Why concern yourself with Planetary Culture?

planetaryIt is rare that I watch the news. There is a good reason for this strict media diet. Every time I do read or watch the news, I want to cry, scream, puke, throw something. How humans treat each other around the planet is absolutely pathetic. It is embarrassing.

If aliens came down to visit this planet, my first instinct would be to apologize for my fellow humans. I would plead and tell them that there are examples of beauty, of kindness, of people understanding that, while we are all separate, there is an underlying unity.

Even if I leave all esoterics out of this, it is obvious to any child that we are ONE humanity – on ONE planet. When you fly often enough, you realize that there are no borders painted on the rock below, that nations are a remnant of the territories of warlords and bullies, most recently established by the great pirates, now clothed in pinstripe suits. Every human has red blood. You cut one open, you will see, they all look alike (hoping that my alien friends wouldn’t actually put that to the test).

A few days ago my brother sent me an article that was talking about the new German century and how Germany is reluctantly rising to be a leader in Europe and the world again. I do love my home country. There are many wonderful things about it. In many ways, I think the Germans are the grown ups of the world. Having experimented with two major top-down methodologies, National Socialism and Communism, the German people have learned some valuable lessons. Regardless, they are also one of the top weapons manufacturers and at least a big chunk of the German economical success comes from those exports – that, and banking. Controlling with information instead of military force this time around.

But I digress. My main point to my brother was that, while I believe that they are doing a lot of things right in Germany, Wilhelm Tell (the guy with the apple on his son’s head) is famously quoted by Schiller to have said that even the best man can’t live in peace if his neighbor doesn’t allow it. And therein lies the problem: Much of Germany’s (and in general Western) lifestyle is only possible due to other nations’ suffering. Eventually, this will break down. We are already in the midst of a journey toward a new equilibrium. Just like water finds its level, we will also find a new way of interacting with each other. Thanks to the Internet, we can all see each other now.

Many years ago I watched a British made for television movie called “The March“. It told the story of an African who had learned that in Europe pets get to eat more food than he did. So he decided to walk to Europe to become a pet, willing to play fetch, do tricks and whatever else people asked of their pets. On the way, hundreds of thousands joined him. They all got shot down by European military when trying to cross at Gibraltar. Nobody wanted a human pet. Nobody wanted to know that there are other humans who lived worse than their pets. So they killed them and went about feeding their cats and dogs.

As long as anyone in this world is or feels oppressed, there will be terrorism. There will be conflict. It is naive to believe that “we could all just get along”. There will always be conflict, but we can find ever better ways of solving it. Killing each other – while maybe effective – is not a particularly constructive way.

My yoga teacher once told me “when people talk about oneness, hold on to your girlfriend and your wallet”. We are separate… Individuals. No citizen of any country is alike. Every individual is different. But we are all one humanity. This is the paradox we are invited to solve within ourselves. How do we honor every single individual and humanity as a whole at the same time?

One way is to begin to understand that all group designations are arbitrary. In the end, there is “I” and everyone else. Many group designations have already become meaningless, e.g. many people are realizing that in a religious context: no two [insert religion here] are alike. Our labels are getting bigger and smaller and will ultimately be seen for what they are: arbitrary designations. Even nations only exist on paper. Based on agreements.

We cannot solve problems on the level on which they occur, as Einstein is famously quoted to have said. Israel and Palestine will never have peace. Until we drop some of our ridiculous notions, we will have these issues. It’s not about religion. It’s not about territory, ultimately, it’s not even about nationality. It’s about LABELS. We are fighting over labels. Words.

Sticks and stones can hurt my bones, but words will never touch me. Unfortunately, if we take those words seriously, the result is that some idiot will suggest that raping Palestine women might be a good idea in order to avoid terrorism. It seems to work in the Congo, where the tactic of systematic raping is quite common as a means to show people who’s boss – and it has been used as a tactic of terror since our early beginnings – rape and pillage.

It makes me angry, and it makes me sad. But I also understand that neither external nor internal aggression will solve anything, so I focus on using this energy to drive me in my work to help bring forth a planetary cultural operating system. It might not happen in my lifetime. I am realistic enough to know that. But we have to start somewhere, right? And realizing all this bears within it a certain responsibility. See something, do something.

The good news is that we are evolving: From physical consciousness, where resources were power, to emotional consciousness where territory was power (as it would mean access to resources), to mental consciousness, where information was power (as it would allow annexing territories with a simple signature or an IMF loan – WORDS again), to a consciousness where relationships are power. Motivating and mobilizing people. Getting the masses to focus their intention. We are now tasked with learning to relate – on a planetary scale.

Most of the people alive today were born with access to pictures of Earth from Space. We now know, deep inside, that there is one planet. For my parents’ generation China was still “back there” (pointing horizontally in flatland). Today, we know that if we throw something away, it will come around. We have more dimensions in our consciousness. We have evolved from flatland to a multi-dimensional world. Now we need to adjust our behavior accordingly. Make it congruent with that understanding. Why should an Indian MBA, who is eager to work hard, make $15/hr, while his US counterpart makes ten times that – and complains about his work conditions?

Generations XYZ are already planetary citizens. Take e.g. the manual for World of Warcraft – it is the second largest human collaborative creation (after Wikipedia). Online, only how you show up matters. You are a screen name. Your country, your geolocation, your religion don’t matter much. It matters what you do, how you contribute. The kids get it. Six out of ten Gen Z kids want to have an impact on the world with their jobs. Social entrepreneurs are the new heroes, and over 26% percent of Gen Z kids would have to fly to visit most of their social network friends. Or, e.g. nearly 70% of Indian youth consider themselves global citizens before they consider themselves Indian. As they solve the schizophrenia they are struggling with between their parents’ culture expressed in whichever of the many languages India has, and their international selves, defined by English, Youtube, Twitter and Facebook, they will set the stage for a new generation of planetary citizens.

We are not going to solve planetary issues on national or even inter-national level. Even the UN is still an assembly of nations. They will keep bickering over petty stuff, fighting for superiority of individual countries. Even our international sports affairs like the recent World Cup (ahh there is Germany again) are not doing much to create planetary consciousness, they are only enforcing nationalism (as Orwell pointed out in his 1945 essay on the Sporting Spirit). There are some positive developments about countries doing good for the world, as this recent TED talk points out, but the findings still showed that “countries perform better and better but the world and planet and humanity in general are getting worse and worse.”

There is a danger that in the process of our nations failing, we will begin to focus on identities – group designations again, as Domique de Villepin pointed out in a recent article – hence we need to balance the move toward “i”dentity with an awareness of the planet as a whole.

As nations are failing we are beginning to see some of the only true global citizens today: Corporations, who many times act as kingmakers, and even nation makers. But even corporations are destroying themselves. By attempting to expand their markets into “third world” countries, they are also undermining the source of cheap labor, as these new consumers need to make enough money to buy the shiny products peddled to them, and will continue to fight for higher wages.

Most of our current systems have become self-serving rather than serving general profit (profit from Latin – may it be forwarding/beneficial – it had nothing to do with money originally). Feared by many conspiracy theorists, a New World Order is inevitable. But we can chose what kind of world order it will be. One of global slavery to the few, or one for the people by the people. We can craft it consciously rather than passively waiting for dystopia while watching movies about zombies and living in the Matrix.

For that, we have to shift our focus: From taking care only of our own to taking care of the world.

Consider this an invitation to create a meaningful legacy. An invitation to do something meaningful on a planetary scale. As my friend likes to say: “the studio used to be the artist’s world, now the world is the artist’s studio”. We can all be artists, whatever “job” we do.

So do all of us a favor, and become a planetary artist. Whatever it is that you chose to call your art.

Time to turn off the news and get to work.


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