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Failure and Opportunity For the Green Movement

Gregory Wendt, CFP | Thursday September 3rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

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earth-232Last night I had drinks with a very successful NY Investment Banker who is a vegan, a philosopher, and has a rather liberal point of view. Ironically, he is an analyst and expert in the field of the fossil fuel industry. We discussed much about our common concerns, interests, etc. And our interest in meeting with and learning from every viewpoint, and world view. He shared with me that some of his clients actually believe that the world is less than 5,000 years old, even though such clients deal in a commodities (oil and gas) which they understand must take more than 5,000 years to create.

We agreed that it would be easy to write such people off, yet there are many many mindsets on the planet which are very, very different worldviews.

Surprisingly – it appears that the environmental movement has not entirely gotten that over the last few decades.

After thinking about this for the last day, I told a friend over dinner tonight that I believe that the environmental movement has failed to effectively “pierce the veil” of the worldview of mainstream culture. Earlier he and I met with a long time, very successful activist whose organizations materials explained that the group had reached over 2 million people over the years. Granted – that is a very successful effort. Yet considering we have 6 Billion people on the planet, his group has just scratched the surface.

Jurian Kaamp, editor in Chief of Ode Magazine wrote an article this spring which points to a key issue – we’re not speaking the language of the masses.

He wrote about that we need to communicate with all different types of value systems and cultures around the globe in very different ways. He also shares that Ken Wilber’s integral world view is an excellent roadmap for success:

He writes:

Take global warming, which Wilber describes as “the first issue that affects everybody everywhere on the planet. [Former U.S. Vice-President] Al Gore is saying that the entire world needs to change its behavior. But he says so in a language that is perhaps understood by 20 percent of the world population. Gore assumes that people will respond from rational self-interest based on sound science, but that’s the least of the motivations of the majority of the population of the planet.”

Other cultures, Wilber argues, may respond to the threat of global warming from different values. African cultures are dominated by feudal clans, he says, so they may adopt environmental and energy policies when these are phrased in a language that relates to how they may benefit their clans. Similarly, Hindus may change their behavior to honor Gaia rather than in response to rational self-interest. “Al Gore has to ‘language’ his message in at least four different value structures to get, say, 80 percent of the world behind him,” Wilber says. “Anything less than that will simply not work.”

According to Wilber, politics, too, could benefit from an integral approach. Take the classic conflict between conservatives and liberals over welfare. Liberals argue that people are poor because of lack of government support; conservatives argue that people are poor because of lack of family values and work ethic. In Wilber’s vision, both are right. It isn’t “either/or” but “both/and.” His ideal government approach: “‘We will do everything to help you but at the same time we want you to do everything to help yourselves.’ We need to find the way to reach out to touch all dimensions, interior capacity and external capacity. We need to recognize where you can help yourselves and where you need help.

It’s another version of the age-old adage – put yourself in another’s shoes. Yet in order to be effective in sharing the urgency of the world situation, we must enter the mindset of others in order to reach them.

As mystics and shamans have said for generations – in order to wake someone out of their dream, you have to enter into it first, join them and gently guide them to wake up to a new reality.


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