Book Reviews - A blueprint for the New Age
by Suma Varughese
Global Shift in the World Mind - From Global Breakdown to Global Breakthrough; Author: Ervin Laszlo; Published by: Jaico; Pages: 184; Rs. 225
Here is a wonderful book that puts down on paper what most of us dimly discern or dream about. In no uncertain terms, Ervin Laszlow, who has twice been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, states our present dilemma: global breakdown or breakthrough. However, this is a hopeful book that gives as much, if not more, weightage to the possibility of what he calls a bifurcation – which he defines as a rapid, previously undefined change – overcoming our world and navigating a new way of life.
Although he does not play down the very real possibility of planetary dissolution because of our present unsustainable lifestyle and worldview, the real energy of this book derives from his carefully thought-out ideas on how we can use the present circumstances to polevault to a higher level of consciousness.
Some of his ideas, spawned from a holistic, spiritual perspective, on how to achieve a more harmonious, co-operative and peaceful world are thought-provoking. They include the possibility that the terrorist, climatic and other crises may provoke more and more citizens to band together to collectively bring about change, thereby setting conditions for the election of like-minded political leaders. Business leaders will begin to correlate profit with social and ecological responsibility. Other ideas include the formation of an electronic e-Parliament to provide a forum to debate on the best way to serve the common good, money reassigned from military funds towards practical ways to resolve conflicts, the creation of a voluntarily self-regulating eco-social market economy, and starting a worldwide renewable energy programme.
Laszlow also reflects on Intensive Growth as opposed to Extensive Growth. The present culture, he notes, is based on extensive growth, whose ends can be defined by the three C’s of conquest, colonisation and consumption. A better way, he says, is to focus on intensive growth of communities and individuals. The ends of intensive growth too, can be summed up by three C’s: connection, communication and consciousness.
I was particularly taken up by one more of his observations: that there are more change agents in the world than we think. Referring to the section of US population called the Cultural Creatives who embrace alternative ways of living, he says, “Cultural Creatives underestimate their own numbers. Many of them believe that they are no more than 5 per cent, or at most 10 per cent of the US adult population – far from their estimated 24 per cent or 28 per cent share.”
This to me is a source of real hope. If people like us are really growing at such a rapid pace, then the world may yet be saved from apocalypse. The hundredth monkey phenomenon seems reassuringly close.
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