Hi there. 👋 I'm James of December 2020, and this is my story of how we could grow bigger than our problems. Which problems? Well, I see three types:
Our crumbling political norms and our abysmal epidemic response (in the USA context) have shown how little capability we have for large-scale coordination or sensemaking. We are gripped in culture war power struggle and no one in power has any possible way out. Existential threats loom in front of our society: inequity, authoritarianism, climate change, and the relentless progress of greater AI, nano-, bio-, and other technological power becoming more widely accessible.
Our connections to physical tribes are gone or gutted. Our church and traditional community connections are waning. We have fewer deep friendships, scattered more widely. Our relationships are strained and stressed by this social media age of algorithmically intermediated digital (dis-)connection and physical isolation. We crave belonging, connection, safety, and love.
We spend our lives in the pursuit of happiness, and find it elusive. Traumas large and small haunt us as we navigate adulting in a complex and rapidly changing world. The scripts of prior generations don't work for newer ones. We strive to fit in, to find ourselves, and to find meaning and purpose in our lives. Then that's all overwhelming so we cope by bingewatching shows while doomscrolling on our phones.
Yikes, right? This whole complex system of you, I, we, and society must adapt by developing the capacity and capability to survive and thrive at every level. But what can people do? I am one person. I am a part of that system. So are you. None of us can beat the system. There is no conventional solution. Faced with that, most people avert their eyes and turn back to doing whatever makes sense in their conventional social frame.
So, what of a solution? Why did I say "grow bigger?" I'll claim that more capable doing flows from being who we want to be, which starts with awareness and intention.
Together they bring us the capacity to become our biggest selves and the capability to move through increasing complexity. This happens within our own selves, takes root in our relationships, and can then flow outward to grow a new system that can succeed the old one:
I've discovered some of this through my own experience - when my conventional modern self-authored identity failed, pulling me to find another way to grow. I've found that "growing up" connects to spaces much bigger than typical modern adulthood. Bigger perspective, smaller ego, fewer constraints. Self-awareness, introspection, integration. This path seems to converge both with the latest scientific psychology and with the experiential knowing that mystics have pointed to for centuries.
A bigger, better mode of being is possible when we embody these practices and let go our attachments. But this is no easy task! It is a developmental journey, unique to each person and yet shared across all humanity. We can't reliably do it on our own - we travel farther and faster when securely supported by trusted companions. We can borrow each others' eyes to see ourselves from other perspectives of compassion and insight. Plus, time spent in rich connection and friendship is deeply nourishing and generative!
Development into a bigger stance results in increased capacity, greater awareness, higher agency, bigger perspective, meaningful contribution, and deeper peace. Group practices and norms support people stepping into these capabilities. If we can support this upgraded "cultural code" in larger community contexts as we expand, we'll be positioned to help support our society in being what it wants to be, expanding its ability to meet its global-scale challenges.
Does this resonate with you? I'm looking for allies right now: explorers and pioneers of co-creation as we seek to develop a kernel of inter-subjective practices supporting our growth in awareness and intentionality. Particularly, but not exclusively, if you're experienced in or enthusiastic about any of these areas:
We can find the way only by walking the path together. Want to join in?