Juan Enriquez: Beyond the crisis…

Juan Enriquez: Beyond the crisis, mindboggling science and the arrival of Homo evolutis

About this Talk: Even as mega-banks topple, Juan Enriquez says the big reboot is yet to
come. But don’t look for it on your ballot — or in the stock exchange.
It’ll come from science labs, and it promises keener bodies and minds.
Our kids are going to be … different.

About Juan Enriques : Juan Enriquez thinks and writes
about the profound changes that genomics and other life sciences will
cause in business, technology, politics and society.

Personal Responsibility and Leadership

We have voted in an historic election, and many are hoping that “happy days are here again,” as the government starts responding to our needs and requests. Well, with such observations as those of famed financier George Soros , it is beginning to look more and more as if our communities, businesses, practices, and families are going to find themselves even more “on their own.”

The “financial downturn” is looking more and more like our economic Katrina – and like the unfortunate victims of that storm, we cannot expect the government to step in and solve all the problems it is creating. After all, our state and federal governments are beyond flat busted, and the money they borrow or print is going to come out of our future earnings – which themselves are looking pretty shaky.

Perhaps there are important lessons we can learn from Katrina. One, of course, is that we cannot depend on the disaster-responsiveness of the government. Another comes to us by way of certain population groups in New Orleans that found ways to deal successfully with the challenges presented during in the aftermath of the hurricane. The tightly-knit French-American communities were able to organize a response; they quickly pulled together and pooled its resources, and looked for ways to support each other. How different from the “every man for himself” reaction that the news media brought us in such quantity.

Just as nations, banks, cities, and towns are going bankrupt , it is all but certain that there will be breakdowns at the level of our local communities. What will happen to your neighborhood and mine will then depend on the quality of the leadership available. And the time for the right kind of leadership is now, not after the levees break.

Because we are a democracy, our government is a reflection of the choices we are making. Thus, each one of us bears a certain responsibility, the responsibility to dedicate an appropriate portion of his or her time to seeing to it that the men and women that we allow to take leadership positions in our governments, businesses, and communities are truly leaders – leaders who really understand the true essence of this new paradigm. It is essential to our survival that we go beyond greenwashed temporary fixes. It is your job and mine to make sure that, instead of going for the “fast, fast, fast symptom relief” as offered by our TV commercials, our elected officials will look to the source of these recurring disasters, and treat the system at this deeper level. If we do not do this, we are not being responsible and playing our proper role in the new Distributed Leadership model that coordinates well with New Paradigm thinking.

The Distributed Leadership Meme
Those who understand the concept of Distributed Leadership and are skilled in its application are best equipped to design a new course of action – one that will reflect our shared interests and deeper unity. The goal is to move us toward (whether or not we ever reach it) an “omega point” of harmony and unitive thinking. This process will make available to us the enormous gifts of our collective intelligence and generate momentum toward wholeness and sustainability – survival and “thrival.”

We are now at a time in which we will experience an unprecedented opportunity to select new leadership in all walks of life – government, business, communities – right down to our individual families. It is clear to nearly everyone that it is time for a change, a change that will be reflected at every level of system, from the individual to the global. Our actual survival, and the sustainability of those aspects of our lives that we treasure most, will depend upon our choosing leaders, local and national, who really understand that if we do not learn from history, history will repeat itself – and each time the price goes up.

The Teachings of History
Consider the cost of the Cold War, the Arab Oil Embargo, the suicide bombing of September 11, and now the Financial Meltdown, whose costs are well into the trillions. And the significance of this amount pales in comparison to the human suffering attendant on those events. We are waking up, and none too soon, to the fact that, there is something deeply flawed about how we have organized the dominant institutions on our planet.

September 11 roused us temporarily from our fool’s paradise of “prosperity.” The 3,000 deaths that resulted from those terrorist attacks were tragic, yet no more tragic than the 3,000 babies that starve to death every day, or die from easily curable disease – or the tens of thousands kidnapped into sexual slavery, to die of AIDS after a decade of unthinkable torture. What was different was that these deaths were white Americans, not black or brown Africans or Asians. Suddenly the U.S. began to wake up to the fact that we could no longer believe ourselves as invulnerable as we had once thought. After all, to Americans, bombings had always been something that happened “over there” and that war was just our favorite way of learning geography.

And, after an all-too-brief moment of unity, we watched dumbfounded, as the sense of global oneness and shared tragedy that had New Yorkers smiling at each other degenerated – and we regressed to our unfortunate mean, reverting once again to our usual game of international whack-a-mole – a strategy that history may show us was exactly the wrong one for the time.

I recall my thoughts at the time of the attacks – “What if this vicious act of mass murder was just another symptom of the misguided behavior of our countries and our cultures – simply more recent symptoms of what brought us slavery, the Holocaust, Hiroshima, Stalin, and the Vietnam War?” I decided upon an interesting thought experiment. I would view these behaviors as symptoms, then try to trace them to their deeper source through the application of careful logic and standard scientific procedure.

The Cosmic Healer

So I set out to perform an Einstein-like thought experiment, examining our world from the imagined point of view of an interplanetary physician – a cosmic do-gooder whose job it is to travel through time and space seeking out intelligent life forms that are struggling, like the human community on our own planet, to realize their potential.

There is no question, this patient is suffering physical illness and great anguish. And we are demonstrably headed towards ever more dysfunction and disease as an unavoidable consequence of the dominant ongoing behaviors, thoughts, passions and beliefs held by its most powerful inhabitants. Shouldn’t I want for my planet the same quality of intelligent, wise health care I insist on for my family: shouldn’t our situation to be examined with the honesty, objectivity, and care that would be employed by a physician treating a patient? So, I set out to perform a careful physical and psychological examination of the human culture on this planet. The result is my new book, Culture on the Couch; Seven Steps to Global Healing .

My explorations revealed convincing evidence that the same paradigm Mind-Body practitioners have found vital in producing healing (identity, balance, and integrity) at the individual level also turns out to facilitate healing at the collective level. If you have experienced real healing or a creative breakthrough in your own life, you understand the honesty, faith, and courage it takes. Indications are that we have reached the point at which we need to muster that same kin
d of confidence, commitment, and integrity in our collective behaviors.

The good news is that, collectively, we have all the wisdom and resources we need, and powerful tools for social networking are emerging right now. Accessing them and using them is a wise and powerful thing to do. Such social technologies as The World Café provide powerful methods for creating inviting space, exploring questions that matter, and connecting diverse people and perspectives. Through listening together for patterns and insights, collective knowledge emerges.

Until now, the system that has controlled the information that has been available to us; it has used anxiety and fear to push us to act in ways that are of much more benefit to the rulers, the wealthy, and the party in power, than to the people themselves. But this system actually belongs to us, and if we are willing to use the tools available to us we can begin to discover the incredible possibilities that open up when you begin to develop and evoke personal responsibility.

When we discover how to become truly responsible for our lives, we can choose how we really want to be and what kind of world we want to live in.