and resolution of concerns for all of humanity.
    Study of existing characteristics of known information control systems, cybernetics, brought some hints of possible compliance with my theory, an inductive logic approach. In 2011 a major research project was reported where about a thousand people were studied using functional magnetic resonance indication, fMRI, to come upon the characteristics of the networks used by our brain cells, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3174820/ . Appears highly likely the seventy billion cells in the associative cortex of each of us use something quite similar to my social theory to share all for the good of all. Appears likely my network topology idea is used by the most successful cybernetic systems in our environment, huge populations of thinking entities acting as one in the associative cortex of mammals.
    I have attempted to formulate my own opinion, as directly as possible, without overt dependence on anyone’s interpretation, on the evident characteristics of climate change you can see here: http://www.transitiontownsca.org/forum/topics/how-serious-is-climate-change . I have attempted to design a business idea that could foster material and energy independence with potential greenhouse gas neutral methods that you can peruse here: http://www.viableliving.org .
    I have collected materials and hope to conduct some experiments that might avail the most efficient, least impact and least costly way to get electricity from wind. You can see a simple Tinkertoys(R) model of a component here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcpFqRsGU10 . William Hotine, the inventor of that wind vane idea, helped me get on my feet and back to college after my vision in 1976. His only comment on my social theory was “Everything has to start somewhere.” An independent inventor in Canada also came up with the windmill idea and you can see his video animation here: http://challenge.ecomagination.com/ideas/The-Chopper—The-next-generation-of-win . Unlike any other method, Hotine vanes allow for full use of counter-rotating magnet rotor disks within the generator component which may avail as much as eight times more efficiency than conventional current methods. They immediately orient to wind from any direction while simultaneously almost completely feathering returning vanes. Two sets of two of these vanes, each directly driving magnet rotor disks in opposite directions could be the basis of relatively small and light weight generators. Two old Quantum Bigfoot hard drives disassemble to provide two sealed but serviceable wheel bearing races that easily bolt together for at least an experimental platform of counter-rotating disks. Instead of windings I have a disk of copper to start as it seems such experimentation hasn’t occurred. If some variant of the first generator made by Faraday could be applied except with fixed electromotive material, the complication of making windings might be avoided. My first guess is that alternating magnetic fields will induce alternating current between rim and center of the disk but could be mistaken. I now have what I need to pursue this further and it wouldn’t be hard for you to acquire such too. Considering the stator windings or fixed middle disk as the main support element will help you understand that the rotors and vanes are supported by the stator. It is thought a wicker cage around the entire unit for wildlife safety would also be attached at the central electromotive material. The entire some 35 pounds could then be hung from or between existing structures or trees not requiring a dedicated support tower. Preliminary estimates suggest use of ten of these units would cost ten times less than current equivalent power producing currently commercially available schemes.
    People see our socializing attempts as something other than experimental, often portrayed as god-sanctioned unquestionable certitudes. We appear plagued with what Daniel C. Dennet called “a psychological aberration,” epistemological relativism. Best way to get a handle on the idea of epistemic relativism is to consider it as the opposite of the scientific method where the weight of opinion is thought to determine truth rather than vice versa. It appears to be the rationale behind disseminating propaganda as well as believing it. Some logical snafus it suggests are that might makes right, what you don’t know can’t hurt you (ignorance is bliss), killing the messenger invalidates the message and that words speak louder than actions. This psychological stance appears to be a result of anomie, our current lack of a guidance system. We are taught to recognize some things as real that are disingenuous. Check out the first sentence of the US Constitution. If maybe with “some of the people” or just removing the first “the” it could be logically true but as stated it is a false statement. Seems sort of like a Peter Playlet named after J. Lawrence Peter who recognized the Peter Principle, designed to keep people from taking it too seriously. Those founding fathers of the US were neither heartless nor mindless.
    You can see a Google presentation on my idea that is a bit old, from before I became aware of the fMRI studies here: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/18n1B4keW-EBfM-KjLtu71OOFL-Qrlc-E6pBYNsuO-IY/present#slide=id.i0 . I was considering Java as the platform but now see Clojurescript as appropriate to make an experimental social application that could facilitate people trying out my networking idea over the web. Unlike some commercial claims to having graph database tools, this idea would generate what appears as the most salient if what are edges of our networking is considered as strictly between humans, humans the only nodes considerable for sustaining. Respecting human rights is moral and logical. There within is the intelligence we need to survive the information explosion. Would be a shame for us to destroy ourselves for the sake of some relatively unreal institutions.
    How serious is our need for a functional society? I find we are liable to destroy our biosphere and consequentially humanity if we cannot find a way to cherish and foster integrity. One way might be through accidents climate change aggravates upon our already inappropriate uses of technology such as the worsening conditions at Fukushima that you can begin to understand through http://www.enenews.com .
    What now? I am 60 years old and still seem to have recourse to do things. In about 1985 I conducted an experiment, supplements and diet to aid brain functioning as well as using a rowing machine daily for 12 minutes to pursue William Glasser’s positive addiction concept. I kept it up for a month. At the end of that month I witnessed the ability to perceive conditions to the extent that I easily accomplished some quite complex tasks, multiple instances where communications between people seemed to border on mind reading. Perhaps such an ability to be in touch with perceptions caused some of the most convincing experiences of some sort of precognition that I have witnessed. Depictions of a heightened awareness state of mind is shown in the recent movie “Limitless” as well as somewhat theorized in other movies and in literature. At the end of that month I quickly abandoned the regimen. I was losing long time negative addictions, some foods, smoking tobacco. In that movie, notice that the phenomenon is shown as requiring personal totally understanding support to sustain. This is the way it is depicted in other speculations such as “The Philosopher’s Stone” by Colin Wilson or another story by Brunner. Some of the causality details show themselves in the advent of discovery such as with LSD which apparently was explored for potential consciousness expanding after inadvertent self contamination by a researcher. Exploring the evidence, the science of how various known “smart” drugs and foods operate, helps to see what needs to be pursued to increase our own information handling utility. The psychological results of various socializing patterns needs attention with steerage towards that which sustains.
    I reside near San Jose, California. I am very much in tune with the spirit behind the idea of there being world citizens only I think it may require some focused actions more than words. If you are near me, appreciate the scientific method as seeking least violence, get in touch and maybe we can sort of catalyze our mutual concerns.
    Best to all.
    Tom

  4. Tom that’s a very interesting story. Where else do you write and publish or post your writing?

    I looked for you on facebook but did not find you.

    Enhancing and leverageing and increasing intelligence is one of my major interests, and I also was deeply influenced by Fuller’s materials. I have applied the method he used to enhance his intelligence, and have considerable subjective and objective results from it, and sound reason to belive it could be applied by anyone with great benefits.

    Collective intellitgence enhancement is also a topic i study. And see it also as being of critical imporetance to the future of minds and consciousness on this planet whose surface we inhabit.

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