Barbara Marx Hubbard
The following is from the new book Birth 2012 and Beyond: Humanity’s Great Shift Toward the Age of Conscious Evolution, available from Shift books.
We are learning to become cocreators of the Shift through a variety of processes and practices, personally and in small core groups. But we still face the larger question: Will humanity be able to act in time to tip the scales in favor of a positive future at the global level, given the rapid escalation of problems that threaten our survival?
Ironically, as planetary conditions become more chaotic, the prospects for positive change actually become better. Evolution is able to adapt by repatterning itself quickly during times of extreme instability. And it is here that we can find a scientific basis for our potential to “cross the gap.”
At each crossroads in biological evolution, the immediate crisis of survival faced by a species or an ecosystem is what drives its processes of adaptation. Indeed, the threats we currently face are catalyzing millions of us to engage in personal transformative processes. These practices are a crucial part of the urgent work of the re-patterning of human society. But they are just a prelude to the path of social transformation that we will examine in this chapter. Crucial innovations in all sectors of society, plus a variety of new methods of social synergy, will soon reveal a powerful collective path of repatterning.
In order to deepen our understanding of such a profound evolutionary process, let us return to the basic science — which in part arises from the application of complexity theory to biology — and ask this question: How does nature’s capacity to take unexpected “quantum jumps” apply to us in our current situation?
How a Living System Cooperates in Its Own Self-Transcendence
I had been searching for years to find the missing link that could help us get across the gap, when I discovered a vital clue in the New York Times in 1977. It was a story about the chemist and Nobel Prize-winner, Ilya Prigogine (pronounced prig-a-gene). He had discovered the process whereby life evolves into more complex systems even in the face of the second law of thermodynamics, which states that in a closed system energy inevitably increases in entropy or disorder. Based on this “fatal” law, scientists predicted that the universe would inevitably end in a “heat death” — the degradation of all energy in the universe to a state of inert uniformity. This law formed the scientific basis of much of modern pessimism.
How, then, in the face of this inevitable tendency for the universe to increase in disorder, has more complex order increased for billions of years? What are the mechanisms whereby higher order is achieved in nature? And how might we learn from this process to facilitate our own leap to higher order?