The Next Step


I was listening to an Enlightenext interview with evolutionary visionary Brian Swimme today, and he talked about the idea that the next phase of evolution will be when we learn to live in a society of “mutually enhancing relationships.”

What a beautiful vision.  This is an evolutionary understanding that can apply to every facet of our lives, from the way we interact with each other, to the way we interact with other species, and the ecosystems that surround us.

It means abandoning the position of always being a “taker,”  depleting the people around us as we try to get whatever we can from them, for ourselves, greedily moving through the world looking out for numero uno, with no regard for those around us.  We’ve been trained to act this way by consumer society, and it’s destroying the planet, and has torn a big gaping wound into the fabric of society.

On the other side of the scale, we also need to abandon always being a giver -someone who is always giving, giving, giving, always putting out and  never receiving.  The classic example of that is the mother who does everything for her children.   Or the martyr activist, who will give all they have to cause, even when they are running so low on internal reserves that they eventually hit a wall and burn out.  Strange as it may seen, it is possible to be too much of a giver – because we need to also learn to give to ourselves.  For some of us, it’s very difficult to receive.   Not being able to receive can block us from being able to love and be loved.

Mutually enhancing relationships are the relationships of the mature conscioussness.  In these kinds of dynamics, we respect the needs, the space, and the personshood of the other, while maintaining and respecting our own needs, space and personhood.  But we also give – we give what is needed, in the way it is wanted.  The golden rule is do unto others as they would do unto us.  But what if they don’t want done unto them, period?  The platinum rule is “do unto others as they want done unto them.”

Imagine a world of mutual respect, of mutual enhancement. This applies to our human relationships, and to our environmental relationships.  In this era, humans are suddenly faced with the enormous responsibility of the fate of the whole planet, and unless we learn to live with the envronment in such a way that we stop depleting it, we’re going be part of this massive wave of extinction that is sweeping the earth today.  We need to actually go beyond sustainability, to restoration.  We need to start looking at the eco battle zones, the man made deserts, the wastelands, the dead lakes, and start to restore them.  We need to look at our urban habitats, and transform them into urban edens.  It can be done! There are tremendous success stories everywhere we look.  The first one that pops into my mind is the story of the Hudson River, which was a dead polluted water way.  With years of dedication and committment, the river has been healed.

We can do it, we can create a new paradigm of human and eco  interrelationships, we just need the will.  It’s quite simple really:  if each one of us decided to leave this world, our friends, family and the people we meet a little happier, a littler healthier, a little more peaceful, than they were before, if each of us dared to open our hearts and let compassion in,  to let compassion out, drop by drop, heart by heart, we could transform this world.  It’s starting to happen – I’ve seen it all over the world.  I have hope, I have faith, despite the torrential downpour of bad news, that the sun is rising on a new paradigm, a paradigm of mutual transformation.