We all know change and experience it all the time, the stages of the day and the seasons of the year being great examples of natural change. There are times when other changes are more extensive, more far-reaching, and have a more significant impact, like the times we are living through right now.
Cultures are complex systems that serve a purpose not just to support us but also to advance our knowledge and quality of life. We rely on them. When they are not working well, for one reason or another, we are all affected.
Surviving Has Brought Big Benefits
We, humans, have progressed through numerous cultural stages to arrive where we are today. Our willingness to make changes in our cultural systems and to improve our knowledge and skills is a big reason for the success we have achieved. You could say that in some ways, especially technologically, we have been exceptionally successful.
Underlying all of our human activity has been a need to survive, which for humans is no easy feat since we have few defenses. The drive to survive has been our dominant agenda for thousands of years. Our various cultural systems have focused on creating the skills and tools to support human life. That is how we have addressed our physical vulnerability in this world.
Because we needed to focus on survival, we developed certain aspects of ourselves and not others. Warrior traits and engineering skills have been our top priority and most valued. They have brought us a lot of support for sustaining human life. The accomplishments are mind-boggling. I am in awe of the many inventions which have improved human quality of life.
The Downside Of Success
Our success means there are now 8 billion people on a planet struggling to survive high consumption demands. We have innumerable conflicts and severe social and economic inequality. We need to make a shift to rebalance.
The reasons for some of the pressures for change are not always obvious. Our capitalistic system is highly complex. It has created business and government systems that deliver sophisticated products and services. To do so, people have been educated in the skills and knowledge necessary to develop and sustain these highly complex systems.
These individuals, of course, want to put their talents to work, but they also want to be themselves and have a voice in the conditions in their lives. The evolution of the economic system has been the foundation for expanded diversity and a more complex social/political system: democracy. It is the very advances we have made to sustain ourselves that are creating space for social and political changes.
From Surviving To Thriving
If we continue in our high-conflict, high-consuming ways, the planet cannot survive, and of course, we will not survive either. The days of limitless natural resources are over, and we need to take the opportunity to consolidate our gains and restructure for the realities of today, not the conditions of thousands of years ago so that we can restore the health of the planet and the people on it.
I believe we need to shift our primary focus from surviving to thriving. That means we have to let go of s fear-based world and embrace one that supports thriving. Thriving embraces health and quality of life as primary values. A practice of joy provides us with a personal path to support the shift to a healthier world, one that works for us as individuals, members of our communities, and citizens of this beautiful planet we call home.