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The art of living together
Evolutionary paths of life have gone through the first harmonic connection that created life (Co create), then growth (greed), competition (chaos) and adaptiveness (awareness) to reach the highest point evolutionary harmony: the art of living together.
In nature we see that many species developed in a sustainable way by avoiding competition and finding harmony by being different. A further step is to also help each other. Symbiosis is a manner of living interaction where two or more parties benefit, each in a totally different way. Nature is in fact a huge network of symbiotic relationships. Let us have a look at a few through this short German educational film (you do not have to understand German to get the message).
The film shows in a simplified way how symbiosis works among two parties only (man/woman, rhinoceros/bird, fish/sea anemone, fish/lobster). When we observe nature we see relationships that are much more divers and complex.
Think of a tree for instance. One of the handicaps of a tree is that it cannot move, hide, run, jump, fly….The tree needs to interact with its environment through advanced measures and relationships to be able to survive as individual and as a species. The oldest still living trees on Earth are over 5000 years old! They have lived throughout the entire human written history and development of civilisation. They could do that because of symbiosis, the art of living together. The tree has learned for instance to react to seasonal environmental conditions s.a. temperature to drop its leaves. By reducing its wealth is can allow the winter storms to blow through its branches without the dangerous opposition of a crown. The leaves that fall are food for bacteria and fungi, building bricks for ants and shelter for beetles. These use up the dead leaves, helping the decomposition to nurture the soil beneath the tree with the same minerals again that are needed to fulfil a new cycle of growth of leaves on the branches in spring. The tree shows that it is willing to live in scarcity and trusts that new times of abundance arrive in a cyclic. It does this through an extraordinary high level of symbiotic balance with its surroundings already for thousands of years.
Birds find shelter and protection on the branches of the tree, and among the leaves, where they poop, adding new nutritious values to the soil. The birds and small animals use the tree’s fruit for food which is why they are also attracted to the tree. The seeds are carried away from the tree in flight by the bird, giving better chances for a new tree to grow elsewhere. Seeds need to be deposited far away from the tree to avoid the lack of sunshine under the summer crown of the parent tree. Trees have hence developed all kinds of solutions for the transportation of their seeds. It is interesting to study the related ingenuity of the mechanics and types of inter relationship with the winds or other species as well as the design of the seeds.
The above are just a few examples of symbiosis of a tree and there are many more to be found in nature. When we see bees fly, hovering over flowers and collecting nectar, they also carry the pollen of these flowers around for fertilisation. If this did not happen then fruit would not grow on the bushes, animals nor people would have food and we would all die. So even we as human species are included in the symbiosis and depend entirely on its functioning for our own sustainable survival and living life. The recent years have show a large mortality rate and downsize of the population of bees in Europe causing serious concerns among scientists, economists and environmentalists.
A living universe
We tend to think of our modern human selves as a single individual with a high degree of autonomous powers of reflection and educated decision making. In reality we are a small living universe that consists of a harmonic symbiotic composition of an estimated 3 billion different species that populate just one single human body and help it function and stay alive. Without it we would die. There is no evidence of any symbiotic purpose that our species (humankind) itself has in nature other then the protective domestication of certain animals for food and recreation in exchange for safety for the species. For most other life the human being is a threat. We have seen in the arguments of this series of blog lectures that this causes a reaction in nature of confrontation, adaptation and new symbiosis. When we look around us we have seen that different species are adjusting remarkably well to the dominance of humankind. But we also see threats against humankind with the appearance of new diseases that can wipe us out with the ease of a sigh. Our polluting nature is helping certain aggressive species while we reduce our own competitive and adaptive edge due to the lowering of our defences.
Our human body is living a life in universe which is much further evolved than our wits, rational and understanding. The symbiosis that composes a human body is of an evolutionary complexity and result of billions of years of development. We have not been adequately aware and hence have not yet behaved accordingly. Now that we are becoming aware we find that we have done a lot of damage already to our own species.
Extremely complex human beings, extremely simple in awareness
The human complexity is extreme in its physical composition and sustainability through symbiosis. Inside us we have the adaptive means that can be enhanced with our adaptiveness and inventiveness. But our conscious awareness is not yet up to the same level to make effective evolutionary choices. Our rational mentality is often still limited to the basic level of life: growth and competition. Our rationality and way of organizing human societies has been undergoing cyclic experiences between growth, competition, adaptation and symbiosis only with our own selves as a species. We have been acting as if we were a universe of our own, simplifying our systems to our level of understanding and creating simple formats of dependence (eg. standardization of money), virtual symbiosis (s.a. civilizations, city life) or competition (war) for our own processes of understanding life, not living life.
We have been surprised by the aggression of the natural surroundings and universe because of lack of harmonic relations with it. In the process we have not (yet) cared at all for our relationship with our surroundings. We were too busy learning about ourselves, the “I am” experiences of self awareness, individually and as an organized society.
A blind universe of our own
Ever since we became self aware and developed our unique ability to create tools for our own progress we had to come to terms with our inner life forces of growth, competition and awareness building. We discovered how to use fire and started to manipulate our surroundings rather than interacting with it. We learned how to grow crops and how to keep cattle for the sake of food guarantees. We learned how to build houses to be able to live even where we had no caves. We copied from nature everything we needed by trying to create it ourselves in a simplified way.
With our acquired self awareness we felt (and in fact are) unique and in reality entered a new phase of life of unlimited growth, just like the early (A+B) did when it had the entire Earth at its disposal. Without natural competition there is no need for adaptation nor new jumps into evolutionary awareness. So symbiosis with our environment has never even crossed our minds. There was no need. We simply needed our wit for unlimited growth not for competition or adaptation. Entire civilizations have starved and disappeared like that. The only natural competition we had was the human being itself. We would protect our basic values through territorial behavior just like aggressive animals would do. We would keep aggressors out and become aggressor ourselves to expand our inner growth desire.
Today 7 billion people, a desired life style of abundance and a single planet Earth show that we are reaching the limits of our growth. We see in our newest generations a new tendency of growing awareness that goes beyond our systems of education. It is as if our species is also inside, in our harmonic sub-conscience reacting to a new reality. We need to modify our current perception of progress in order to have renewed sustainable expectations as a species.
Following the cycles of life also in our human complexities we see that when growth is blocked life reacts. In order to keep going either we find our equals and compete or, with lack of competition, a new jump in awareness occurs. So growth will than be again triggered by new understandings. This allows us also to organize differently taking also symbiosis into account. Symbiotic thinking is already inherent to our system. We only have long not been aware of it, or used it to our benefit. From an evolutionary perspective we ARE symbiosis. From a perspective of consciousness we are about to find out.
Spirituality is our inner built up of life through harmonic patterns of music. This gives us the potential level of understanding life from a learning perspective of billions of years. It is all within us already as a huge universal symphony that sounds great and resonates with our surroundings with its musicality. Spirituality is our deep inner awareness that has not yet been rationalized by our levels of understanding. It is already present for us to discover. We need to have a challenge of adaptation to use our abilities to understand and modify our behavior and structures for a next level of symbiotic life or further growth of our species. We do this over and over again until we reach again our limitations. Or we encounter other creatures in their own phase of growth in the unique space that they created for themselves. From a universal life’s point of view there is no reason at all for the human being to prevail over time. There are sufficient variables that can make the human species just a temporary issue among the many variants. Our own lack of timely adaptation could be a reason for our species to eventually disappear. Self awareness and our learning process could well be too slow, maybe due to self imposed simplified systems for simulated growth (money, hierarchies, robots, etc) that block our natural evolution and makes us unaware of the need for adaptation. Another variable is the possibility of other species to develop better competitive novelties that eventually overrule the human dominance and breaks our complexity back down into more simplified fractals, allowing the other species to evolve fast through their own phase of unlimited growth.
It now makes sense
Now the musical patterns shown by Pythagoras, Galilei, Kondratieff, Tomes, etc all make sense. They are all patterns of life itself in search for harmony in the complexity of growth, competition, adaptation and symbiosis acting multi-dimensionally together. We humans are all part of this with the great ability to understand yet the great handicap that our awareness is still limited. We urgently need to modify systems that were created by ourselves and that tend to destroy us rather than bring us forward at this point. We have reached a point that we need to choose for sustainable progress ourselves by letting go of some of our old beliefs and accept new ones. Evolution also evolves at the levels of the consciousness, not just material relationships. We have reached an important crossroad of our sustainable continuity and the only one responsible for the future are we ourselves.
What will the future bring?
From a human perspective the complexity of life is huge and we have reached a point in which we need to face a particular evolutionary reality. If we don’t then we destroy ourselves. If we do we enter a new phase of adaptation of our own selves and the possibility to enter into a new harmonic relationship with our environment. Symbiosis can lead to new periods of growth, not just in size of humankind but also in understanding life and the capability to sustain ourselves better by knowing and acting accordingly.
My own model for society, Sustainocracy, is simply a working evolutionary step in the field of human symbiosis among ourselves and with our local environment. Sustainocracy “understands” the 4 realities of life (growth, competition, adaptiveness and symbiosis) from a spiritual truth of harmonic relationships and essentials of life. Introducing it into our societal structures will step up our life’s expectations and sustainable evolutionary progress. Even the old obsolete systems of power and dominance have their place and can continue, evolving over time instead of collapsing now into crises and chaos. Right now, as said before in the world of self consciousness, it is simply a matter of choice. The correct choice survives to live, the wrong choice no one will ever know or worry about because it disappears into history and is forgotten.
Human beings are a complex evolved species that stepped from the original musicality of growth into competition and through adaptiveness into a high level of living symbiosis. From a perception point of view we are learning about these phases, developing our awareness and consciousness as cycles occur and show us the consequences of our status in life. These reoccur over and over again during our individual life time from birth up to death, through awareness building and consciousness. We are conceived through the harmonic combination of A+B into the living (A+B). This starts to grow through the different phases of our evolution and eventually as a true fractal expelled in birth from our mother. We then continue the phase of growing up, first protected, then in the world of competition and adaptation to grow up into adulthood with the continuous confusion between growth, competition, adaptation and symbioses.
We do not educate our young to live life. We teach them to effectively grow and compete among each other without showing them why (maybe because “society works that way”), nor their relationship with the surroundings or their own growing processes with non conflictive options through adaptation and symbioses.
In our human organisational processes as a community we find that the same four levels occur over and over again. We now face our limitations of growth due to the finite space and resources on our planet. This brings us again as evolutionary species on a natural crossroad to find a new harmony with ourselves and our surroundings. Evolution shows what comes next. In our case the variables are huge. We combine growing levels of awareness with the 4 realities of life that each are applied consciously to our sustainable human progress.
- Symbiosis brings balance, stability and protection
- Growth is a natural drive of any species
- Competition introduces a selection process through crises and confrontation
- Adaptiveness searches for new areas of non-confrontational freedom
And after adaptation a new phase of symbiosis can start. It is up to humankind to make the best of this knowledge for short term wellness and long term sustainability of the species. It is a matter of educated choices for us with an open adaptive relationship with our surroundings.
Humankind started with evolutionary building blocks that just came alive through harmonic relationships. Then we entered a phase of unaware competition which was followed by the phase of aware competition and now we are finalizing an era in which we learn to stop competing and live life consciously. I call this a quantum leap in human evolution and maybe even in universal evolution.
A small, self aware choice for the human being, a giant leap for humankind.
There are at least two issues that I want to deal with when referring to technology in the content economy. For the meaning and definition of both a content economy and sustainable progress I refer to my previous blogs linked by clicking on the words. The two points that I want to make are: the role of technology in sustainable progress and the complicated transition for technology driven organization to value driven partners.
Technology in sustainable progress
Key in sustainable progress is not technology itself but the innovation applied to our lifestyle or surrounding introducing an improvement with respect to sustainable progress (human wellness and environment). This gives technology a much larger responsibility that the mere invention, production and sales of goods. The innovative industry take its part in the responsibility of human progress. In the second part of this blog I will explain why this is going to happen across the globe. Right now we should ask ourselves what we would expect from the traditionally competence driven introvert technological organizations when the become active in a value driven environmeny. These points are what we find:
- Partnership in sustainable progress. Key for the organization is to participate directly in the process of progress in society, not as an isolated, self centered distant actor but as a partner in purpose driven processes. Progress can then be introduced by the company itself through the introduction of new inventions, or by the human world because of changes produced by other circumstances (vision, need, nature, etc). Important becomes the direct participation in the processes understanding that every change introduces the need for new changes, participating not just reactively but proactively using competences to drive progress as much as others use theirs. That is the innovative drive of progress and human dynamics. What historic impact have wheels had on our lives, the structure of society and interaction between human beings or our environment? Or train, airplanes, computers, the internet, mobile telephony, whatever? Every novelty that has been introduced in our lives should have introduced also compensation processes to maintain a balance in our health, vitality or human dynamics. But it did not. We concentrated on providing more of the same in large quantities without even caring of sustainable progress. With the current size of the human population and amount of volume driven excesses we ran into severe trouble. Economic growth was the motor of keeping business alive, not change or a drive to produce value. An content economy is not one of monetary scales but scales of human values and wellness. Successful business organization hence have to extremely entrepreneurial, produce a lot of change and can even have a growth perspective, not by speculating on the volume of their productivity but by the scale of adaptability that they present on the markets and the results they produce by doing so. A technological innovator has to feed its own progress through direct interaction with the market in which it takes co-responsibility for value, through the expertise it has in its specialized field and the level of creativity it displays to create something new, meaningfully, and implements it in a result driven manner.
- Competent. The organization has to be extremely competent (a top sporter in its technological field) but not at all arrogant. The competence is needed to feel confident in presenting itself flexibly, trusting its organization as master in translating purpose into technology ready for adequate implementation. The success of the company is not driven by its technology but the application of its knowledge and abilities in sustainable progress. That is totally different that before. Key is not what the product does but how it performs in the context of human progress. The bridge between truly perceived value and techniques is called competence, not just the ability to produce any product.
- Adaptability is probably one of the most complex issues in technology because quality development takes time while value drive expectation never have time to wait. Anticipation is good as long as it does not block adaptability. That is why the ongoing connection between the true value that one wishes to obtain and the translation into technological innovation becomes the distinguishing factor of the organization. One has to be present at the discussion, not just when sales opportunities arise but all the time. We come from a hit and run culture and transform into a culture of shared responsibilities. The technological partner becomes equally accountable for the way it complies with progress. Technological professionalism is its means, not a goal on its own.
- The new role of technological partners in local coalitions for sustainable progress changes entirely the way the sector is organized. Big centralized corporate structures are far too bureaucratic to perform and smaller units need to be accountable for what the they produce and implement. We see hence a tendency of many small and medium sized technologically focused competence centers take a seat at the table through multidisplinary self employed representatives that pick up the signs and interact with the enormous variety of options that technology displays in a global market of science and innovative creativity. The expert technological organizations do not look anymore for standardization of their competences for massive sales but the modular adaptability of their inventions to be easily integrated in a large diversity of complex structures. The component of increasing local content is organized in the same community where the innovation has to be implemented creating commitment and involvement of all those people involved in the end result.
In the STIR Foundation we create purpose driven environments (s.a. AiREAS) where technology is one of the key players but not the only one. We also have scientific institutions, human health authorities and the regional governments playing an equal role in progress. In the old fragmented world of economies of growth each of these participants is used to think of their own interests, often even with local government in the driver’s seat to determine what is good for the region and with what priorities. Technological enterprises would queue up to see if they could sell as many goods while the local decision makers would draw up public tenders to see what technology and prices there are to choose from. But also the local governments are fragmented when dealing with their responsibilities since they have grown problem oriented and not purpose driven. Such a fragmented society shows clearly in this example, a picture of the garbage bins in a train station:
There a six different types of garbage bins on the platform each falling within the responsibility of another organization but coinciding on a space of 50 m2. They were contracted by totally different organizations that all had something to do with rail, the platform, human transportation or retail. Each had garbage collection in their responsibilities and were separately accountable for the contract. But they apparently felt no need at all to interact or even think of the need to the total picture. The space ended up with 23 garbage bins of 6 different responsibilities on the areas size of a single living room. Ridiculous? It happens all the time. And it is not the pieces installed. Each also needs to be maintained, emptied, cleaned, etc producing traffic on the small platform of workers, bags, garbage loaders, logistic, etc. All of this may be good for the economy (lots of bins sold, workforce to deal with infrastructure) but totally ridiculous from a sustainable progress point of view. And if you look closely at the picture the only piece of litter visible is not even in one of the multiple bins, it is on the ground! The purpose was to contractually install bins, not to do something about the litter on the platform. When the purpose is wrong the solutions will be equally wrong even if they are contractually within logic.
When we look at the example it is not hard to imagine that it is in the self-interest of every institution to maintain this situation, despite its lack of functional logic. For the providers of garbage bins the situation is ideal to produce volume sales and even have multiple opportunities on a single platform. It is not their responsibility to question the fact that five other suppliers already equipped the location with equivalent material. They just want to sell.
The same goes for those who take their part of responsibility for the infrastructure that most certainly has some contractual element related to the usage of the platform for particular purposes, each including a contractual obligation to take care of their own litter by facilitating an infrastructure. Instead of making a deal with each other it is much simpler to comply oneself, preferably with an infrastructure with different looks than the others, not for the litter but for the sake of identification of contractual compliance. Do all these fragmented players comply functionally? No! Despite the abundance of services available the litter is still on the ground and without identification to “who it belongs”. So who is accountable for that piece of litter on the ground? No-one.
Train stations are a very interesting example to see how fragmented responsibilities end up into a bureaucratic mess and a total lack of sustainable progress simply because of the immense amount of self interested institutions involved in the management of infrastructures, urban and interurban human mobility, energy, platform services, city design, etc. If one can solve the complexity of a train station and its functionality in the overall human interest then one can probably deal with most of the complexities in the region.
So when we (STIR Foundation) look at integral human sustainable progress we create value driven communities in which all the stakeholders take a seat and interact with each other based on a definition of progress, not their own interest. And this produces a very intense learning and adaptation process for all involved. In the past they interacted as customers and providers, now they have to learn to behave as partners.
It is the end result that matters in which every one plays a role by positioning competences in the team. In the STIR Foundation we created such purpose driven regional communities that include the four largest pillars involved in the design of society: civil representatives (eg. health authorities), government, technological innovators and scientific experts. The sole responsibility of the STIR Foundation is to define the purpose and sit in the middle of all players to maintain a level playing field based on equality. We invite everyone to participate without exclusions. The union of multidisciplinary participants suffers its own shake out when people cannot deal with the responsibility of trust in this setting by not complying with the competences that brought there in the first place. We have seen large multinationals fail horribly due to the internal, acquisition driven, bureaucratic culture while smaller players started to out perform themselves. Technology is not owned anymore by any of the large labels as it is becoming available through globalization to anyone. The flexibility to interact professionally in a multidisciplinary, extremely local environment is key, not just at the promising front end but also at the compliance back end of performing according the required speed and adaptability.
The fact that science is available at the same creative table gives the technological participants plenty of inspirational feeds to come up with innovations that are truly out of the box and make progress that rapidly spreads throughout the entire world. This can happen anywhere so one needs to be extremely alert, not protective in self interested attitude but intelligently creative and responsive. As mentioned before, every change induces new changes and in this challenge technological expertise finds chances for continuous renewal providing humanity with progress at all times but within reason, meaningful and contribution to our environment and human wellness as we proceed in sustainable progress.
Finally, when we look at where humankind stands right now the entire civilization has been built around material efficiency for many centuries of fragmented institutional interaction. When we start looking at our own environment through the eyes of sustainable progress, using also our ecological and human wellness inefficiencies in the process, we rapidly come to the conclusion that just about everything that we have today is due for modification. We find that the shovel can go through society at all levels. When we see this we also find the tremendous, never ending opportunity that lies ahead redesigning our presence, behavior and interaction in this world. It truly is a new beginning.