Editorials of Nancy Roof

Sharing the World’s Wealth and Power

A human being is part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”   – Albert Einstein

The world joins in grief and prayers for the increasing number of victims of the triple disaster befalling Japan and its people and spreading throughout the planet. When disaster befalls any one of us we come together in our shared grief—not only as individuals but also as nations and global citizens. We remember at such times our common origin and shared future on a vulnerable planet. Tragedies bring out the softness, caring and concerns that often lie hidden in our hearts. They also bring out our passion and creativity to make the changes needed to create a different and better world.

One idea our partner in the new civilization movement, the Goi Peace Foundation in Tokyo, is now considering is to build a new city on the ruins of the old representing the new civilization. What would this vision look like? How would you design this city? Surely it would be a city where sharing in all its various dimensions would be fundamental.

We chose ‘Sharing the World’s Wealth and Power’ as the theme of Kosmos and are thrilled by the vitality, depth and breadth that our contributors and readers offered. They shared multiple perspectives and identified differences in the quality of sharing, but also addressed different scales of sharing from individual to community, nation, planet and ultimately to the Kosmos. They included our increased capacity to share interior realities and to be fully present to others.

In the Western world, individuality has been the organizing principle of almost everything from economics to religion. It has been embedded in our institutions so fully that we hardly realize what the unintended consequences have been for our civilization, our planet and ourselves when individualization is not balanced with the collective.

Individual consciousness is an extraordinary evolutionary achievement. As Jim Kenney relates, the first millennium BCE, called the First Axial period of religions, began when the limits of tribal consciousness were being discovered. Individual consciousness was the growing edge and the great religions were founded on this recognition. As we enter the Second Axial period we transcend and include individual interior development from personality to soul to spirit and move toward the collective and what we share. The growing edge asks us to make manifest the interdependence of the whole and how we and the whole universe are connected. It calls us to be creators of a new planetary civilization, which includes and benefits the most marginalized of all populations. It will be the challenge of our generation to live this understanding out in our lives and to create the organizational institutional forms that will embrace this collective sharing.

The vulnerability of a system of separate sovereign states, with an increasing number of states failing, is forcing us toward some type of global governance that includes but transcends individual states. Toward this end Kosmos and several organizations, including the Earth Charter, Great Transitions Initiative and Pachamama are catalyzing a Global Citizens Movement to be launched at Rio-20 in 2012. We hope many of you will join us.

Fundamental to our new sharing culture will be the ability to freely access new technologies that bring us immediate contact with others throughout the world. The complexity of the global civilization requires sharing information and skills to comprehend systemic wholes. So keeping our Internet free is essential.

The drivers of sharing are numerous and include the freedom to communicate worldwide through new technology, the need to preserve depleting natural resources, and the need to conserve finances and resources by sharing equipment, tools, cars etc. that we only use occasionally. Just as pioneers settled the New West, the new explorers will be traveling to outer space as universal sight-seers in 2012. This will surely be a catalyst for change as our planet Earth is viewed as a whole from outer space by more and more people.

As the Middle East ignites its fiery demands for freedom—even to the death—Western societies are waking up as well. The commons is the completion of the holistic paradigm shift in individual consciousness begun in the 1960s. The current system based on individualism, private property and competition has concentrated wealth and power into the hands of the few with social justice concerns of the many marginalized. Even the United States, the beacon of democracy, has all but lost the claim to a country of, by and for the people. The problem is that the values of competition and individual ownership are embedded in our legal system, assuring their continuation unless there are strong protests from the people. It behooves all of us who believe in the common good, not only to create alternative systems, but to be as passionate about preserving our freedom as our friends in the Middle East.

Kosmos is a champion of the commons movement because it is fundamentally about sharing our resources, sharing our wealth and power, creating social justice, and preserving our sacred planetary heritage. It is about taking responsibility for matters that affect us rather than being victims of a collapsing system that only benefits the few. It is about infusing our highest values into public policy and institutions, according to James B. Quilligan.

We need each other now more than ever to make the kind of difference that will really matter…the stakes are high…equaled only by our passion and ingenuity.