We face unprecedented challenges in the world today. The future of humanity will likely be determined by our responses to these complex issues. Unfortunately, our efforts to confront these challenges too often end in limited success at best. Consequently, people increasingly ask, “Are we going in the right direction?” A more promising question is: “What is the direction in which we should be going?”
We answer this latter question most comprehensively and productively by taking an evolutionary perspective. Over thirteen billion years ago, the Big Bang suddenly transformed the potential of all into manifest energy, information, and matter that began the processes of evolution. As human beings we appeared on the scene in this metaphorical “evolutionary movie” about 200,000 years ago.
In these early years we faced an either/or choice to fit in or perish. Since we demonstrated extraordinary potentials for survival, creativity, and growth, we progressively acted in larger roles in life until we eventually emerged as the dominant player in this movie. As our innovative nature led to more success, we soon graduated from participating as mere players to acting increasingly like directors of the process. In this transition of our roles, the movie shifted from its inherent evolutionary script to appear more like a human script. We became the stars of the show. The story became about us and our survival, desires, and growth.
Presently, we act not only as players and increasingly as directors in the movie, but also have taken the role of producer. For instance, we have developed the capabilities to manipulate genes that have historically served as the evolutionary bridge for life-forms to continue playing their unique roles in the world. In addition, we have garnered the ability to transfer millions of years of carbon stored safely underground and released these fossil fuel deposits, especially in the last seven decades, into the atmosphere, thereby unintentionally modifying the climate of the planet. We have also learned to create technologies and introduce changes into the world to serve our special-interests and short-term goals but have largely failed to notice the long-term consequences of these changes for ourselves, the other players, as well as for the evolutionary story itself.
If we intend to continue to survive and thrive, we must once again learn to fit into the larger processes of evolution upon which our lives depend. We need to develop the skills to perceive from an evolutionary perspective, rather than simply from our personal and societal perspectives. Similarly, we need to develop the awareness, as well as the humility, to live in harmony with all that exists. This movie developed and evolved based on the participation and contributions of all the players—from subatomic particles to bacteria, from jellyfish to people. All the participants play important roles, although often unrecognized by humans, as they weave the web of life into a global functioning whole. Accordingly, we need to awaken to the reality that the movie belongs to all the players, and reciprocally, all the players belong to the movie. All serve important functions, or they would have already dropped out or been retired from the scene.
At this time, a profound leap from our normal human perspective to an evolutionary perspective is required. From this universal viewpoint, we can learn to play, direct, and produce for the benefit of all the players and the whole of reality. We become conscious co-creators who responsibly live in service to all the players and the interconnected whole. We can no longer afford our self-centered approach that primarily cares for our personal, group, and human needs. Our future depends upon the evolution of our consciousness, so we perceive, understand, and step into stewardship to protect and nurture the needs of all the players and the planet. In this way, we learn to respect and work in partnerships with all on our shared journey that, ultimately, enable us to live. We realize that our best interests are inextricably grounded in the best interests of others, the planet, and evolution as a whole.
To meet this challenge, we need to develop a vision for the future that honors the ongoing flow of this remarkable evolutionary process, while also embracing the fundamental need for both the world and humanity to coexist. Since all the players have to function in a healthy manner to perform their roles proficiently, we need to conceptualize health comprehensively to include and promote the well-being of all. Furthermore, since evolution proceeds in creative, ever-changing ways that we only partially understand and predict, we need a precautionary approach to protect the players and their relationships from harm as we pursue an ultimate goal for sustainability.
I propose a vision for humanity in which we learn to live in harmony with the evolutionary movie. Five models introduce tools to help guide our efforts to play, direct, and produce in compatibility with this life-sustaining planetary process. These models depict universal features of humanity, thereby introducing opportunities to unite people throughout the world to work toward collective goals that simultaneously support everyone’s individual lives. Thus, the vision to create healthy sustainable living unites humans and planetary needs. All operate cooperatively and coherently within the larger processes of evolution.
1. The Healthy Living Model provides a comprehensive overview of individual health. Since health provides the foundation for effective functioning, this model includes universal dimensions of human life that need to develop, synergize, and balance to generate healthy living for the whole person.
2. The Societal Healthy Living Model simply expands the individual model. It demonstrates that healthy living applies and needs to be developed across all levels of society, including families, businesses, communities, nations, and even the global community, using the same twelve dimensions of health that apply universally to all human activities.
3. The Comprehensive Healthy Living Model provides a systematic means to assess and intervene with complex problems from the personal, societal, to global levels. Coordinated interventions across the health dimensions and levels of society can integrate treatment, prevention, and wellness efforts to produce comprehensive healthy living.
4. A Global Ethical Living Model introduces how to evolve toward healthy sustainable living, while protecting people and the planet from any significant, enduring harm. We finally have the means to consciously and consistently assess for devolutionary threats before we take actions that inadvertently lead to destruction.
5. A Universal Ethical System can guide us on how to develop our higher purposes in life that include co-creating healthy sustainable living for humanity, the planet, and all reality. We then have the opportunity to discover the hidden potentials of our spiritual, evolutionary, planetary, and human being natures. With our expanded consciousness we can develop and apply these largely untapped capacities, so we employ our human doing nature to co-create wisely for the benefit of all. We progressively awaken to our miniature-god capabilities to co-create and contribute in service to all reality or God. We open the door to intentionally engage in conscious evolution to create what may be called “heaven on Earth.”
These models function like maps on our evolutionary journey. They introduce screening tools to uncover the multiple sources that contribute to problems and then guide coordinated interventions to ameliorate the problems. In addition to improving problem solving, they provide tools necessary to help us grow and develop comprehensive healthy living. A healthy sustainable world depends upon healthy individuals, families, businesses, communities, and nations that all work together synergistically. To complement our efforts toward developing healthy living throughout the world, we also need to evolve our societal institutions such as our capitalist economic system, our democracy, media, health care, and education systems to operate in service to the vision for healthy sustainable living.
The models provide progressively inclusive perspectives of reality that empower us to perceive and act in greater integrity with the world. In these ways, we cultivate sustainable living. This toolbox of models and practices invites people worldwide to unite in service to the two fundamental motivations toward health and sustainability that lie at the heart of all humanity and our future. Thus, we can mutually work to realize our highest human potentials, as we quest in a new global movement to co-create our ultimate evolutionary destiny—healthy sustainable living for all.