Coda: And now…?

Russ Volckmann


Coda can denote any concluding event, summation, or section.”
– From Wikipedia

1. (Music / Classical Music) Music the final, sometimes inessential, part of a musical structure.
2. (Literary & Literary Critical Terms) a concluding part of a literary work, especially a summary at the end of a novel of further developments in the lives of the characters.
– From the

I have been using the CODA section of Integral Leadership Review for years as a place just to talk about or share whatever is significant for me at the time of preparing each issue. Perhaps I should think of it as a 5xyear blog. Sometimes I am sharing other people’s work, sometimes my views on a publication that is only indirectly related to the themes of ILR. Sometimes it may just be a rant on a topic that has captured my attention. In this event, I wish to share a bit of what has been going on for me in relation to world events, challenges, in a way that I hope will not be too awfully sophomoric.

Far from sophomoric is this recent message from Don Beck. For those of you new to this publication, you may not know who Don Beck is. Here are a couple of highlights: Don is the coauthor of Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership and Change; he has been a major force in bringing the developmental spiral to addressing real problems in the world from South Africa to Palestine, Germany, the Netherlands, Iceland, Mexico and elsewhere; his supporters and comrades have been working with meshworks and more basic approaches to effect change in this world of considerable turmoil (you can read some accounts of these activities in Integral Leadership Review). Here is a recent missive from Don:


No matter what language we use, or underlying models we embrace, this is precisely the essence of the [Clare] Graves master code; the adaptive intelligence to the Life Conditions. We call it Functional Flows just to provide it a way of talking about it. The best use of Graves’ in my experience has been to never even mention it. But, to get a shift from What people want or are capable of doing to What needs to be done is major. I am trying to get the so-called Evolutionary Leaders to think and plan in those flows but it is a difficult undertaking. The 7th Code is what it is BECAUSE of problems G; and the 8th Code because of problems H. All this talk of third tier is basically aspiration (most  often 5th or 6th Code) nonsense. Time to come down to earth. We are back/forward to survival again; but this time in the global village. Many who speak/write of the “global commons” MUST  be sure they are dealing with the pockets, sink holes, and undertows with the full assortment of Memetic Codes. The 7th Code has a lot to clean up and deal with before collectivism of Turquoise can ascend. Too many in the ‘Integral” world try to jump over this reality and they are in for a huge surprise. “Nature” will constantly remind us of this reality, unfortunately in the presence of Iran, North Korea, and Washington DC.

– Don

I am sharing this email by Don Beck from the SDi listserv without permission. I apologize to Don if by doing so I am violating any expectations or norms. Nevertheless, Don sets the tone for addressing some of the things that concern me and my relationship with the world; these reflect my own level of adaptive intelligence to Life Conditions. In order to explore this further, there are the following aspects to address here:

1.      What is it that I am aware of in “Life Conditions,”

2.      How do I assess my own adaptive intelligence, and

3.      What are the implications of these for action?

To begin with, I am probably older than almost everyone reading this. That is important because I believe that it impacts my worldview, my values, my sense of time in relation to life conditions, and my priorities. Second, I probably have more years of formal education than almost everyone reading this. I do not claim that this makes me any smarter and not even wiser, but it is a fact that may have implications for all that follows. In retrospect, I am disappointed that I did not leverage those years better for my own development and learning, much less making a meaningful, generative difference in the lives of others and the planet—maybe there is still a little time. I have read a lot and there is so much more I haven’t read. The more I have learned the less I feel that I know. Cliché? Perhaps. But it is more likely that I haven’t integrated much of what I have read or that I was reading things that didn’t help. Third, I have probably visited more places in the world than most everyone reading this—although I am less confident of that claim. It is relevant, however, in that I have seen Life Conditions in many parts of the world and had the opportunity to adapt to them one way or another; adaptation is not a novelty to me.

Much of what I see in Life Conditions these days is depressing to someone like me who—despite all the negativity I have encountered directly or indirectly in life, despite the sense of history that has been growing in me as I age—is committed to using at least some of my energy and efforts to foster a more generative and benevolent life on this planet. There! I said it in all of its Pollyannaish glory! Green, green—shadows of the New Christy Minstrels—I want to go to the far side of the hill where the grass is greener still!

Jeannie and I were having a conversation over a wonderful lunch of samosas sabji curry, basmati rice and parathas the other day. I began talking about feeling confused. We see so many things that are going wrong in the world, economically, politically—war, disease, poverty. Even more so, in the United States we see a political process and a political structure that seems dysfunctional in terms of that “green green” aspiration of mine. I was trying to sort through what is the proper response to the increasing “power over” the people that is manifesting in politics supported by the media and those poor, misguided folks who are supporting big business and the oppression of all but the wealthy. Oversimplification? Of course. But the dilemma was still there: how do I use my energy and resources to respond to what I am increasingly seeing as dangerous and oppressive life conditions?

That afternoon, I received notification of the TEDx video (seemed self-produced before a small audience and not like most of the TEDx productions I have been used to seeing) that included a slightly edited presentation by Annie McQuade and Erica Ilves. Under the heading of “Mainstreaming Integral Applications” was the statement:

Source Integral—our boutique management consulting firm, co-founded by Ken Wilber, Erika Ilves, and Annie McQuade back in 2008, won a 2010 M-Prize, the World’s first Management Innovation Prize.

The Management Innovation eXchange (The MIX), in partnership with McKinsey & Company, London Business School, and Dell, launched the M-Prize to help reinvent management for the 21st century. To judge the submissions, they enlisted seasoned CEOs and thought leaders such as Bill George (Former CEO of Medtronic, & Professor of Management, Harvard Business School), Terri Kelly (CEO of W.L. Gore & Associates), Tom Malone (MIT, Sloan School of Management), John Mackey (CEO, Whole Foods), and Gary Hamel (London Business School).


As the MIX team sees it, the central management challenge is to move from “command and control” to Web 2.0 enabled “nudge and cajole.” If you are the CEO of a knowledge-intensive company in the developed world that could very well be the central developmental challenge that keeps you up at night.

Big names, big institutions and a prize. Well, congratulations to Annie, Erika, Ken and the crew that made this possible. And please, do not take any of the comments in what follows as trying to diminish the value of what you have accomplished.

I found myself wondering, “Is this the kind of application that is important for integral, developmental, and generative approaches to addressing the challenges we face in the world?” Just asking myself that soured the experience a bit. But I continued on to view the “TEDx” video. There I found something very interesting: Annie and Erika’s analysis of the forces that are in tension in the world today.

In the video, they present nine orientations (that they identified) to what is happening in the world in their ProjectPlanet, Inc.

1. Economics: “It’s the economy stupid,” represented by Obama and Wen Jiabow, the premier of China.

2. Ecology: “Hot, flat and crowded [the earth],” represented by Al Gore, Richard Bramson and others.

3.  Technology: “No, it’s the technology, stupid,” represented by Ray Kurzweil and John Chambers.

4.  Poverty: “Have nots,” represented by Ban Ki-moon and Mohammad Yunus.

5.  Disasters: “When it hits the fan,” represented by Angelina Jolie and Valerie Amos of the UN.

6.  Security: “Insecurity [weapons of mass destruction, smaller and cheaper],” represented by Mohammed el Baradei, formerly of the nuclear control commission.

7.  Harmony: “If we could all just get along,” represented by the agents of love and reason, Karen Armstrong and Sam Harris, respectively.

8.  Global governance: “Got Governance?” represented by Klaus Schwab and Gordon Brown.

9.  The Bigger Picture (the Universe): “The Truth,” represented by various astronomers and physicists.

To make this more complete, I would add one more:

10.  The Individual: “Raise consciousness (integrally) and change the world,” represented by many in the broader integral and related communities.

Each of these “tribes” is doing different things. We cannot choose one of these. “Where are we headed as a human race?” they ask. They turn to Buckminster Fuller for the idea of an evolutionary strategy. This leads them to propose a project management approach to addressing all of these challenges. They propose project teams for each issue needing to be addressed and are publishing a book about this in March.

Does this excite you? Well, it does me, too. And then I think of my green, green proclivities and sink into a bit of hopelessness as I see the “power-over” structures and energy that predominate in the United States and almost all of the rest of the world as barriers to meaningful progress.

One commenter responded, “Money property system is ROOT of ALL problems, it creates/exploits scarcity, never creates enough jobs, allows people on top to control everyone/thing

1. people need food, water, energy, etc.

2. sharing all resources and knowledge allows maximum cooperative efficiency.

3. creating an abundance of all our needs makes money, gov, crime obsolete.

4. automating the production distribution, frees up humanity to no longer be wage slaves to governments or corporations.”

And this is the place where I go, or something like it. I look at the green, green energies of Obama and recall all of the hope his campaign generated. I am disillusioned. Jeannie would probably have said, “I told you so!” But she is too smart to say something like that, even if she thought it. In fact, her analyses of many of our chilling situations is grounded in a deep understanding of history, as though we are condemned to repeat it, whether we remember it or not.

I do have respect for the Becks and Ilves and McQuades of the world, as well as for many of those in the nine (or ten) tribes who don’t want us to give up in despair. I hope they keep on trying to address the issues. And I suspect that the only way they are going to be successful before ecological challenges reduce the world’s human population by 80% or more is if there is a fundamental change in the capacity of those with “power over” and a growth of capacity of those who have “power with” the world’s population.

I don’t want to believe those who think it is already too late. And there is a part of me that thinks it is. I cannot follow in the footsteps to those who fall back on “faith” or the spiritual aspects of their existence to find meaning in their lives in the face of the huge challenges and almost certain disasters that we, our children, and grandchildren will face.

As for the world economy, there are lots of issues. One that concerns me more than any other involves the concentration of wealth in the control of a few people. US Senator (Vermont, independent—neither Democrat or Republican) Bernie Sanders gave a speech on the floor of the Senate broadcast on CSpan—in which he cited some appalling statistics. He went on to speak for many hours on the floor of the Senate in an effort to call attention to the implications of the huge tax giveaway to the wealthy recently passed into law with Obama’s signature. He maintains that it includes a major strategic victory for the Republicans in that it is a vital first step to privatizing Social Security by funding it for two years from the general fund.

So what can we do? I hope Jeannie will continue her organic gardening. We will provide most of the produce from our five citrus trees to those in poverty and need. We will continue to nurture Integral Leadership Review and Integral Publishers, LLC in the hopes that our growing audience will find value added among those we publish. It is more and more frequently satisfying to engage in these activities, but it leaves me wondering how can and should we address the oppression of those with “power over,” the economic elite who oppress us in the name of their own wealth and dominance. I fear the only answer may be violent or nonviolent revolution. Standing in front of the tank, boycotting the banks and the industries, and other such symbolic acts. Maybe, if we could become spiral wizards and begin addressing the challenges in each of our countries, that would help. I want to believe that something like that can work, whether green-green or yellow-yellow, or whatever.

Peter Merry may be onto something (reproduced here without permission): Wednesday, December 1, 2010

“Time to Call Our Bluff: An invitation to withdraw our consent from current economic leadership and do what needs to be done”

by Peter Merry

“bluff, to deceive or seek to deceive by concealment of weakness or show of self-confidence or threats (orig. in poker to conceal poor cards). – call someone’s bluff to expose or challenge someone’s bluff (Chambers Concise Dictionary)

“’Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts upon the unthinking.’

J.M. Keynes

“The news is filled with stories of nations on the edge of economic collapse, going with a begging bowl to the financial markets, European Union, and the International Monetary Fund for billions of dollars of ‘rescue package.’ Should the markets or institutions be gracious enough to lend them the money (which must be repaid with significant interest), the countries must introduce a package of “austerity measures” to get their economy ‘back on track.’ To please the High Lords of the global economy, funding is cut to public services, people are made unemployed, and subsidies for the environment and international development are slashed—all in the name of ‘getting our economy back on track.’

“But what are we actually talking about here? Do we need to go along lemming-like with the commands of the current economic priesthood? Or could we start questioning the consensus reality, testing its integrity and authenticity, seeing if the emperor really has any clothes?

“Although it may seem and feel like an unthinkable course, it is my belief that if we did choose to withdraw our consent and asked ourselves what we really needed, the world would not fall apart around us, our lifestyles would not plummet to the depths of a depression. The good people of Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and others “in need” would know exactly what they needed to do to ensure that their societies functioned well, people who needed care were cared for, the natural environment on which we depend was looked after properly, and that what we really needed to provide in terms of goods and services was provided in a way that nurtured people and planet. We have abdicated our responsibility for the running of our household (economy from the Greek oikos, a house and nomos, a law) to people educated in abstract mathematical models that have become increasingly detached from the realities of people’s lives. It is time to reclaim that responsibility and break the consensus trance.


“Imagine what would happen if instead of going along blindly with the demands of our outdated agreements and concepts of how we should run our households, communities and countries, our leaders were simply to refuse. The people and governments of Ireland, Portugal, Spain and others simply said “No. We don’t want your money and we don’t want your conditions.” Before we go any further, just feel for yourself what that would feel like…When I imagine that, I feel tension first, but then an enormous relaxation and sense of groundedness in my body.

[In 1999, the people of Bolivia did say, ‘No, no more’ to their government’s capitulation to the World Bank’s demand to give control of the public water system to corporate giant Bechtel. Bechtel’s monopoly position over the most basic of human necessities allowed this corporate entity to raise rates with impunity (by as much as 200 percent), far beyond what families in South America’s poorest country could afford. The government, more obedient to corporate demands than the needs of the people they served, created legislation that required people to obtain a permit to collect rainwater, effectively criminalizing the collection of the rain that fell freely from the sky. The people demanded that Bechtel lower the rates, but when the company refused the people took to the streets against this outrage. The government enforcers of corporate interest, the Bolivian army, battled the protesters over the five months of the demonstrations. Hundreds were arrested, many injured and maimed, and then a seventeen year-old boy was shot and killed. After this incident, the soldiers themselves finally said ” No.” “No more” to fighting their own countrymen for the sake of corporate profits and refused to leave their barracks.  The “No” of the people managed to defeat Bechtel and the government, breaching the contract, and changed the law.  What’s changed since? Not much, really. Bechtel has moved on to other water management “opportunities” in South America. They sued Bolivia for breaching their contract, but subsequently withdrew their lawsuit. The Bolivian “water warriors” now operates the water system as “a human right, not as a commodity. But without new investment, they have been unable to improve or expand service. Neither the government, nor the World Bank appears willing to help them” (—Jeannie and Russ]

“So here we are. We stand in our own power. We have a current situation that by the old paradigm looks like our economy and country are going down the plughole. But what if we were to refuse to judge the beauty of our society, culture and people any more by those criteria? What if we were to look at the real value of the contributions people make in their daily activities, the value that our creativity, dedication and innovation adds to people’s well-being and our planet’s vitality? What if we were to decide to stop doing stuff that clearly is not aligned with the best of who we are and to start doing things that are truly meaningful and gainful for the demands of our times?

“Would this mean the end of our civilization? Would this mean world war? Would this mean Armageddon? Of course not! It would simply mean that we simply do what needs to be done, regardless of the economic rules that most of our current leadership say we should follow (simply because they see no other option). In fact, it is my belief that it is precisely the continued enforcement of our outdated beliefs about economics and society that will plunge us into greater darkness and despair.  We just need to accept that times have changed, the solutions and models we created to solve problems of the past don’t work any more, we need to let them go, look again at who we are, and start to re-organize.

“One Step at a Time

“So, I hear voices crying, where is the big plan? If we don’t have a big plan of how to organize everything differently, how can we let go of the old? Well, maybe we don’t need a big plan. Maybe we just need to continually connect to reality as it is in the present moment, take decisions that seem workable for the current reality, address new tensions one at a time as they arise, and dynamically steer our way into the future.

“In fact, if you study the science of non-linear transitions (and we happen to be in one right now), there is no other way to do it. From the old paradigm that we are still immersed in, even as we sense its demise in every cell of our being, we simply cannot see the future that will emerge out of this transition. The best we can do is stay as close to present reality as possible, keep sensing into the general direction we want to go, listen deeply to what resonates and what creates tension, act to the best of our ability, prototype and learn, while letting go of any attachment to preconceived outcomes.

“These unstable yet hugely fertile times require a very different approach to organization and leadership. Do we know how to do this? Yes, small organizations and civil society initiatives have been experimenting with this for years. As is the nature of these kind of transitions, we now need to look to the fringes, where people have broken free of the old consensus reality, find the things that are working, experiment with them ourselves and keep learning – step by small step.

“It is much simpler that we think. Our highly intellectual civilization has created complex models around the basic realities of exchanging value, rooted in ways of seeing the world that believe in a reality of strident individualism, a world made up of lots of separate parts and an over-glorification of the mind and the measurable, at the expense of the heart and the immeasurable. Yet biologists and physicists increasingly describe a reality of interconnectedness, collaboration, and mutual care.

“Let us let go of all the models and theories that we hold of how people should be organized, look closely at ourselves and those around us, ask ourselves what really needs to be done, and start, one step at a time, to re-organize ourselves in a way that honors the best of what it is to be human, that assumes a fundamental interconnectedness with the rest of life around us and that releases that mysterious spirit inside us we call Life. Can we do it? Of course, it is simply who we are.”

Peter Merry is founder and Chair of the Center for Human Emergence (Netherlands) –, and Director of the new Hague Center for Global Governance, Innovation and Emergence. He is a founding partner of Engage!, a fellow of the Centre for Human Ecology and a member of the faculty of Wisdom University Europe.

Maybe this approach is a good example of what #10 above is all about. And I agree with Peter. This is an important ingredient if there is to be any hope. But I know Peter is not stopping there. He is very active in both government and private industry making a difference in the Netherlands that folks are paying attention to in other parts of the world.

Here are some responses to Peter’s blog ( again without permission):

“John Bunzl:…it’s “a mistake to underestimate the willingness of those who have enjoyed its benefits and those who aspire to having them, to repair it and to “save the life they know””. Our leaders, in other words, aren’t going to reject the current orthodoxy unless the people find a way of making them.

“The problem in a sense is that the heart of the “economic body of humanity”—the money system which pumps blood to all parts of the body—has been very substantially taken over by a parasite (which is the creation of new money/credit by the private banks at interest). The dilemma is that if you kill the parasite, you stop the heart, so killing the body. So it’s not surprising no government is willing to do that (whether they’re aware of the parasite or not). Instead, they prop up the parasite!

“But Peter’s right, I think, to suggest that we need to take responsibility and realise the fact of our own power. But whether that can be done without any larger plan, I rather doubt it.  As John Stewart and other evolutionists, we’re now at a stage in our evolution when, to progress, it now needs our active, conscious participation.

Best wishes


‘Hello Dear John, Ed, Albert,

‘I loved Peter’s blog—but then, I love Peter! John, as I was reading your “doubt that it can be done without any larger plan”, I was prompted by my ‘invisible family’ (that delights these days in looking over my shoulder at my virtual conversations) to shut up and take dictation—they have something to say:

‘It is true that evolution needs the active, conscious participation of as many awake humans as possible. But more important than a plan detailing what should be done (which will inevitably lead to disagreement and endless argument and conflict), is the need to clarify intention—and particularly to learn to align behind a collectively clarified and articulated intention.


‘At the birth of a new era—such is the threshold on which you stand, with all the old systems and certainties crumbling around you—what is called for is not consensus but dissensus. There is a need for experimentation and prodigal divergence and diversity of action. There is a need to engage with conditions on the ground, with freedom to dynamically steer as life conditions dictate, but in accordance with certain clear principles that ensure diverse action is taken for the sake of the health of the whole. This is the perspective that must be championed now.


‘Each and every human being is a fully-fledged part of the kosmos. When you open your minds, your hearts and your wills in service of the whole, there is no need for a master plan in order to manifest what is next for humanity and this planet. The kosmic order will take care of that. Your job is to learn to collectively align your intent and act in ways that favour the awakening of your fellows, the opening of ever more minds, hearts and wills. Peter named the process well: “Maybe we just need to continually connect to reality as it is in the present moment, take decisions that seem workable for the current reality, address new tensions one at a time as they arise, and dynamically steer our way into the future.

‘Do not be concerned with ‘the others’ who seem unwilling or unable to follow. There is no need to wait for them. Withdraw your consent from that which does not serve the whole, and focus on the process of opening your own mind, heart and will, and on contributing to the collective alignment that can facilitate the shift.’

“I must admit (this is me talking again now), I spend my professional life watching an organisation with money and power utterly failing to implement its grand plans, because the whole is too complex to be managed or controlled by the parts. That strikes me as being part of the Newtonian world view, whereas now we are starting to intuit that quantum reality is a lot weirder and more magical than we could suspect, and intention operates at a much higher order than the kind of engineering diagrams we adopt to steer our societies and economies forwards in line with our mammalian desires for comfort and safety.

“So I agree that Peter is pointing to a very promising macro-strategy, and I, for one, am having more fun and fulfillment (not to mention learning) in experimenting than in either following another’s plan or trying to persuade others to follow mine.

“Lots of love to all you lovelies


This is the approach, again, that each of us focus on our own development and leverage that to make a difference in the world. It reminds me of the early 1970s when so many, discouraged with the brutalization by those with “power over” of those who opposed the racisim, the war in Viet Nam and the ever growing rise of the military-industrial complex. Remember Eisenhower’s speech in which he warns of the danger of that military-industrial complex? Note this report on Eisenhower’s farewell address:

“Eisenhower’s farewell speech has wise words on split government and militarism” By Walter Pincus

Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 13, 2010; 7:13 PM


“While the lecture on split government faded, Eisenhower’s concerns about militarism grew stronger in the speech. Those details are even more pertinent for today. In reviewing the several drafts, it appears that only one strong sentence was dropped. It was in an Oct. 31, 1960, memo by Ralph E. Williams, a White House speechwriter. He wrote it after receiving “guidelines” from Moos.


“Williams wrote that not only had a “permanent war-based industry” developed, but “flag and general officers retiring at an early age take positions in [the] war-based industrial complex shaping its decisions and guiding the direction of its tremendous thrust…We must be very careful to insure that the ‘merchants of death’ do not come to dictate national policy.”


“Though that section is gone, the final speech does contain more than the phrase “military-industrial complex.”


“Speaking of the threat from the Soviet Union and communism, Eisenhower used terms that still have resonance. ‘We face a hostile ideology—global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method…Unhappily the danger it poses promises to be of indefinite duration.’


“Eisenhower pointed out the ‘conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry’ creates an influence that is ‘economic, political, even spiritual.’ He said there would be continuing crises, foreign and domestic, but warned against ‘a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties.’


Instead, he laid out the need to weigh proposals that are worth full consideration today—and to seek balance: ‘Balance in and among national programs—balance between the private and the public economy, balance between cost and hoped for advantage—balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future.”

These words were offered in 1961. That was the year I began as a graduate student at Berkeley. And that was the continuation of an era of protest against racism in all of its forms, and the extension of that into protests for free speech, against the war in Viet Nam, against the repression by those with “power over.”

Alternatives in recent years have focused on different segments of our lives, such as economics. You might be interested in an interview with Larry Harsell on integral economics at For him, integral economics is access to the market—everyone has access who wants to participate. This leverages free enterprise and entrepreneurship is closely related to the microeconomics of Mohammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank activities that have grown around the world. He seems to think that this approach offers hope. It certainly does, for one impoverished individual at a time. Multiplied by thousands around the world.

It is people like these who are in the world actively making a difference that offers some hope. Another is Barrett Brown and the work he is doing on an international level integrating the perspectives and activities of stakeholders in commodities in support of sustainability through win-win-win strategies, including breeding more integral leadership among stakeholders and consultants.

Speaking of private industry, a variation on # 10 identifies institutions like business schools for failing to instill in students an ethic that would prevent the devastation on so many fronts—economic, political, social and ecological—directly related to the activities of individuals and groups in business. Daniel O’Connor recently posted a blog entitled,

“The Dismal Science of Business Ethics”

He cites an article in The Economist by Sumantra Ghoshal, “Bad for Business?” in which he suggests that the business schools have failed to incorporate an ethical approach based on the social sciences while relying more on mathematical models.

The Economist responded:

  1. It is not the fault of business schools that the other social sciences have failed to provide them with theories and practices that are superior to those being provided by economics.
  2. It is not the fault of business schools if their graduates are not fit for ethical business leadership because MBA programs are designed to develop technical managers, not ethical leaders.

Such are the petty blame games we are tempted to indulge in, including me (see the comments above and more to come).

It is remarkable to me that everywhere I turn these days it seems that people are trying to make sense of  the impending disasters and the recurring disasters in the world and that we have at least ten schools of thought on how to address and prevent them. We continue down the integral/transdisciplinary path because it recognizes that all ten of these arenas are parts of a larger integrally related system and that focusing on one may or not be helpful without attention to the others. I wonder if it is just too much. Do we have the capacity to make a significant difference in the face of such overwhelming complexity? At the very least, we should know and understand, by now, that our paths do not involve just one of Project Planet’s arenas as Ilves and McQuade suggest. It is the whole. Project management is an inexact very human approach to managing change and development. It has been used to create developmental “miracles”—that is, phenomenal performance— and it has often failed. Note that in training project managers in software development projects they are often encouraged to add 50% more time to their schedule estimates to avoid over commitment to delivery dates. And often the projects are still late. Schedule is not the only variable. So is cost. So is quality. And they are all connected. Just like the arenas of interventions to make a difference in the face of the crises facing the world, they are all interconnected.

Simplistic interpretations of events such as the dynamics of the Renaissance as offering “solutions” to our problems works for the sake of formulating slogans and even inspiring hope—for a while—but it is not enough. The reality is that all of the factors that have brought us to the brink are still present. All nine (ten) arenas and approaches to solutions are still active. For it is our failures and foresight, our selfishness and our compassion, our individual and collective strengths and frailties, the laws of physics and the pursuit of fractious faith that have brought us here.

We witness individuals learning and developing (both). We see the successes and contributions of many people on every continent, the pages of Integral Leadership Review are replete with them. As Jeannie and I have talked about our own work, our purpose and our mission, our strategies and objectives, I have felt that our path is mainly to work toward a growing consciousness and awareness, our own and that of others. And that still leaves the question of action. Our action is mainly writing and publishing. It is a strategy that offers some hope. But we are both concerned that we are not sufficiently involved in action that involves the collective more than just with the power of words.

Do I return to the spirit of the 60s and celebrate the spirit of satyagraha on the streets of my community? Do I participate in leaving caches of water in the dessert on the paths of illegal immigrants from Mexico, many of whom die in their desperate attempts at survival for them and their families? Do I confront the military-industrial complex, even after witnessing so many examples of how it draws on government to repress those who oppose it? Do I work within the political system to change the imperialism of American foreign policy that ignores alternatives to war for dealing with those who turn to violence in their desperation or their aspiration?

I must confess to having thoughts of putting what is left of this life of mine on the line, directly in front of the guns, batons, oppressive sanctions—another martyr? And still I continue, writing far too long tirades such as this, encouraging others to take action, reaching out to like-minded folks in the world—and beyond this, taking no significant action other than growing more of our food, shopping for local organic produce, becoming vegan in order to reduce the oppression and suffering of billions of animals, minimizing the use of carbon-based energy, buying green, taking my bank accounts away from the large banks and banking locally—shopping for a bank with leaders who are not supporters of the military-industrial complex, meditating, individual actions that, if taken with others, might make a difference. But the doubt remains. Is it enough? Not likely.

One of the reasons why this is even more of a complex issue than even all of the many factors and arenas already pointed to in this article is represented by a set of interviews Amy Goodman did with Dr. Gabor Maté of Canada. In these interviews Dr. Maté discusses the early life conditions, many of which are the result of public policy and the focus on DNA, that lead to ADD and related phenomena, as well as addictive behavior. Many of these conditions are the result of stresses of life conditions, including abuse and neglect. Examples of the latter include the withdrawal of healthy family conditions of support for early development by requirements for low income and other mothers to return to work within weeks of the birth of the child. Growth in the numbers of children being medicated for ADD is but one symptom.

It is analyses such as Dr. Maté’s that should remind us that attending to the crises in the world today goes a lot further even than fixing economies or individual access to the market. And the solutions regarding health, education, family life aren’t even addressed in most of the strategies to focus on the larger issues.

For now, Jeannie and I feel compelled to follow our hearts and minds to focus on what Sam Harris writes about well-being as a guide to being clear about good and bad. Our morality is based on how what we do contributes to or detracts from the well-being of ourselves, each other and others. It isn’t enough. Yet. And we aren’t sure about what’s next.

So, I ask you, “And now…?”

—Russ Volckmann with Jeannie Carlisle Volckmann