The following are the focus areas around which we create and carry out activities.
Fostering evolutionary awareness
Evolutionary awareness means being aware that the kind of change we’ve been experiencing over the past century, and particularly over the past few decades and years, is not a “normal” historical kind of change. It is part of a transformation between evolutionary eras, a shift from a 10,000 year period of slower, unconscious cultural evolution and one in which we can help steer the course. Evolutionary awareness is awareness of this evolutionary story, and of our place in that story today.
Building the capacity for dialogue
Dialogue can be described simply as meaningful conversation about important things. If we can’t do this, then we can’t make much progress. Dialogue is key because it can open the door to understanding, finding and creating common ground, and solving problems. It is also key to some of the other priorities for evolutionary advocacy and activism, such as opening the door to the examination of assumptions, to fostering shared vision, and to being able to bring democracy to life. Dialogue in large groups can be particularly powerful.
At present, many people are not comfortable with, or feel competent in, this kind of conversation. One reason is that people confuse dialogue with debate. Another is that they perceive it as “talk, not action.” Another reason is simply the lack of experience: like anything we learn, it takes practice.
Helping people surface and examine assumptions
Assumptions are the generally unexamined basic ideas we hold about things. Our social systems (things like education, justice, and political and economic systems) are built upon them. If they remain unexamined, they can’t be questioned, and the relevance of the institutions they are built upon can weaken without our recognizing it, and without our knowing why. This becomes catastrophic in a time of rapid change and diversification. Making it a regular practice to surface assumptions, reflect upon them, and building a permanent “reflex” or consciousness and transparency about our assumptions, becomes essential.
Fostering a systems perspective
Everything is connected, directly or indirectly, to everything else, and everything exists in a context. Recognizing this reality and working with it is the heart of the systems perspective. Another aspect of the systems perspective is a recognition that things can’t be reduced to, or explained by, their parts. Put another way, relationships produce new and often unexpected things. This has important implications for humans’ relationships with the world and with each other.
Seeing and acting systemically and holistically, rather than addressing only pieces in isolation, is a perspective that will be critical for consciously evolving society together. Since relationship brings complexity, learning how to work with complexity will also be important important for developing a systems perspective that is empowering rather than frustrating.
Fostering readiness for democracy
Democracy is commonly thought of as “majority rule” and as a political principle rather than a way of life. This does little to connect individuals with their community and their society, nor does it release the creative potential of our communities and societies to address interests in common, both of which are crucial for inclusive conscious evolution. Democracy is defined here as the capacity for people to create and act upon a will in common. Creating a will in common require dispositions, skills, and opportunities that our society generally does not yet cultivate, in spite of the fact that modern “democracies” have existed for hundreds of years.
Fostering awareness of personal impact and personal agency
The larger and more structured that societies have become, the harder it has become for individuals to recognize their very active role in maintaining existing patterns and systems through their everyday choices. In a large and seemingly fragmented society, it becomes harder for individuals to see how they can make a difference. If conscious evolution is to gain momentum, it will be essential to help people see the big in the small, the long-term in the short-term. In that way, all people can gain the knowledge and the encouragement needed to become co-pilots of their society and culture, not merely passengers or, at worst, perpetrators or victims.
Fostering awareness of the influence of technology
Technology—which includes any kind of tool from the pencil to the light bulb, from the automobile to the smartphone to social media—has been a major driver of change in human culture, and in behavior down to the individual level. Becoming conscious of the power of existing and emerging technologies on our behavior and on our society is essential to being able to make choices about how to better support human development and to help protect the environment on which we all depend.
Building the capacity for visioning and idealization
Vision—a rich, evocative picture of a desired condition—creates a magnet for change because it affects expectations, intentions and actions. Idealization—thinking, feeling, and talking about what we really want in life and for our world— frees up aspirations, core values and core ideas about what should be. Without vision and idealization, outdated and unhealthy patterns persist and a group, community, or society drifts in a reactive mode, in danger of becoming less viable. We can see this all around us today. Vision and idealization alone, however, are insufficient if they don’t form the basis for action—for design. Vision also needs to be shared vision; otherwise, it will not serve all people, and designs inspired by it will be weakly supported.
Fostering readiness for the inclusive (re)design of our social and societal systems
When it comes to the design of our social and societal systems—such as education, government, justice, health care, and our economy—we have some major problems to confront. First, the designs of the systems we have today were created in earlier eras, based on the realities of society at the time. We can see that in many ways, these designs do not fit with the needs of today. Second, we have tended to leave the design of our social systems to experts. We need to shed the old practice of expecting experts to design for everyone, and instead embrace a culture and process that involves everyone who serves, is served by, and is affected by the system. This will help to ensure that the system we have fits the needs and the aspirations of those it serves.
Design translates vision into organization and action. Designing its social systems and institutions is not something that any society in the world is used to doing, but it is something that we need to learn. It goes hand-in-hand with the best of what democracy means: inclusivity and creativity. Learning how to do inclusive, vision-based (re)design of our systems is essential at a time when so many of our institutions are based on archaic principles and assumptions that do not fit the needs of today.
Individuals are sometimes in situations and in positions where they can influence the direction of things in a sustained and strategic way. This might be thought of as a generic definition of leadership. Leadership that fits with the needs of our world today will include the elements of (a) vision, (b) an insistence on empowering others, and (c) a readiness to lead for transformation rather than on just keeping things well-maintained as they are. The need for these qualities will hold true even if the leaders themselves are not thinking in such terms. It is important to identify, support, and expand this kind of leadership, because our society continues to rely on outdated ideas of leadership based on personality traits and on images of leaders as “saviors,” “servants,” “commanders-in-chief,” or as mere managers.