In addition to science’s explanation of reality, our worldview is also a function of the social context in which we live – the tone, content and nature of our interactions with others, as well as our beliefs about those interactions. While views about social context vary from person to person, there are clearly dominant trends within any culture. And so any examination of worldviews must also explore social context.
With such an exploration, we find that our human communities exhibit the trademark features of living systems: the increasingly divergent contributions of individuals united in dynamic relationship within convergent communities of all forms and sizes, generating ever greater forms of transcendence (e.g., families, tribes, nations, companies, sports teams, communities, as well as their novel outputs). Thus, the forces of divergence, relationship, convergence and integration bring our social context into three dimensions.
As we might expect, our social context has evolved over time. What is more surprising, though, is that in its evolution humanity seems to have concentrated on honing each of the four major attributes of living systems in succession. The following pages will take us on a brief historical tour, showing how our perceptions and interactions were convergent during the Hunter Gatherer era. We focused on developing the capability of relationship during the Agrarian era. The Industrial Era and the centuries just preceding it were humanity’s call to diverge en masse. And the early indications are that the emerging era will find humanity honing the skill of integration.
Thus, this chapter asserts that the evolution of humanity can be recast as the timeline below depicts.
As we try to understand the major eras of human civilization, it is expedient and convenient to define them by their tools and practical methods of survival. The Age of the Spear advanced into the Era of the Plow, which grew into the Age of the Machine, which now blends into the Internet Era. Tribal villages evolved into farms, which gave way to factories, which eventually became office buildings. According to this defining view, the key to successful evolution is as simple as keeping up with the latest technological advancements and real estate strategies. And, according to this definition, the transition between eras ought to be relatively speedy, with a new tool pushing out old habits within a few years of its acceptance.
But a more thorough and useful definition revolves around the critical question of why those distinctive tools and methods of survival were chosen at each stage. Each era of human civilization has distinct patterns of thought, divergent ways in which meanings and truths are constructed, and a fundamentally different consciousness of the world. At each stage, there is a collective and distinguishing “mental model.” Within this defining view of the ages, then, each era’s tools and methods are merely artifacts characteristic of that period’s dominant paradigm.
This isn’t to say that the earliest humans were incapable of relationship, divergence or integration; these were simply not the primary focus of those societies. And likewise, the focus of past eras hasn’t disappeared as new ones entered the scene; those capabilities merely became less dominant. With each past transition and with this one, there is lengthy and at times turbulent overlap. The outgoing era remains in place but gradually loses its dominance. As we saw in the earlier newspaper analogy of consciousness, the outgoing worldview never disappears but remains in the background as part of a fuller perceptual repertoire. Indeed, all facets of the living system must be present to some extent if life is to sustain itself. But historically, the “center of gravity” of any civilization has clearly centered on one aspect or another, as the following pages will demonstrate. And as humanity has progressively built capability in each facet, we've become increasingly resilient, adaptive and creative.
And yet, the mind boggles at the idea of such a neat, orderly progression. Why on Earth should we believe that humanity evolves socially according to such a relatively linear path?
First, the path has not been precisely linear. All of humanity has not progressed along this path in lockstep. Different civilizations may be at different stages of evolution, though they may be contemporaries and even neighbors. Some civilizations get stuck in their focus on relationship. Others move quickly through convergence and relationship and then settle in divergence. And still others get to divergence and then regress to relationship. Indeed, such variations explain much of global conflict today. For example, U.S. friction with Communist powers and the Middle East can be better understood as a clash between worldviews: the relationship-dominated Communist and Islamic nations must by their nature rub the divergent United States the wrong way.
Also, it is important not to interpret the successive stages as basis for value judgment. Divergence cannot be considered more valuable or evolved than relationship, for example. All facets of the living systems pattern are equally important, each representing vital sources of intelligence and capability. What can, perhaps, be considered a higher leverage capability is that of integration – of enabling high levels of convergence, relationship and divergence to come together as a resilient, creative adaptive emergent approach to life.
But this still leaves us wondering why such a relatively delineated path of social evolution exists at all.
Einstein famously remarked that there are two ways to look at life: one, as though nothing is a miracle; the other, as though everything is a miracle. The answer to our question about humanity’s progression seems to fall into one of those two categories.
First, as though nothing is a miracle. Like any living system, humanity has always been challenged to increase its adaptability in the face of increasing population and the resultant increase in complexity. As a living system expands, it experiences increasingly numerous and diverse encounters with external context. In other words, the bigger it gets, the longer its border gets and the more it touches. As a result, the living system must constantly increase its level of adaptability in order to survive these new encounters, which invariably introduce challenges to the status quo (as is the nature of open, living systems). Humanity has done this by successively increasing our capabilities to converge, relate, diverge and integrate. Within this view, these four capabilities are merely an expanded version of Darwin’s survival of the fittest. And we are merely reactive survivors.
Second, as though everything is a miracle. There are an increasing number of scientists and philosophers who attribute an “evolutionary urge” to life. For them, life’s will is to create ever greater forms of transcendence. And the evolution of humanity is another point of evidence for this view. Not satisfied with the pace and output of genetic evolution, life initiated another method: cultural evolution. With this perspective, we have the opportunity to be active participants in a grand creative adventure.
Choose whichever perspective you like and bring it along as we embark on a rapid journey through human social evolution. There are many critical lessons for our times along the way.
The Era of Convergence
In the Hunter/Gatherer era, convergence was the name of the game. The social context was experienced as an undivided wholeness, with hunter/gatherers viewing themselves as completely enmeshed in the surrounding world, perceiving no clear boundaries between self and other and existing only in present moment awareness and responsiveness. On the basis of this relationship with the world, Erich Neumann notes in The Origins and History of Consciousness that Cro-Magnon humans “mov[ed] through the repetition and routine of a simple, nomadic life, with no distinct sense of self.” This convergent social context remains evident even among modern-day hunter/gatherers. For example, the greeting of an isolated cave-dwelling tribe in Mexico is “We are all one,” and Mayans welcome each other with “I am another yourself.”
Historians and anthropologists call this way of perceiving the world “animism,” which one source defines as “the belief that all of nature is endowed with a pure life essence which holds all things in a symbiotic relationship and a spiritual balance within the universe.” As a result of this worldview, the vast majority of hunter/gatherer cultures exhibit practices to tap into collective consciousness. Gayle __ notes that:
Nearly all animistic cultures are also shamanistic cultures. That is to say, most animistic peoples live in a world that is not only alive and conscious, but also in which all consciousness is connected in a continuous field of living intelligence, rather than being locked inside individual brains as in mechanistic culture; a world in which in which spirits communicate guidance in dreams, in which telepathic closeness does not depend on physical closeness, and in which all our feelings and energies interflow and affect one another.
Collective intelligence researcher and author Jean-Francois Noubel calls hunter/gatherers “the original collective intelligence.” As he explains it, human society in this era was characterized by “the existence of a 'holoptic' space, which allows the participants to access both horizontal knowledge, of what others are doing, and access to vertical knowledge, i.e. about the emerging totality; to have collective intelligence, all participants must have this access, from their particular angle.”
Though these convergent perspectives are generally dismissed as superstitious, naive or uneducated, in fact, the last part of this chapter will show that the hunter/gatherer belief system has much to teach us today, in part because it is still available to us.
The Era of Relationship
As with all living systems, a rich form of relationship and connection was needed to foster greater adaptive and emergent capabilities. Such relationship, it seems, was the focus of the next era of human development, as a new perceptual framework emerged and as people became aware of the cyclical nature of the world and the connections between themselves and their environment.
Between 8,000 and 10,000 years ago, the development of verbal language offered the first evidence of a heightened sense of self in relation to other. You cannot know that you are you – and distinctly, divergently so -- until you are aware of and in relationship with other-than-you. Just as a child develops a sense of self first in relation to surrounding objects and family members, the people of this era gradually developed a sense of self, not in the full sense that we know it, but simply in relationship with other people and things. Thus, in The Global Brain Awakens, Peter Russell asserts that, with the introduction of spoken language, the evolution of our human communities became not solely the Darwinian kind, taking millions of years to emerge. Rather, it became the cultural variety, progressing at the speed of thought and word, unconstrained by genetic dawdling.
On the basis of this important step, Agrarian culture eventually came to be defined by patterns of relationship. Fellowship, emotional bonds, social status, and shared symbols of meaning, rigid customs, and the guidance of spiritual leaders came to be the order of the day. And this new understanding of the world ultimately enabled the development of writing, organized government, architecture, mathematics, and the division of labor – all artifacts of relationship.
Humanity’s nascent sense of self-in-relation also grew to encompass relationship to nature, introducing the idea that people could affect nature by weeding wheat fields to improve their yield, by building fences around crops to keep animals out, by deliberately retaining and planting seeds. In this way, agriculture emerged within a relatively short period of time in four unrelated regions: the Middle East, the Far East, Central America, and the Andean region of South America.
At this point, the concept of the separate individual with personal rights and freedoms did not yet exist. Instead, within the worldview of these civilizations, every person existed only as a member of some group. For example, in his book Freedom in the Making of Western Culture, sociologist Orlando Patterson shows how attitudes about slavery reveal the state of individuality in any era. In Agrarian Era civilizations, slaves were owned collectively and their role was not economic but social; they were kept as a means of strengthening the identity of the ruling community. “Thus, slavery made possible both group definition and group solidarity,” he says. “The antithesis of slavery in these societies was never freedom in the Western sense,” Patterson continues. “Th[e] condition of belonging, of participating, of being protected by the community, constituted the ideal nonslave condition…. Personal freedom had no place in such societies.”
In this way, we see that it isn’t fully helpful to note only that people became agrarians during this era; they did so as a function of their expanded sense of self-in-relationship.
With all its benefits, there were also unforeseen consequences in this new perceptual development. As professor of evolutionary psychiatry Bruce Charlton writes: “…animism continues to feature in people’s beliefs and practices (after all animism remains the spontaneous mode of thought among all people, in all societies)…” But with the shift into a new mode of relating to the world, humans cease to perceive their unity with “the whole significant world, with the consequence that the world is no longer experienced as a whole…. Life becomes divided, and humans alienated.” In moving into relationship consciousness, we lost some of our sense of belonging in the world, and with it some of the meaning in our lives. And our sense of separation and isolation would only worsen in the era that followed.
The Era of Divergence
We first find clear evidence of the view of the individual as separate and distinct roughly three thousand years ago in ancient Greece. Population increase, migration and conquest had long added complexity to civilization, stretching the self-in-relationship view beyond feasibility. In The Unconscious Before Freud, L. L. Whyte writes that during this time period:
...instinct and tradition having proved inadequate, the individual was being compelled to rely for guidance on his own mental processes.... Thus man became self-conscious. The individual became aware of his own thought.
Patterson supports this view, asserting that “a profound change in human thought” took place in ancient Athens, ushering in the concepts of individuality and rationality. On this basis, a complex economy of family farms and urban craftsmen and a democratic political state were created. These changes (along with a large population of slaves) emancipated the majority of people from economic and social dependency on a ruling class. But the starting point was a change in thought.
As a result of this change in worldview, and the social artifacts that accompanied it, we see evidence of increasing individual contribution, giving rise to a modern civilization with incredible advances in technology, language, mathematics, warfare and architecture.
In ancient Rome, this trend continued and intensified, particularly with the rise of Christianity. Patterson reports on Christianity’s role in the rise of the concept of individual freedom as it had never existed before:
[The Romans] refashioned the original religion of Jesus into their own image, making it the first, and only, world religion that placed freedom – spiritual freedom, redemption – at the very center of its theology. In this way, freedom was to be enshrined on the consciousness of all Western peoples; wherever Christianity took root, it garnered converts not only to salvation in Christ but to the ideal of freedom.
With the fall of ancient Greece and Rome, individual divergence regressed for several centuries during the Middle Ages. Though the term “Dark Ages” has fallen out of use among historians, there is much evidence that the times truly were dark for much of the population of Western Europe, largely because of a fallback to a pre-divergence worldview and its accompanying artifacts. For example, centralized political organization, literacy, specialized work, trade and export, and even plumbing were all generally lost.
But during this time, the seeds of individual divergence did not die; they merely lay dormant. With the Renaissance – a term that refers to the rebirth of classical Greek and Roman thought, and the individualism inherent therein -- a new surge of divergence emerged.
In his book, The Origins of European Individualism, historian Aaron Gurevich tracks “the transition from earlier forms of community life, characterized by local, kinship groups and collective identity, towards a changed…society dominated by the cognitive, motivational individual.” Though most historians place the rise of “the self-aware, autonomous European citizen” in the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, Gurevich argues that the origins of the movement can be traced to the 5th and 6th centuries. While this may be true, there is a clear surge in individualism from the 1300s to the 1500s spurred by the advent of printing, the spread of interest in lost ancient Greek thought, the Black Plague (which caused people to lose faith in the relational institution of the Church), and the Reformation, among other things.
In this latter example, the Reformation suggested that individuals could commune directly with God (without the Church as intermediary) and that their personal interpretation of the Bible was the final authority. Indeed, the New Testament itself supported individualist perceptions with its assertion that the individual soul had inherent and indestructible value and that institutions such as the state existed only to support individual welfare.
This religious individualism eventually fueled the flame of political individualism, most notably in the writings of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and later Jean-Jacques Rousseau and other French philosophers of the 18th century. According to Rousseau’s influential Social Contract theory, the state exists to serve the interests of the individuals, and individuals bear it no moral responsibility. The state simply represents the population’s collective agreement to refrain from impinging on each other’s freedoms. This is a sharp break from previous beliefs, in which the individual was thought to exist only as part of the community, with a clear moral obligation to serve society’s interests.
These and similar individualist sentiments caught on and spread like wildfire, eventually driving the Enlightenment, the French and American revolutions, and industrial capitalism. As one historian observes: “The history of Western society since the Enlightenment has been a history of emancipation, as individuals have freed themselves from the constraints imposed by social conventions and traditional roles.”
Such an evolution in worldview can explain an about-face in the West’s view of slavery. In The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture, David Brion Davis explored the challenge of explaining why, “after taking slavery for granted since the beginning of its history, the West, in a remarkably short period of time during the late eighteenth century, redefined slavery as the greatest of evils, a moral and socioeconomic scourge that had to be exterminated.” He shows that the ideological thrust of the anti-slavery movement was the promotion of personal liberty, not emancipation of blacks.
Fast forward to the modern era, and we can see that the wave of divergence continued and, indeed, erupted wholesale with the Civil Rights movement, the Women’s Liberation movement, the sexual revolution, the Gay/Lesbian Liberation Movement, student protests, decolonization, and the free speech movement. Each of these movements questioned conformity and promoted personal expression. And in each, a common thread was evident: “the belief that politics and social institutions must respect (if not enhance) the inviolable dignity of persons (what Martin Luther King called their ‘somebodiness’).”
Intensifying the trend, the structure of the economy itself shifted in the 1990s. Wave after wave of layoffs with severance packages drove people out on their own, spawning even greater divergence. In The New Pioneers: The Men and Women Who Are Transforming the Marketplace, Thomas Petzinger explains:
For every job wiped out at a major company in the mid-1990s, 1.5 jobs sprang up in its place, mostly in small firms. The atomization of industry also stimulated innovation, since it is well established that small firms innovate at roughly twice the rate of large ones. And when the 1990s witnessed the rebirth of American leadership in world markets, it was not the mega-multinationals leading the way. Instead, small and medium-sized businesses accounted for four out of every five new dollars in export sales chalked up in the 1990s. Freed of the bloat, bureaucracy, and other baggage that weigh down their massive counterparts, these smaller businesses have become the avant-garde of the economy and the exemplars of adaptation.
But there is a dark side. High levels of individualism come with high costs. As Geoff Mulgan, author of Connexity: How to Live in a Connected World, points out:
It costs more if everyone travels in a private car and is willing to spend long spells in traffic jams; more if everyone chooses to live alone, or to live in a house large enough to accommodate the children of a previous marriage at weekends; more if people have to protect themselves against the actions of others that in another society might be held in check by mutual moral suasion.
And while current levels of divergence are valuable and even necessary, they are harmful if not integrated into the whole of society. Our increasing social isolation has been well documented. Harvard professor Robert Putnam provides a wealth of telling statistics in his book Bowling Alone. For example:
In 1960, 62.8% of Americans of voting age participated in the presidential election, whereas by 1996, the percentage had slipped to 48.9%.
The number of Americans who attended public meetings of any kind dropped 40% between 1973 and 1994.
According to Putnam, “Our growing social-capital deficit threatens educational performance, safe neighborhoods, equitable tax collection, democratic responsiveness, everyday honesty, and even our health and happiness.”
Along the same lines, the General Social Survey (conducted across the United States in 1985 and 2004) found that the modal respondent in 1985 reported having three confidants (people with whom they discussed important matters); whereas the modal respondent in 2004 reported having no confidant. Such social isolation has been linked with individual health problems, with increasing crime and with a decrease in democracy. Epidemiological studies first identified the link between social isolation and health risks, particularly coronary heart disease, in the 1970s and 1980s. According to the scholarly journal Psychosomatic Medicine: “The magnitude of risk associated with social isolation is comparable with that of cigarette smoking and other major biomedical and psychosocial risk factors.” In another study conducted at Carnegie Mellon University, “first-year college students who mixed with fewer people or felt lonely had a lower immune response to influenza vaccination than their more gregarious or socially contented classmates.” Suicide is now the third leading cause of death among adolescents and young adults and suicide rates are highest in rural (i.e., physically isolated) areas, with Montana leading the nation.
In addition to actual isolation, there is the sense of separateness, with its accompanying diminished sense of obligation to others. The root of the word “civility” means to be "a member of the household." But if we consider ourselves divergent individuals devoid of a convergent whole, then civility goes out the window. "A big part of our incivility crisis," writes Stephen L. Carter in Civility: Manners, Morals and the Etiquette of Democracy, "stems from the sad fact that we do not know each other or even want to try; and, not knowing each other, we seem to think that how we treat each other does not matter."
As a consequence, there has been a documented rise in rude behavior, and it starts early. A poll conducted by the National Association of Secondary School Principals found that 89 percent of grade school teachers and principals reported that they "regularly" face abusive language from students. Christine Pearson, a business management professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill surveyed over 700 workers and found that workplace rudeness is also on the rise. One hundred percent of people surveyed reported that they had been treated disrespectfully by a coworker. A survey of 12,000 Postal Workers found that just under half had been cursed at while on the job (Magruder 2001). In a 2003 survey by the Emily Post Institute, 81 percent of respondents said incivility was on the rise. According to a survey conducted by US News & World Report, 90% of the Americans questioned indicated that they believe incivility is a “serious” problem, with half of these thinking it is “extremely serious.” 78% believe that incivility has risen over the past decade.
And it doesn’t stop at rude language. Aggressive behavior is also rising. A 1997 American Automobile Association report documents a sharp rise in the use of cars as weapons (people trying to hit other people or their property on purpose). Sociology professor Robin Kowalski reports: “Of the 15 school shootings that occurred between 1995 and 2001 in which students were killed or injured by their classmates, all but three involved perpetrators who had been teased, bullied and ostrasized by their classmates” – in other words, treated uncivilly. There is even a new psychological phenomenon known as “desk rage” -- angry or violent behavior in the workplace. And researchers have found a connection between incivility and crime.
To understand how humanity might productively move forward from the current state of affairs, we must first understand that, for the purposes of living systems, divergent is not the same as separate. Life’s pattern is to nurture self-determining individual parts that are able to make a unique contribution to the whole. Within this formula, there is a core need for integration.
In this way, we see that it is not sufficient for any one person in a human community simply to be different or separate. That person’s contribution to the whole must be different, and it must be able to be integrated into the whole. Without such integration, they risk being external to the living whole, which may be why isolation poses so many health risks.
What is more, as levels of divergence reach critical levels, integration must occur or the whole system is put in jeopardy. When individual cells in our bodies diverge without integration, it is known as a tumor. It seems our social context may be approaching just such a diagnosis: many have lost sight of the convergent whole and pursue divergence for its own sake. This is particularly true in business, with its ethos of “constant growth for the sake of growth,” without consideration of how it serves the living whole. If this divergence is not integrated into the whole, then the living system that is society – and ultimately the Earth -- is jeopardized. And there is plenty of evidence of our precarious position in this regard.
Fortunately, there is also evidence that humanity is on the verge of a wave of rich integration.
The Integral Era
As divergence skyrocketed during the previous era, relationship also continued to grow more efficient, more personalized and more expansive. As Pierre Teilhard de Chardin noted in the middle of the last century:
Through the discovery yesterday of the railway, the motor car and the aeroplane, the physical influence of each man, formerly restricted to a few miles, now extends to hundreds of leagues or more. Better still: thanks to the prodigious biological event represented by the discovery of electromagnetic waves, each individual finds himself henceforth (actively and passively) simultaneously present, over land and sea, in every corner of the earth.
More recently, radio, television, and telephone have been joined by computers, email and the Internet, facilitating fast, easy interaction. This trend will only accelerate and intensify, enabling more and more people to connect with each other. As Peter Russell notes in The Global Brain: “The interlinking of humanity that began with the emergence of language has now progressed to the point where information can be transmitted to anyone, anywhere, at the speed of light. Billions of messages continually shuttling back and forth, in an ever-growing web of communication, linking the billions of minds of humanity together into a single system.” It’s a small world, after all.
And at the same time, people everywhere seem to be more and more aware of humanity’s (and life's) vast convergence. Media and travel are helping us become aware of ourselves as Humanity -- a whole, not simply a collection of parts. As we untangle DNA, we find that we’re not only more closely related to each other than we thought – we're also more closely related to other animals (and even plants!) than we imagined. The Gaia hypothesis paints a picture of all life on Earth as one cohesive organism. And we’re increasingly able to sense the impact of our actions on the rest of life, as well as the implications for us in the form of global warming, increasingly violent storms and species extinctions.
So we’ve reached high levels of divergence, high levels of connection and high levels of convergence. The result has been a predictable wave of integration. In recent decades, people, companies and nations gained tremendously in their ability to act on and influence the entire social system. The workforce is now made up of men and women, people of all races and faiths, and people with handicaps and special needs. Virtually all those previously considered minority players now have the opportunity to be active participants in our social and economic system and to bring their unique and valuable contributions to bear.
Twenty years after the social movements of the sixties, the Berlin Wall fell, breaking down an ideological and physical barrier to free-flowing integration of markets and communities. Democracy has spread. Global media and ease of travel steadily strengthened and tightened the web of social and economic connections. Financial markets became more global and interconnected, facilitating interactions between traders, investors and banks. Deregulation of a range of industries opened markets to competition, collaboration and participation by new players. Common markets like the European Union integrated labor and trade. Worldwide, our lifestyles have become more closely tied to global fashion, food and entertainment trends. And nowhere is the living, adaptive self-integrative property of our social context more evident than the Internet.
More to the point, in a 2009 commencement speech at Portland University, environmentalist Paul Hawken observed that, “Humanity is coalescing. It is reconstituting the world, and the action is taking place in schoolrooms, farms, jungles, villages, campuses, companies refugee camps, deserts, fisheries and slums.” The speech draws from Hawken's most recent book, titled: Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came About and Why No One Saw It Coming. The book chronicles the large number of organizations and activities emerging in defense of the environment and social justice, noting that, “[W]e are part of the Earth's immune system each time we exercise our active compassion in the name of social justice and ecological health.”
Likewise, in 2008, Peter Senge and his co-authors offered The Necessary Revolution: How Individuals and Organizations are Working Together to Create a Sustainable World. The book is a collection of “inspiring stories from individuals and organizations tackling social and environmental problems around the globe.” It describes how “ordinary people at every level are...working collaboratively across boundaries” to create a more life-enhancing world.
In a similar vein, several governments around the world have recognized the imperative to integrate individual contribution into the whole:
The Australian Government's Living in Harmony program is “a proactive, non-confrontational initiative dedicated to increasing the already high levels of social cohesion and tolerance of racial, religious and cultural diversity that exist in Australia.” In conjunction, the National Action Plan to Build on Social Cohesion, Harmony and Security focuses on “education, employment, the integration of communities and enhanced national security.”
France has created a Ministry for Employment, Social Cohesion and Housing, as well as a National Agency for Social Cohesion and Equal Opportunities, which focuses on enhancing integration of immigrant populations; counteracting discrimination; reducing illiteracy; and creating a volunteer civil service program.
In 2006, the UK created the Commission on Integration and Cohesion, with the goal of creating “strong, cohesive communities, through equal opportunities, rights and responsibilities among different races, and through the development of a better sense of community cohesion by helping people from different backgrounds to have a stronger sense of 'togetherness.'” As part of this effort, schools have been given an official duty, subject to outside inspection, to promote community cohesion within their direct population and in society in general.
In these ways, our social context reveals that what we’re moving away from is a divergent worldview – a primarily linear and reductionist way of engaging with the world. And what we’re moving toward is an integral perception and ideology – a holistic paradigm that transcends and includes the linear, mechanistic worldview of the outgoing era as well as the relational and convergent worldviews of the previous eras.
As the evidence in this section attests, we're already one foot into the coming era. With each past transition and with this one, there is lengthy and at times turbulent overlap. As we become more aware of the shift that we're participating in, we will be more able to move forward intentionally and quickly to the wiser perspectives that characterize the coming era, so that we may solve our most pressing environmental and social problems in time to avert the unthinkable.