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What do you hold yourself and others accountable for? What are your core values against which you make your decisions at home, in your job, on the street…..?
These simple questions have the most complicated anwers. When we consider the consequences of our choices than we could repeat the accountability question again.
Definition of “Accountability” (Merriam Webster): an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions .
It hence is something else than responsability itself. Who is responsible for the global pollution for instance? And who is accountable? We probably anwer that we are all responsible but none of us is held or feels accountable. We either all are together or no one is specifically.
Definition of Sustainocracy: Sustainable human progress (evolution according 5 predefined natural core conditions) and Democracy (our freedom to choose our priorities among those core conditions).
When I introduced Sustainocracy as new societal instrument for sustainable human progress in reality I invited ourselves and our institutions to become accountable for 5 core conditions for our sustainable wellness and evolutionary skills.
Does it change anything in our lives? Not really as an individual, yet its effects are huge collectively. It simply affects the choices we make and against which we calibrate them. By doing so it modifies our discourse, our way of communicating with each other, our decisions, our design processes and the symbiotic interaction between people and institutions. The institutions start to deploy a new kind of commitment and operational activity while governance becomes oriented towards the proactive way of addressing and facilitating the development of these core conditions. For us individually it is just a choice, for our complex societies it represents a mayor turnaround.
Does it affect our economies? Sure! It makes them resilient, strong, independent and sustainable. When we make our politicians, business leaders and scientists accountable for those core conditions too then they develop their decisions accordingly and we create a global community of progress and resilience. It is simple and resolves, even heals our complex societies and issues.
Just try it and look at yourself and your surroundings from a core values Sustainocratic perspective. As a teaser you can download here our globally published “global health deal” after the example of the Brabants Health Deal.
Join AiREAS (healthy city development from air quality perspective) and School of Talents (Participatory learning) as first sustainocratic cooperative models that work with this kind of accountability.
Blog 2: The solution
After writting the blog about our entrapment in our own vulnerability we need to apply the law of opposites to show that breaking free is a serious option, applied by many around the world. It is not easy but once done a new world shows itself in which we can explore and develop ourselves to the full.
We just need to accept reality as it is, not just the vulnerable part of greed and destruction but also the powerful part of awareness and creation.
A human being is free, a citizen is not
When we look at ourselves as a biological member of our human species we are a single complete genetic entity, a symbiotic composition of billions of species that interact to keep that unique human being aliveand alert. At biological level we eat, drink, breath, mate and procreate, and finally die within the cyclic event of life. Such human being is born absolutely free. Free to make our own choices for survival, safety and comfort within our habitat, planet Earth, and how we organize ourselves effectively. In the natural living space there is no debt, no ownership, just usage of resources and an adaptive interaction with other species based on equality and respect. In nature everything is always strong and healthy, the unhealthy and weak disappear to give back the resources to nature for another life cycle. This we call evolution and we as individuals and community are part of that.
As citizen we are not free, we are part of a (formal) human group process. We have the ability to make arrangements in such group processes that help us live and survive, with safety and comfort, better than when we need to deal with this alone. In group processes we contribute as a member and interact with the group for best community performance. Communities tend to have unique characteristics that develop over time and may get into competition with each other for the protection of the group’s interest. Communities also tend to behave like individual species with the same type of living complexity expressed in terms of growth (greed), chaos (crisis), awareness (learning) and harmony (balans). Within such communities a set of rules determine the interaction between the members. When such community serves its members than the citizenship is never questioned. When however the community starts serving itself as an institution, at the expense of its members, than an invisible line of tension is crossed and citizens can revert back to their human freedom of choice. They stop being citizen in THAT community. No other person can oblige any one to remain member of a community as active civilian if that person does not want to. Unfortunately it is done continuously with law enforcement or empowerment of governance. Still, in absolute sense, even when put in prison, one remains always free at human level.
There are various ways to deal with the freedom of choice as human being and the obvious advantages of being member of a community. Of course this community needs to serve its members properly. The first option one has when stepping out as a citizen is to choose a new community which has a set of rules and behaviour that fits better one’s self aware judgments and desires.
I myself had this option when I became aware that the Dutch society had outgrown its human community characteristics and became a money driven institution at the expense of humankind, essentially totally absorbed in the list of vulnerability described in the previous blog. But where would I go? Holland, at institutional and governance level had a reached a point of self destruction. But at humanitarian level we had gone through an evolution too. Equality between men and women for instance was a socially accepted truth. In the mind of certain analysts such equality was created to get women to enter the labor force and contribute to capitalist economics with all the negative side effects. This may be partially true but at the same time, from a human and universal complexity point of view the acceptance that men and women are the equal but not the same is key to understand universal ethics and dynamic clustering of life.
In this duality of excessive institutionalized, money driven vulnerability and well balanced social equality, the Netherlands tends to offer a better evolutionary perspective than other communities where the money driven greed is not compensated by a minimum of gender equality. Another key element that motivates the stay in Holland is the freedom of speech and choice. The “system” may impose itself but when one turns its back to it there is an “isolation from the system” but not from the human part of society. In essence this too makes the Netherlands a vertile ground for the evolution of our species and experimentation with new structures of governance, culture and behavior.
So leaving Holland was not an option. Only very few places in the world would give me the level of freedom to evolve into something new rather than revolve in a fight against the old.
The second option one has is to create a community of one’s own, according one’s own insights and understanding. In a globalized political economic human world, fixated in its vulnerability but explained as a strength, such choice is extremely difficult. When I had to deal with this I made a distinction between the status of human being and freedom with that of citizen and community compliance. When looking at Holland, consisting of nearly 17 million inhabitants we can see 17 million human beings and nearly 17 million “compliant” citizens. Most of those citizens don’t realize their universal right to be free as human being. They take our community and its rules for granted.
In such universal freedom there is no debt, no property, no human legal system, no religion, no guilt. There is a right to determine or create community membership and citizenship. So when I address the fellow human being inmy surroundings then the conversation differs fundamentally from the address to the citizen. Even at professionalized level in the citizen’s world the so called “leaders” are also human beings. Often they are slave of the same system with the only difference that they are rewarded to make other people comply. I can address them also as human beings and challenge them to look at their citizen’s role in the community from a human perspective. Awareness is an awakening process which is best realized by taking people out of their mental or physical comfort zone.
Awareness driven human and citizenship
When I see the Dutch community as 17 million human beings that in potential can determine the characteristics of a totally new society, even though they are mostly actively and unaware involved in their old citizenship, then I can communicate with them as such. It does not matter in what role they operate in society, when they are invited to understand their human freedom we can openly reflect about change. When I started to do so in 2005 I found resonance with a very limited audience. Most people and structures were still confident that society as it was would remain. My own awareness had broken through in 2001 when I was taken out of my own mental and physical comfort zone and had to make my own decisions as human being, not as citizen. But the mental and physical comfort of the mayority of the Dutch back in 2005 was still happy with themselves. Only some resonance was gained in the field of entrepreneurship. Business people were encountering severe competition and needed to find ways to strengthen their proposition rather than continuously follow the decline of cost optimization in order to try to grown.
In 2008 this all changed when the creditcrisis threw many people off their comfortable throne with a mental wake up effect. Suddenly all executives as well as people in general were in crisis. The first reaction is to try to get back to the old and safe status quo. The second reaction was to see if change was an option. Most people acted in this on professional level, using the known instruments for that particular function and old societal context trying to make the best of it. No one had ever considered looking at it from their human perspective until I started inviting them to do so.
5 human core values
As human being I defined 5 core human values that are critical for our sustainable human evolution: Health, safety, regional self sufficiency, self awareness and fullfillment of our daily basic needs (1 kg of food, 3 kg of drinking water, 30 kg of healthy unpolluted air). each of these values is at jeopardy today and the lack of them causes the tremendous vulnerability described in the previous blog. From a human perspective it does not matter how rich you are and with how much power, the biological vulnerability is equal for all people. From a citizen’s perspective the awareness and related choices are critical as it determines the way one remains part of the problem or the solution. Some professionals get into a moral dillema when the difference between the realities displays itself to them. They have to make a decision:
- I neglect the awareness out of self preservation in the old reality
- I try to use my professional authority to make a difference by taking account of the core values
- I quit my job and make myself useful elsewhere using my newly acquired awareness
A new look at reality
Once we have been through the process of relativation of our human and citizen’s choices we start looking at reality in a totally different way. The vulnerability described before becomes an innovative challenge and the core human values a guideline. We cannot change 5000 years of city development over night but we can start with small steps. Some cities and regions are more difficult to transform from a quality of life perspective. Some even impossible. Knowing this we can even anticipate creating totally new living environments for the millions of people that otherwise would remain in a vulnerable situation. In the old reality of money driven citizenship this would be seen as a tremendous cost. In our new reality of core values driven cocreation it is seen as the engagement to make a difference between death and life. New techniques, visions, ideologies and methods can be experimented with to generate public engagement with the proper reward. Life is a great reward but when alive we need to have a house, food and other needs that we need to cocreate together too. Recently we looked for instance at the potential of the Pyramide City as self built, 100% self sufficient solution for all our unemployed and refugees. We can house over 6000 people on 1 km2 using local materials and building a totally circular economy.
It is a totally different way of organizing ourselves in which no political or economic parameters rule, nor a democratic hierarchy of self interests, but a cocreative mentality of everyone involved based on developing and maintaining our core values. We even defined this as Sustainocracy, a new type of democracy that respects authorities and professional specilizations but connects them in a new way around core challenges. The individual choice is hence not just in distinction between human and civilian realities but also in the way we contribute to progress with our professional responsibility and authority.
When individuals become aware of their human freedom of choice and the ability to redefine their conribution to sustainable human progress two realities get organized in parallel, the old vulnerable one that produced old securities and wellness but got us into trouble, and the new one that creates new securities by addressing the vulnerability through the leadership of core human rather than financial values.
While in the money based reality the relationships are built around financial transactions we see that the reality around core human values is built around project based cocreation and sharing of values. In money based city the citizen is a consumer of the city’s consumables (health care, housing, roads, parking, shops, theaters, events, etc) while in a core human values based community every person is a partner and participant sharing the progress and value creation. This means that a totally new value system is introduced, based on cocreation effort and sharing. This is not a relationship based on individual greed and dependence but of sharing and freedom.
Traditional infrastructural functions of governance are still needed but they are facilitating this participatory awareness driven eco-system based on harmonization instead of economic growth. This gives a significant different meaning to government and others in the field of cocreation. Technologies feed cocreation and awareness, not control and regulation. Governance, lawsystems, innovation, education and entrepreneurship get a totally new meaning and organization.
With appearance of two realities in one community one can live up to one or the other. Much better is to place both into perspective of eachother and relate them functionally. Suddenly we find that a large part of the old functional reality may remain alive and working blindly in the part that is claimed to produce vulnerability. Key is that the emphasys of our community direction is not anymore based on blind economic growth yet positioned at the side of values driven change. This does not mean that the economic growth parties are eliminate, not at all and on the contrary. Economic growth is good as long as it contributes to the solution rather than producing the problems. Economic growth will never challenge itself out of self interest. We need to have something beside which we call the Transformation Economy. Such economy keeps a look at the core human values and determines when the cocreative change is needed because the Growth economy crossed the line and started to produce measureable problems. Rather than raising taxes the Transformation economy raises royalties over the innovations that produce and enhance the core values while penalizing those old growth elements that measurably started to contribute to the problem. Like that the Transformation economy garantees the involvement of the specialized organization while redefining solutions through open innovation as these organizations are the ones that fragment the solutions into new products and services for the world market.
A simple choice
We have arrived at the conclusion that all our problems are solved instantly if we make our simplest choice. As human being we are free and responsible for our sustainable human progress. Once aware of that we can embrase the 5 core values and position ourselves at the side of sustainable leadership and the transformation economy. Our vulnerability is our challenge not our burden and our creativity and cocreation is our security for a safe future. Money is a means that may conditionally grow as long as it remains contributing to the global core values else we voluntarily change its content to something new. We don’t depend on banks, politicians or whatever to make this decision. When we do at our own human level we can invite others to join. As the consequences of our vulnerability grow there are more and more who are willing to chose the side of sustainable leadership and help restructure a society putting growth in balans with harmony. The cities, our places to live, our productivity and learning through awareness will then produce an evolutionary step for humankind. Life on Earth has evolved like this for 4.5 billion years. Now humankind can benefit from this unique awareness breakthrough and change our vulnerability in our strength. We don’t need to die, we need to learn how to live and act accordingly. We can only confirm what Snoopy and Charly Brown conversed and take the positive way.
Modern city development is a confrontation with ethics
City development is a human path along ethical breakthroughs and value driven leadership, based on wellness and harmony. Some cities in the world take the lead (eg New York, Eindhoven). Many others show horrible signs of decadence, speculation and chaos.
Using the complexity model (organization versus ethics, TO DO versus TO BE) in relation to the impressive explosive expansion of cities we can see that the city environment has become the utmost melting pot of speculative decadence and an ethical leadership challenge without precedence.
Just have a look at the evolution of London from 1800 till now:
The expansion leap of the city is especially spectacular from 1950 onwards. It is fully in line with the mathematical exponential function of doubling over a fixed time 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 etc) as explained so magnificently by Dr. Bartlett in 2002 and so neglected by the general people out of unawareness or complexity while manipulated by self interest of banks and governments. Where does ethics come in when a doubling time of just 30 years requires millions of homes to be built and financed? When all this spectacular affluence of people needs food to eat, energy in their homes, products, services and medical care to overcome their accidents and illnesses? Where is it when all the above has been economized in controlling hands of politicians, bureaucrats, banks and competitive business enterprises that only have growth on their mind of power and control? What happens when all this needs to be connected with infrastructures of roads, logistics and waste management? Where does one place priorities?
For decades the choice was obvious. Attending “Growth” had priority number 1 and was complicated enough to manage and interesting enough for greed and apathy to develop hand in hand.
Consequence driven governance
When you are a city government between 1950 and 2000 you tend to see this evolution as a big, growing pile of costs to be dealt with in 4 year democratic blocks. The city financing comes mainly from taxation (soil, real estate, consumption patterns) often with the burden of a national government in between as political and bureaucratic extra. The political focus easily becomes related to income through taxes, city services, lobbies and expense priorities, and in many cases even very personal interests of enrichment, power and manipulation. The evolution of the city tends to be chaotic and based on urgency to solve growth pains rather than moral planning. In this short video we see someconsequences of chaotic growth:
Big infrastructural needs and survival initiatives of ordinary people mingle. This short video is just as clear. Just wonder where the kids play…
The total lack of ethics results in unprecedented levels of pollution, sickness and ghetto forming, even in modern cities of the western world. The distance between rich and poor grows including decadence at both extreems. Secondary consequences, such as air and water pollution, criminality, sustainability issues in humanitarian and ecological ethics, etc. are unfortunate burdens that did not immediately fit into the expansion model of working with political or economic priorities of growth. All this is crazy if we realize that placing all 7 billion human beings sholder to sholder in rows “bud to belly”, the entire world population would fit into the smallest province of the Netherlands (Utrecht). And many know how small the Netherlands is already.
If all people together occupy so little space why are we such a huge, destructive footprint on our planet Earth? That’s because we use our time, space, creativity and interaction wrongly.
Ready for change
The cities have grown so big, complex, problematic and vulnerable from management point of view that a new way of dealing with its household and community interaction is needed. The old bureaucratic model of tax versus expenses does not cover the needs anymore. Nor does the model of consumer economics that make people in cities extremely vulnerable for financial speculation, destruction of values, illnesses, etc. Cities tend to run into severe debt while responsibility piles up without apparent solutions in the old model.
The Sweed Hans Rosling made an interesting TED speech about the statistical growth of our global populations and the evolution of wellness versus poverty using his usual creative presentation techniques:
Rosling addresses the paradox of ethical need of child survival to stop the exponential expansion of the human population. He refers also to the moral need to bring together wellness by taking responsibility together. His logic makes sense even though the complexity of harmonic interaction with our environment with involvement of all structures of society was only briefly referred to.
As mentioned there are very powerful speculative forces at work that have always gone beyond governance control, facilitated by politics from the economic interest point view. Take for instance the tremendous food requirement for such large city populations (70% of all people in the world are consumers through money dependence in cities and they do not contribute to their food productivity) has stimulated the same speculants that corrupted the real estate market to do the same in the other commodities markets.
These people (real estate, food whole sale, politicians, banks) only care for the financial benefit and there are no laws against their malicious practice. Behind all these manipulative figures we find millions of real people suffering and dying, but this does not bother them. They often determine the rules of the game, the countries laws and public pressure out of self interest. The tension between such contrasting challenges and world views is a confrontation with our moral evolution. The ethical breakthrough tends to come through three means:
- When the masses stand up against their dictators. The Arabic spring was an example as a response to raising food prices. The Mexican youth movement in response to the student massacre by corrupt politicians and drug cartels, is yet another. 100’s of such hotspots can now be found in the world. And it spreads through social media and brave bottom up leadership.
- When crisis, catastrofes or depression give room for change. In many places fragmented power distribution makes executives aware that they cannot stop the public movement of change. The open up for dialoge and exchange their position of power to block for their authority facilitated change and gain admiration for that.
- When ethical leadership takes over from financial management. New value systems appear. They develop in parallel with old obsolete formal structures. They are not transactional but based on value creation and sharing. New organisational complexities arise that eventually take over from the old ones including the new level of ethics in their structure. Sustainocracy is a working example that invites executives from the old world to take responsibility also in the new one and bridge the transformation in a peaceful way.
No matter what the outcome is per city the transformation processen are enormous because everything that evolved for centuries and especially the last few decades is being challenged to change. Many cities experience this as yet another cost but in Eindhoven we see it as a modern multidisciplinary value creation process, an emerging economy based on spirituality (the natural force of purpose driven living connectivity) and creativity (true 21st century entrepreneurship) that is more powerful than the old speculative one.
The biggest difficulty is to transform a working city of cement and cars into a biodiversity of health, safety and productive interaction. We do not start from scratch but transform our past into sustainable progress. This will always go accompanied with tearing down old structures and developing new ones. Precedent appear allover the world but decadence and greed still rules. When ethics reaches the levels of global governance the human world will enter its next evolutionary phase. The 3 level of ethics, the one of harmony with ourselves and our environment.
The transformation of government is visualized in this summing up:
Jean-Paul Close (Founder of STIR’s City of Tomorrow)