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Graves and the Anthropocene

The World Economic Forum published its 2019 Annual Global Risk Report this week, and for the third consecutive year, it points to Climate Change as the most ominous threat to the global economy. Sadly the paradigm this powerful group holds on this issue only has the effect of re-arranging some of the chairs on the sinking Titanic as it seeks solutions for our greatest threat through the narrow scope of economic activity.  What is needed is for these world business leaders to shift their focus from “economics” to “everything that underlies planetary life.” This is quickly becoming the essential Quantum Leap in our values that we must make to ensure planetary survival.

This is a monumental task that’s being undertaken by people and institutions from many different disciplines,  but what hasn’t been considered seriously is the psychosocial approach to the challenge. Specifically, the Gravesian approach. In a recent piece I wrote for Kosmos Quarterly‘s Special Edition on Climate Change, I introduce the possibility of what’s missing from the current calculus on this matter.  Below is a small section of that piece describing the nature of the problem.

In the Gravesian development model, we believe that evolution of human consciousness is an endless quest. It is a psychosocial model that relies on two essential cornerstones that determine how adequately we resolve life’s challenges. The first lies in the problems of existence. It is in how well we identify the depth and breadth of these problems that the necessary Adaptive Intelligence within us (individually and collectively) is triggered and an adequate solution is pursued as our conscious recalibrates at higher levels.

The problem we face today is that human existence so far has been limited to what we call the values of subsistence where we choose to either compete or cooperate, but with little awareness of planetary values. We are not fully conscious of the fact that we are an inseparable part of earth’s ecology. We rarely think in terms of the world being a single organism with its own collective mind and that we are all part of a compassionate, dynamic whole, inseparable from nature.

On our journey so far, we’ve identified our problems of existence to be primarily of social, political, or technological nature. As we exhausted the values of each system we successfully sought solutions from a higher-level system throughout the Holocene with little regard to problems of existence that lay outside our subsistent worldview and therein lays humanity’s biggest challenge.

In his research, Clare W. Graves showed this particular issue to be of utmost concern. His greatest fear was that our species will become complacent as it indulged in the spoils of the lower value systems ignoring existential threats that lay outside it’s conscious awareness thus derailing our emergence back to hunter-gatherer values. He made these predictions in the early 1970s a few decades before climate change became a major concern. Graves also offered an optimistic scenario where we embark on taking a momentous leap in values requiring completely different mindsets capable of responding to problems of existence that ail all forms of life, not just our own.

This is precisely what the Anthropocene calls for since our problems of existence are no longer just sociopolitical or technological in nature. We need to adequately represent the defenseless planet and all her ecosystems. In order to do that we first and foremost must embark on a comprehensive worldwide campaign to become the mouthpiece for the planet. It is in doing so that we gain a fuller picture of our new problems of existence in order to trigger the needed Adaptive Intelligence capable of addressing the degradation of planetary ecosystems.

In order to have more knowledge about this half of the Gravesian model at the level that addresses planetary survival, we must embody earth’s problems of existence as our own. Today, initiatives such as the empowerment of the values of the commons, the green revolution, sustainability practices, and regenerative economics, as noble as they are, they’re operating on partial data, and therefore, much of our Adaptive Intelligence on this issue has remained dormant.

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