Possibilities – Wholeness is Emergent

Written by: Terry Link

Primary Source: Possibilitator

I am not the swiftest thinker but seems like an unusual series of things have come into my sight in the past week that might spell the emergence of wholeness of thinking to a degree rarely visible in our culture. Let me share five of those!

I just finished reading this morning this piece by Rabbi Michael Lerner, founder and publisher of Tikkun, a thoughtful journal of our times.
Tikkun In this deeply resonant piece entitled, “Yearning for a World of Love and Justice” Lerner, co-founder of the Network for Spiritual Progressives, lays out a ten point new Spiritual Covenant.

1. We will create a society that promotes rather than undermines loving and caring relationships and families.

2. We will take personal responsibility for ethical behavior.

3. We will build social responsibility into the normal operations of our economic and political life.

4. We will reshape our education system so that it teaches values of love, caring, generosity, intellectual curiosity, tolerance, nonviolence, gratitude, wonder, democratic participation, and environmental responsibility.

5. We will seek a transformation of our entire health care system not only providing free universal health care in our own country and around the world, but also creating a system that addresses the spiritual, psychological, and physical dimensions of human beings and the impact of social and environmental influences on their well-being.

6. We will be stewards of the environment and reshape the global economy in sustainable ways.

7. We will address our desire for “homeland security” through a strategy of nonviolence, generosity, genuine caring, and respect for the well-being of others.

8. We support a strong separation of church, state, and science.

9. We will rebuild our economy to provide economic security, fundamental equality, and meaningful work that contribute to some higher good beyond maximizing money or power.

10. We seek to protect individuals from coercive powers of the government and the marketplace, while affirming our interdependence.

The wholeness of this approach as laid out more fully in the lengthy article resonated with me, especially the concept of the necessity for doing inner and outer work simultaneously.

Also recently, Gar Alperovitz and James Gustave Speth laid out what they are calling the Next System Project


 is an ambitious multi-year initiative aimed at thinking boldly about what is required to deal with the systemic challenges the United States faces now and in coming decades. Responding to real hunger for a new way forward, and building on innovative thinking and practical experience with new economic institutions and approaches being developed in communities across the country and around the world, the goal is to put the central idea of system change, and that there can be a “next system,” on the map.


Working with a broad group of researchers, theorists and activists, we seek to launch a national debate on the nature of “the next system” using the best research, understanding and strategic thinking, on the one hand, and on-the-ground organizing and development experience, on the other, to refine and publicize comprehensive alternative political-economic system models that are different in fundamental ways from the failed systems of the past and capable of delivering superior social, economic and ecological outcomes.
By defining issues systemically, we believe we can begin to move the political conversation beyond current limits with the aim of catalyzing a substantive debate about the need for a radically different system and how we might go about its construction. Despite the scale of the difficulties, a cautious and paradoxical optimism is warranted. There are real alternatives. Arising from the unforgiving logic of dead ends, the steadily building array of promising new proposals and alternative institutions and experiments, together with an explosion of ideas and new activism, offer a powerful basis for hope.
Again, the vision is a connected one based upon a wholeness and an appreciation and respect for relationships – human-to-human, as well as human-nature ones. A detailed report is available at their website along with a short video overview.
If this isn’t enough one can look at the quickly emergent movement referred to as the SSE – Social and Solidarity Economy. A new book I pulled from the new book shelf on Wednesday gives a sense of the pulse of this global movement which I’ve been somewhat aware of for about 18 months, but which is quickly engaging both academics and practitioners around the world seeking to reconsider the relationships between our economic and social systems
  The work is edited by the veteran development leader, Peter Utting, who was former Deputy Director and now Senior Research Associate with the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development.
 Image result for unrisd
The eighteen chapters analyze the possibilities and challenges of creating an economy that is socially strong and as is being invented in places around the world. It gives a glimmer of the grassroots explosion of possibilities that is hidden from mass media and those who rely solely on it for their understanding of the world..
Image result for pope francis
Then we have Pope Francis’ 184 page Encyclical Letter on Care for Our Common Home which admittedly since it was just released I have yet to read  but from what is being reported, except by climate change deniers, it is a holistic consideration of how to move forward on many fronts at the same time.
That I have bumped into these four major pieces of deep systemic thinking within a week is either a total fluke, or there is arising amongst us a set of possibilities. Not probabilities, not certainties, but genuine possibilities if we were to imagine a better world and then begin to SERIOUSLY join together to create it. Wouldn’t that be a great legacy to leave the children and grandchildren!
I find it also in the unusual campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who says it is less important that he wins the presidency than the awakening of citizens to their possibility, if not responsibility, that a better world is possible.
     “This is not about Bernie Sanders,” the candidate said to the room filled beyond capacity. “You can have the best president in the history of the world but that person will not be able to address the problems that we face unless there is a mass movement, a political revolution in this country. Right now the only pieces of legislation that get to the floor of the House and Senate are sanctioned by big money, Wall Street, the pharmaceutical companies. The only way we win and transform America is when millions of people stand up as you’re doing today and say. ‘Enough is enough.
The word solidarity keeps rising in my head as I read all these things. In the Catholic culture, the word might be communion. They each are embedded in relationships. It goes back to the first point in Lerner’s Spiritual Covenant:
 1. We will create a society that promotes rather than undermines loving and caring relationships and families.
I can feel the pulse throbbing in all this. Can anyone else? And will we throw ourselves into shaping the future together.
Film at 11:00.
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Terry Link
Terry Link is a retired MSU librarian, former founding director of the MSU Office of Campus Sustainability, and co-founder and former chair of the American Library Association’s Task Force on the Environment. He recently served as associate editor for the two-volume encyclopedia, Achieving Sustainability: Visions, Principles, and Practices(Gale/Cengage 2014). He has also served as executive director of a regional food bank and as a county commissioner. Currently he is president of Starting Now, LLC, a sustainability consulting firm, a Senior Fellow for the U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development and serves on numerous non-profit organization boards.
Terry Link

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