The Spiritual Foundation of Kosmos Journal

Part I

My Story: Changing Myself to Change the World

You could say that it’s been a lifetime quest. As far back as I can remember I was asking, Who am I? What am I here for? Where did I come from? What should I be doing with my life? I am grateful to my family for not indoctrinating me with any particular religion or belief system. My Father was against it having suffered a sense of sin from his Baptist upbringing. This gave me the greatest gift of all—the freedom to start my spiritual search for the meaning and purpose of life with a clear slate. I attended different Christian religious services with friends (that was all that was available at the time), but couldn’t find anything that satisfied my deep inner quest. I knew, even then, that I had to depend on my own experience for the answers I sought.

When I was 24 years old I was totally paralyzed with polio (except for my arms) and was diagnosed as a hopeless case. As I lay for months unable to move without help I found myself reflecting again on the important questions that my condition induced. Is life worth living even if you can’t move? My resounding answer was, of course, I have the most precious part of life as I can still think about creative ideas and communicate with others.

The Dark Night of the Soul

However, becoming a single mom with three children in the 50s living on $150 a week and working two jobs stretched my capacity for survival. Now my questions turned again to “Is life worth living?” For 7 long years I fell into a ‘dark night’ with no answers to my desperate inner plight. Why should I live at all? There seemed to be no meaning and purpose. Finally a day came when a delicate, but radiant pink rose dropped into my mind’s eye. I was breathless contemplating its beauty and with every inner glance my heart began to open wide again. Love. Love. That is the answer. I don’t need to wait to receive love. I need to give love right now — at the grocery store, as I walk down the street, everywhere! Most of us are beginners at true love and I was one of them. Agape love transcends erotic love and is a choice, a decision. And I made the decision that turned my life around. My personal life was no longer important. Giving it up was not a sacrifice, because my passion for interior development and service was so much more compelling.

Discovering Eastern Religion and Esoteric Thought

Shortly after this stunning revelation in the 60s I found Eastern religion and esoteric approaches to spirituality. At last I found some answers. I was so enthralled that I kept reading, reflecting, reading, and couldn’t stop. I found meditation, consciousness practices, exercises to help me manage my mind and emotions and much more. I was aflame with curiosity and love. I had an extremely difficult time stopping my overly curious mind in order to meditate, but finally I managed, with the help of heavy exercise before dropping into meditation. Here was the new spirituality for me, devoid of dogma and providing me with practices to help me master and develop my own capacities and relationship to the Kosmos. The Buddhist and esoteric paths teach us to believe only what we know in our own experience. I had found my path—life itself brought the lessons I needed to learn. It was important to develop discernment, particularly the difference between conditioned responses and those of the Higher Self. Direct inner guidance was to be my teacher with no intermediaries, along with the learning from my own life experiences. I began to define what spirituality was to me.

Becoming a Monk in the World

I learned quickly that I needed to balance solitude and action in the world. Much to the distress of my colleagues I turned the phone off for half the week and was unavailable to the outside world. Cultivating my inner life and spiritual sensitivities became my priority. I now spent three days in contact with the outer world while preserving four days for the rich inner life that speaks to me in silence and images that generate the motivation for my service in the world. I discovered that I was truly a Monk in the World, as Brother Teasdale would say. Love and beauty that had energized my passion to live in the past now were complemented by will and purpose. What was the larger Will of the Kosmos that led me so many times to know, ‘not my will but thine be done’? My husband was a mystic who had lived in Kalimpong for a year in the 50s. He was one of the first Westerners to bring Eastern teachings to the West. We founded the Mountain School for Esoteric Studies in the late 60s and held regular meditations and retreats in the mountains. This was the time when teachers from the East were coming to the West to teach. We had many in our home, inviting groups to share with us different practices and methods of meditation.

Pioneering Transpersonal Psychology

In the 70s I was invited to design and develop the first course in Transpersonal Psychology on the East Coast at Interface, while Esalen was thriving on the West Coast with Michael Murphy, Roger Walsh, and Frances Vaughan. I had to overcome my fears and develop these courses from the inside out. Later I learned that I would be required to do this many more times in my life, just as I had with the development of my own spirituality. We were entering a new era with an emerging new consciousness, culture and civilization. We were moving away from dominating authorities and experts toward personal experiential knowing. This meant systemic changes across the board and pioneers willing to define them. Ken Wilber lived near by and he and I shared several meals together in the late 70s. We used his developmental model in all our workshops and courses. We taught meditation, visualization, bodily felt sense, experiential knowing, hypnosis, journaling and many more contemplative practices. We helped people contact their Higher Self or Soul as the source of wisdom and guidance. We taught the stages of evolution. Traditional Western religion was unable to meet the hunger for Spirit in so many young hearts, so they turned to alternative means. I taught in classes, workshops, lectures, but mostly in one-to-one meetings as a spiritual guide, based on self-discovery of one’s own journey and path. I loved working with individuals and thought this was my life’s work.

Expanding to Global Spirituality: The United Nations

Suddenly, and much to my surprise, in 1987 I had an inner calling to expand the work I was doing to the global level. Now my questions became even larger. How does one apply spiritual principles, developed for individuals, to global affairs and all of Humanity? And besides, I thought, I don’t know anything about global affairs. However, by this time I knew the wisdom of overcoming my fears and trusting inner guidance instead of my rational mind. I implicitly trusted that I would be guided from the inside out in this endeavor. Within a few hours I had an apartment in New York City and eventually one opposite the United Nations. The UN is the only place in the world where we find all peoples and cultures represented under one roof. We can intermingle, read each others newspapers and get an understanding of global affairs beyond our biased national corporate media. I thrived at the UN. I was consumed with learning about global affairs/global consciousness and making friends with the international community. When one is committed to service, somehow the right colleagues and companions appear to help. And indeed they did. My view of spirituality expanded considerably at this time. All the work we do on our personal lives is just the beginning. It is preparation for larger service to the whole.

From 1987-1991 I continued to learn about global affairs. I was consumed with trying to understand why we fought destructive wars with one another and elected to support corporate profits rather than the environment. Why did nations act in their own self-interest rather than for the common good? What could we do about it? I co-founded the Values Caucus in 1996 and the Spiritual Caucus in 2000 at the UN. Both Caucuses dove deeper into the causes of conflict through discovering the diversity of worldviews and cultural values. We successfully lobbied for language and new concepts in international documents and treaties—for the inclusion of life-long education and spiritual values. I learned about worldwide humanitarian efforts and developed healing techniques for secondary traumatic stress and more with a USAID grant in the former Yugoslavia. My concern was no longer limited to my own country, but to the whole of humanity. At the UN they say ‘humanity’ is the most common word spoken. This was why I was there. I identified myself not only as a Monk in the world, but also as a global or kosmic citizen.


Kosmos Journal: The Emerging New Civilization

In the process of our UN work we began to identify the NGOs, Staff and Ambassadors whose perspectives were global rather than national and whose policies reflected universal deep values. In 2000 we formed a small group of globally conscious, spiritually oriented people from different continents. This was the beginning of what eventually became KOSMOS. As we slowly develop, becoming first an integrated personality and later in touch with the soul/heart, the source of wisdom, love, and purpose, we need a vehicle through which to express our life’s work. This was mine. Like other pioneers of the emerging new civilization I was not a trained journalist and did not have any experience in the field. I overcame my fears again for something larger than my little ego and accepted the service I was given with humility. I increased my meditations to help guide me through. What should a journal about the emerging new consciousness, culture and planetary civilization be? Is there a need for such a publication and who is it for?

Kosmos Journal is for those who want to understand and even participate in the era of transition from an industrial society to an information/people’s society—the new planetary civilization. It is for all of us who have been disillusioned with the present culture of greed and materialism, disrespect and deep suffering caused by the inequities in harnessing the world’s resources and wealth. It is for those who want to be directed to the finest, most noble voices that are in touch with some aspects of the new civilization and do not have the time to filter through all the false prophets to find a kernel of truth. It is for those that long to return to a state where the heart is as central to our humanness as our mind. It is for those burning with passion to make a difference and to create a new world based on the generating power of life and spirit.

We continue to evolve with the times and find the emerging new civilization gradually taking form and shape with increasing clarity. Through the years the following streams of wisdom have become essential to KOSMOS and are still evolving. Because of lack of space I present these streams in broad strokes and encourage you to read the full articles on our website:

The Emerging New Civilization: A Time of Transformation

The first issue of KOSMOS was published for $2500 (don’t ever tell anyone you need a lot of money to accomplish a spiritual mission), a gift of Lifebridge Foundation. It was 2001 and we were beginning to see signs of the breakdown and breakthrough of consciousness, cultures, institutions and civilizations. Science had now proven what Contemplatives have known for centuries. We live in an interdependent world and thus this Great Transformation would be global and include all life—body, feelings, mind and spirit. While the modern world emphasizes the individual, the post-modern and integral worlds are bringing forth the collective ‘We,’ and with it new collaborative efforts and global networks to manage the complexity of today’s challenges.

The modern rational, analytic perspective, honors the ego as a separate entity itself rather than understanding the essence of life is its relationships. It rejects subjective experience and different ways of knowing and thus eliminates what is most human about us all. It breaks the world into fragmented pieces rather than bringing us together in synthesis as the new consciousness does. People from all countries in the world are feeling the momentous change in consciousness as the Internet and transnational corporations connect humanity for the first time in history. It is only as individual and collective habits break down that we have the extraordinary opportunity to heal personal and societal wounds and create a new civilization that works for the common good. Our vision is bold—tracking the emerging new civilization that not only works for everyone, but that operates at a higher frequency as our knowledge and wisdom expand our consciousness and worldviews. This is the passion of KOSMOS.

The Heart: Source of Beauty, Truth and Goodness

KOSMOS invites contributors who have both experiential knowledge about the leading edge of evolution, but who also listen and speak from the Heart (chakra), the source of wisdom and compassion. As fears are overcome the heart center opens to soften and heal. It loses its self-protective function and expands our vision with compassion and kindness. The heart understands social, political, economic, and human issues in the widest possible context. Heart wisdom is inclusive understanding at all levels of being and becoming— and of creation itself. By combining head and heart, our contributors inspire and stir our loyal readers to purposeful sacred activism.

Beauty has always been an essential complement to our inspiring, informative and engaging articles. It is not possible for me to work effectively without engaging both sides of the brain with what Brother Wayne Teasdale calls ‘infinite sensitivity.’ Award winning photographers publish their work in KOSMOS, knowing their artistic creation will radiate through the latest modern technology and color processes available to create a moving experience of profound beauty. Many tell us that just by holding the journal in their hands they feel the presence of heart and the dynamism of change, breaking down boundaries, and bringing us closer to the divine. Beauty is everywhere in the environment in which we work and in the subtle levels and substance of KOSMOS.

A Wider Vision: Scaling up our Concerns and Responsibilities

Our concerns scale from ego-centric to ethnic-centric to world-centric, to kosmic-centric. Our intergenerational perspective encourages care and concern for and interaction with all generations. We honor and respect past generations that laid the foundation for the new civilization, our present partners and colleagues in discovering and acting upon the new, as well as respecting the needs of future generations who will inherit the world we leave to them. Our widening vision includes the relationship and stewardship of other kingdoms of nature—animals, plants and minerals. We are eager to publish about new capacities for expanded ways of knowing—‘infinite sensitivity’ to other frequencies available beyond intuition, often developed in contemplative practices or spontaneously revealed. Our articles attend to new competencies and skills, such as resilience and adaptation, necessary for living and flourishing in the new civilization. Our concerns continue to widen and deepen as we discover more signs of emergence.

Scaling up our concerns is an inherent part of spirituality in the new civilization. As a global citizen I have been affiliated with the UN since 1987. In 2012 the UN conferred Consultative Status to KOSMOS in recognition of its global work. We have had visitors from 195 countries to our website since we began recording this statistic in June 2011. Citizens from around the world, working together to demand that world leaders take stronger steps to address such urgent global issues as human rights, climate change, sustainable development, poverty alleviation, the prevention and elimination of conflicts between countries, and more. Beyond global our inquiry extends into our place in the universe, as the direction of evolution becomes more and more inclusive. The name of our journal KOSMOS continues to remind us of our purpose to align with this historical evolutionary moment and the spirit (will) of the Kosmos itself.

Integral and Evolutionary Approaches, Sacredness of Nature, Life as The Defining Value.

Integral and MetaIntegral offer the most holistic map on which to wrap our conceptual framework. KOSMOS works with Ken Wilber’s four evolving views of reality: individual interior consciousness; collective interiors including worldviews and culture developed through collective intelligence and dialogic methods; individual spiritual activism and service; and collective institutions such as governance, economics, education, media and science. Integral spirituality is evolutionary and develops in stages. It involves healing the interior of the individual and collective and expanding our capacities and sensitivity. Spirituality in the New Civilization or Second Axial period also recognizes the external conditions that have created untold injustices and poverty for billions. It understands that it is our responsibility to transform these conditions, not merely to develop our own relationship to a higher power as in the First Axial period of the emergence of the world’s traditional religions, but to truly be our brother’s keeper. For that we need to take responsibility for systemic changes in all of our institutions.

Don Beck, founder of Integral Spiral Dynamics is one of our contriutors on the evolution of cultural values, applied in conflict situations worldwide. We are now learning how to communicate with the different cultural value systems—tribal, traditional, modern, post modern and integral perspectives and to find the value of each perspective. Barrett Brown writes about this in KOSMOS with great clarity. These value differences account for many of the world conflicts—from personal to global. John Stewart (The Evolutionary Manifesto) and Carter Phipps (Evolutionaries) also add to our understanding of evolution as a primary driver of transformation. Further, we present a Kosmic perspective of a living universe (Brian Swimme, Mary Evelyn Tucker, Teilhard Chardin, Thomas Berry, Duane Elgin). Life itself is the defining value. The new spirituality enhances and expands life and works with the fundamental powers of the universe at our disposal. The recognition of Mother Nature as sacred Teacher, nourisher and provider runs through KOSMOS—permaculture, biomimicry, and the importance of place as developed by Lifebridge Sanctuary.

Power of the People: Transforming Institutions—Local to Global

A major feature of the new civilization is the transition from dominant hierarchical power to distributive power of the people. We asked many questions on our journey—especially about power and who has the power to make the changes required for a new planetary, compassionate, and sustainable world. From grassroots activists to Mikhail Gorbachev the answer is the same—civil society. Civil Society is now recognized as a driver of power potentially equal to governments and corporations. In addition to finding one’s own gift and purpose in life the new civilization is about networks, collaboration, civil society, international protests for democracy, power, and equality. It is working for the good of the group as an autonomous individual. Collective intelligence/wisdom is needed to deal with the complexity and scale of today’s problems and challenges. Groups are experimenting with such approaches as Collective Presencing that taps the wisdom of a group through contemplative techniques. Occupy is developing amazing horizontal approaches that can include the voice of global multitudes (KOSMOS, Spring 2013), potentially connecting the voices of all Humanity for the first time.

The collusion between markets and states in privatizing and regulating common resources that should be the sovereign right of all citizens from birth, has resulted in extreme inequality in wealth. The Commons movement is rising to preserve for future generations the natural, cultural, digital, resources that we have inherited, created and need for survival. Leaders of this movement publish in KOSMOS, such as James B. Quilligan, David Bollier, Silke Helfrich, Leo Burke and more. P2P, founded by Michel Bauwens, is another strong commons movement stressing distributive power. Subsidiarity, solutions to problems at the level where most are affected is another important principle emerging in the planetary civilization.

Worldwide protests are now at a national level and are just becoming international as the Occupy, April Spring, Indignado, Zapatistas, 15M, Idle No More, Take the Square, Via22, GlobalNoise and more form alliances and innovative communications systems. Michael Badger writes about the coming turn of Occupy from protests to humanitarian efforts, such as Occupy Sandy, that find solutions rather than merely saying ‘No’ to corporations and the establishment. The agendas are the same worldwide—a cry for the end of corporatization and the emergence of direct democracy, justice, and equality. Without these basic operating values it is impossible for the full spiritual potential of individuals to be realized and for the new civilization to arise.

From Contemplation to Insight To Action: Creating the World of Form and Structures that Reflect the Emerging Consciousness
It is a time of systemic transformation in all of our institutions. They must evolve in step with the new consciousness. Kosmos tracks the most sustainable and compassionate leading edge developments in every field of endeavor by dedicated world servers—armed with a passion and a patient determination to go through whatever obstacles it takes to create a positive future for all. We see new governance proposals emerging everywhere, most focusing on direct democracy and civil society as the important drivers of change. We single out such innovators as Mikhail Gorbachev, Tom Atlee, the Commons Movement and the Constitutional Referendum by the people of Iceland that freed the country from debt in a time of worldwide financial crisis. In Economics we track and publish the work of Schumacher Center for New Economics, New Economics Foundation, New Economics Institute, Sacred Economics, and the Commons Movement. In our Journal, you will meet David Cooperrider who’s founding theoretical work in "Appreciative Inquiry" is creating a positive revolution in the leadership of change and Rinaldo Brutoco, Founder of the World Business Academy, who brings 21st century global perspectives to business.

One of the features of the New Civilization is education of the whole person—body mind, soul and spirit. Some leaders in this field are Parker Palmer, Arthur Zajonc, and Linda Lantieri. Innovative educators are offering courses by the world’s finest teachers through the Internet, reaching millions of people. In an evolving universe, lifelong learning is now accepted as a necessity worldwide. It is enhanced through Webinars as they continue to flourish. Independent media, often with a citizen’s journalism component, is still at the margins, but increasingly recognized by the awakened as the only avenue to unbiased reporting today. We are learning to discern the propaganda and spin we are fed through television and corporate media to keep us distracted from resisting the increasing ‘crimes’ our governments commit to appease their wealthy donors.

Elizabeth Sahtouris is prominent in the new sciences as well as Arthur Zajonc. And the video and educational materials of Journey Through the Universe by Brian Swimme and Mary Evelyn Tucker are gaining widespread attention from all age groups. Monica Sharma (formerly head of Leadership programs at the UN) facilitates new transformational leadership based on sourcing wisdom affecting thousands worldwide. And on it goes. These courageous pioneers are the first wave of what will be a tsunami of pioneers dedicated to the emergence of a new civilization aligned with Kosmic intention, based on compassion and our natural creativity. We are here and we are the ones. World—here we come!

The new civilization and culture we all yearn for is based on global human awakening to a giant worldwide reflection and contemplation on who we are and why we are given the gift of life on planet Earth for these few short years. What is our role in the vast universe? What is our responsibility to care for the natural world—our mineral resources, plant-life and animals—that have given us a home and nurtured and cared for us for 3.8 billion years? How can we get along as one humanity celebrating our diversity? Will we be able to organize our institutions and creatively innovate our future in time? Will we use our self-reflexive consciousness to develop our inner capacities to make the transition from an industrial age to a new civilization that benefits all?

These are the burning questions that KOSMOS addresses. We are grateful to our brilliant contributors and ‘infinitely sensitive’ artists, who have sacrificed their personal lives to make a difference. Their commitment comes from a deep place of intuiting the future and caring deeply for our children and future generations who will inherit the earth we leave behind.

Coming Home: E.F. Schumacher and the Reinvention of Local Community

Kosmos is proud to say that we are located in the Great Barrington Community area where the power of local communities is coming alive with the work of Susan Witt and the Schumacher Center for New Economics. We are also close enough to New York City to engage in our global work at the United Nations. This documentary tells the story of the pioneering community in which we are located.

Coming Home: E.F. Schumacher and the Reinvention of Local Community

The Importance of Building a World Community, Part 2

In last month’s blog we discussed how building a participatory, values-based and sustainable world community was the most important challenge facing the planet in the new millennium. We made the point that such a community needs to be participatory in order to be responsive to its members and engage them in the process of governance. It needs to be values-based and grounded in the global norms and standards agreed upon by world leaders since the end of World War II, for example the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A world community also needs to be sustainable, committed to replenishing the natural resources that people on the planet use to feed, clothe and otherwise support themselves.

In the absence of such a global community, the world is likely to remain fragmented and vulnerable to continued environmental degradation, socio-economic conflict, and autocratic leadership.

Our members have asked us to go beyond these descriptors, and suggest more specifics about what the goal of a world community should be, how do we get there, and what would it look like? These are deep and complex questions, but here’s an attempt to start a conversation on how to answer them. (You are invited to join this conversation by posting a comment or response on the Blog page of the TGCI website.)

In our view, the goal of building world community should be to establish solutions to the growing list of urgent issues that affect the whole planet and can’t be solved by individual countries. These issues are well known. A partial list would include:

  • lack of human rights
  • increased global warming
  • continued degradation of the earth’s environment
  • the prevalence of poverty and income inequality
  • the inability to more effectively prevent conflicts within and between countries
  • the failure to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, and
  • the lack of effective governance at different levels

The solutions needed by the world community to address these pressing issues must be universal and work for all countries and people. Achieving such universality requires changes in awareness and engagement on the part of many stakeholder groups, particularly citizens and their governments. 

First, it requires that people increase their awareness of the ways in which global issues deeply affect their quality of life. They need to start behaving as global citizens, as well as citizens of their countries. They have a responsibility to advocate for global solutions to global problems, and must be vocal in letting their governments know about their global citizenship concerns.

Secondly, national governments need to change their perceptions about their proper role in the world. They must begin to see that it is in their best interest to collaborate rather than compete with one another. If they fail to act in consort with other countries, they will be harming their own people.

Finally, in order to solve planet-threatening global problems that we face, more participatory engagement processes need to be put in place that enable solutions to boil up from the local and national levels. Solutions to global problems will not work if a top-down development process drives them.

The importance of raising and increasing the awareness and engagement of people and governments in working collaboratively to solve global problems, is an overlooked and under-resourced task. It is a role that NGOs and other organizations, not viewed as biased, should play, similar to the role played by the League of Women Voters in the United States. Much educational outreach and advocacy work needs to be done if we are to make a dent in changing the long-established parochial attitudes of people and in modernizing the role of the nation-state.

Now we come to the question of what would our participatory, values-based sustainable world community will look like in real-time? The first thing to point out in trying to answer this question is that we can’t say for sure. In fact we shouldn’t even try and posit a model. The process of constructing the world community architecture is just as important as achieving the outcome. We should not say too much about what the end result looks like without allowing people and governments to work together and collaboratively build the finished product.

However, based on experience to-date with global governance, we know enough to make some recommendations about what should be inside the finished product.

First, there needs to be more participatory, end-user-responsive global governance institutions. Global governance institutions, are those institutions engaged in establishing global norms, standards, and regulations for the activities that fall within their jurisdictional domain. Such institutions are many and varied and range from the United Nations to the International Federation of Accountants. Many of these organizations do excellent work. However, quite a few of them, including such well known institutions as the UN and the World Bank, need to develop stronger mechanisms for directly engaging the citizens whom they serve in their decision-making processes. Global governance institutions need to find alternatives to always working through sovereign states whose interests often are more politically self-serving than committed to the development of whole world solutions.

Secondly, we need to put in place better systems of accountability and transparency for the implementation of global agreements. We need to know which nations have signed onto established international treaties and agreements and which have not; and to what extent are those countries that have signed living up to what is expected of them?

Thirdly, we need to be less cautious about the delegation of decision-making responsibility for the monitoring and enforcement of global policy. Once citizens of the planet and their governments agree to a set of international norms and standards, there need to be institutions and people entrusted with responsibility for making sure that these agreements are effectively implemented; and who have the authority to impose sanctions or penalties on those who are not living up to their agreement commitments. We cannot leave it up to the vagaries of each nation state to decide how it is going to comply with an international agreement.

The vision of having a participatory, values-based, sustainable world community does not imply the creation of a world government. It doesn’t call for the dismantling of the nation state or existing global governance mechanisms. Instead, it calls for strengthening citizen engagement and responsibility for global governance, and for transforming the role of the nation-state into a more responsible actor on the world stage.

Promoting Participatory Governance for Environmental Sustainability, Gender Equality and Socio-Economic Justice

May you and I and all beings realize peace, happiness, wisdom and compassion. We are living in the most critical time in all of human history – a moment of crisis and opportunity. Why do I believe that?

Everything is changing and everything is at risk. This is a time of whole systems transformation. Life on Earth is in mortal danger and therefore we have the necessity and the possibility to reinvent the entire human enterprise in order to create a better future for all.

Because of the last 200 years of burning fossil fuels, massive amounts of carbon have been released into the atmosphere, now at 400 parts per million exceeding the safe limit of 350 parts per million. Planet Earth is heating up and glaciers and ice caps are melting. Sea levels are rising and coastal cities and islands will be submerged. Oceans are becoming acidic; and there is a massive die back of species both marine and terrestrial. Mega storms are increasing and droughts and wild fires are spreading. Water and food shortages will accelerate. These phenomena are not theoretical but observable. They are happening now. Our planet has already changed and if we humans do not alter our individual and collective behavior, our planet will soon become inhospitable to life and suffering will increase.

But we know what to do and are beginning to do it. We must stop burning oil, gas and coal – death-energy – and rapidly promote renewable energy from sun, water, wind, geo-thermal and algae – life-energy. This is the green energy revolution. There is a global environmental movement at work including the UN,, Green Peace and many others. It is time to protect life itself or face massive die back. E-government can alert citizens to these trends and dangers and provide help and incentives for renewable energy use and for adaptation to crisis situations.

Because of the last 5,000 years of male dominance – the patriarchy – women’s wisdom has not played its necessary role in the design and management of our societies. Women have been kept silent, subservient, abused, trapped at home and pregnant. They have not been allowed to exercise their human rights of speech, choice, career and leadership. This has resulted in overly masculinized societies that promote and celebrate violence, harmful competition, technology without heart and warfare.

We are waking up and improvements for women are taking place, yet we have a long way to go. And in some parts of the world there is a backlash against women’s rights. That is why 14 year-old Malala Youstafzai was shot recently in Pakistan by the Taliban and why the Republicans in my country want to ban abortion. As patriarchy dies out, some men are fighting back to control women’s bodies and minds. But this must not stand. Our societies need the participation and leadership of women at every level of society and in full partnership with men. Our societies need feminine perspectives, wisdom and actions of nurture, relationship and compassion. Without gender equality and the empowerment of women we will not make it as a species. E-government can provide channels for women’s voices to influence policy making as well as access to vital services to empower women’s participation and leadership.

We humans are still plagued by illiteracy, illness, ignorance and prejudice. Our educational systems are not adequate for all the people. Likewise, our health systems are tragically unable to provide even basic care to all people everywhere and people suffer senseless illnesses. Cultural and religious bigotry, fear and hatred cause great harm to many.

Yet in our hearts we know that everyone deserves a quality education and good healthcare. These are universal human rights. We also need social safety nets to ensure care for the elderly and the poor. We can do this. We have the capacity and the resources. We must mobilize the political will to do so. We can live in mutual respect with people of different ethnic, religious and lifestyle choices realizing that in diversity are richness, beauty and mutual learning. E-government can bring access to education and health closer to citizens especially the most vulnerable.

Our modern economies are based on capital, profit, debt, interest and the global gambling casino of investing. Money accumulation for a few has become more important than the wellbeing of all people and nature. Economic enterprises, based on fossil fuel energy, pollute the air, water and soil and abuse human labor. Our economies are killing us, other life forms and our planetary ecosystems. Fiscal policy is made by global elites that control the formation and movement of capital through central banks and investment firms. The 1% has become comfortable with greed and power. Austerity for the masses and opulence for the few is not the human way.

But things are changing. Sacred economics as expounded by Charles Eisenstein shows us that capital should not be based on debt and interest. Bartering is increasing. Local currencies are being developed. There is a global movement, including Transition Towns founded by Rob Hopkins, which promotes growing home gardens, buying local, using less gasoline, traveling less and buying from companies which respect nature and workers. We can and must create local, national and global economies that are pro-people and pro-planet. We must shift from an economy based on greed to an economy of generosity. E-government can provide citizen access to necessary skills training, credit and markets.

Every system of governance is in crisis. Autocracy is still with us and the democratic experiment of the past 200 years is faltering badly around the world. Oligarchy, plutocracy and corporatocracy are masquerading as democratic regimes. The elites are buying and manipulating democratic institutions (media, courts, legislatures, executives, voting) to maintain control of political, economic and military power. Changes in mindset, behavior and culture are needed as well as the formation of democratic institutions. A lasting peace involves profound changes in the human psyche as well as in social organization. But local people around the world are rising up as we see in the Occupy (Wall Street) Movement, the Arab Spring, the anti-austerity movement in Europe and the current demonstrations in Brazil and Turkey. People are voting with their bodies in the street. Local people are demanding a say in their own governance. E-government can bring policy making and service delivery closer to the people. Participatory self-governance can be our future if we do not give up. We can create meta-modern democracies as Hordur Torfarson describes from the experience of Iceland.

As we look into the future two paths present themselves, either continued crisis and collapse or an emerging empathic civilization. We humans are hardwired for empathy, compassion and altruism. We must continue to evolve and manifest these qualities.

We are here this week to share and search for strategies and initiatives that will take humanity toward sustainable human development and a better life for all people. We know that we can build a world that works for everyone. We can create societies that enable each person to realize her/his full potential. We can create the possible human and the possible society as Jean Houston has said.

We the people will prevail and we are the people. The seven billion of us have the collective intelligence and will, not only to survive but to flourish. I stand in awe and gratitude for being alive at this critical moment in history and am committed to act on behalf of all. You and I are part of Those Who Care, the sensitive and response ones, who are waking up and engaged in risk taking, innovation, reinvention, embodying, catalyzing and creating the environments for human emergence.

The movement is awakening people to climate chaos mitigation; Transition Towns is demonstrating a new sustainable life style and economy; the Occupy movement is showing that non-violent resistance is necessary; and the Arab Spring is demanding political voice for the masses. Local people are on the rise. Women, who hold up half the sky, are stepping forward. Youth are leading the way as the emerging generation. NGOs and CBOs are showing that civil society is one of the three governance actors alongside government and business. People realize that we need energized government at every level – local, national, global – to promote the wellbeing of people and nature. Enlightened businesses are demonstrating corporate responsibility. Academia is calling for open, free education. Social media is enabling billions of local people to share their hopes and dreams as a global village.

Let’s say together the hopeful words of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: Please repeat after me: The task before us now/if we would not perish/is to shake off our ancient prejudices/and to build the Earth!

E-government can make access to services closer to citizens and bring citizen choices and wisdom into the policy making process. E-government is one aspect of participatory governance and as such has an important role to play in promoting environmental sustainability, gender equality and socio-economic justice. E-government should make citizens aware of the crisis we face in our eco-systems of air, water, soil, plants and animals, and what needs to be done by all citizens to protect the environment and ensure a sustainable ecosystem for millions of years to come. E-government must deal both with mitigation and adaptation to climate chaos. E-government should also promote gender equality by giving voice to women in policy making and leadership at every level of society. E-government should promote socio-economic justice by making services of education, health, skills training, credit and marketing accessible to all citizens.

To close the digital divide, governments should ensure that every citizen has access to computers, smart phones, literacy and electricity in order to participate in e-governance. Governments must also ensure that the views of citizens through e-government channels are taken with the greatest of seriousness in policy making and service delivery. Governments must be held accountable for corruption and must act in a transparent manner. Anything less than this would make e-government and e-governance technical glitter and a sham.

In this global forum we will be discussing how to promote collaborative e-governance through innovation and ICTs, the transformative power of e-government for the post-2015 development agenda, the transfer of innovations for improved public service delivery in least developed countries, fostering participation in the context of the post-2015 development agenda, transforming public service delivery to advance gender equality, creating an enabling environment for entrepreneurship and economic development through innovation and e-government, leadership for transformational government, initiatives towards e-governance and sustainable public services and essential leadership capacities and actions for transformational government.

I would remind us that in all our discussions our ultimate objective is to create a better world for all people and all life forms everywhere. This is a noble task. Let’s give it our best creativity and full energy.

Thank you for your attention, commitment and action.

May you and I and all beings realize peace, happiness, wisdom and compassion.

Robertson Work

Professor, NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service

UN Global Forum on Public Service

Bahrain, June 24, 2013

Global Commons Trust

For several centuries, modern industrial societies have been living off the common capital of the planet. During this period, the world’s natural and social resources have been drastically underpriced and we have amassed huge debts to the environment, the poor and future generations. It has become increasingly clear that the businesses and governments which created these imbalances are also incapable of correcting them through their present policies.

Our global economic system is now in grave crisis, threatening the entire planet, its institutions and species.

A new kind of common wealth is needed to protect the assets of Earth, resolve our private and public debts, and create a global society of justice, sharing and sustainability for everyone.

Our commons are the collective heritage of humanity — the shared resources of nature and society that we inherit, create and use. People across the world are now rediscovering these common goods and choosing to protect them for future generations.

Whether our commons are traditional (rivers, forests, indigenous cultures) or emerging (solar energy, intellectual property, internet), communities are managing them through unique forms of self-governance, collaboration and collective action. And in working together to preserve these resources, we are generating new standards of responsibility, mutual aid and sustenance for all beings.

Global Commons Trust promotes the creation of trusteeships, where the rights to our commons may be realized for the benefit of all. This promises a very different world than the ownership society of exploitation and aggression so prevalent today. When people claim the sovereign right to manage and revalue their common goods, civilization is transformed.

Imagine a world where

• commons trusts preserve and regenerate the assets of a commons
• private industry prospers from the surplus resources which it rents from these trusts
• governments provide citizens with an income generated through the use of these commons

Global Commons Trust opens a window into this rising global trusteeship society — a world where everyone benefits from the preservation and use of their common resources, and the cooperative human spirit is lifted through new energetic patterns of sustainability, wealth and power.

The Commons

What are the commons?

The commons are our shared wealth without which people cannot survive and thrive. This wealth is comprised of common goods which we have inherited or created, are entitled to use, and are obliged to restore and pass on to our children.

Are there different kinds of commons?

Yes. There are several types of common goods. These include social, cultural and intellectual commons, which are all replenishable resources. There are also solar, natural, and genetic commons, which may be either replenishable or depletable. A third type of commons is material, which are mainly depletable resources.

What are some examples of common goods?

• Social, Cultural & Intellectual – indigenous culture and traditions, community support systems, neighborhoods, social connectedness, voluntary associations, labor relations, women and children’s rights, family life, health, education, sacredness, religions, ethnicity, racial values, recreation, silence, creative works, languages, words, numbers, symbols, holidays, calendars, stores of human knowledge and wisdom, scientific knowledge, ethnobotanical knowledge, ideas, intellectual property, data, information, communication flows, airwaves, internet, free culture, sports, games, playgrounds, roads, streets, sidewalks, plazas, public spaces, national parks, historical sites, museums, libraries, universities, music, dance, arts, crafts, money, purchasing power

• Solar, Natural & Genetic – solar energy, wind energy, tides, water power, oceans, lakes, springs, streams, beaches, fisheries, agriculture, forests, wetlands, ecosystems, watersheds, aquifers, land, pastures, parks, gardens, plants, seeds, algae, topsoil, food crops, photosynthesis, pollination, DNA, life forms and species, living creatures

• Material – the elements, rocks, minerals, hyrdocarbons, technological hardware, buildings, inorganic energy, atmosphere, ozone layer, stratosphere

What is the interrelationship among these various commons?

The vital link is that all are necessary for our

• sustenance and livelihood
• individual expression and purpose
• social cohesion, quality of life and well-being

What distinguishes common goods from private and public goods?

• private goods are produced and sold by businesses to consumers
• public goods are regulated by governments for their citizens
• common goods are preserved or produced for the use of everyone

Why are common goods unique?

Unlike private and public goods, common goods involve

• peer participation, inclusion and cooperation
• equal access, free and fair standards, and transparency
• social creativity and innovation, mutual benefit and long-term sustainability

Where do commons exist?

Common goods may be local, regional and global in scope — and, of course, many resource areas overlap.

Should every commons be managed?

• Many commons are best left ungoverned, but an absence of management can lead to the overuse and depletion of resources — a ‘tragedy of the commons’
• Although a variety of commons are owned and operated by the private and public sectors, in many cases they are not managed effectively
• Various commons — seas and seabeds, atmosphere, outer space — are beyond the legal jurisdiction of the private and public sectors with no one to administer them

Why aren’t common goods more widely recognized in society?

The commons are essentially everywhere — all around, between and within us — yet we take them for granted.

What prevents us from immediately seeing or understanding our commons?

Since common goods are not part of our modern frame of reference or worldview, society is grappling now to understand their meaning. Although we often perceive them, we have lost the specific language for acknowledging and defining our traditional commons. And even for emerging commons like the internet, we are still developing new concepts and vocabulary.

How did we lose the meaning of the commons?

During the past few centuries, as physical space became increasingly quantified and commercialized, our mental categories for resources and goods were gradually oriented to that new social and economic system. Common goods were devalued and shrouded through

• private enclosure of property and legal enforcement
• commodification into private goods and accumulated wealth
• domination by — and dependence on — the private and public sectors

Is this changing now?

Yes. Although common goods still represent an evolutionary challenge to the economic and political status quo, humanity has begun to think differently about its commons. We are reorienting our perception of the world and developing new ways of understanding resources, interrelationships, governing structures, values and standards. This is creating a new consciousness around our commons.

What are the main variables of a commons?

• a resource (replenishable or depletable)
• the people who share this commons (users, managers, producers and providers)
• the rules governing people’s access to — and benefit from — these common resources
• the value created through the preservation or production of these common goods

How can a commons be reorganized and revalued?

The reorganization and recovery of a commons is a long-term process. There appear to be three developmental stages, including

• co-governance and co-production — communities of interest or stakeholders manage and create value from a commons
• social charters — stakeholders of a commons make a formal declaration of their rights to protect, use and produce these common goods
• commons trusts — trustees appointed by the stakeholders undertake legal and fiscal responsibility for the long-term preservation, use or production of a commons

So is this a new paradigm?

Yes. It’s the story of how we have forgotten our traditional commons and are now taking responsibility to reclaim and restore them. The story also involves the rapid development of different types of commons, many of which are driven by technology and social innovation. Full recognition of people’s rights to their commons requires a new system of economic exchange in which both streams of common goods — traditional and emerging — are preserved or created independent of commercial and financial pricing. In such a system

• common goods are protected to the extent possible for future generations
• some portion of these resources are rented to businesses for the production and consumption of private goods by the present generation
• taxes attached to the usage of a commons are redistributed by the state as public goods, to provide an income for those who have been negatively affected by the extraction and production of their common resources, and to repair and restore the depleted commons

See more at:

Plenary Speech at Johannesburg: The World Alethea Dreamed Of

There were tears in the room as Bayo shared the dream he has for his newborn child, Alethea. It is the dream we all have for our children. In his dynamic and heart-felt talk, Bayo referred to his close friend Charles Eisenstein, another international figure bringing heart into our lives and future. He and his wife Ijeoma are initiating co-founders of Koru, a trans-local network of cultural creatives who believe another world is possible.

Read the Plenary Speech at Johannesburg.

The Importance of Building a World Community

The mission of The Global Citizens’ Initiative (TGCI) is to help build a participatory, values-based, and sustainable world community.  Such a community needs to be participatory in order to be responsible to its members and engage them in governance. It needs to be values-based and grounded in the global norms and standards, such as human rights, agreed upon by world leaders since the end of World War II; and it also needs to be sustainable, committed to replenishing the natural resources that people around the world use to feed, clothe and otherwise support themselves. The building of such a world community is the major challenge facing our planet in this new millennium. Without it the world will remain fragmented and vulnerable to continued environmental degradation, socio-economic conflict, and autocratic leaders.

The conditions for building a participatory, values-based, sustainable world community are perhaps more favorable than they have ever been.  Why is this so? 

First, the number of political, economic, and social issues that can’t be solved by individual nation-states on their own is growing; issues such as human rights, environmental protection, poverty reduction, the elimination of weapons of mass destruction and others.

Secondly, we are witnessing the erosion of the concept of a “super-power.” It is becoming increasingly difficult for any country to assume responsibility by itself for solving a global crisis, for example witness the global reaction to the US effort to use its military force to resolve the civil war in Syria. There is a general worldwide dispersal of resources and might that used to be ascribed to countries like the United States or the former USSR, and with this dispersal of power comes a demand for increased collaboration among governments that is needed to solve global problems.

Thirdly, there are the growing number of global governance organizations already embarked on establishing the norms and standards needed for the building of world community. Examples of such global governance organizations range from the United Nations, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund to the International Standards Organization and the International Federation of Accountants. Some of these organizations have excellent open and transparent structures and do great work, some are in need of reform, and some may be redundant with one another. But the increase in the number of these organizations provides early evidence, on the governance level, that world community-building already is taking place.

Finally, in terms of conditions favorable to the building of world community, there is the globalization of peoples’ identities.  A global dimension has been added to most peoples’ lives today. It has been added in many ways, for example through the clothes that we wear, the food we eat, our interactions on the Internet, the work that we do, or even the entertainment we enjoy. At many different levels we all are engaged globally. Therefor the potential exists for people around the world to build on their global identity and adopt the practice of global citizenship needed for building world community.

Yet despite these favorable community-building conditions, many challenges lie ahead. The creation of a sustainable values-based world community will not happen unless we find ways to grow and support more global leaders; raise the awareness of people around the world about the need for them to assert their global citizenship rights and responsibilities; and increase the ability of global governance organizations to more actively engage citizens in the development and implementation of policies and programs that affect them.

TGCI’s contribution to meeting these challenges lies in the work we do with citizens and governance organizations around the world. We help raise awareness of the importance of people seeing themselves as global citizens with universal rights and responsibilities. We also work with governance organizations (governments, international agencies, transnational businesses) to help them do a better job of engaging citizens in the development and implementation of their organizational policies and programs.

We welcome your participation in The Global Citizens’ Initiative. Please visit our website and complete a short registration form. It’s free.

The Johannesburg Compass: Questions and Orientations

1. Who are we?

As citizens, global and local, and participants of the ‘Building a Global Citizens Movement Johannesburg Conference 2013’, we acknowledge our responsibility for the planet and for humanity and we take responsibility for our individual and collective actions. Collectively, we acknowledge that to reach a just and sustainable world which does not maintain the systems of global oppression, but act to create the change we want to see in the world. We have the power and capacity to drive change. Change that is both personally transformative aiming to de-colonise our minds, and visible within collective, community and political actions. And realising that this is a difficult and sometimes painful process for many of us. Together, in humility, we started a journey of transformation and developed a common vision that we believe will drive a fundamental shift in our world, the way we work in our organisations, and within our societies. In humility, we know that we don’t have all the answers, that we have and many questions. And that we are aware that we should find new ways of expressing our politics and therefore this is not a Declaration but a Question we pose to ourselves and the world. As change agents we started an experiment of finding new ways of cooperation among citizens .

2. What is our shared vision for the planet and humanity?

Together, we believe in a world built on the principles of Global Justice and Global Citizenship and on various principles of indigenous wisdom such as Ubuntu, Buen Vivir and Neighbouring through a multilingual approach which allows the full expression of those ideas. A world built on mutual respect and equality in our shared humanity where we recognise and accept our differences. A world whose social and economic systems further the well-being of all people, while not undermining the planet and future generations. We aspire to reclaim, protect and nurture our commons and respect the rights of other living creatures on our planet. What is global justice? We believe global justice means equal rights for all including future generations, through access to resources, knowledge and decision making. This means that the earth´s natural environment, ecosystems and knowledge are common property, and should be managed for the common good.

What is global citizenship? We believe global citizenship means that all people have access to participate and influence in a world democracy. The essence of global citizenship is built upon the involvement of different groups within decision making. Global citizenship means that rights should be the same for all peoples and responsibilities that are proportionate to their possibilities. The right of freedom of movement and settlement for everybody has to be respected.

3. What is our commitment to act?

We believe that global change will come about when citizens start acting themselves and that is what we will do in this journey and beyond. We will deepen our discussions after this conference and continue the learning and linking. As first steps on this journey, several of us are taking initiatives that will:

  • A new way of communicating that speaks from the hearts and not only the minds, connecting people through many forms of communication such as story-telling and art.
  • To start developing a possible concept of a world democracy that would not lead to replicate current oppressive systems and inequality.
  • Start a process as citizens to develop new ways to safeguard the global resources as common resources, possibly through establishing a Global Trust.
  • To re-democratise our organisations to be the change we want to see in the world.
  • Not to speak for the most excluded, the most isolated, the most impoverished but and ensure they can participate fully at every level of our movement so they can speak for themselves.

  • To establish a global mechanism whereby activists can learn from each other. Global communities can share reflections on change processes and the demands of global justice.
  • To build bridges between civil society networks and engage with other partners such as trade unions.

  • To organise 3 global action days on 3 burning issues together


We will take these questions and considerations as one part of our learning journey together in building a global citizens movement. Together we will continue the discussions how to implement the commitments, linking our actions together. The questions and considerations are an open invitation to participate and to learn together and a living document, and we will revise it through the participatory open process in the next years.

Join the Kosmos Global Ambassador Program

Dozens of us hand-carry Kosmos to grassroots and high-level organizations, bringing hope for a new future that works for all. A report from one of our Global Ambassadors included sending it to 15 friends, to ambassadors in China, Korea, Japan, Thailand, to a library, placing it in a café, giving it to think tanks, lending it to colleagues and more.

Won’t you join us? Become a part of a great humanitarian effort. We are looking for Global Ambassadors in every one of the 192 countries that visit our website.

Visit our Kosmos Global Ambassador page and read what others are doing.