During this period of home isolation we have gone from imagining a post-pandemic future to assimilating that we will need to be individually and socially ready to live long-term with COVID-19. But how is this coexistence going to change people and the planet? These days we are seeing many projections around the future to come, some argue that we are fastly transitioning into a new worldwide scenario, others believe we will get back relatively soon to business as usual. But we are really evidencing that despite the access to mountains of data it is impossible to tell what will happen in the coming weeks. With this post I want to give life to another interesting question that is: what future are we willing to co-create together? I believe that both questions are relevant but the first one places us as passive objects behind daily events; the second one places us as conscious subjects at the epicenter of social change.
In recent years we have been experiencing different forms of crisis in our globalized capitalist system that have not awakened substantial changes in our individual and social consciousness: the 2008 economic crisis, the climate emergency, social inequalities, the refugee crisis, or the democratic crisis with the rise of far-right parties. But how are all these crisis alike and different from the COVID-19 one? All of them show the limits of an unfair and exclusive system; they are all interconnected and show us that we live in a highly systemic world; all of them cause devastation, deaths and pain, especially for the most vulnerable population. But only the COVID-19 context has locked down our economies; only this crisis is generating real panic and pain in developed countries; and only this situation has locked more than half of the world in their homes on a journey into our inner-self.
Last week we had an inspiring community call with colleagues from the WeavingLabaround ‘Weaving a thriving COVID-ready world’. In our discussion I really resonated with Thömas Björkman’s idea on the role of human consciousness in social change. Tomas suggested that the industrial revolution was based on the acceptance of our limited knowledge of our outside world. It was this acceptance and our curiosity to better know our outside world that made us discover new continents and made us reach the moon. On the other hand, he explained that the revolution of our time in a socialized and homogenizing world is the acceptance of our limited knowledge of our inner world. For him, this acceptance will lead us to new discoveries that will be the great step forward for humanity in our century. In the midst of globalization and outside openness, the isolation and limited human interaction that we are now experiencing pushes us into ourselves, and invites us to a trip that doesn’t need a budget or an electronic ticket, a trip to a place that perhaps we had not visited in depth lately.
The French philosopher René Descartes understood consciousness as the basis of certainty and rationality, representing the awareness that something is known and gives life to our inner-being. The COVID-19 crisis will have multiple systemic consequences, some of them devastating for our life projects, but it will also have a transcending impact on the inner-self and world consciousness of many people and communities. These days I am experiencing how the inner-self journey of so many people connects us intimately with what really makes us human beings. I believe that this momentum can contribute to awakening higher levels of individual and social consciousness that can accelerate a transition towards a more human, equitable and environmentally sustainable system. The bad and well-known news here is that just by awakening the conscience of many will not be enough to release what we do have and do not want, and bend the powerful forces that drive the business as usual.
Thus, to take advantage of this momentum and accelerate the social transition we must support people and communities to develop higher levels of self, collective and environmental consciousness. Harvard developmental psychologist Robert Kegan explains that being more conscious means moving from a «socialized mind», where people seek to satisfy others without taking responsibility, to a «self-actualizing mind», with higher levels of personal initiative, freedom and responsibility. The process of supporting people throughout life towards higher levels of consciousness will need to transcend previously unconscious habits and beliefs. In turn, professionals and organizations committed to education, health and societal wellbeing must question their own professional and organizational practices and theories, and reimagine new links, forms and spaces where people from all ages feel supported and respected to assume responsibilities and make individual and collective choices.
The present challenge we face as a global society is to support and connect these bottom up processes of human and collective growth, weaving the forces of people, organizations, communities, sectors and diverse disciplines committed with the co-creation of a more equitable society that takes care of the planet we inhabit. Luckily we already have a capital built with many people, organizations and communities who work in this direction and vibrate with this energy of consciousness and social change. Now it is time to move from being in contact to being connected in a authentic and horizontal way, locally and also internationally, giving us support, celebrating diversity, learning from one another and expanding our connections with broader networks. Now is the time to support and weave people and communities to become authentic authors of their own life in a broad and profound sense.