If you polled people with this question, “What do you believe is the greatest crisis we face as a species?” you’d get a range of answers but probably not the following one.
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With this eye-catching title, Humanity’s Greatest Challenge and Its Solution, a recent blog by Kim Cranston on HuffingtonPost begins, “Climate change is not humanity’s greatest challenge (even though scientists predict it may unleash public unrest, cross-border conflicts and mass migration in 20 years, and increase the global surface temperature up to 11.5 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100).
“Neither are pandemics, nuclear proliferation, water scarcity, the Middle East conflict, or many other things you might think.
“Our greatest challenge is that our institutions can’t resolve any of these challenges, let alone prioritize climate change as the challenge that poses the greatest threat if we don’t act immediately. Until we address the crisis of the failure of our institutions to resolve the significant challenges we face, don’t expect progress on any of them.” 1
So, what this author is emphasizing is that none of the major crises we face in the 21st Century are the real problems, rather, it’s our inability to fix problems!
I was delighted to see such honesty in a relatively mainstream media venue. I read through to the end of the article to learn what the author’s solution might be and found a comment from Dee Hock, the Founder and CEO Emeritus of Visa Inc. He “recognized some time ago that most of the ‘problems’ we think we have ‘are symptom not disease. At bottom, we have an institutional problem, and until we properly diagnose and deal with it, all societal problems will get progressively worse.’” 2
It‘s admirable that people are looking beyond the symptoms and recognizing causative influences. In this case, the title may or may not be misleading, if we were thinking that a solution would actually be offered, rather than just identified.
Yes, our institutions are ineffective. So, how do we fix that? That would be a solution, which is more than identifying a solution… if we could somehow develop the reality vs the theory.
The article concludes with some familiar wisdom: “Continuing to expect our institutions to resolve the ‘problems’ that their ‘solutions’ are in fact compounding may fit Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” As Einstein observed: “The significant problems we face cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.” It is time for us to consciously evolve our institutions to a higher level from which they can solve the problems they are now creating—the survival of our civilizations, and perhaps our species, depends on it.” 3
Agreed again. So, how exactly would we “consciously evolve our institutions to a higher level?” First, we would need to acknowledge that there is a higher level. If so, what would that level be? Second, we would also acknowledge that our institutions are full of people. If we want them to change, the people in our institutions will have to change.
It’s personal. And the real problem is the default setting in human consciousness of egoic identification, with the illusion of separation that it creates and maintains. This is the root of all conflict and suffering. All conflict arises from disunity, from living in separation.
As long as we don’t address this causative issue, we maintain the archaic thinking Einstein correctly predicted would maintain our problems. This means that, regardless of what we do—while maintaining that egoic identification and the thinking that accompanies it—we are bound to perpetuate the very problems we are trying to solve.
I think humanity has proven that point!
If smart people rallied around the central premise of this article, agreed, and got busy trying to fix the problem of institutional ineffectiveness it would create further institutional ineffectiveness, unless their individual consciousness changed.
This is a spiritual problem. That is what’s causative to all our crises. They are symptoms of one cause: humanity’s egoic identification in separation from its source.
Until that is addressed, we can expect more crises, more frustration in failing to solve them, and more calls for finding the real remedy. Ironically, the answer is hiding in plain sight: “Wake up to our oneness in the web of life!”
Until we evolve beyond egoic identification and embrace our oneness in life, we will continue to function as “loose cannons,” wreaking havoc via good intentions and sinking deeper into illusion. Instead, we might try letting go of that identity—it’s challenging so it takes effort to maintainand wake up to the truth of who we really are.
Even just a hint of wakefulness can give us immense hope, because we will experience the organizing intelligence that is beating our hearts and effortlessly steering the stars. Imagine harnessing that genius to solve our problems!
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