Tom Atlee: Why I am not dealing with the rest of it : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


From: Tom Atlee
To: undisclosed list
Subject: Why I am not dealing with the rest of it
Date: Wednesday, April 21, 1999 2:11 PM

Dear Friends,

These are indeed intense times we are living in.

Most of the attention in the society around me is on the war in Europe (which has troubling new environmental implications) and the school killings. In my closer circles there is the struggle over whether or not Y2K is going to be "as bad as we thought." It is vital that attention be paid to these things, and whatever can be done is done. At the same time, do any of us truly believe that we will not have more such problems -- or even worse ones -- to handle tomorrow, next year, next decade?

It amazes me how much attention is invested in so many dramatic problems by so many people, with so little return on that investment -- so little new wisdom or changes in collective behavior.

And it amazes me that so few people are looking at THAT lack of collective learning and asking why it is that way. And figuring out some answers.

So that is what I've chosen to focus my attention on. Which requires that I turn myself away, to some degree and often with great struggle, from the daily clamor of the latest horrific problems.

Robert Ornstein and Paul Ehrlich pointed out in their remarkable 1989 book NEW WORLD, NEW MIND, "Humanity's ability to deal with the consequences of its creations lags behind its ability to create." Their book is excellent, incidentally, and I recommend it. They say that our nervous systems haven't changed significantly since the cave man days, but our environment is totally different. So we tend to pay attention to children murdering each other in a mass slaughter in school, while being blind to the vaster but slower and less visible deaths of children from environmental diseases and hunger, both of which are also human-caused.

How shall we deal with that discrepancy between our ability to create and our ability to handle the consequences of our creations? I believe it will require more than exhortations to each other to slow down, to love each other, to recycle and vote, or to meditate. At the very least, it seems to me, it requires nothing less than a major reconceptualization of democracy -- new understandings and new designs for how we collectively apprehend what's going on, reflect on what we perceive, and act, as a whole society.

I'm not saying that this giant undertaking is more important than stopping the war, dealing with the environment, or preventing our children from doing horrible things to each other. Indeed, if these other things are not handled, they may in the end make this "larger" effort impossible (e.g., if Kosovo expands into global nuclear war).

So all of it needs to be done. I admit that.

I'm only suggesting that the noise generated by our dramatic problems leaves hardly anyone directly attending to this more general problem of how to increase humanity's ability to deal with the consequences of its creations and to learn how to create with fewer consequences. I'm suggesting that needs to change. It needs to change fast.

So, please, if any of you know of resources -- people, books, articles, money, organizations, stories, methods -- that are involved with this effort, or that could be useful in it, please let me know.

Thank you.



Tom Atlee * The Co-Intelligence Institute * Oakland, CA *



-- Critt Jarvis (, April 21, 1999


Thanks for mentioning Paul Erhlich. I had read his earlier works, but not the one you mentioned. I will look for it at the library. Certainly the problems are huge. Often they are self our expense. We can not continue to over populate the planet, degredate the environment and debase ourselves forever... eventually something will give. Mother Nature bats last.

-- curtis schalek (, April 21, 1999.

What I think is that the contributors to this forum are a good cross section of the public.............including all the rage that goes on around us and within this forum. We need to be nice to each other. Thats the first step and until we can be nice to each other, its not going to get any better. Be it in our daily lives or on this forum.


-- Taz (Tassie, April 21, 1999.

Is that the same Paul Ehrlich who wrote "The Population Bomb" back in, I think, the 70s?

He predicted widespread famine by the 1990s and that the world population would be down to only a billion or so by now.

If he can be *so* wrong about that, why should we listen to him?

-- rick blaine (, April 21, 1999.

Maybe he was off by a decade?

-- y2klady (not@so.exact), April 21, 1999.

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