The Path to a Future: Peace

Part 4 in the serialization of the The Path to A Future. The critical link between peace and democracy.

A new section will be posted every 2 weeks during 2011. Enjoy!
If you want to get a free PDF of the book go to http://www.standardsoflife.org/thepathtoafuture.

We’re not talking about the global cessation of violence because suddenly everyone has seen the light, and forgiven their neighbors as they would be forgiven themselves. What is necessary for The Path is simply the cessation of violence sufficient to allow those afflicted to stop wasting time, resources, people and technology on destruction. This waste affects everyone around the globe, irrespective of their direct proximity to, or involvement in, the conflict itself.

The causes of conflicts are many, but they can be distilled into fractions of disenfranchisement and ignorance. They are about people having the right and the power to make choices about their own environment. Everywhere you find conflict, you will find one group fighting for their rights and another group fighting to deny them their rights. Quite often, the identity of these groups swings between them over time, as they get caught in the cycle of conflict.

So if enfranchisement and rights are at the root of all conflicts, what are people’s rights? What does someone, anyone, have an unassailable, natural right to? The answer is simple: everyone has a right to participate in the decisions that affect them in proportion to all the other people that share the constituency of those decisions. This is the basic format of democracy, and draws its strength and veracity from simple observation of the nature of being a human, living a life.

Starting at the center of each person, standing in the space they are in, it is possible to construct circles (constituencies) that radiate out, like ripples on a pond, to include wider and larger populations of others. In each one of these circles, each person has an equal say as all the others in the same circle.

The way to peace, then, is for there to be a mechanism that abides by the simple truth of every person’s rights and allows for the resolution of differences. Such a mechanism would allow individuals to assert their rights in their local environment, without threatening the integrity of a wider circle.

The mechanism to achieve this is representative democracy, except practiced in a vastly more representative manner than we have yet to implement. Our democracies in the modern world are wonderful for what they are, but we need a greatly enhanced version if we are to bring peace to the majority of the world. We need “super-democracy”. This advanced, super democratic model has features not found together in any of the versions of democracy being practiced in the world today, although some aspects can be seen in some parts of some modern systems.

The super-democracy model is a voluntarily self associating, proportionally representative, multi-layer, directly elected system.

Let’s break that down so that we can better understand how it works, starting at the end:

  • Directly elected: all the citizens vote directly for the same candidates. No electoral colleges and no subdivisions of each circle or constituency.
  • Multi-layer: every citizen has a direct vote in each constituency of which he or she is a member. Constituencies are geographically defined areas, starting with local communities and stretching all the way up to a global constituency encompassing all the people of the world. A rational model for these layers gives every person a vote in five constituencies: community, region, state, transterritory and world.
  • Proportionally representative: a vote counting system that provides equal weight to every voter’s vote, in proportion to the other voters in that constituency.
  • Voluntarily self associating: each constituency is empowered to choose its association with the constituency that contains it. For example, a Community can choose to belong to any Region with which it is geographically contiguous. The same goes for Regions and States.

The combination of these attributes into a coherent political model empowers people to take responsibility for themselves, and then build on that to resolve their differences with their neighbours. This form of super-democracy has the power to mutate conflict into disagreement, and from there to allow the motivation of self interest to drive future cooperation and progress.

This model is not just for people in conflict areas, everyone needs to be availed of the benefits of super-democracy. You will see as we travel The Path that it is vitally important that we have a properly representative system to support our decision making. Its exemplary adoption by those of us already living in relative peace is vitally important to the movement of the world’s conflicts from violent destruction to negotiated disputes within the short time available to us.

By establishing a mechanism that allows people to have control over their immediate environment, and yet be part of larger and larger entities, super-democracy removes the need for the larger constituencies to impose their identity on their members. At the same time, it provides the smallest communities the right to self-determination without threatening their neighbours. The simple process of allowing self-determination to coexist within structures that also provide for harmonization, is the key to peace and is the power of super-democracy. Its structure allows those in conflict to work their own way out, at their own pace, and based on their own self interests.

Conflict comes from inside those involved in it, and the peace has to come from them too. However, conflict also tends to deprive people and their communities of the resources and infrastructure necessary to support the administration of democracy, which makes moving out of a cycle of conflict all the more difficult. Those external to the conflict can help by providing guidance, process, structure, facilitation and support to the afflicted as they replace conflict with democracy. Because the administrative infrastructure for super-democracy is not geographically or culturally dependent, generic training systems, voting systems, technology and legislative bureaucracy packages can be developed for rapid deployment anywhere in the world.

So the first building block on our Path is super-democracy. A building material sufficiently robust to be used in the roughest parts of our landscape, and yet flexible enough to accommodate the particular topology of different situations. A simple, yet malleable, foundation for peace on our Path.

The Path to a Future: The Three Premises

Part 3 in the serialization of the The Path to A Future. The Path of orderly change.

A new section will be posted every 2 weeks during 2011. Enjoy!
If you want to get a free PDF of the book go to http://www.standardsoflife.org/thepathtoafuture.

Peace, security and prosperity.

The interrelated, mutual dependence of these three factors is the essence of The Path, and we must understand those relationships in some depth if we are to avoid the navigation problems of our past. Tackled independently from each other none of them is attainable, but pursued with a fundamentally integrated vision all of them are achievable.

  • Peace allows us to focus our efforts and resources on the real problems.
  • Mutual, universal security allows everyone to move beyond survival to become active and voluntary participants in building the Path.
  • Prosperity is the incentive that draws people to the Path, and it is the reward returned to everyone for building it.

These three premises are inextricably linked, and vital to each other’s success.

A context that helps to frame the situation we find ourselves in today arose in the last century with the dawn of the nuclear age, when we ushered in that most human of innovations: Mutually Assured Destruction, or MAD for short. In so doing, we helped to set the groundwork for where we are today: MADDER (Mutually Assured Displacement and Destruction by Environmental Reduction).

Whereas MAD left our fate resting on the decisions and actions of a very few military and political leaders, not going MADDER depends on the decisions and actions of the vast majority of our planet’s inhabitants. This necessity for hundreds of billions of decisions drives the course of the Path at every turn. If the Path does not provide for every citizen, every community, every nation, and every continent to join in and travel the same route, it will not lead us to our desired destination. It will only leave us madder.

To get everyone involved, the Path must offer everyone the opportunity to participate in the journey and the destination. The peace, security and prosperity that are the features of the Path must be available to, and attainable by, everyone. I’m sure that peace, security and prosperity are already most people’s goals in life, so it is not their desirability but their attainability that is the issue.

This is a very important element that is worth sitting with a while. Any solution, strategy or plan that does not account for the need to motivate and incorporate the vast majority of the world’s population into the processes cannot succeed. Good ideas that serve a minority will not result in the level of change necessary to mitigate our planetary impact. The need for universal participation requires that we adhere to serving the greater good of all, if we are to succeed for any of us individually. It’s almost as if the universe set up this situation specifically to make us face our most profound choices.

We have spent the last thousand years promoting and establishing mechanisms and behaviours that have led directly to where we are today. We have been so successful in that endeavour that we are now faced with the equal task of disestablishing or diverting those patterns without destabilizing our entire structure. The only way to do this is to make sure that we are following naturally sound principles that serve all the participants, as well as each of us individually.

Peace, security and prosperity are big words, often used by many, and meaning very different things in different contexts. They have quite specific meanings for the Path, so before we go on to explore the relationships between these three premises and their application in our lives, let’s get clear about what we mean by each one, individually.

The Path to a Future: The Path

Part 2 in the serialization of the The Path to A Future. The Path of orderly change.

A new section will be posted every 2 weeks during 2011. Enjoy!
If you want to get a free PDF of the book go to http://www.standardsoflife.org/thepathtoafuture.

What makes now such an important time is that we have reached a crossroads. We are at a point where the only constraint on our destination is our choice of direction, our decision to limit our impact on our environment, this planet.

We have scaled the heights of growth and technology so effectively that, without a singular focus on living sustainably, we will change our planet’s environment very significantly, probably catastrophically. No matter where you live, or how rich you are, or how clever you are, you cannot be sure that you or your offspring will be amongst the survivors of climate change. Your best bet, by a long shot, is to choose orderly change over chaos. The Path is that orderly change.

The Path follows a simple logic that goes like this:

  • In order to bring about the global changes necessary to avoid catastrophic climate change we need peace. Without peace we will not be able to assemble or coordinate the resources and processes required to build The Path to a Future.
  • Even with peace, we still need everyone’s voluntary, personal and active participation in order to make the right choices, select the best leaders, develop the technologies, work together and implement the changes.
  • We’re not going to get global peace and cooperation unless there’s something in it for everyone. The Path to a Future cannot just be in people’s eventual interest; it must be the best thing for each and every one of us to do now.
  • Finally, The Path has to lead to a future that we want to live in. The future we aim for must be much better if we are collectively going to make the effort required to get there. This future must not only be sustainable, it must be much more fun, with more freedom and ample opportunities for joy for all.

The Path is made from three simple, reinforcing elements:

  • Peace is necessary to focus our resources on providing for our security.
  • Security allows prosperity to flourish.
  • Prosperity allows us to build greater security that sustains the peace, which makes broader prosperity possible.

These three things are inter-dependant. Not new and not rocket science, but with one big and important difference today: realistic achievability.

The link between peace and prosperity was expressed eloquently by Martin Luther King a generation ago (Beyond Vietnam, April 4 1967, New York), and the generation before that by Gandhi, and so forth back through the generations of time. What is different now is the global impact of our choices, and the possibility for global change. Before now to imagine globally coordinated or synchronized change was the stuff of dreams, but today the imagined differences and barriers between peoples have been brought low by the advent of global telecommunications.

The fear that others do not want the same results or that different cultures have irreconcilable differences has kept our sights low and our vision narrow. Now we can see on TV, with our own eyes, people in every corner of the world speak of the same desires, the same intentions and the same simple hopes for themselves, their communities and their planet. Mothers in Maharashtra, Manchester and Malawi all want exactly the same things for themselves and their families.

Keep this in mind as you wind your way down The Path with me. It really is possible for people everywhere to adopt the simple changes proposed in this book, and implement them where they live. In our time, in this age, these ideas can be discovered, disseminated and the process of change started. Within a decade change can be happening across the surface of the globe.

In this book I will attempt to show you that you can build this Path, that there are changes that you can make in the community, region and state that you live in today. I will try to be explicit about what the changes are, without ignoring the fact that exactly how they are achieved is going to be dependent on your specific situation.

After reading this book I hope that you will share with me:

  • A joy about the possibilities in front of us
  • An understanding of how the changes work together to create The Path
  • An enthusiasm for sharing The Path with others, based on your own intuitions and understanding of its value
  • A desire to start the changes where you live See you on The Path to our Future.

Continue reading “The Path to a Future: The Path”

The Path to a Future: Setting Out

The first part in the serialization of the The Path to A Future. A new section will be posted every 2 weeks during 2011. Enjoy!
If you want to get a free PDF of the book go to http://www.standardsoflife.org/thepathtoafuture.

So here we sit on the third rock from the Sun, in an otherwise basically lifeless solar system, living in a gloriously beautiful, paper-thin atmosphere that has the capacity to support and nourish us all. We have copious quantities of energy streaming into and around our planet and the technology to harness it. We have oodles of delicious food and the capacity to grow and distribute it. There is nothing standing between us and global peace.

And yet, as we enter our 41st Millennium, our economies are degrading our atmosphere and pillaging the planet, leaving vast swathes of desolation in our physical and social environments. We are diminishing our capacity to sustain life and are in danger of placing the solutions beyond our reach. Our democracies are perilously dysfunctional, and our grasp of the consequences almost suicidally absent. Only by harnessing our collective wisdom to our course of actions can we make the fundamental changes to our economies and societies necessary to achieve sustainable prosperity.

So, are we really just going to let it all go to ….?

For want of a plan, and the courage to follow it? Because it requires hard choices and hard work? Those are not good enough reasons for inaction.

Now is the time to act. Now is the only time we have. Today we can have evolution before revolution, tomorrow maybe not. Change is inevitable, but what changes is up to you and me.

The truth is that there is a path we can take, a path that leads to sustainable prosperity, but we will not choose what we cannot see. We do have the choice. There is a realistic, practical option for coexistence and prosperity. We have only to grasp the opportunity, to understand that this is the right time. This is a time pregnant with potential, and we are the ones alive in this time! All that is required is for us to see a path that will lead us to where we want to go. A clear, simple and achievable path.

Such a path of change must be so rooted in common sense that it is self evident on receipt, and so simple in application that it is realistically achievable by all. It will have to be hewn from the universal nature of humanity, and flexible enough to be shaped by the diaspora that adopts it.

This book shows you that such a path is available.

In the chaos and confusion of these times it seems that we are a little lost as to what to do differently, what to change or how to change it. I am convinced that by starting with simple observation of ourselves we can arrive at a clear understanding of what we need to change, and what it should look like after we’ve changed it. In these pages I explore natural principles which can guide us in reformulating the structures of our societies. If we start simply and are honest in observing ourselves, we can see these principles at work in our own lives.

Using these principles to formulate a path, we will have a rallying point, a banner around which all who are interested in change can gather together to promote the issues they feel are most important, in concert with everyone else and their individual motivations for seeking change.

This is about getting our act together, about focusing on the strategy and channeling our energy and enthusiasm for a better future into a common purpose. Whatever your specific concerns, there is little chance of any of our issues being resolved without a strategic, over-arching framework. We need a construct that serves those that are seeking change, as well as others who don’t know what to change, and even those who haven’t decided to change anything.

While many futures are available to us, individually and collectively, this is a story about one path that leads to a future in which we live in sustainable prosperity. There are other futures available to us. There are futures full of the same struggles, violence and waste that have characterized much of human history to date. Those futures are indisputably possible, and if we don’t choose differently they are our default destination.

The choices we face between peace and war, respect and hubris, love and hate are not new; we have faced them since the dawn of our times. The difference today is that our choices will affect everyone, everywhere, because they will affect the nature of the planet we all live on. Whatever we do, we are headed for massive changes to our cultures and our climate. The difference is whether we choose our own path through those challenges, or wait for chaos to be thrust upon us.

Indeed, the evidence of human history does not support the notion that we will make the choices that will lead us down the path proposed in this book. These choices have been heralded and recommended by our wisest sages over and over again, but rarely adopted and never fulfilled. But they were never as possible as they are now, because for the first time in human history we can truly act globally in unison. As seems uncannily often the case, we are presented with opportunity, at exactly the moment of necessity.

Our religions and our literature have long extolled the value of seeking our higher natures, of reaching for our destiny rather than settling for our fate. We have been told by the wise since the dawn of our ages that love is the manifestation of good in us and that we have the capacity to be the lights in our own creation. However, as a species, we have yet to fashion a working model for this practice. We see the lofty ideals espoused by our sages and prophets as just that: ideals, but not practical solutions. We look around us and see a world full of others who we think will not honour a mutual contract, let alone reach inside themselves for love and peace.

Realizing that appeals to our better natures or our faith in humanity have not proved successful to date, this book lays out a path of action that is intensely practical, realistically achievable and in our self-interest. Rather than asking you to have faith in the primacy of good intentions, this book describes changes that make sense, even if you don’t trust your fellow humans to reach for their better natures.

The purpose of writing now about this path is not to promote it as the only option. I, and no doubt you, are only too plainfully aware that we have many options and that we can quite easily follow our fate to our grave, without the courage to reach for our destiny. The reason to write this book, and for you to read it, is to envision a clear path that gives us the chance to choose our destiny.

It is a choice. We have to actively make the choice, if we are to reach a different destination. That means that we have to be able to see the path, to feel it in a very personal way. After you have read this book, I hope that you too will see and feel The Path.

Continue reading “The Path to a Future: Setting Out”

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