Community Discernment

He figured it might take some time, perhaps fifty years, before humans might recognize their responsibility to cooperate as crew of Spaceship Earth with the technologies and the means to be able to put into action a plan for a design science revolution, as opposed to a violent revolution.

Community Discernment
Photo by Simon Hurry / Unsplash

The deliberative body of a democracy in Ancient Greece was called the ekklesia. Interestingly, the Greek word used for what the English translations render as church is this same word. In that sense, Jesus opened up the meaning of the word to go beyond the constraints of the ekklesia of Athens, according to Paul, by removing all limitations of gender, class, and social position. If the meaning of “church” is the “one new humanity” that is referred to in the letter to the Ephesians, attributed to Paul, we are all, as Bucky would say, figuring this out together, writing and rewriting the Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth.

The Bible, which is merely the English transliteration of the Greek word, biblion, meaning book, and biblos, meaning papyrus or scroll, is defined by the limitations of the literate technology of the Roman Empire at the time that the canon of scripture was being decided by a council of men.

In writing Synergetics, Buckminster Fuller was recording the generalized principles of Universe. His personal archive was intended to be evidence of the impact of a single human being who worked out these generalized principles into a way of being and living on the earth that could be considered a personal reflection on how to operate as one member of the crew of Spaceship Earth.

He figured it might take some time, perhaps fifty years, before humans might recognize their responsibility to cooperate as crew of Spaceship Earth with the technologies and the means to be able to put into action a plan for a design science revolution, as opposed to a violent revolution.

The World Weavers are one group that is recognizing this responsibility that we learned from the world building of Tony Patrick during the second Trimtab Book Club.

The signals of change, as Jane McGonigal calls these clues of possibility for the kind of future that we might want to live in, are all around us. She emphasizes one story in her book, Imaginable.

The problem of education is restated as a solution by recognizing the failure of the existing social, economic, and political systems to address the great challenges of our time. The shift comes in a realignment of the meaning and purpose of being human by recognizing how we turn learned helplessness into learned helpfulness.

Grand Challenges

It’s an idea I first encountered during a One Hundred Ways Anything Can Be Different in the Future game that I led at the Institute for the Future’s annual Ten-Year Forecast conference, on “the future of learning.” One of the game’s participants flipped the fact “Today, college students have to pick a major, like biology, business administration, English literature, or political science” to “Ten years from now, college students have to pick a grand challenge, like climate action, ending poverty, gender equality, or zero hunger.” She explained the concept to our group: Students interested in all kinds of subject areas and careers—engineering, communications, teaching, political service, entrepreneurship, medicine, the arts—would come together and spend two to three years developing knowledge and skills around specific urgent global challenges. Instead of soiled majors, college learning would be more interdisciplinary and purpose driven. And careers, in stead of being about choosing an industry or profession, would be more about deciding what problem you want to help humanity solve—as an engineer, mental health Counsellor, filmmaker, journalist, investment banker, nutritionist, marketing creative, social worker, or whatever else you might do with your days. Every type of major or career would be reimagined in service of something much, much bigger. Every course would look at a different angle of the problem—historical, economic, scientific, political, cultural—or explore possible solution spaces or interventions—technological, social, financial, behavioral. No one would worry that their major was “irrelevant” or that they would wind up in a “bullshit” job. It’s all hands on deck for things that really matter.

A signal of change coming from the communities of faith who are questioning dogmas, orthodoxies, and tradition by discerning the way of the Holy Spirit, by understanding the dharma, or by connecting to consciousness and the authentic self by following the way of the Dao, is this interfaith universalism expressed by Alistair McIntosh, in his understanding of his Quaker tradition.

  • What it means to connect to the earth as human beings and what it means to connect to one another: soil, soul, and society. (38:00)
  • Soil: with the natural environment
  • Soul: with the spiritual context
  • Society: the social context
  • Hierarchy: holy order, the dharma, the innate structure of reality and our place in it, the opening of the way, (the way, the truth, and the life), obedient to the stream, the Dao, held in the divine structure, participants in the divine nature, an anarchy of rejecting human rule but of seeking divine poetry (in the beginning was the Word), the deep poetic structure of reality, and that is what we tune into (discernment of the Holy Spirit in Quaker mysticism, direct experience of the divine) (48:03)

One of the members of coheART 2, Mariette Papic, explores how we understand or misunderstand the gender of Mother Earth in her Medium article, Modesty Problems and Regenerative Ag.

We are learning to understand each other through a process of community discernment, an emergence through emergency ( 26. Emergence Through Emergency from the book Nine Chains to the Moon by Richard Buckminster Fuller).