6h. Phase Transition
From Jeremy Lent: “In the very darkness of the times ahead, there is reason for hope that this bleak period will be the harbinger of a transformed society: a new economic and social order based on principles of equity, compassion, and natural flourishing.
The source of this hope emerges from research in complex systems – and more specifically, how phase transitions occur in these systems. While a complex system can remain resilient within a set of parameters for a long time, occasionally it becomes so unstable that it experiences a tipping point: a dramatic shift that transforms the system into something very different.
As we look at the current political situation, many signs suggest that we’re arriving at a new, historic tipping point. The globally dominant neoliberal political-economic system has caused unprecedented wealth and income inequalities, which have destabilized the foundations on which the past seventy years of relative peace and prosperity have been built. The Brexit shock, the rise of neo-fascism in Europe, and the impending cataclysm of Trump’s lawless brutality seem to signal an approaching tipping point. Our global society is most likely about to enter a phase transition, after which it will emerge into a new, stable state.
During a phase transition, a system goes through a chaotic period of shifting power dynamics. In this period, seemingly insignificant actions can have an outsize effect, sometimes dramatically impacting the character of the long-term outcome. When we apply this lesson to the current situation, this becomes a clarion call for citizen action.
There is an enormous power arising from millions of interconnected people striving together towards a shared vision. We already know, within ourselves, what that vision looks like. In contrast to Trump’s intolerance based on a rhetoric of separation, the foundation of a flourishing future is our intrinsic connectedness: within ourselves, with others, and with the natural world.
Pioneers of a flourishing future have already been busily constructing a coherent platform of alternative ideas that can form the framework for a system founded on compassionate values.
We’re just entering the abyss, and no-one can predict how bad it’s going to get. But as we move together into the darkness, along with our anguish and outrage, let us never lose sight of the light that lurks beyond. There will be casualties from this brutality. Few of us are likely to make it through unscathed. But by recognizing the power of our interconnected action, while keeping our gaze focused on the light beyond the horizon, we may well succeed in ultimately directing this tipping point away from collapse, and towards a society of flourishing, compassion, and justice.”
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