“CACOR – Looking Back, Looking Forward and Being in the Present” by John Maskell, CACOR member
This year marks fifty years since the initiatives of what became the Club of Rome and very shortly afterwards, CACOR. CACOR only exists because COR exists and COR exists because Aurelio Peccei and Alexander King (and also Rachel Carson at about the same time) were incredibly courageous in taking a huge risk by bringing to world attention that which so many other national and global leaders were not yet even willing to talk about. CACOR exists because there were far more Canadian leaders attracted to the visionaries who launched COR than could be accommodated in it. So CACOR became a “home” for the many Canadian supporters of the concepts of COR. It became a place where the Global scale courage that was COR could play out on a national scene … the Canadian scene.
It was a time of great individual insight and great individual courage by a handful of people.
Is it time to re-invigorate that courage?
Recently there has been a vigorous on-line discussion going on about our meaning and identity. Ruben Nelson made the comment that,
“The illusion that “science” is a pure and holy activity that can only judge itself is just that, an illusion.”
Unfortunately, it is not the only illusion. Indeed, much of human endeavor is illusionary and the many illusions we hold as a global society are running headlong into each other with alarming implications. Could it be that the central requirement for finding our way through these challenging times is to courageously expose the illusions we are in love with?
In my own examination of sustainable development over the years I discovered that:
- Sustainable Development, as defined by the UN Brundtland Commission Report is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the capacity of future generations to meet their own needs.
- our values – from individual to societal – are what inform our decision-making behavior;
- all values are ultimately individual and all decisions are also ultimately individual. We have developed elegant processes of illusion to convince ourselves that some people can decide for others … but in fact, they can only impose benefits or consequences.
- there has always been a trade-off between “what’s-in-it-for-me” and the greater good of the community;
- over time the WIIFM value set has taken great precedence since it can be more easily quantified, measured, subjected to analysis and controlled; and
- the process of sustainable development is a change in emphasis from egocentric values to envirocentric values.
In the context of this on-line discussion we are now investing ourselves in I would further observe that:
- in the political, economic and financial realms a lot of sustainable development activity has been to define and re-define “sustainable” and “development” such that traditional development can appear to be sustainable;
- most of being in, knowing about and valuing the human condition is necessarily illusionary; it cannot be otherwise as long as we consider that being human is at the pinnacle of all being.
- But what if being human is not at the pinnacle of all being? What if being something like “of the spirit” is the pinnacle of all Being?
- All science is value driven in that the choice if information, data and questions to be studied and pursued is at least influenced, if not determined, by the exercise of “value” judgments; furthermore, it is also driven by the expectation that the outcome of science will have value.
- With respect to societal dynamics:
- some humans hold fast to egocentric values – these represent what we call the status quo;
- some humans enthusiastically embrace envirocentric values; these are who we call change agents;
- most humans wait and see who will be the winners and in waiting, they may become the losers.
I really like Ruben’s closing statement that,
“At root the deepest issues we face are ontological (being), epistemological (knowing) and axiological (valuing). It was ever thus. The difference is that now we are running out of time to change our minds and hearts.”
However, the truth is that we can’t change our minds and our hearts if we don’t change our values. The tragedy is that too many people don’t declare, perhaps are not even aware of, the values that are already in their minds and hearts due to fear of other people’s judgment.
What if the majority of CACORs members openly adopted an attitude that we are all spirit beings who are having a human adventure? What if most of us learned to see each other in our spirit/soul essence that “was” even before we developed our humanness and will still be somewhere after our humanness has expired? What if most of us learned to reach into other dimensions for new knowledge relevant to the thorny issues we struggle with? In fact, most of us already do that – although not consciously. If we look around the tables at our luncheons, lots of us have already made stellar contributions in our fields of endeavor.
What if our discussions took on the character of all of us bringing from the infinite the treasures our own particular life path has teased from the unknown into the known? We would have to abandon some of our unproductive attitudes; however, pure science, technology, mathematics, all the physical sciences, all the earth sciences, all the chemical sciences, all the biological and medical sciences, the agricultural sciences, the social sciences, literature, history, languages, even humour – everything has a place.. With this kind of openness, everyone’s contribution is valuable and complementary. With the kind of enthusiasm openness generates, we could re-ignite the courage that was the hallmark of the early years of COR and CACOR , and, we can help make courage normal behaviour.
What about having an all-day ”WHAT IF?” picnic out in the country somewhere away from the strictures and images of society through which we can all share with each other in the womb of nature our inner values – the ones that really inform our decision making behaviour.
Is there any reason why CACOR and Canada could not become a global example of an emerging sense of nationhood that champions all human faculties as both servants and expressions of earth stewardship and partnership with the Infinite? CACOR’s special piece could be examining and elucidating the meaning and application of the ideal of “value” in all its many expressions.
Making such an attitudinal adjustment is individual, cumulative and easy. It doesn’t take long. Concretizing it is not so easy. Internalizing it, learning to believe in it and sharing it can be time consuming and energy draining. Staying the course is challenging … and it’s the courage that has sustained COR and CACOR from the beginning.