With Harari’s 21 lessons for the 21st century in mind: There is no way to survive these challenges…
Adelheid Hörnlein
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Lack of interior development in relation to the sophistication of our exterior technologies is becoming increasingly problematic day by day. There is a real maturity gap and it is growing proportionally to the advances in science and technology. You can only do so much damage with a bow and arrow but give a tribal person access to an atomic bomb (which it never had the capacity to develop on its own, within its own worldview) and it will be a catastrophe.

As Ken Wilber says, interior development starts at square one for every newly born human. Societies need to make sure via means of education that people don’t get stuck in their ego- or ethno-centric identities but are able to continue their growth towards world- and even cosmo-centric identities that are ever-wider, ever-more compassionate than their predecessors.

An estimated 70% of the world population is hovering at ethnocentric or lower waves of interior development. Those people won’t be of great help in facing the global challenges as long they are driven by their local ethnic agendas. There needs to be an alignment around a truly superordinate goal such as “the survival of the human species in the face of global warming”.

The main issue is that ethnocentric values and ethnocentric consciousness are usually stuck in us vs. them dynamics. We need a narrative that truly transcends and includes the predominant narratives of people at these waves of the developmental spectrum. The “enemy” has to become global warming. “Us” has to become “the human species”. The “sacred battle” or “jihad” has to become a fight against emissions. Well, that’s a tall order of global storytelling to be pulled off on a global scale. You can’t find it in the Bible or the Koran, so you would have to rely on authority figures from religious traditions (or even the communist party), to role-model the expected and sacred values and behaviors (“Jesus would install solar panels and abhor driving an SUV”).

If we can’t get 70% of the world’s population to help by aligning their interior meaning making under a shared superordinate goal, we need at least make sure that their exterior behavior is not at odds with where we need to go collectively. The classic way of doing this is using laws and regulations, along with appropriate sanctions. THAT is a language everybody understands.

Hence the importance of globally binding laws for nation-states in terms of reduction of emissions, real consequences for violations, etc. But this requires the leaders, heads of states to have a certain level of cognition and values, to begin with. The sad, sad thing is that an increasing number of politicians seem to emerge on the world stage (voted into office by the 70% of the ethnocentric population) who seem to lack both or either one of them.

You need something like late “green” or early “teal” cognition (systemic or meta-systemic) to begin to even understand the systemic problem posed by destructive international competition (the nation that moves first, suffers from loss of competitiveness, hence nobody dares to do the right thing and we all go to hell together). You need to make that vicious circle object, to not be subjected by its workings. Hence, the drawing of the Immunity Map for Climate Change action. Only THEN you can grasp the direction in which the potential solution may be found (simultaneously enacted global policies, so that no one nation suffers unduly from doing the right thing), only THEN you understand that you URGENTLY need to redesign the entire incentive structure of the system. Only then you can overcome the Immunity to acting on CO2 reduction goals.

So what do we need? Basically, we only need a handful of sufficiently developed leaders or representatives of nation-states that agree to implement a simultaneous policy on a given, global problem. The Simpol campaign proposes that democratic leaders can be compelled by their national electorate to sign on the Simpol support pledge. The mechanism has been demonstrated to work in different countries already. Quite counter-intuitively, it uses the fierce competition among parties for votes as a lever to drive the politicians into pledges for larger, global cooperation.

So, I don’t support the hypotheses that there is no way to survive these challenges. I see at least one. But it has to be enacted. Like very soon. Otherwise, we won’t be around to find out if it works.