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Self & System


part one

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Whether it's the black lives matter, the global pandemic, or the climate crisis, we're seeing the flaws and fragility of our current civilization laid bare. As overwhelming as it may feel, it's time to come together, explore these complex challenges, and seek deeper understanding.

As current events continue to make clear, our individual decisions have a direct impact on not only our lives but those of our fellow human beings. Our actions have ripple effects on our natural environment, our culture, and the collective consciousness.  While this has always been true, it's never been so clear to so many. Naturally, if we want to create a society that truly serves human well-being, then we must understand how our system currently works against it.  Only then can we make new decisions to push us in a more promising direction.  

In this series of essays, we're going to explore the unique challenges of our time from a systemic level to understand the "big" hurdles that we must overcome.  In the next installments, we'll explore what we, as conscious agents inside that system, can do to help tip the balance toward a more resilient and vibrant and empathetic civilization.  

Now, let's explore. 

As current global crises make clear,

human civilization needs a serious upgrade. 



As the global shutdowns and stay-at-home orders have made clear, the world wasn't ready for a global pandemic at all.  Even now, we're flying quite blind and, until a vaccine is developed, .  Moving forward, we must foster greater communication and collaboration across the world to ensure our civilization is resilient and responsive enough to meet civilization-level challenges. 



Long before the Coronavirus, the climate crisis was proving that humanity needed to start to working together to transform our civilization's habits.  Rather than produce and pollute with no concern for the downstream consequences, now we must figure out how to sustain our civilization in with a green, closed-loop economy that champions sustainable consumption and poprotects the planet we call home.  

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The Black Lives Matter Movement has shone a light on police brutality, inequality, and systemic racism.  

But this is to say nothing of other long-standing threats to human civilization.  

Image by Andy Li





When systems break down,

it is the responsibility of individuals

to build better systems.


To build better systems,

we must better understand

human nature.


The best way to understand

human nature is to look inward

and understand ourselves.


With a deeper understanding

of human nature (self),

we will build better systems.



The better a system is,

the greater the Whole it serves.

These global challenges demand we unlock a deeper level of collaboration than any moment in human history. 


So, what prevents us from working together?" 

I believe we're struggling because, for centuries, we've been fighting each other.  Grudges tend to linger and get passed down in memory, so we get stuck in a endless cycle of traumatization.  Rather than come to grips with this, we 

We've learned that the struggle for a better world must always be waged against one another.  In other words, we're primed to think of every battle in terms of versus. 


But with our current crises, we face opponents that don't fight for a flag or care about man-made borders.  We are facing opponents that lie within human nature itself.  


Simply put, we are not used to tackling challenges that demand collaboration at this scale.  And it's very difficult to de-condition ourselves of this rivalrous, competitive mindset.   So while the old battles we fought allowed us to fight for or against something, now the only choice we have is to fight together.  Of course, you can't fight global warming with standing armies nor can you take out the Coronavirus with a nuclear arsenal. This is a fundamentally different kind of fight and one which requires a much greater form of strength.  

Rivalry and Competition must give way to Collaboration and Creativity.


The problem we must solve is the very idea of versus.   


Capit capture and control psychology instills the idea of competition into our ​every interaction.  

wrong incentives

CONSUMERISM - Endlessly comparing 

Of course, what drives the capitalist economy?  In America, 70% of our gross domestic product (GDP) comes from consumer culture.  AnHyper-stimulated consumption simply can't be sustained on a planet with limited resources. The natural environment can't handle this feverish pace, and judging from the declining mental health in modern society, neither can we.  We've been living our lives on balance sheets with profit as our only purpose.  Not surprisingly, we've fallen out of balance with the natural world (see: climate crisis) and 

CAPITALISM - Endless competition 

For a long time, capitalism has instilled in us the belief that competition is the engine of progress.  And in the 20th Century that's been largely true. Capitalism helped drive incredible innovation and progress.  But now in the 21st Century, we're seeing that this has concentrated wealth in the hands of a very few who can not only use this wealth to stifle competition but also to influence government policy that would otherwise ensure healthy competition and common-sense tax policies that ensure a healthy society. 

Rather than produce and pollute with no concern for the downstream consequences or consume with no concern for the upstream sources, now we must figure out how to sustain our civilization in with a green, closed-loop economy that champions sustainable consumption and protects the planet we call home.  

We also can you ignore the downstream consequences of that extractive economy (see: climate change).

The current crises demand greater collaboration, the systems we have are primarily designed to encourage competition.  While competition can be a healthy thing -- for example when two companies compete for your business --  it can become very unhealthy when those same two companies seek to earn your business by, for example, cutting corners in production process.

In the next installment in this series, we'll look at the role that modern technology has had in this systemic breakdown. 

The problem we solve depends on what we define as the enemy. So simply rattling our sabers at the big bad system doesn't actually make the system change.  

To create systemic change, we must go many steps deeper.  first understand the system much better, then we must understand why it is so effective at drawing us into it, and finally we 

part I     Systemic Breakdown: A Call to Consciousness

part II    Sense-Making in An Attention Economy

part III   Self-Actualization & The American Dream

part IV   Self Realization & The End of Sides

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