See the Whole World at Once

Leo Burke, a professor at the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame, talked to Andrew Benedict-Nelson of Insight Labs about about where globalization is taking us and how lawyers could fit in.

Andrew Benedict-Nelson: So it seems as if in the past generation, lots of companies have come to the realization that they need to think about how they do business in the whole world. From your perspective, what has that shift looked like?

Leo Burke: To set it in a broad context, it’s really important to understand that we are in a totally new space as a species. We’re in a new condition. For the first time in history, human beings are capable of seeing themselves as a totality. That has profound implications for how we envision our future and what the possibilities are.

There are a few reasons for this. One is that the planet is full. It’s full of people. We’ve got seven billion and we’re on the way to ten. This is not to be under-estimated, because even where we are right now, our footprint exceeds the carrying capacity of the Earth. Moving from six billion to seven billion means a lot more than moving from two billion to three billion. People are getting a sense of that fullness.

The other thing, of course, is communications technology. The International Telecommunications Union reports that there are now 85 telephones for every 100 people on Earth. So we are probably close to 80 or 85 percent of humanity having access to some sort of communications device. That helps us re-frame our view of ourselves as a species.

All of this has profound epistemological implications. We need to re-think what our operating assumptions are when we look at businesses. A business today may conceive of itself as operating in one nation-state and then opening an office in some other nation-state somewhere across the sea. But soon that will seem like an idea from the Middle Ages. So it’s not just doing business internationally or opening new offices “overseas.” It’s re-defining what the nature of business is.

Some businesses are beginning to understand this. They’re beginning to understand the potential role they could play in this unfolding process.

Andrew Benedict-Nelson: I like this idea of thinking of the species as a totality. How do you think that would affect the perspective of the average person you pull off the street? Because we don’t have a lot of changes in history that have truly affected everyone’s perspective… I’m thinking of the biggest shifts in religion, philosophy, science. Thinking about humanity as a totality all the time would rate up there.

Leo Burke: Sure. So let’s go to some examples from history. We moved from a geocentric view of the Earth to a heliocentric view. The average person used to get up and see the sun rising in the east, going up during the day, then setting in the west. It seemed obvious that the sun revolved around the Earth. And when you think about it, we had all kinds of institutions based on that assumption. The notion of the divine right of kings stemmed from that paradigm. So Copernicus comes along and says, “This doesn’t make sense.” But that shift in understanding took centuries to really percolate into fields like religion, education, politics. It’s not an overnight kind of thing. But it eventually changed the way that we view ourselves and our species and our planet in the context of a larger system.

So fast forward a few hundred years to the beginning of the 20th century. Guys like Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr are making incredible discoveries in terms of things like quantum mechanics. They’re discovering that many physical laws operate in the old Newtonian paradigm. But at the same time, there is something more fundamental. We discover that things that we used to think of as separate actually belong to a unified field of energy. The implications of that for society today haven’t truly sunk in. We still operate in a Newtonian paradigm in our institutions, and we’re paying an unbelievable cost for that. We’re mired in a nation-state structure that is hopelessly out of date. We’re stuck with business or economics as the dominant religion of the world. It’s unsustainable.

It’s not that we need to figure out exactly what something like the special theory of relativity means for business. But we do need to figure out how to handle the emerging truth that all the visions we impose with our cognitive structures — that we’re all separate, that we have to compete to survive, that accumulation is the way to thrive — these are all obsolete myths. We need to think about how we operate in a world that is truly a unified field. What does that mean for governance? What does that mean for business and culture? How do we truly deal with the fact that unless all of us make it, none of us are going to make it?

If businesses can figure out how to think this way, then maybe we have a shot. It would imply a very different model of decision-making about issues such as climate change. There aren’t a lot of businesspeople who see things quite as this level yet, but things are changing around the edges. We’re seeing it in what Yochai Benkler at Harvard calls “social production” or peer-to-peer production. It’s part of open source, collaborative networks, the sharing economy, whatever you want to call it. It’s anytime we work across borders, across boundaries. Businesses are backing into that in various ways.

So I think this is a much, much bigger deal than most people realize.

Andrew Benedict-Nelson: I want to explore that. So I was once an aspiring historian of science, and the term used in the field to describe the transitions you’re talking about is “paradigm shift,” Thomas Kuhn’s term. Now you’re right that a new paradigm is picked up gradually, but one of the hallmarks of a paradigm shift is disruption — it’s completely incompatible with whatever body of knowledge came before. It’s not just accumulated facts — it changes what the facts mean.

So here’s why I bring this up. Economists can show that the trend of globalization has been rising for centuries. But do you think there is some sort of event that has happened or is going to happen that shows us that this is more than just the next step in that trend?

Leo Burke: If we were having this conversation in 1987, and you said, “Hey, who wants to bet that the Berlin Wall will be down in two years?” I think nearly everyone would have said, “Are you nuts?” There were no indicators that the given order was anything but totally entrenched. People thought it would last another hundred years. Then, all of a sudden, there were the Gdansk shipyards in Poland and then the rest of Poland and then Czechoslovakia and Hungary and Romania and so on.  It was a non-linear change, at least for most of us.

So there’s something I’m involved in, a peacemaking project called the Global Cooperative Forum. The premise is this. If in fact the world is an intrinsic indivisibility, then it will take no time for communication to go from Point A to Point B. Point A and Point B will be the same point. So instead of the old Newtonian way of thinking where A always causes B, there may be an acausal dimensionality that is possible.

Next year, for instance, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will be coming out with a report that it issues every five years. And all of the indicators so far say that we’re in tough shape. We’re in worse shape than we thought we were. There’s no way that a nation-state model will be able to deal with it. We’re either going to figure things out or we’re going to have a going out of business sale.

So when you think about events at that scale, they may have the potential to unleash change that people didn’t think was possible. It would be something totally out of the blue that begins to suggest new ways of looking at making decisions. You could think about the Arab Spring. That’s gone almost nowhere, or nowhere yet — but if we look at the long view of history, it might be that what happened in a few months in various countries is a progenitor of something coming decades later.

Andrew Benedict-Nelson: Sure, it could be like the revolutions of 1848 in Europe.

Leo Burke: Yeah, exactly. So we’re in a kind of non-linear space here. But it does appear that a reasonable person could conclude that if we stay on our current trajectory, life will be very unpleasant for lots of people by the end of this century. At worst, the planet will not be able to sustain ten billion people — it can’t produce enough food or water. So what role does consciousness play in this all? We need to invite people into a deeper conversation about how to frame their reality.

Andrew Benedict-Nelson: So let’s talk about how decisions actually get made in this environment. Teaching in a business school, you regularly work on the minds of some of those people. How do people change the way they make their decisions to cope with the problem of dealing with the whole world at the same time?

Leo Burke: I teach executive MBAs — older students, usually 35-55 years of age. They’re business execs, marketing folks, hedge fund traders, doctors, lawyers — I had a bishop in this last class. It runs a pretty broad gamut. One of the things we do in my course on emerging trends is try to envision the kind of future they want for their grandchildren. Then I ask them to consider some of the issues we’re facing today. Then, calculating when they would actually have grandchildren, we talk about what we would need to do to get from where we’re at today to that desired future. We usually conclude that we can’t get there from here.

So there’s an “unfreezing” that follows, where we free them from some of the frames that they’re used to as businesspeople, like the accounting system we have for determining what constitutes value. They come to see that incremental change can’t get us out of the big problems we face as a species and as a global economy.

A number of the people who come to see this have been very successful in the old system. But they come to see that something radically different needs to happen. They’re willing to do something different, but they often find that others will have to do the same thing at the same time to make it work. So for example, I know an executive at a major food processing company that would like to turn his company into something that actually serves the health of people rather than destroying their health. But he recognizes that if he moves too fast in reducing things like salt, fat, and sugar in his foods, it will cost market share and the company could get in trouble.

So the current system won’t solve our problems. We need to figure out how to play a new game. But the rules for that new game haven’t emerged yet.

Andrew Benedict-Nelson: I like the notion of a “new game.” If you think of the stereotypical executive, you’ve got this sort of apex predator — a big shark. The game is to be first, fast, smarter and better than everyone else. You act strategically and unilaterally — you don’t ask anyone’s permission. That’s how you win.

But if the nature of the game has truly changed, leaders would have to re-think how they make all those decisions. If you’re right, we’re like kids on a trampoline. We want to play a game where we all jump at the same time and get a bigger bounce. But there’s a kid who keeps trying to jump to first because he doesn’t get the game.

I don’t want to be too simplistic about it though. I mean, let’s say that in the new game we can all get 500 percent more value if we take some action at the exact same time. Coordinating that kind of simultaneous action is very tough from a game theory point of view. It’s like an even nastier version of the prisoner’s dilemma. So what do you do?

Leo Burke: There are lessons to learn from ideas like open-source production. Don Tapscott, the author of Wikinomics and other books, argues that if you look at big pharma, if there were a common body of knowledge that they were all willing to contribute into, they would all make more money than they do today. And companies in poorer countries could use that same body of knowledge to improve their approaches to AIDS or malaria or whatever it might be. It would enhance the innovation in the overall sector.

So shifting this view from “what’s good for me?” to “what’s good for us?” is a tough thing to do. It’s not just tough personally as a result of the conditioning people have gone through. That conditioning is also held in place by systems that are generally invisible, systems like how the funding of publicly held corporations work or the laws governing the fiduciary responsibilities of boards of directors or the way money is tied to the use of fossil fuels. You could think of these things as weights holding us down as we try to jump together.

There was an interesting book — a little dated now, but still good — called The Mind of the CEO by Jeffrey Garten. It came out in 2001. Garten was the dean of the business school at Yale at the time. He interviewed CEOs in the U.S., Europe, Japan, and elsewhere about the state of the world and where they saw it going. He found that as a class that CEOs had very broad views of various issues — the kind of high-minded stuff that you might hear at the World Economic Forum at Davos. They traveled widely, they talked to people. They were generally good people who had traveled widely and understood that business doesn’t work unless society works.

Andrew Benedict-Nelson: So there wasn’t there a contingent who were more like, say, 19th-century social Darwinists?

Leo Burke: Right. They’re more enlightened. But at the same time, Garten found that these people were so mired in being able to generate their quarterly numbers that none of them ever had the available energy or attention to address these global issues in any meaningful way. And by 2005, a bunch of them had been fired. So we may have a great deal of insight, but we’re tied into systems that dictate a certain framework of values, even while we see that those values aren’t sufficient for what’s needed. That suggests that we need to transcend the current playing field and that new models will inevitably emerge.

Andrew Benedict-Nelson: You said earlier that you felt some companies are “backing in” to this way of thinking. Could you tell me more about what you mean by that?

Leo Burke: They are companies that pay especially close attention to their customers and are trying to respond to customer requests even if they don’t completely understand the context that those requests are coming from. There is a greater demand for green products or for new ways of thinking about corporate social responsibility.

You may have heard of a new field of investing called “impact investing.” Some people are willing to take a much lower rate of return on their investment if they know that the investment is going to have some sort of impact socially. This is at odds with classical investing logic, which says you would want to move your money to where it would generate the most capital. So investors and businesses are starting to understand that there is a new kind of demand.

Hybrid cars are another good example of this. Within its current frame, the auto industry is dedicated to extracting every last drop of oil in the Earth. But they’re also responding to consumer demand in a way that hedges against that.

Andrew Benedict-Nelson: The hybrid cars thing seems like a good way to investigate how we make predictions using this model. Because it seems to me that just because the future seems to offer some challenge doesn’t mean we’ll respond to it reasonably. I mean, if you went back to the days when the science of global warming was first emerging, you could have reasonably predicted that by now we’d all be driving electric cars because of the seriousness of the problem. But that’s not what happened. I guess your point would be that we didn’t completely ignore the problem either.

But what’s a good framework to think about how businesses will actually respond to these challenges in a world where some people will get it and some won’t?

Leo Burke: In 2010 I was at a dinner in Switzerland with Geoffrey Lean of the Telegraph in the UK — he was one of the first guys to do environmental reporting. He made this remarkable statement. He said, “I used to think that if I just got the right information to people, then they would change. But I was wrong.” … I’ve also been reading a book called The Watchman’s Rattle, which takes a look at this problem from a biological point of view. The author says that certain lights just don’t go off in our brain when we’re dealing with these long-term issues, whereas if there’s a fire in a theater all sorts of responses are going off.

Andrew Benedict-Nelson: And it makes sense that we’re set up to deal with some long-term challenges better than others. For example, we managed not to destroy ourselves with nuclear weapons, even though that was a complex global problem. Why’s that? Well, at the least you could say that every time the issue came to the fore, it appeared as a specific, strategic situation, like the Cuban Missile Crisis. But there won’t be a single day when we have to “face down” climate change — it just creeps up on you.

And you know, it’s not just problematic because of the long-term nature of the problem. It’s also tough because of the number of players in the game. I mean, the Cuban Missile Crisis was a pretty simple game between two powerful players. You could map out all the potential strategies on a napkin. But coordinated action to stop a problem like climate change would need to involve a significant percentage of the entire population of the Earth.

Leo Burke: That’s one of the interesting things about this book, The Watchman’s Rattle. She talks about the decline of civilizations over the course of hundreds or thousands of years. One of the characteristics of these declining civilizations is a persistent inability to deal with problems above what she calls their “cognitive threshold.” Remedial steps are taken and the issue is quietly passed on to the next generation.

So to your question — what will it take? I think it will take great leadership. I’m very interested to see if Richard Branson’s Plan B goes anywhere. He’s interested in bringing together business executives who understand what needs to be done and then working in their various spheres of influence to bring about changes that you might think would be under the purview of other kinds of institutions, like charitable foundations or the nation-state. Actually, we’re seeing this all the time, whether it’s safety issues in products or corporate smoking policies or the hiring of gays. Someone has the guts enough to say, “We’ve got to do this a different way.” They don’t have full consensus or backing, but they take a stand. That’s a part of the mix.

The other thing that is a part of the mix that we haven’t felt the full impact of yet is when humans collectively mobilize beyond our identity as consumers to say, “This is not okay, we can’t do things this way anymore.” Think about if there were some channel to mobilize that collective strength. You already have online petition groups like Avaaz with more than 20 million members. When you’re able to drop a couple million signatures on the desk of influential politicians or corporate leaders, you’d have some real lobbying power as the result of that. I think you’ll see more and more ways to mobilize this collective moral voice of humanity on behalf of the totality of humanity.

Andrew Benedict-Nelson: So you’ve laid out two roads before us. I’d like to take the optimistic road, since it sounds as if in the pessimistic one we have no future.

Leo Burke: Right.

Andrew Benedict-Nelson: So let’s say these things do happen, that we do come up with ways to address the problems of the world as a whole. Let’s say that even if not everyone is doing it, it becomes a logical, understandable move… let’s say it’s roughly the equivalent of public ownership in companies now. Not every company does it, but it’s understood as a real option that every company needs to take into account. How would we think about the behavior of companies if acting in the way you describe is a normal option for them? I’m imagining that you pick up BusinessWeek or Forbes and instead of an article on the next IPO, there’s an article on the next big cooperative action that 25 companies might take, that sort of thing.

Leo Burke: Who knows what it will really look like… but I do think we will see some sort of movement or voice that will eventually crystallize into a platform for the public interest.

Andrew Benedict-Nelson: So to use the same metaphor, it’s the equivalent of the stock market — it’s the agreed-upon place where you go to perform this move.

Leo Burke: It would need to encompass all of humanity. It would need to be a platform that could conceivably express the will of all of humanity. Entities of commerce would need to be somehow subordinated to whatever the collective voice of humanity thinks is necessary. And you would eventually have some sort of legal structure that would support that.

Right now, companies can pretty much do what they want as long as it’s legal. You see all this brouhaha in the press over Apple not paying taxes, but all of it was legal. What people are failing to recognize is that a multi-national corporation, regardless of the domicile of its headquarters, really is a global institution in its own right. They’re horizontal institutions if you think of nation-states as vertical institutions. And they can act with their own agenda to realize their goals. They’re beholden to an accountability structure with a pretty narrow set of interests.

But imagine if the goals and objectives of companies like Apple, Unilever, General Electric, Toshiba, Mitsubishi, or China Oil had to be “vetted” by a certain set of criteria set by the people of the world. That would begin to re-order the role that economics or commerce really should have in our society anyway.

Yet today, the neo-liberal economic ethos has permeated everything so that we view almost everything in terms of its financial value or worth. But that wasn’t always the way life worked, and it’s not going to be the way life would work in a planet that’s livable for ten billion people. So a re-ordering is in order.

Andrew Benedict-Nelson: So let’s say this global polity comes into existence. I don’t want to limit it to states or international institutions… but let’s say that in some way or another, if one billion people are pissed off about something, that would lead to an unambiguous, binding effect on any company in the world.

Leo Burke: You could imagine it now. Let’s say you were truly able to organize one hundred million people in the so-called “first world” to undertake selective boycotts of companies. That alone would have a huge impact.

Andrew Benedict-Nelson: Okay, now I get it. So someone recently invented a mobile app that lets you scan a barcode and find out if a product is made by a company owned by Koch Industries, which people dislike for various reasons. I believe the app already has a degree of customization and coordination with other users. Well, if you expand that to one hundred million people, you could easily imagine a scenario in which that group essentially has its own body of law and policy regarding who it will boycott or promote. Let’s say they all get together and vote to punish companies that use some specific kind of fossil fuel they don’t like. Well, at some point you’d actually need someone to argue before this court of public opinion, to demonstrate that the company does or does not comply.

Leo Burke: Exactly. Another great example that could guide us was the movement for university endowments to disinvest in South Africa before the end of apartheid. That took a while, but the moral argument eventually became overwhelming. It created an environment in which de Klerk knew things were not sustainable.

Andrew Benedict-Nelson: Sure, so take that process, speed it up, globalize it. What is a lawyer’s job in that world?

Leo Burke: I don’t know the answer to that, but there are a couple of important things to keep in mind. First of all, the cross-cultural dimension is really important to consider. The U.S. has far more lawyers per capita than any other countries, so there is a litigious mindset that we have and that American businesses have. That’s something we’ll need to think about.

Here’s an example of how it can get in the way. In 2000, the United Nations started something called the Global Compact. It was a voluntary set of principles that companies throughout the world could sign up for — things like no slave labor, no child labor, no scorched-earth policies, etc. European business were the first to sign up. American companies in the aggregate were about the last to sign up. And the reason was that corporate lawyers would say it was too big a risk. Over time, that was overcome, and many companies did join.

But it raises this question: does the legal function within companies actually support the kind of innovation and change we need? Or does it mitigate against the set of open perspectives that will get us there?

Andrew Benedict-Nelson: So you’re suggesting that the legal profession could keep these companies in a sort of shell-shock where they’re so attuned to the possibility of risk that they can’t even make reasonable decisions together?

Leo Burke: Right. I know, because I teach some of them, that there are some really progressive voices out there in the law. But where is the center of gravity for the profession? At least in the corporate side (as opposed to the advocacy side or the trial side) lawyers seem to have been assigned the function of risk management. They’re told to come to work every day and make sure that the boss and the board don’t go to jail.

But there are so many other areas where they could be useful. Think about one that is really exploding right now because of the Internet, which is the need for a new way of thinking about intellectual property. It’s clear that the way that this is thought about and advocated for will be different from how it’s been for the last two hundred years. You could imagine other areas of law that are going to need to change quickly around the world. The question will be whether lawyers will be driving the train or if they’ll be back in one of the cars. What kind of assumptions would have to change for lawyers to regularly think about how the law could be used to support the greatest number of people? How could they be the ones who would be looking for new frameworks that companies could participate in or augment?

Andrew Benedict-Nelson: It sounds as if to function in the world you’re describing, lawyers would have to simultaneously think about the way things are and the way they ought to be all the time. I’m imagining a world where at the beginning of every court case between Apple and Samsung, both lawyers get up together at the beginning and say, “Before we proceed, we both want to note that our companies think that the intellectual property regime is deeply flawed…” It seems like that orientation toward the ideal is not currently a part of the profession.

Leo Burke: Most lawyers don’t see things in black and white. They already understand that there is a lot of “gray” in the law. But it’s as if in addition to the gray, there is now this mist that is floating around everything. Think about the situation of lawyers after the revolutions in India or Eastern Europe, when whole chunks of the legal system were up for grabs. I think you could say that that sort of transition is happening gradually right now, but the equilibrium could be punctured by events that make it clear that whole areas of the law are simply inadequate.

Andrew Benedict-Nelson: I’m imagining how you would practice law in an environment where someone hit the reset button on the legal system every five years or so.

Leo Burke: There may be only a few who can really grok the level of complexity that will be needed to make these sorts of changes. But it’s really vital that someone be responsible for making sure that jurisprudence still has a role. It’s essential that someone articulate a set of boundaries that can lead to peace.

Andrew Benedict-Nelson: Or at least order.

Leo Burke: Yeah. There will be a whole spectrum of responses, I’m sure. But what we’re ultimately talking about is how we can all participate in this process in a meaningful way.

Andrew Benedict-Nelson: I have some faith that when the market starts demanding a certain type of expert, those experts show up. A few years ago companies realized that they needed dedicated people to run their social media operations, and now those kinds of experts exist. It sounds to me like you’re saying companies will have a need for people who can help them make these kinds of global coordinated decisions, and lawyers have the chance to be the people who show up.

Leo Burke: I’d say they have the chance to be among the players that show up, to be sure. We don’t need a world run by lawyers any more than we need a world run by businesspeople or popes. But humanity would be the beneficiary of a process that involved people from the legal profession capable of moving into a deep inquiry about where the planet is going and where we want to go.

Andrew Benedict-Nelson: They would seem to have some skills that are pretty useful for this. For example, the experience of constitutional lawyers in thinking about how you reinterpret old texts for new situations could smooth over a lot of the transitions.

I know one idea that you think is really important for this future world is “the commons.” Could you explain what that means?

Leo Burke: So if you ask the average person in Europe or the United States how society is organized, they’re likely to point to two major institutions: the market and the public sector. Some might mention others like religion, but those two areas tend to be primary. They tend to be the two places that we turn to for solutions to various problems. But there are certain resources  — natural resources such as the air, cultural resources such as language, the very idea of art — that are the inheritance of all of humankind. They need to be stewarded rather than owned. They need to be passed on in a spirit of intergenerational equity. And neither the market nor the public sector are really equipped to do that.

So there is this third dimension of things that runs alongside the market and the public sector. But it’s also beneath them in the sense that they both draw on it and depend on it. That’s “the commons.” And inserting this idea of the commons into our conversation about where we’ll go and how we’ll evolve in the coming years gives us more choices. Right now it’s mainly at the periphery, but it will become more center-stage in the coming decades.

Andrew Benedict-Nelson: So what can lawyers do?

Leo Burke: Well, look at some of the trends we’re seeing. There are now six nation-states that have enshrined constitutional rights for Nature. Other governments are doing things like affirming water as a human right. What does that mean when you also have companies that are taking actions that deplete aquifers or privatize the water supply? Those trends are on the collision course with the notion of water as a human right.

There are a myriad of other legal issues where the commons is about to come into play. Just look at this question of who owns the human genome, for instance. All of these come down to the fundamental question: “Do we really want a world that works for everyone?” I always tell my students not to be so quick to answer that, because it could have vast implications for the way you live your life. But if we do want that, if we see a world that is intrinsically whole, then setting up the foundation for justice in such a world will have all sorts of legal implications.

Andrew Benedict-Nelson: I like the idea of that becoming an operating principle of the legal profession. In the sense that lawyers don’t need to wake up every morning and say, “Gosh, I really want to defend the rule of law today.” It’s just woven into what they do. I like the idea that building a world that works for everyone would also become one of those things.

Leo Burke: It would require constant vigilance, because right now you can follow systems of behavior and systems of law, and almost imperceptibly, the rights of the commons start being violated. There is a creeping feature of “encroachment” or “enclosure” that is built into some of the systems that we use today.

Andrew Benedict-Nelson: Sure, think of the first generation of species to go extinct, like the dodo. Today, if a species like the black-horned rhino goes extinct, we can mark it on a sort of collective chalkboard of failure. No one was tracking these things in the same way when the dodo or the passenger pigeon went extinct. But it seems as if today we at least have the opportunity to collectively ask ourselves, “Can we both continue to have business as usual and have water as a human right?” It seems like a huge challenge.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Leo Burke: I think that in the next 20 or 25 years we could see a real broadening of concepts like property, citizenship, governance, economic growth, interest. What do these things mean and what do we want them to mean? I think a lot of these concepts are coming up for renewal and could be modified in significant ways. All of this is limited by our view of reality. If we have a limited, Hobbesian view of reality, we get outcomes based on that view. But if we have a different view, then we could have a different set of outcomes.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Martin Luther King: “All persons are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the inter-related structure of reality.”

That’s from the “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” 1963. We are moving to a point in history where many people can intuit that there is something to King’s insight and the insights of many others. So some changes need to be made if we’re going to have a world that’s livable for ten billion people. Whether you acknowledge it or not, this is the physics of what’s already happening.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. It is attributed to Insight Labs, and the original version can be found here.