Begin It Now
The time for a new world paradigm is now.
History is replete with myths, worldviews, and paradigms that powerfully shape human thought and behavior, and that remain unchallenged for centuries. At some point, these paradigms inevitably reach a period of crisis, no longer able to sustain the overwhelming weight of contradictory evidence, at which time they are shattered and replaced with new paradigms that begin new cycles. This notion of the paradigm was brought into our collective discourse by Thomas Kuhn in his seminal book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, first published in 1962. In it, he chronicles the structure of a paradigm shift and explains how the paradigm shapes and constrains the set of actions and lines of inquiry that are available to those trapped within it. Actions and inquiries other than those accepted as consistent with the prevailing paradigm simply can’t be seen. The paradigm serves as the contextual map out of which human beings construct reality and make sense of their worlds.
Last week, I returned from a 14-day trip to Ecuador, during which I spent 10 days deeply immersed with the Sapara and Achuar people of the Amazon. The experience was sponsored by the Pachamama Alliance, a non-profit organization whose vision is to create “a world that works for everyone: an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling, socially just human presence on this planet—a New Dream for humanity.” It was a life-changing experience.
I answered the call to go to the Amazon, in part, because I’m a seeker, constantly looking for ways to explore myself and this incredible world. But mostly, I decided to go because I was increasingly aware that the current paradigm of the modern world – one that seeks growth at all costs, where more is better, and that prioritizes the individual over the collective – needs upgrading. I left the Amazon more convinced than ever that I must take responsibility for doing my part to bring forth a new paradigm that integrates the best of the modern world with the miracle of the indigenous peoples and their timeless traditions. The new paradigm is an integration of opposites – the individual and the collective, the masculine and the feminine, the material and the spiritual, the scientific and the mystical, the head and the heart.
I don’t exactly know what this commitment will look like. It will undoubtedly unfold over the weeks and months ahead. But it is a commitment, nonetheless. Many a commitment have died at the hands of those waiting for clarity. In the words of the Scottish writer William H. Murray:
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.
Life is short and the world is waiting for you to commit. Whatever is yours to commit to, begin it now.
Lynne Twist, co-founder of the Pachamama Alliance, just published her second book, Living a Committed Life. It’s phenomenal. I highly recommend it.
A quote that I discovered this week: “For peoples generally, their story of the universe and the human role in the universe is their primary source of intelligibility and value. The deepest crises experienced by any society are those moments of change when the story becomes inadequate for meeting the survival demands of a present situation.” Thomas Berry
This post reminded me of Tim Ferris’s interview with the founder and former CEO of Lululemon, Chip Wilson. In response to Tim’s question about what message Chip would put on a billboard that millions of people could see, Chip tells the powerful story of the advice his father gave him. You can hear that starting at 1:35:00. It’s well worth the listen.