2015 has ben a year of profound changes both globally and personally.
On the world stage
The theme that, in my view, connects many apparently disconnected events is the
notion of interdependence, or as my Teacher Thich Nhat Hanh calls it: Interbeing. And, at the same time our inability to live up to it, manifested by the lack of comprehensive leadership and vision in a time of global challenges.
COP 21: the alienation between Self and Nature
Although an agreement was reached, it is far from addressing the root causes
of the ecological crisis: the disconnection between mankind and Nature; and an economic system that is inherently destructive, obsessed by endless growth in a finite world. Moreover, world leaders have by and large not been able to overcome narrow nationalistic
perspectives as they try to address issues that are by nature planetary.
The refugee crisis: the alienation between Self and others
Western colonialism drew false borders in the Middle East and in Africa and created artificial countries that had neither, cultural, historical, nor ethnic legitimacy; to the present days, many conflicts are a direct
result of it. Moreover, the major world players use all sorts of local factions as proxies to advance their specific goals - often related to their greed for natural resources such as oil - without taking into consideration the actual needs and aspirations
of the local population.
It is also remarkable how the reaction to the crisis split the western population and leadership between those who rose to the occasion, such as many people
in Austria, Germany and other countries or Chancellor Angela Merkel, and those who reacted by wanting to close the boarders, bolstering nationalistic egoism, such as many far right political parties all over Europe. Likewise it is impossible to reflect on
the refugee crisis without taking into consideration the extreme inequality in distribution of wealth and resources, the current economic system has deepen inequality both between developed and developing countries, but even also within rich societies.
The so called terrorist attacks: the alienation between Self and Self
This major crisis is related
to the previous one. The scale and violence of the Paris incidents triggered a worldwide outcry that is of course legitimate, but that also tends to cover up both the root causes and the overall context. Likewise, the reaction of the French leadership, declaring
“war on terror” and sending fighter jets to bomb Syria did little to address the actual problems. After all, the people who people who actually conducted the attacks were French citizens, born and raised in France. In the 20th century,
the need for cheap, low qualified laborers attracted many people from the former colonies to industrialized countries and there was little undertaken to actually integrate these workers and their families; and when modernization of production created massive
unemployment among this sector of society, material poverty was worsened by cultural destitution, and left the next generations in a void, belonging neither to their ancestral homes and culture, nor to their new country. The only ideal they met was the consumerist
model where the value of individuals is measured by their material belonging, from branded clothes, to expensive gadgets, and fast cars. But none of this was available to them by legitimate means, and radical ideology only met a void that begged to be filled
and offered a pseudo identity to people who suffered from not having any.
An old system is dying, and a new reality is wanting to emerge
These are but some of the many symptoms that seem to indicate that an old system is coming to an end and that a new reality in wanting to emerge, although we only begin to sense what the new paradigm will be.
Some elements seem clear to me, even though the way it will manifest on a larger scale is still to be invented:
Redefining development model from a fixation on material and economic growth to a focus on Happiness and Wellbeing for all, including non-human life forms and the planet. Gross National Happiness is a good model for such a new paradigm.
· Redefining the role and position of the economic system from the absolute ruler of society, based on competition and profit, to a servant of human needs
(rather than greed) based on cooperation: Caring Economy
· Rethinking our shared humanity, not as economic agents striving to maximize
our profit at any cost (homo economicus), but as fellow pilgrims on Planet Earth, our common home and our Sacred Mother.
Three keys to Happiness and Wellbeing
Education from kindergarten to university needs to refocus its goals and, in addition to the usual academic and intellectual achievement, include a central emphasis on Mindfulness and Compassion, as well as Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) as fundamental
competencies that each one needs to train and develop to become a full human being. Three key objectives could define education at all levels:
to Self: training the mind through Mindfulness and other similar practices to support the awareness of our deepest aspirations and highest potential
· Connecting to Others: conscious cultivation of Compassion and Altruism as fundamental human qualities
· Connecting to Nature and to Mother Earth: rediscovering the sacredness of Earth, Water, Air and Fire, of Mountains and Rivers, of Forest and Oceans, of the Animal Kingdom and the Plant world.
We can be confident that inner transformation is possible if we just set our intentions right, and that inner transformation can lead to collective and social innovation
and change. We have created the systems we live in, they are the product of the human mind, therefore, the Mind can also change and transform the systems to make this Wonderful Planet a better place where all beings can live together in peace and