Tuesday, October 27, 2009

An Historical Perspective: From No To Yes In 7 Words

An Historical Perspective: From No To Yes In 7 Words

We consider whether 7 words might be used to examine the deeper waves that underlie all changes. Let’s look briefly at the greater cycles of change, underneath the babble of so much detail and so many opinions — look at the major facets of human evolution, at least the Homo Sapiens bit.

 We can say that civilisation began to express awareness significantly above the animal level when tools were used. Before that human behaviour very closely resembled that of certain animals—in particular by surrendering to the inevitable danger and hardships of life because no better condition was imaginable. This suggests Yes, the acceptance of what comes without resistance. The tooling-up of the hunter-gatherers coincided with their saying No! They no longer accepted fate and chose a new reality wherein nature could be tamed a little. The truth was affirmed that humanity was a significant partner in the co-creating of Earth conditions. ‘We are no longer sleeping children of the Earth Mother; we are awakening and growing up’. Our prehistoric Yes became No, the beginning of the story of civilization.


The Agricultural Revolution marked a major universal shift in humanity’s thinking and was clearly No-like. Fences were constructed around land, establishing both clear boundaries and the identity of those who were normally allowed inside them. People were required to choose to belong to a particular social group—and not to any other, and not to continue their hunter-gatherer meanderings. Foragers who wouldn’t invest their labour into putting down roots were excluded. Thus clans became nations and, protected within the walls of their city-states, they grew wealthy.


The Hello era that followed accelerated as people developed their languages, shared knowledge, skills and ideas and learned more about getting along with neighbours—who had become much more permanent. Without land to tie them down, the early hunters had had less need for social skills, being able to refuse involvement if they felt uncomfortable. As exchanges opened up, communication took on an even greater level of importance. To exchange surpluses and find ‘new breeding stock’ required that various groups reached out the hand of friendship in trade—or the less friendly version in skirmishes with neighbouring groups.

Curiosity also became a major factor that promoted travel and cultural exchange. Its twin sister inventiveness applied itself to overcome hardships and came up with ideas like yoking oxen and irrigation—mechanical devices that can be seen as early heralds for the next leap forward—the Industrial Revolution. The building of railways and telegraphs and spreading of newspapers even to the working folk are all clues that this period was the flowering of the Hello era. The world, previously an inconceivable concept, was now navigable by even the poorest wayfarer with enough spark and an ardent curiosity.

Thank You

As much as the seeds of Hello were clearly visible within the No-like Agricultural Revolution, the seeds of the Thank You era can be identified within the industrialization process. Leisure became increasingly known as a major social phenomenon—until it became widespread across all classes in the developed world. The poor were still relatively poor—yet only by contrast to the richer rich. In the middle of the 20th century many ordinary working people were rescued from domestic drudgery by washing machines and they could watch TV and drive cars. People became free to appreciate the good life, to express options about what they valued. The governments of rich countries gave compassionate aid to the hungry. And, at least for a while, we felt thankful.


The Information Revolution could be said to have arisen in the mid 1960’s when microchip technology enabled electronic things to come about. This made the processing of data incomparably faster and fanned the flames of humanity’s obsessional lust for information. Now we are given all the information we need to see that the Industrial Age was not handled very elegantly—we had forgotten to deal with all of its ramifications—and the first major complaints were becoming clear sounding. Words like ecology, global warming and CND were introduced into our language, firstly by a group of people who were born around the late 1940’s.

In the Goodbye era we would expect to observe the 4 keywords: realization, decision, completion and moving on. Well, indeed, now we are—at least some of us—coming to the realization of what the Industrial era has done. Next comes decision, and this is not so clear. Unfortunately, those who can really make a difference, the powerful Western industrialists, are not yet willing to decide. When they do decide we will need to go through a stage of completion. Our task is to reach completion on the Industrial Revolution—to clean up. Only then can we expect to move on.

There is good reason to expect a tidal-wave type of change as the baby-boomers of 1946/7, who were born to express humanity’s moving on from wartime, begin to retire at 60. This is the hidden bomb whose long shock-wave blast has rippled throughout the post-war period and is being projected into a future where it is ready to explode. Pensions will become increasingly tight and great pressure will arise to allocate diminishing resources to ageing and unproductive voters (as long as democracy holds). But these same people have had to compete all their lives for limited resources and have become quite used to making governments change their position—on matters like the Vietnam War. And we have to acknowledge that when they came of age in 1964, they pushed the boundaries of convention like never before.

As they approach retirement, they will do whatever they can to look after their own interests. Unfortunately, whereas now it takes three workers to fund one retired person during the next 30 years the dependency ratio will worsen and by 2036 it will need to be only two. We’ll all have to work harder, longer and more effectively by a margin of 50%. Either we wake up to this now and do something or we can learn to expect that as old folks we will be cold, hungry, sick and uncared-for. Goodbye is ruthless; a decision must cut the past from the future. We need to make a difficult decision that will change the face of economics and politics forever, and we need to make it now.

What’s next?

Please will be next, and unified intention, cooperation and prayer will be the qualities of the era. Please begins with vision, so perhaps we may pray for a collective vision of world peace brought about through a widespread shift of awareness. These major revolutionary shifts are happening more quickly as ‘time speeds up’. It took tens of thousands of years for hunter-gatherers to learn their lessons, thousands for the agricultural wisdoms to be assimilated and a couple of hundred until we saw the ambiguities of industrialization. So 40 years after the Information Revolution of the Sixties, we ought to be ready for another—a bedrock change in how we see things, how we think and how we act upon those thoughts.

Presumably this can be called the Consciousness Revolution.

By: JamesBurgess
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