Tag Archives: social change

Deepak Chopra: Does Climate Change Threaten The Survival Of The Human Race?

We’ve all heard the terrifying statistics that predict the fall of civilization with the progressing decline of the environment. At times we might feel too doomed to even change our ways and work toward sustainability.

In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak Chopra addresses climate change and social action. Joined by David Gershon, founder and president of the Empowerment Institute, the two argue that by taking collective action, we can make an impact on the world and on our environment for the better. Gershon addresses some of the key components of social change, which include protest, personal growth, and education.

What do you think? Do you feel inspired or hopeless about the environment? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and don’t give up hope for social change!

The Spiritual Journey of Crowd-funding

Screen Shot 2013-05-30 at 4.59.02 PMEveryday I wake up and count my blessings. I’m grateful to have a roof over my head, food in the fridge, and most importantly, I am breathing. This month there was additional energy swirling around me and Go Inspire Go (GIG).

As many of you know, Go Inspire Go embarked on our 50/50 crowd funding journey 36 days ago. We’re on a quest to uncover 50 everyday heroes in 50 states. We are about 85% of the way to our $25,000 goal with just 4 days to go!

Over a year ago, my board members Marcia and Connie planted the seed about crowd-funding and waited for me to say ‘GO’. We chose Indiegogo for our 50/50 campaign.

With more than 40+ volunteers on this campaign, I confidently assumed, “we got this.” Connie, our campaign cheerleader organized and managed us with spreadsheets galore. We were ready!

IMG_8242Pre-planning meetings included: generating buzz with social media, examining case studies, e-mail outreach to schools, artists nonprofit organizations, design elements which included a handful of technical/design friends who helped with the title animation and logo for our video. And of course, many iterations of our campaign video. This took more than 100 hours to produce.

No one could predict what happened after we launched… One of our volunteer’s grandmother passed away. She rushed to Los Angeles to plan the funeral. Another volunteer spontaneously collapsed in the bathroom, slamming her face into a metal shelf as she became unconscious and another volunteer had two surgeries followed by her apartment flooding.

What was going on?!

You know that saying, all things come in 3’s. Not true. I got a call from my cousin in Michigan, who told me her mom passed way from lung cancer. Coincidentally, I got another a call from a close childhood friend, who told me her mom (whom I consider family) was battling the late stage of lung cancer too. Whaaat? I. Need. Time. To. Process…
I had a campaign to run, videos to shoot and blogs push out. Throw into the mix six classes to teach and grading.

You know the saying, “challenges are here to teach you something?” Even though I always try to look for the silver lining, I’ve spent all month wondering what this was supposed to teach me. Just a glimmer, please?

IMG_3474Today, I got it.

For me, the GIG campaign goal was to raise awareness, consciousness and inspire action. It ended up being much more – this has been a spiritual journey. If you look at my gratitude journal, you’ll see that a constant theme or mantra is “I feel supported.”

This platform allowed my team and me to create and organize a movement and to encourage everyone I care for to use their power, in any way, to help make their community a better place. As long as I have the support of my team and viewers like you I can continue supporting the community heroes we feature. I’ve been working tirelessly with a team of 60-80 volunteers for the past 4 years on pieces of the puzzle: production of videos and blogs, design elements, and searching for ways to make this a sustainable long lasting, impactful vessel that serves people like you.

But this is why we do what we do:

 People like Michael Fullam, a 50/50 donor who recently reached out to tell me that GIG has helped him feel hopeful in a time of hopelessness – this on the heels of his mother’s recent death.


 People like Ron Holt, a GIG hero, who is on a crusade to inspire equality around the world through his unique research about the biology of sexuality and his message of authenticity. People have reached out to Ron telling him they’re glad to have come across the video and hear his message because it saved their lives. Another viewer came out to Ron and for the first time came to terms and accepted with an authentic self.

A viewer wrote to Ron:

My name is (removed) I am a young gay male (17), I have not been at any of your conferences, but I did see your video on youtube, and would like to personally thank you! I wish someone like you came and told me that being gay is okay alot sooner then I found out. I told my mother I was gay at 15 and I have been living alone since then working full time all because I was gay something so small can really change the way people view you! So thank you very much for helping and educating other on this problem of gay hate I really do appreciate it!

And people like YOU, who email, comment and share our content.

This is just the tip of the impact we’ve created. I could have never imaged when I started this little idea in 2009. Our videos and blogs show the world that YOU can make a difference both big and small. We just want you to GO … get inspired … and GO do it!


 There’s nothing more gratifying than being able to give someone the gift of awareness of their own power and ability to give back. Simply put JOY. 


Every minute we have in the day is a opportunity for us to share our gift of joy.

It seemed that every time a barrier was presented to us, there was an invisible ladder, a rope, a helping hand. Just like miracles, we don’t always see them, but I know we feel them – if we are present (and focus on our breath).

Miracles during this 50/50 journey:

1. We are more than 85% away from our goal. We have 4 days left. Please donate and share like crazy!

2. More people have joined our campaign, we started with about 10 and now we have 40+ volunteers

3. Wize Commerce will donate $5,000 to our campaign and are developing a Corporate Challenge from local companies to donate and inspire volunteerism amongst their team

4. Pollination Project will give our first hero featured a $1,000 seed grant

5. Despite all that has happened to our team, we are still breathing

For those of you who have donated, reached out to your network to share our message and all the social media followers that have liked us, we wish there was a ‘LOVE’ button for you all.

And to my amazing team, THANK YOU for all the hard work and love and for pushing me to be a better person and leader!

P.S. Want to learn more about our journey leading up to this 50/50 campaign? Check out our special 50/50 blog posts!

Go Inspire Go: Why YOUth Matter

Zararwadi SmileIf I could choose one quote that defines the ethos of our youth today, it would be, “When you learn, teach. When you get, give.” Simple but sweet words carefully crafted by my favorite poet, Dr. Maya Angelou.

This is a bold statement, I know, but hear me out.

Before I was invited to develop curriculum at the Academy of Art’s (AAU) Multimedia Department and the University of San Francisco, I too believed that many young folks were apathetic, entitled and not in touch with reality.

Boy, was I wrong. Or as my students would say, “You got moded.”

Reality Check #1: A few years ago, I was given the rare opportunity to build and teach a high school summer bridge program at AAU. I thought that my students would be excited to execute the final I had prepared. “You are going to create a short video on ‘hot spots’ in San Francisco. It could be a cool place to hang out, shop or eat.” I instructed in a sure tone of voice. I thought hands down, students would be stoked.

Instead, hands eagerly went up. The questions they asked changed the trajectory of my stereotypes toward the youth.

One student raised her hand and said, “My mom was so excited that you were teaching us because she follows Go Inspire Go (my nonprofit) on social media.” Another student said, “Yeah my friends follow you on Twitter in Sweden.” A third student said her friends who live in the Midwest follow our stories. Their collective wish: “Can we do our video on a story for GIG and if it’s good enough, would you post it?” My heart skipped a beat. Chills ran from head to my feet.

I was taken aback.

Julian Cohen, a high school junior from Jersey City, N.J., saw an article in his local newspaper about a reverend who wanted to build a high school in Grande Saline, Haiti, following the devastating earthquake in 2010. Cohen was sad that there was no high school in Grande Saline and was inspired to make a video to engage action. This led to two youth movements that eventually sent 32 kids to school for one year in Haiti.

This led me to create a GIG program called GIG Spark, Lesson on Compassion. Students think about a problem and how they could be part of the solution. They create a short 90 second video and send it to us to multiply their message.

Reality Check #2: I’m exited to announce that Go Inspire Go partnered up with The Bayview Hunter’s Point YMCA, YouTube, the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation and National Youth Radio to create GIG Sparks with youth at the Bayview Hunter’s Point YMCA. They wanted to make videos that inspire compassion, change and a shift in perspective.

If you watch the local media here in the San Francisco Bay Area, you’d think that this area is only known for its crime, violence and destitution. I found that there was so much hope for the youth living in this area of the City.

Photo Courtesy: Oscar Nilsson/ Interview with Betty Sells-Asberry, YMCA Teen Services Director

When I spent an afternoon training six of these young YMCA change makers, I was filled with pride. Kier Wilson, Tajae Hill, and Jonkia Davis were amazingly inspiring. They were so proud to call the Bayview Hunter’s Point their home, but were deeply saddened their neighborhood is viewed as “the ghetto.” They wanted to do something to change the negative perception of their community.

Thank you to YouTube and the Mayor’s office for inviting us to share our “GIG Spark” as an innovative, organized and fun way to inspire the YMCA kids to accomplish this mission.

* This video was created by four of my students at AAU — youth — who asked to come along on the shoot. Thanks Oscar Nilsson, Marcus Pettersson, Eva Broman, and Hugo Albrektsson for your great work!

Reality Check #3: At the University of San Francisco, my alma mater, I was asked to design and teach a Blogging for Social Change course. On the first day, I asked students, “What is your passion?”

With optimism and determination, one student said, “I want people to get out of their bubble and do something to help the people in their community.”

‘Nuff said! Amen to that.

As a kid, I felt insignificant. I thought I didn’t matter. I didn’t feel like I had a voice. What would a Chinese immigrant boy, growing up in a rough South Sacramento neighborhood, say of any importance? Why would anyone care?

I wonder how many youth feel like that today. What if adults took a moment to listen to the youngsters in their lives and hear them out. With a little guidance, support and inspiration, we too could be a part of inspiring a new generation of people who teach what they learn and give what they get!

* * *

Take Action:
* Check out “I LOVE Bayview” on Improve SF!
* Share their stories on social media and by word of mouth.
* Volunteer at your local YMCA

Follow us on: Instagram, Twitter & Facebook

Photo credit: Flickr

5 Amazing Stories from Go Inspire Go’s 50/50 Campaign

Many have written about the ability of social media to disperse information and create networks, but is it affecting any real social change? There are plenty of examples of social networking platforms playing essential roles in social movements, often in an organic, if scattered and chaotic, fashion. But the folks at Go Inspire Go (GIG) are taking a different approach. Their aim is to create organized, social media-driven campaigns to trigger overarching change on social issues.

Easier said than done. What makes people actually change their ways and beliefs? What final straw acts as the catalyst for reform? You might say “give people the facts,” or “use statistics to make an argument,” or “wait for a catastrophic event to get people moving.” For GIG, the power lies in sharing inspiring, relatable stories to show people that small steps can lead to real transformation.

That’s why GIG’s leader Toan Lam came up with the idea to document 50 inspiring stories, one from each of the 50 United States, to paint a portrait of local, everyday heroes in communities around the country. They are calling the initiative “50/50” and dispersing the stories via their YouTube channel – a great thing to check out if you’re ever in need of an inspiring pick-me-up. From an 8-year-old’s freedom-inspired lemonade stand to a woman who makes custom Superhero capes for sick children, these stories are guaranteed to strike a empathetic chord. In conjunction with the 50 stories, GIG also oversees a “Tea with Toan” video chat series, leadership training for millennials, and monthly blogs on various nonprofits working for social change.

We are inspired by the many ways people are rallying to use social media to make a difference in the world, and these video stories poignantly capture these efforts.

Here are five of our favorite stories from the 50/50 campaign:

1. After witnessing homelessness for the first time, 5-year-old Phoebe from San Francisco spearheaded a campaign to raise money to feed the hungry in her city. She has raised over $18,000 already for the SF Food Bank!

2. Psychiatrist Dr. Ron Holt decided to cut back on his private practice in order to travel around the country speaking about and educating people on LGBT issues and the science of sexuality. He discusses the devastating impacts of bullying and discrimination, with the goal of inspiring communities to adopt more inclusive values.

3. In response to recent riots in London, one couple decided to take alternative action. It started when they offered one particularly exhausted-looking sergeant a cup of tea, and spiraled into them walking the streets with cups and pitchers of hot tea to pass out to guards and bystanders.

4. Many people love dogs, but Emelinda Narvaez made it her life’s work to save as many dogs as she could through her nonprofit, Earth Angels. As of now, her organization has rescued over 10,000 canines. Even cancer couldn’t stop her, and she went on to use her own social security money to continue her dog-saving efforts.

5. In one inspiring story of corporate responsibility, the Spungen family from Illinois sold their multi-million dollar company and distributed $6.6 million to 230 employees as year-end bonuses. If only more businesses would follow their example!

Support Go-Inspire-Go’s IndieGoGo campaign HERE >>>

For more amazing stories from GIG’s 50/50 campaign and to help them raise $50,000 in the next month, visit their website, YouTube channel, and help them spread the word!

Breakdown to Breakthrough: Creating Community Through Crisis

✿ Celestial ✿“Crisis offers a possibility to awaken as a participant in conscious evolution.” – Barbara Marx Hubbard

In the light of tragedy and catastrophe it’s easy to wonder why and become resigned. Instead, Barbara Marx Hubbard says,“Crisis has been a part of evolution of the species since its conception.” She sees big social challenges as an opportunity to grow and change. Hubbard is a futurist and evolutionary thought leader who is working with people to make it through the incredible shift that she sees coming. She has a growing following as she helps people to connect in communities and evolve. “Crisis precedes transformation,” she says. “Problems are evolutionary drivers, on both the personal and societal level.”

Many people have arrived at a place of spiritual growth and transformation after falling ill, losing jobs, or experiencing relationship break-ups. As our social institutions breakdown – from the banking and financial sectors to the way food is cultivated, processed, and distributed – Hubbard invites us to look for breakthroughs in the ways we connect with each other. Hubbard, who associated with Dr. Jonas Salk and Buckminster Fuller, is leading a movement to become aware of our human potential and use it to evolve into a society that values cooperation over competition and values the contribution of each and every individual.

Her view of the world is a refreshing shift towards possibility and transformation of ourselves and of society. She encourages people to create hubs to exchange ideas and resources, and to look at grassroots level organizations that are doing well what society’s biggest institutions are not. Micro-credit lending institutions, farms and food producers who work with nature and more, media that educates and feeds the soul. “For the first time the world has a shared problem that is awakening millions of us,” she says. Her message is one of hope. The problems are bringing about unprecedented innovation and transformation. “Humanity is being born as a universal species,” she says. The current crises that have brought us to the point where we can have the capacity to extinguish ourselves as a species is also bringing us into a deeper understanding of our inherent connectedness. “We’re one,” Hubbard says. She had a vision of a planetary rebirth, and at age 82 continues to work to connect people with each other.

* * *

Debra Moffitt is the award winning author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life and “Garden of Bliss: Cultivating the Inner Landscape for Self-Discovery” (Llewellyn Worldwide, May 2013). A visionary, dreamer and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices, writing and creativity in the U.S. and Europe. More at http://www.awakeintheworld.com and on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/DebraMoffittAwakeintheWorld

3 Ways to Get Out and Enjoy Nature from GIG Spark

There is no better way to relax, recharge and reconnect to your spirit than unplugging your gadgets and getting some R&R in nature. From Tweeting to Instagramming, there are so many cool things that are keeping us from connecting the old school way — especially amongst our youth who grew up with electronics in their phalanges.

I love social media, but I try to keep it balanced with exercise and of course going on walks along the water and being enveloped in the trees. It was my personal goal to spend more time with mother nature this year. I always feel these indescribable feelings of stillness and peace afterward.

So, naturally, I was delighted to see Rachel Choi’s GIG Spark (Lesson on Compassion) submission. Her goal is to inspire people to disconnect from technology and connect with each other (after you read this blog and see this video, of course). Being in nature is like a long meditation and the best part is that it’s free.

Gigster: Rachel Choi, 17
Where: Hercules, Calif.
Spark: Get out and enjoy nature

GIG Spark was developed to create compassion through the exercise of brainstorming, problem solving and experiencing the joy of using your power to help others. Rachel shares her thoughts about what this particular experience meant to her:

“Something GIG Spark taught me? Don’t stop yourself from doing something just because you think it’s not going to change anything. Whether what you do is monumental or small, whether it affects a million people or just one person, what’s important is that you did something. It’s human nature to resist change, but at least you presented a chance to plant a seed of change in someone’s mind.”

We hope this video inspires you to round up some friends and family and enjoy nature.

TAKE ACTION:

1. Go camping

2. Go on a walk by yourself or with loved ones

3. Do what is in your power to help Empowering World Change, a nonprofit that spreads the message of sustainability and empowering kids for global change.

*****

Go Inspire Go (GIG) is about inspiring small actions that ripple out to meaningful changes. As we’ve experienced, the ripples continue to billow out, one story, one person, one act at a time.

FEELING INSPIRED? Make your own GIG SPARK and share with us. We may share it with the world.

As part of GIG’s mission to inspire our viewers to discover their power, we developed GIG Spark: A Lesson on Compassion. The goal is to spark action in everyone that witnesses your good deed. We want you to identify a problem in your community and be the change by capturing your action in a short 1-1:30 minute video. Use your passion and creativity to produce a GIG Spark and inspire viewers with your story! What can YOU do?

Follow us on: Twitter & Facebook

The Lies We Bought as Love

The Lies We Bought As Love
By Piercarla Garusi

 

What are the lies we bought as love that are causing us to suffer?
What are the lies we bought as love that are causing us not to be happy?
What are the lies we bought as love that are causing us not to love ourselves?
What are the lies we bought as love that are causing us to put up with situations that are not good for us?
What are the lies we bought as love that are causing us to stay stuck in manipulative or abusive relationships or to be treated badly?
What are the lies we bought as love that cause us to be abusive?
What are the lies we bought as love that in the name of eliminating separation, are causing pain to people?
What are the lies we bought as love that cause us not to ascend?
If we look around, how many people are suffering of situations that can be avoided? And I am talking in families, workplaces, communities, and in the world at large.
There is so much judgment and bullying in society to young and adults, that is causing people to suffer from social anxiety, depression and even suicide. If we just found the statistics, I think we would be shocked.
Love and abuse are so confused and so much abuse is done in the name of love. And abuse might be not recognized or even justified by cultural or societal beliefs. How many lives have been destroyed by abuse?
There are so many rules and have tos on how to be loving, that are putting people in destructive traps thinking that that is care or communion.  
How right are we of the beliefs we are holding? And these beliefs might come from society, from culture, from religion, from education, from upbringing, from peers, etc., from the media.
Here are a few important points:
– awareness
We need to become aware of the lies we have bought as love, and see them as lies. They cause people, they cause you to suffer – would God/Source/Consciousness, however concept you have of Him/Her, ever want us to suffer? The answer is absolutely no.  These lies are preventing a positive change on the Planet. These lies also prevent our ascension.
– accountability/responsibility
How much denial or justification do we see of bad behavior, not simply from the people doing the behavior, but from society or culture? Until we become accountable, until we take responsibility for our behavior and we recognize it as such, we will not be able to change.
blame/guilt
Many people do not want to recognize how they have behaved because unfortunately the world is still functioning from blame, guilt and wrongness. We need to get out to that paradigm, because it is preventing people from changing, it is preventing the Planet from healing, and it is keeping the behavior in place. Yes, the behavior might be wrong, but we need to take away the label of wrong as judgment. It was a choice the person made out of their consciousness, probably out of the teachings they had received in their life.  As they recognize the lies they hold and let them go, they can make a better choice for themselves and for the whole.
respect
We need to enter in a paradigm of sacred respect for each individual, without exception, on this Planet. Once we recognize the uniqueness and truth of each person, much healing will take place.
And probably the best question we can ask ourselves is:
As the Infinite Beings we truly are, what does it mean to Love? And start from there …
Piercarla Garusi Copyright 2011
 
Piercarla Garusi is a spiritual coach and painter. Much of her coaching work is currently focused on improving the way we treat one another, with new workshops just being created. More information can be found on www.pgcoaching,co.uk. Her spiritual paintings ‘Art from the Soul’ are for healing and a shift in consciousness. You can find more explanation, view them, find information on exhibitions and healing projects on www.piercarla.paintings.co.uk.    

Who Will Lead the Next Tipping Point?

 Whether or not you use the catchy phrase "tipping point," behind it lies an idea whose time has come. This is the idea that there is a collective consciousness, a mind shared by an entire society. Polls give us a snapshot of the social mind as it applies to issues of the day. But that is more superficial than collective consciousness, which isn’t defined by opinions or even beliefs. Rather, it’s a shared awareness of who we are and where we are going. When major changes occur in society that affect everyone, such as the outbreak of the Civil War or the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the collective consciousness has shifted. But before the shift can occur, the weight of collective consciousness must decisively tip one way or another. 

We live in such uncertain times that the next tipping point could come from anywhere. Every week trial balloons are sent up and premature forecasts delivered. The Tea Party could serve as a bellwether, since it sprang almost from nowhere, fueled by widespread social frustration and fear. Will it tip the scales into a wholesale revolt again the welfare state and the power of central government? A year ago the notion was absurd. The Tea Party was seen as a fringe movement with no major impact on politics as usual. But much has happened since then, as we all know, and Rep. Michele Bachmann certainly is betting that populist discontent can be ridden all the way to the White House.

That won’t occur unless we pass a tipping point and collective consciousness takes a radical turn. Looking deeper, however, politics may be a tremor compared to a future earthquake. Depending on how the world tips, you can find supporters for any and all of the following drastic scenarios:

  • The end of U.S. economic dominance.
  • A takeover of global leadership by China.
  • The collapse of any hope for reversing global climate change.
  • Fossil fuels choking the planet, while skyrocketing oil prices lead to economic wars among nations desperate for energy.
  • A worldwide crisis in our supply of food and water.
  • A sudden leap in technology that will save us from ecological disaster.
  • A spiritual quantum leap that carries us into a new age of post-religious beliefs.
  • A genetic solution to all problems of illness and aging.
  • Perpetual terrorism and religious unrest.

This is an abbreviated list—I haven’t even touched on the various scenarios for nuclear weapons—but it’s enough to show that we are living in a time of unsettled beliefs, restless speculation, and deep-seated uncertainty. Should we be worried for this reason alone, following the mythical Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times?" Or is our time a phase transition leading to the emergence of a new paradigm? Clearly President Obama is one leader who wants to preside over a transition into a new economic structure, the main elements being globalism, the end of traditional antagonisms and independence from oil.

Just as clearly, his opponents want a radical upset of the apple cart. Since the 2008 presidential election, the right wing has become more vocal and reactionary, making plain through tax cuts and overspending that they are pursuing a "starve the best" agenda to radically reduce government. Common sense tells us that a modern society cannot exist without the Internet, social security, Medicare, civil rights, and interstate highways—all the products of a strong federal government—but it’s the nature of radical movements to follow their own obsessive ideology. If this wild horse takes off, there will be no turning back, and a reforming idealist like Obama may find himself unseated by a tipping point he didn’t see coming.

I far prefer the Obama perspective: using a time of crisis to retool America for a future that is green, global and peaceful. Yet I recognize that collective consciousness isn’t reasonable. Pressures can build up that lead to horrifying consequences like the totalitarianism of the twentieth century or the rise of radical Islam in our day. There are too many possibilities, both positive and negative, to allow for any reliable predictions about the state of the world fifty years from now. Uncertainty along with lack of control are factors that deepen stress, and both are present everywhere, which is why social stress is the hallmark of our existence right now.

But uncertainty can be used creatively. All art begins with a blank canvas, all new ideas with a blank page. Out of the unknown emerges the future, so making peace with the unknown is essential. I don’t call it easy. A layer of fear and restlessness must be dealt with on an individual basis. With that knowledge, it’s good for each of us to spend some time facing our own anxiety and helping others face theirs.

 I think it’s also productive to pick the vision you want to see unfold and work toward it. Perhaps you have a vision of a greener world or one devoid of nuclear arms; perhaps you want to support the shift in spiritual values. What is certain is that without a vision life becomes aimless, and eventually aimlessness becomes subject to chaos and deepening fear.

Make the unknown a state of new possibilities—that’s the overarching theme for the decade to come. It may be a wobbly decade, but if we remain conscious and do not give in to reactionary fantasies and demagoguery, we can find ourselves renewed with greater fulfillment than ever before.

deepakchopra.com

Follow Deepak on Twitter

Transform Media

 Over the past several decades, countless books, tapes, and self-help workshops have focused on the critical connection between our mental and physical well-being. The connection between mind and body is now broadly recognized: For example, the Internet search engine Google gives well over a million responses for the phrase “mind-body.” Many people apply a daily awareness of the mind-body connection to their personal health. Unfortunately, this important wisdom from the personal realm has not been applied with equal effectiveness when it comes to our mind-body health. Stated simply, here is the mind-body challenge I see at a social level: I believe that the collective mind of our society is manifested primarily through the mass media. In other words, the mass media are the most direct and visible expression of our social “brain” or collective mental functioning as civilizations. In the United States, ninety-nine percent of all homes have a TV set, and the average person watches nearly four hours per day. Television has become our primary window onto the world and the mirror in which we see ourselves. Most people in the US get most of their news about the world from television. Like it or not, television has become the central nervous system of modern society. When we turn on the television set and search through the channels, we are literally moving through the stream of consciousness of a civilization. We all swim in this electronic ocean, and it has a powerful influence on our collective well-being. Just as our mental habits impact the health of individuals, so, too, do our collective mental habits impact the health of entire civilizations.

At this pivotal time in human evolution, it is vitally important that the mass media and their messages serve our psychological and spiritual health, and not distort our collective intelligence, imagination, and evolution. However, the collective mind of our consumer society is dominated by the profit-making interests of the mass media. With profits as the primary guide, our social mindset is moving out of touch with the real world. To illustrate, in the past generation in the US, divorce rates have doubled, teen suicide rates have tripled, a number of crime rates have quadrupled, and there is an epidemic of obesity. At a global level, physical evidence of ill-health includes global warming with increasingly powerful storms, the extinction of a vast number of plant and animal species, and the rapid depletion of critical resources such as fresh water and cheap oil.

The American Dream celebrated through advertising in today’s mass media is fast becoming the world’s nightmare. The bottom line is this: If we are to build a sustainable and compassionate future, it will require corresponding changes in our social mindset, and in the messages and images of “success” and the “good life” that are portrayed through the mass media.

For the past thirty years, I’ve been exploring the process of “awakening”at a civilizational scale, and I have concluded that the mass media are the primary carriers of our collective “thought stream.” In turn, how we use the mass media can foster either collective greed and fear, or collective awakening and compassion. For the individual, awakening involves developing a capacity for reflective consciousness or paying attention to the flow of thoughts and feelings as we move through life. Similarly, for a civilization, awakening involves developing a capacity for reflective consciousness at the scale of the entire society and the ability to collectively witness thoughts and feelings as we move through life.

What is required for the mass media to serve our collective awakening? After several decades of organizing, I’ve concluded that the basic challenge is with us as citizens. For example, most citizens are ignorant of the fact that television broadcasters that use the public’s airwaves (ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX) have a strict legal responsibility to serve the public interest of each community before their own profits. Currently, most people complain passively about the media, not recognizing that citizens have the legal right and the affirmative legal obligation to hold the media accountable for serving the public interest and the health of our collective mind. However, with a new “politics of collective consciousness,” we could mobilize electronic town meetings and other forms of dialogue to come together as communities and transform the heart of the media—broadcast television.

A MENU OF PERSPECTIVES

Here are five different ways of framing the issue of the mass media and the mental health of civilizations:

1. The evolutionary challenge is to see that the mass media are manufacturing desire, and this is creating a psychology of mass consumption that cannot be sustained.

By programming television primarily for commercial success, the mindset of our civilization is simultaneously being programmed for ecological failure. Rather than awakening the public to the challenge of sustainability, the television industry is distracting us from this critical concern. Instead of educating for a workable future over the long run, the television industry is promoting consumption in the short run. The average person sees roughly 25,000 commercials a year. These are more than ads for a product; they are also advertisements for a consumerist lifestyle, and for the attitudes and values that support that lifestyle. As we move into a new era where the challenge is to live sustainably, we need new programming that reflects the new realities.

Psychologist Carl Jung said that schizophrenia is a condition where “the dream becomes the reality.” Has the American dream of a consumerist lifestyle become our primary reality? Is this manufactured reality increasingly out of touch with the reality of nature and our soulful existence? Are we building the foundation of our global consciousness literally upon a schizophrenic base? Are we implanting a deep and unnecessary conflict into the structure of our collective psyche? The American people (and much of the rest of the world exposed to American television) are being placed in an impossible double-bind: The mass media that dominate our consciousness tell us to buy ever more, while our ecological concern for the planet inclines us to consume ever less. We are literally creating a schizophrenic civilization that is divided against itself.

2. The evolutionary challenge is to transform the lack of reflective consciousness in the media.

The media do not hold a mirror up to themselves. The last taboo topic on television is television itself and its own practices, ethics, and priorities. Never do we see the cameras turned around to look back and investigate how the television system is doing its job. Television turns a blind eye to itself, and thereby is able to hide many of its practices and policies that are so detrimental. Reflective consciousness is healing for the individual, and can be healing for the media that make up the social brain of our civilization.

3. The evolutionary challenge is to see what is missing from the mass media.

The media focus on sensational events and personal conflicts, and generally fail to report on the really big stories of our time. In turn, if we don’t hear regularly televised reports about climate change, species-extinction, resource depletion, and so on, then the general public will assume that these areas are not yet critical. However, just because the mass media ignore urgent trends does not mean they will conveniently cease to exist. These largely ignored but immensely powerful trends are, in this generation, forever changing the Earth as a natural system and social system.

4. The evolutionary challenge is to see the lack of love being communicated through our primary tools of mass communication.

Our global future depends on love—which blossoms when there is mutual understanding; which develops when there is authentic and meaningful communication; which builds upon a foundation of mutual respect. Therefore, we need to bring a loving consciousness into the mass media if we are to have a future that is sustainable and compassionate. If the mass media fail to actively cultivate qualities of empathy, mutual understanding, and communication, and instead foster a callous disregard for life (with mindless violence and exploitive sex), then we will create a self-fulfilling reality of suffering. The challenge is to discover ways of using the mass media that nourish, strengthen, and enrich the life of the individual soul and our capacity for collective service.

5. The evolutionary challenge is to see we are not cultivating healthy "factors of social enlightenment" via the mass media.

Applying insights from meditative traditions, a healthy “social brain” will be characterized by qualities such as mindfulness, equanimity, and concentration. For example:

MINDFULNESS:.

Are the broadcast media being used to foster awareness of the condition of the larger world, or are the mass media largely oblivious to the big picture, inattentive to critical trends, and unmindful of where the world is headed?

CONCENTRATION:

Are the mass media being used to mobilize public attention and focus on critical choices that need our attention? Or are they used to distract the public so that we cannot focus our societal attention on critical concerns? Are we able to cut through the turbulence of our social chatter and distraction and, with penetrating attention, bring a steady focus to concerns vital to our future?

EQUANIMITY:

Are the mass media reactive, wildly thrashing our societal attention about? Or do the media remain relatively calm and steady in the midst of social turbulence, chaos, and distress? Instead of being thrown off balance, are we able, as a society, to remain steadily present and responsive?Just as these qualities or factors can be cultivated by an individual, so can they be cultivated by an entire civilization, too. These are vitally important factors of social awakening, and they may well determine whether civilizations will be able to respond successfully to the global ecological crisis rapidly closing around us. I have explored several ways of framing the mind-body connection between our mass media and our social body. Nothing short of our evolutionary intelligence as a civilization is being tested as we work to build a mature and compassionate social mind that is in alignment with a healthy and sustainable social body.

TRANSFORMING OUR SOCIAL MIND

We have seen that, although the power of positive visualization is widely recognized in the realm of individual mind-body medicine, we have been slow to apply this wisdom to the healing of our social mind-body. As a society, we have yet to appreciate the power of the collective self-images that are presented in the social mirror of the media. Whatever they may be, the persistent self-images that we present to ourselves through the mass media set into motion a self-fulfilling process of realization. Looking ahead, this means that we cannot consciously build a positive future that we have not first collectively imagined. We are a visual species. When we can see it, we can become it and build it. 

Here is just one example of the kind of television programming that I believe could stir public consciousness into authentic reflection about how we are using our collective mind. To balance the aggressive onslaught of consumer commercials, alternative commercials that I call “Earthvisions” could be developed. Produced by nonprofit organizations and local community groups working in partnership with local television stations, Earthvisions could be 30-second mini-stories portraying some aspect of a sustainable and meaningful future. They could be low in cost and high in creativity, and done with playfulness, compassion, and humor. They could focus on humankind’s connection with the web of life, or on positive visions of the future from the perspective of future generations, or on awakening an appreciation of nature and sustainability. In my opinion, the public would be delighted with these refreshing perspectives. Once underway, a virtual avalanche of Earthvisions could emerge from communities around the world and be shared over the Internet. Other media—such as public-access TV, newspapers, radio, and specialty publications—could be used to enrich the dialogue.

We could also develop a rich array of programming beyond 30-second spots. For instance, television comedies could offer a humorous look at everyday life in a sustainable society, such as the challenges of living in an “eco-village community.” Television news-magazine shows could be developed that focus in-depth on themes pertaining to a sustainable future, and on our evolutionary journey as a human family. Dramas could explore the deeper tensions and larger opportunities that families and communities may encounter as we begin designing ourselves into a promising future. Viewer-feedback forums could enable local communities to give regular feedback to television broadcasters regarding programming that truly serves the public interest.

In conclusion, by bringing inspiring stories, positive self-images, and hopeful visions of the future into the mass media, we simultaneously bring those healing visions into the collective mind of our civilization. Healing our collective mind-body connection requires a new and far more conscious relationship between the public and the mass media. Transforming our relationship with the mass media is far more than a matter of taste; it is essential for the success of our evolutionary journey as an awakening species. 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...