Saturday, September 16, 2006

Plumbing? Or People? Yes.

I had another great meeting with Della this week. Her efforts at the Institute of Infinite Peace are making good progress, and it was great to learn more about where it's headed and what she and the others involved want to accomplish. I won't steal their thunder by mentioning their plans here, except to say that I believe their first event will be in November.

As I spoke to Della about my interest bridging realized something about the Spirituals and the Engineers (my labels for two important "bridge-able" groups), and it's this: Spirituals focus on helping people change; Engineers think in terms of the physical infrastructure. Bam! Right in the middle of our conversation it struck me (an Engineer of long standing) that fixing the "stuff" won't solve the problems if people don't change their behaviors. It seemed so obvious. I gamely maintained the conversation for several minutes while voices in the back of my head said "It doesn't matter how much infrastructure you build, if everyone behaves the same! Am I'm working on the wrong problem?" "Yes! No! Wait!" I ignored the back of my head for a while.

My external conversation with Della passed through a handful of topics, and came around to the Human Forum coming in December in Puerto Rico. The Forum is managed by the Alliance for a New Humanity, which I think of as mostly Spirituals. I'm planning on attending, in part to "network" with a bunch of positive-minded people, and to practice building bridges (in this case, the human relationship kind, not the physical infrastructure kind). It was a good point in the conversation to check back in with the discussion going on in the back of my head. Good progress had been made.

It's true that changing infrastructure won't solve problems like intolerance, prejudice and tendency for industrialized nations to use unfair trade policies that impact poor nations. It's also true that changing how most people think about what's possible will have a big impact on what is possible. But that's not the whole story either. Here are several additional thoughts.

  • Changing infrastructure doesn't, in itself, change world dynamics, but it can improve the quality of life for the people that get to use the infrastructure.
  • Working on infrastructure construction projects is a great way for one group of people to demonstrate to a second group that they are valued.
  • Traveling to project sites in developing countries is a good way for people in the industrialized world to get familiar with lifestyles and challenges (including WTO policies) in other regions. Travelers can share their experiences after returning home to broaden the impact.
  • People who are shifting their attitudes about the future may desire to take action. Participating in projects is one way that they can act.
  • Improving quality of life and reducing inequity ultimately does involve improving infrastructure.
  • Establishing seeds of sustainable infrastructure in developing areas can help a sustainable approach take root. Sustainability leverages technology, often developed in wealthy countries, that allows the developing world to skip past the long path of development through destructive approaches. Taking a short cut to sustainability helps everyone.

The upshot: How people think needs to change in order to shift the dynamics toward a global Win-Win. Efforts to improve infrastructure are useful and ultimately necessary activities.

People matter. Infrastructure matter. Both are true. Spirituals are right. And Engineers are right.

How cool is that?


Anonymous Celine said...

What Camp are You In?

Hi Curt. That is cool – your link between the Spirituals and the Engineers being that ‘How people think needs to change in order to shift the dynamics toward a global Win-Win. Efforts to improve infrastructure are useful and ultimately necessary activities.” The way I read you, is that our type of thinking is critical to the survival of this Planet and all on it. This is where the spiritual types of today can really help, I think, if they direct their passion and energies for peace and justice on Earth into direct action. This is what I try to encourage on my website, Peace In Practice. If you type the words “peace” and “practice” into Google, my site comes up first. Other websites that come up under these keywords tend to be religion-based, but from an inclusive perspective. I suppose one can call the truly inclusive religious organisations as “spiritualist” in addition to referring the so-called “New Agers” as such. I, too have been thinking about the bridges between the two seemingly diametrically opposed groups, being that I feel that half of me is in the one camp, and the other half in the other camp, so to speak. I am pleased to report that there are many “spiritualist” type forums / discussion boards (which I post on or know about) which have topics covering not only esoteric subjects such as “ascension” or evolving into higher conscious beings, but include practical down-to-earth discussion of what “infrastructure” needs to change. Here, I define “infrastructure” as including not only physical structures and systems, but also societal organisation. So…..the bridges are definitely already being built…..but not yet at a high or extensive level, it would seem.

I have had a look at Appropedia! and I love the name of your wiki - WinWinWiki, and I love that you are so creative. We need creative, passionate, communicative, and imaginative minds to forge bridges, using empowering and informing activities, demonstrations, and products/item, from the simple yet powerful “what is peace?” activity of Morgs (, which helped me build my site, to the global meditations which aim to inspire thoughts that we achieve peace. Even engineers and other scientifically oriented people, such as myself, are lifted up by a cheery message or a few warm words, and by having fun. My Peace Beads idea (see reminds me that all the efforts by both the spiritualists and the techies in building a better world are like beads on a giant necklace. One particular bead may be far away from another, but they are all there, making up the Jewell of the Earth, which is a safe and tolerant co-existence for all. I think that because the dominant way of current thinking is that “seeing is believing” and “we must toe the line” (even in the sense that we have faith in our elected and employed leaders that they do have our best interests in mind - and to rebel or think for oneself is being ungrateful – shades of Orwell) many people are in neither “camp” or are in the “rational” camp.

So, we can either have the “spiritualists” taking their message to the “rationalists” and “techies”, that the infrastructure be founded upon the principles of non-violence and enough for all….or the “rationalists/techies” taking their message to the “spiritualists” that “hey, it’s all very well to want and love peace and want enough food etc. for all, but you’ve got to have the right tools, technology and people capacity for it. “ Alternatively, of course, we can have BOTH of these scenarios in operation…..and we do. I am an example of one person trying to take the message of “spiritual justice” to others – that message being social justice essentially by spiritual means. My Spiritual Justice page states that “While I believe that our conscious research efforts are an important contribution to taking informed action, I believe that for the greater part, it is actually our Spiritual Selves which guide us on which action to take and when to take it”. By this, I mean that our instincts drive our thinking and feeling, and our thinking and feeling drive our actions. While my website seems heavily leaning toward the esoteric side, my site is essentially a “living wiki” or a thing which grows and morphs as I travel my spiritual journey, and find words (concepts and beliefs) that resonate or agree with me. Like you, I am an inclusive person. My website tries to build bridges between the rationalists and the spiritualists, and to offer my personal experiences, esoteric “food for thought” and direct actions, to achieve peace and justice.

I truly believe that HOW we do things is the key to building bridges, and the how is in our thinking. Each one of us can network with like-minded others, and keep our networks going, and every one of us can choose to live co-operatively, inclusively, and with respect and understanding for others and all of Earth. The small beads (actions) are as important as the big ones – they all keep the ties together. One practical action that springs to my mind to help build the bridge is to collate together information about organisations, movements and individuals, whether spiritualist or rationalist/techie, and to map out their aims, methodologies and functions. The purpose of this would be to have a database on such, as a stepping stone to brain-storm which of them are connected in what ways, however small, to analyse the opportunities which each offer to build a more just world (or even do a SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunites & threats), and to brainstorm opportunities or potential for further integration into a global “think-structure”, leading to a non-violent and tolerant co-existence. “Think-structure” is my word for what takes place when thinking and infrastructure are combined. Let me know if you are interested in this idea, and I will be only too happy and honoured to help you launch it.

Peace and All Good


2:13 PM  

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