Tag Archives: system change

What in the world …?

Change is not new to the modern era.  Shocks have become commonplace.  The threat of war is dulled.  The nuclear threat is muted.

We all like stability.  And we go about our daily lives in as normal a way as possible.  We might even ignore worsening crises, as does the proverbial frog in boiling water.

So, even though a sense of foreboding crept over me at the beginning of the year, even though my conscience prodded me to speak up, I just kept quiet. While I’ve known system change is coming for a couple of decades, timing has been impossible to predict in the short term, though it is clearly coming in the next decades.  But in January I started to feel that humanity is now in the end-game: either we grow-up or we regress.

My perspective is unusual. A diverse lifestyle allows me to tune in to global events and humanity’s behaviour, while being rooted in the soil and growing food. This gives a unique, big picture perspective on the patterns in nature, the cosmic rhythm as I call it, which is naturally obscured to the casual observer. The big picture view is far removed from our daily lives but how the world works and the choices we make every day are connected and increasingly so.

Rising concerns that change is accelerating rapidly started with a rather discombobulated event in early December, A Vision of the Future, which proved productive and concluded that change is coming fast and planning for it is not possible, but being prepared is.  This has influenced our strategic perspective since.

Then, in January as we recovered from the holiday season, we heard of the murder of an Iranian general at Baghdad airport by US President Trump.  It seemed surreal.  That sense of mesmerised concern continued as Trump and Netanyahu announced a “peace plan” for the Middle East which proposed taking more liberty from non-Jewish people.

Then the impeachment trial was a farce.

Meanwhile thousands continue to suffer and die because of war, starvation or simply murder by incumbent regimes …

Soon, the flu flew in to the news.  It was bad from the beginning.  How could you tell?  Because China locked down a city of 11 million people, Wuhan, overnight. And then built a full service hospital in a week.  The real lesson was that there is no way anyone can match China for mobilisation of people and resources.  Too much complacency and distraction spread by greedy millionaires and politicians has got in the way of a common vision for collaboration.  And that’s beginning to show as covid-19 runs around the world because symptoms are not displayed for two weeks after contracting the virus so you can have it and seem fine and travel around … Every major airport is probably full of it …

But it’s not the flu that’s going to get us.  That’s just a symptom of our disease.

Humanity is suffering from a terminal disease.  Decadence.

Our society is over-ripe and beginning to decay.  There are many looking for rejuvenation and many who are showing the possibilities.  But the voices for status quo are loud, louder than they have been for a long time.  It is a crescendo.  Even as the wave of democratic socialism rises to show how people can live together without killing, without suffering, with each other, with nature.  But that wave of enlightened change might yet break upon the rocks of intransigent capitalism so that we regress again to wilder ways. 

Even the terms “social democracy” and “capitalism” belie the phenomenon: One is looking for a democratic social organisation of communities, the other a community ordered by who owns the capital. 

As a graduate of Wharton and IMD, two pre-eminent business education institutions, it is embarrassing to be so unaware of the reality of what we capitalists do.  Capitalists are merely the progeny of slavery and feudalism – slightly less obvious, but still only caring about the control of stuff and people.  There is no room for humanity in that model. 

There might be room for transhumanism in the capitalist system. We are rushing to implement artificial intelligence, robotics and global data as integrated super-androids, cyborgs etc.  But that trajectory must soon exclude the human element.  The attachment of mechanical and silicone appendages to the brain can only limit the potential of consciousness to emerge, just as the illusion of scarcity is used to limit our values to base instincts of greed and fear.  And, just in case ethics is of interest to you, it is questionable that conciousness and with it morality can exist in a silicon system (as opposed to a carbon based organism).

To see the dynamic at play demands a big picture perspective .  Luckily we have the big picture model in ourselves.  Those who have read a bit of psychology might have come across Mazlow’s hierarchy of needs.  That is a model showing a natural progression of values from survival needs to safety needs to security needs to transformational needs to community needs.  There are numerous other models reflecting the same dynamic and, as you can see, slavery, feudalism, capitalism, socialism, fit the pattern too. 

However, it is NOT INEVITABLE that humanity will progress before it regresses.  That kind of thinking is human-centric, which is not how the universe works.  The universe follows natural law which is reflected in all of existence and does not put humans (let alone men!) at the centre, pinnacle or focus.  Rather, in order to progress we must choose to behave differently.

That is the great battle that now wages around the world as people look for answers to personal, yet universal, questions.  Like “Why can’t I make a living?” “Why can’t we get on?” “Why are they taking stuff I don’t have?” …

So what will happen?

Perhaps nothing much this year, though maybe.  And if not this year, soon.  Time has run out.  It’s not about climate change.  It’s not about politics.  It’s not about economics.  It’s not about religion. It’s about energy.

It’s about the energy we share when we love or hate, but right now, it’s about the energy we demand to fuel our decadence. That energy is the currency of the biosphere, the currency of life, and we’ve raped it for 300 years. The oil addiction must end.

Do you think oil will run out?

(It will.)


Most people say between 10 and 50 years, some saying system breakdown will occur first.  50 years is the oil industry’s estimate. I think that’s a self-serving over-estimate: “Peak-oil” is not mentioned because it’s passed and “climate breakdown” takes the headlines instead to distract us. Oil-heads know the tank is empty.

Any way if there’s zero oil in 50 years, we’ll feel the pinch long before.

There is evidence to suggest it will run out much sooner (including analysis from inside the oil industry).  You can make your own guess and do your own “what if?”.  20 years is my horizon.  And we’re feeling the pressure now, even if there appears to be an oil inventory glut … When it comes the stresses will be extraordinary because most of our conveniences depend upon oil, like the washers in your household plumbing and car to the screens of your phone and TV.  There’ll be no more plane delivered fresh beans from Africa or South America.  Life will resort to the old ways, unless we’ve restructured systems, which seems a long way off …

Even 20 years is far off.  What about now?

The battle will continue as the titans of capitalism resist the need to open systems, collaborate and care for nature.  They have the resources.  They have the evidence of current practice.  They have the power of vested interests. They have the strength of ignorance and selfishness. And it is always the altruistic who are martyred first, often for no good end.  For most of us, we choose sides: to continue in the same divisive ways, follow the “success” stories, do what we’re told; or to change. 

Change means looking for answers, informing oneself, collaborating and nurturing altruism.  The downside of change is finding answers (which are increasingly available) and implementing them (increasingly easy to do) which demand that you let go of what you’ve been told in order to recognise the truth that you feel in yourself.  The upside is remembering what life is about and finding there’s a chance of living again. So, take a breath, think about your challenges and let your consciousness find your flow.

Unplanned and Unexpected – A Vision of the Future

Life’s journey has no beginning or end yet events, like seasons and birthdays, mark its progress. So, in anticipation of astraea turning 20, and to say “thank you” to all the people who had helped us along the way, we thought about having an exposition of our work and a party.

Many people around the world have helped and supported us, so, while we would gather here at Ballin Temple, we wanted to share with everyone who couldn’t come. We planned to broadcast the event on the web.

We planned to share a broad, experiential perspective on our adventure over the past two decades. We’d give a walk around the vegetable plots, tool shed and so on offering little demos such as digging, harvesting, chainsawing, splitting logs and so on. Then we’d have a chat in The Tent on big picture perspectives like holonics, metaphysical dynamics, money, nature, consciousness and more. Followed by “tea” and chat (to include drinks, snacks and music).

Continue reading Unplanned and Unexpected – A Vision of the Future

Speaking Truth To Power

Be aware.

In a couple of minutes you can hear what is wrong and how we can change to save ourselves from our most primitive instincts, like fear and greed.

“The real power belongs to the people.”


“My name is Greta Thunberg. I am 15 years old. I am from Sweden. I speak on behalf of Climate Justice Now. Many people say that Sweden is just a small country and it doesn’t matter what we do. But I’ve learned you are never too small to make a difference. And if a few children can get headlines all over the world just by not going to school, then imagine what we could all do together if we really wanted to.

But to do that, we have to speak clearly, no matter how uncomfortable that may be. You only speak of green eternal economic growth because you are too scared of being unpopular. You only talk about moving forward with the same bad ideas that got us into this mess, even when the only sensible thing to do is pull the emergency brake. You are not mature enough to tell it like is. Even that burden you leave to us children. But I don’t care about being popular. I care about climate justice and the living planet. Our civilization is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money. Our biosphere is being sacrificed so that rich people in countries like mine can live in luxury. It is the sufferings of the many which pay for the luxuries of the few.

Continue reading Speaking Truth To Power

Our Suicide is Painless

Yesterday was an unusual day filled with seemingly inane chores that had to be done.  I was arriving back home in the afternoon with groceries for guests and planned to turn the hay.   I drove past a field adjacent to our where a tractor was spraying and turned in to the drive to be greeted by a distasteful, though recognisable, toxic smell.


Usually I’d just accept that that landowner had to spray to make a living, but I didn’t like the idea that our hay was being contaminated while it was looking so good.  Unusually, I decided to take another angle, dropped the bags on the kitchen floor, said “Hi!” to guests and spun the car around back up to the field.

After working out which row the tractor was in I walked up to the driver, who kindly stopped and helped me get n touch with the landowner.

The driver said the spray  was only to stop “disease”.

The landowner said it was only to stop “disease”.

They both said it was “OK”.

The contractor couldn’t come back on a still day because he had to empty the tanks since the pesticide had been paid for.  The wind might die down so he could wait a bit.  I knew the spray would still be sprayed, and would drift.  Hopefully little would drift, though you could see a 20  metre tail behind the tractor and smell it quarter of a kilometre away.

I asked what it was.  “I dunno.  Let’s have a look.”

So we did. It was Imtrex.

Imtrex – dead fish, dead tree, dead human …

“Wow.  Look at the labels on it! Dead fish.  Dead tree.  Heart attack.  C’mon! This can’t be good.”

It’s weird though.  It’s being sprayed right on the ears of ripening barley, and we’re going to eat it.  There’s poison on it , and we’re going to eat it.  We’re killing ourselves and enjoying it.

We don’t make the connection between our demand for cheap, convenient food and lifestyles and the consequential impairment of diet and lifestyle.  Our monolithic food chain, standardised automated production, controlled by capitalists is withering our soul and costing our health.  Apart from the increased incidence of cancer which only affects a third or so of us, almost everyone is affected by the lower quality of food – processed, refined, packaged with a fraction of the dietary health benefits of real food, but extra poison.

Yet we all buy in to it.  We all live the lie.  The farmer can’t make ends meet if he doesn’t.  (Ironically, I found out since that this “T3” third treatment for “disease” was being applied too late, as the ears were grown, and so wouldn’t improve yield, although the farmer could prove he sprayed the “treatment”.)   We can’t make ends meet f we don’t play the pyramid consumption game.  So we all turn a blind eye to our gradual suicide.  It’s fairly painless anyway.

But it could be different.  It would be different if we all chose differently.  It doesn’t have to be much at first, but even little thoughtful choices make a difference.  And they lead to bigger thoughtful choice.  And when everyone starts choosing differently, the world changes fast.  So whether you’re in the tractor, in the shop, regulating the chemical, making the chemical, or financing the chemical, don’t turn a blind eye.  Think, and choose to change a little.

Because dying can be easy or hard, and withering from poison is not easy.

Time is running out: Behind the curve on SDGs

SustainAblility and Globescan’s recent survey of progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals is not encouraging.

Progress on transition to sustainable development to date (% of experts)
Progress on transition to sustainable development to date (% of experts)

Over 500 experts contributed.  The consensus is that progress and attention is lagging the need for change.  If data is restricted to those with a decade or more of experience the picture is worse.

“Poor” progress on transition to sustainable development to date (% of experts)
“Poor” progress on transition to sustainable development to date (% of experts)

Progress is dominated by social entrepreneurs and NGOs while national governments’ and corporates’ performance is considered poor.

Contribution of organizations to progress on the SDGs (% of experts)
Contribution of organizations to progress on the SDGs (% of experts)

The lack of attention by governments and corporates is underpinned by their “clients” – voters and consumers – so clearly there remains among people generally a lack of awareness of the need and opportunity for system change.  People don’t perceive the dangers of failing commercial and social systems and the disintegration of Earth’s natural environment upon which we rely.

Perhaps this is not surprising.  Except for change agents and social entrepreneurs, people are not engaged with the problems of the world but instead stick to traditional mindsets and routines.  (The SDG’s themselves are fundamentally flawed in their promotion of growth, as opposed to working within natural laws and the capacity of the biosphere.) Continue reading Time is running out: Behind the curve on SDGs

Where the world is going, today.

If you are an expert in your field you have a good idea of what is going on in that area.  That’s how you make a living.  Most of us express views about news and events that are outside our area of expertise especially if we think that they might effect us in some way, like politics and economics.  The Presidency of the United States of America is one of those things.

Everyone will be talking about the new US administration in America today.  Some will be earnest, some dismissive, some joyful, some sad or angry.  Irrespective of your emotions or political leanings, its impact will affect you. Continue reading Where the world is going, today.

It’s not about one man. Trump’s election calls for system change.

It’s not about one man.

reallytrumpReeling from the long predicted “surprise”, many are emotional but uncertain.  The victor is magnanimous, the process continues. The winners are joyous, but realising next steps have not been planned or prioritised.  The losers are distraught and fearful that regression will be prioritised over progress.

In this breathing period some signals are clear.

People voted.  A lot of people.  People who rarely vote, voted.  They voted for change.  They voted against a system that seems to keep them down and voted for a symbol of change, a voice of change.  The result came about because of many people voting, not just one man.  On the world stage this is the second time this year.   The emotional voice of Brexit has been amplified in the vote for President of the United States of America.  This is a popular cry for change.

Continue reading It’s not about one man. Trump’s election calls for system change.

Global perspectives: Technology, Growth, Money, Politics and what to invest in

The Long Termworld-300px

We’re talking 20 years or so here.

In 20  years we’ll be facing Big Stuff.  Climate change, weather volatility, species loss, clean air, clean water, … that whole environment thing will be getting much more serious and everyone will be dealing with it in some way or another.  I’m hoping it’ll make Ireland a bit more like the south of France, and it might, but whatever else, it’s going to make the simple things in life more difficult.  For most of humanity that will include feeding themselves and getting clean water.

So that will make food and land more important.

In 20 years we may well have passed “The Singularity“.  That’s a term coined by futurists, often with a trans-humanist bent, which denotes the inevitable point at which technology development starts happening “by itself”.  This occurs as humanity’s understanding of physics and biology enable the creation of thinking machines (computers) that emulate the brain, and then androids and cyborgs begin to be used in place of people.

Certainly in 20 years technology will have changed our world even more than in the past 20.   Do not imagine The Singularity to be fantasy.  We are close already.  The mobile phone/computer in your pocket is old technology compared with neuro-computers being tested in laboratories.  Robots are already becoming remarkably similar to C-3PO in looks and mobility at least.  Today the consequences are being felt in most professions as AI (artificial intelligence) takes jobs away from humans.  This is what we all wanted – automatic checkout, automatic cashier, automatic accountant, automatic lawyer, automatic vehicle … The challenge now being solved is automatic creativity.

Continue reading Global perspectives: Technology, Growth, Money, Politics and what to invest in

How to change the world: Change your mind, body and spirit.

Joe Dispenza has been elucidating the science of mind for decades.  In this talk (embedded below) he gives a clear, easy to follow description of how the mind works and how a person can change themselves by, literally, changing their mind.

To summarise: The brain is constantly changing – the growth, decay, connection and disconnection of neurons is the electro-chemical, physical manifestation of mind.  Recognising one’s own thoughts allows you to manage them in a positive way, rather than allowing them to propagate chaotically.  (This is why cognitive behavioural therapy works, even to the extent of being a go to treatment for clinical depression.) So, when faced with stress or challenge, you pause, take a breath, consider the situation and look for positive aspects, which includes taking a different approach.  Taking a positive approach lowers stress (good), and allows the mind to think more critically to find solutions (good) instead of resorting to primitive, knee-jerk responses.

People who are seeking change in the world or themselves will appreciate the scientific foundation of these ideas, which have been practices for centuries by yogis, monks and ascetics.  The technique is also used, whether consciously or not, by successful people who control their behaviour – this includes academics,  athletes and sportspeople, musicians, thespians, entrepreneurs and organisation leaders.

As well as using your mind as a simple tool for changing yourself, recognising your biological nature allows you to choose a path which yields happiness and health.  This happens when you manage stress to allow your physical body to move to equanimity.

These ideas are very relevant for those of us who are seeking  system change.  Often our efforts are blocked by intransigence in  incumbent institutions, systems and leaders – and that is frustrating and exhausting.  Getting stressed is not a solution.  Stepping back, letting go and moving forward in the right way is the only way to effect positive change.  We are changing the system by changing ourselves.  To change the world, we must change ourselves.  It is not easy because the system is designed for dysfunction, but changing for good works, gets easier as you do it more and yields a fulfilling life.  Think about it!  And be the change you want to see in the world.

Enjoy the show: