The disowned moon

Why do I have a moon? What happened?

I’m not certain, but I think I suffered a severe trauma as a very young planet. A trauma caused by an impact with another celestial object. I was one and I was whole. But in that impact I lost a part of myself. A part that became disowned from me. Slowly drifting further and further away.

With time, life on me grew more and more complex – I grew more and more complex. A chemical soup, an atmosphere, water, life, plants, animals, human civilizations. But the moon, my disowned shadow, stayed in the same condition. A saddening lifeless rock, frozen in its development.

Still, I feel you. You affect me physically when you pull my oceans towards you and away from you. We are entangled in a dance, bound by gravity. And your light affects life here. But why do you have one face always turned away from me? Are you hiding something from me on your backside?

I travelled out in space. And I decided to go to the moon. I don’t know why. Perhaps out of curiosity. Not because it was easy, but because it was hard. Still it seemed that the distance was feasible. I wouldn’t have gone that far away hadn’t you been there.

So finally, after 4.5 billion years of separation, I landed on you. A tiny part of me, one of my species, walked on you and reconnected with you. Touched you. And what did I find?

I discovered myself. Through the eyes of this species, for the first time I saw myself. I couldn’t see me from myself, but only from a distance. A pale blue dot in space.

Traumas are a natural part of development and life. We lose a part of ourselves. And sometimes, this shadow becomes the strongest force to our development.

Thank you moon. I can let you go now.



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To which question is Integral the answer? A report from the IEC.

Having arrived home from Budapest and the first Integral European Conference I thought I’d share a few reflections on my experiences. The emphasis here will be on the two sessions I participated and presented in and the keynote that I was mostly interested in.

The focus and emphasis of the conference, as I perceived it, was more on total experience rather than on theory and academia, as well as putting Wilber’s AQAL theory as central rather than following the development of the ITC and broadening to other similar meta-theories and theorists. My impression was that the aim was integration and unity in the community-building rather than differentiation and diversity of ideas.

I submitted two abstracts, one together with Svein Horn on integral perspectives on Peak oil and the other one was a proposal for a workshop on adult development. The first was accepted in the first round and the latter was accepted as an academic presentation instead, which I think was a good choice.

I arrived in Budapest and to the IEC with slightly mixed feelings. Perhaps it’s part of my cultural secular heritage to be skeptical or at least sensitive towards any forms of movements and community building, especially with an integrated spiritual dimension. Although I have previously seen myself more as being part of it. But the stronger the shared identity, the harder it is to scrutinize, criticize and to transform if necessary. The tighter you hold a community with a shared set of values, ever so evolved, the more it will exclude people and the more it will stagnate in the long run.

After some keynotes it was time for the first session. Each session contained several presenters that talked about roughly the same theme, and one of the presenters had also been chosen to facilitate the session as a whole. My first session was on adult development, one where I was both presenting and facilitating. Chairing or facilitating a session and at the same time presenting is not optimal and some other uncertainties around the content and forms of discussion added to the stress. Our session drew a large audience, the room was packed with about 50 persons, some sitting on the floor. I suspect that Susanne Cook-Greuter added some star quality and of course the topic of exploring the highest stages of development likely had some allure, despite our focus on a critical discussion and on problematizing.

My presentation had the theme of differentiation and stepping out of embeddedness, e.g. of an integral meaning-making, and on introducing MHC. The last half-hour we formed a big circle in the room and shared our thoughts on development vs crisis, development vs suffering, enlightenment vs psychosis and so forth. The topic was quite heavy and when we did a final round of formulating wisdom questions to bring with us, the last one: “How do we not forget to have fun in the process?” was relieving and could bring us back to a more playful mode.

The conference schedule contained several organized and facilitated group processes, but I preferred the evening activities that allowed for more spontaneous socializing, such as the boat party and the gulash party, where I made the following recording that I could use for next day’s presentation on energy as an illustration of how the first energy revolution, the domestication of fire, has shaped us:

The following morning Suanne Cook-Greuter gave her keynote speech titled “On being human” that addressed problems, concerns and beauty of a more universal human nature rather than specific for high stages or integral. Interestingly, she mentioned the new “Superhuman potential” marketing campaign as a good example of how one should not relate to or promote development. And among other things, I noted that she has good taste in art (using the same piece of art that use as a header image for this website).

To me Gauguin’s painting Where Do We Come From? Who Are We? Where Are We Going? represents humanity’s quest for meaning and is formulated as three questions. In relation to this Integral can be seen as an answer that addresses those very questions. Or in Wilber’s words:

“to explain why dirt would get right up and eventually start writing poetry.”

To which his answer became integral theory or AQAL. After the forming of Integral Institute, Integral became more of a movement and the answer AQAL started to look for new questions, such as what economy, education, politics, psychology, medicine should look like or how various theories should be organized, or even as a theory of everything and also as foundation of meaning-making.

When Svein and I worked on our paper we had as our primary aim to introduce Peak oil to an integral audience using integral perspectives. But when we took a broader energy perspective we concluded that AQAL was an insufficient answer even to the original question on dirt writing poetry. The sun gets far too little credit for this process! And we can also say that the future does not look quite as bright with this energy and collapse perspective introduced, to say the least.

The audience for my presentation and the ecology/sustainability session as a whole, was significantly smaller than the adult development session, but it rendered interesting discussions afterwards and also during the evening.

The following morning I was approached by “Jack Wolfskin” who had participated in the ecology/sustainability session and he thanked me for my presentation and for our work on the energy issues, which he thought was important. However, he said that it had been a bit hard for him to follow and get all the information. I agreed that I may have packed one or two diagrams too many in it and that the scope of the work ranging from history/anthropology, engineering to philosophical aspects of human development did not easily allow itself to be introduced in 20 minutes, although I personally felt quite pleased with my presentation and the feedback I got.

But no, although I had given a very enthusiastic impression, I hadn’t really connected with the audience to make sure that they followed and received my message. My eyes had been directed more above rather than having direct contact with the audience, he claimed. After a few moments reflection I agreed that there might have been some fear involved in presenting something that I thought would be controversial in this context.

– But now we connect, he said.

– Yes, we do.

Beyond what can be achieved by means of strategies and practices, a shared set of values or life purpose, and beyond politeness and psychological defenses, we were just two human beings meeting. We met in a long embrace and a space that allowed me to admit to myself that it had been quite a stress for me. Although I had many interesting, stimulating and enriching discussions and meetings during the conference, this was my most intimate one.

But what was there to fear? Perhaps fear of being rejected by a community!? But mostly I think I feared that someone would react the way I did when I first discovered these perspectives five years ago – my world fell apart.

It was a relief to find that there were several participants that welcomed these new perspectives. And it was also a pleasant surprise that we received official recognition by being awarded Best academic paper!

Svein and I are grateful for this recognition and I would like to personally thank the organizers for all their hard work in creating and hosting this conference!

Edit: One of the main organizers, Dennis Wittrock, wrote in his report from the IEC the following on our award:
Our Academic Advisory Board consisted of Prof. Marzanna Kielar and Dr. Aneta Gop from Warsaw, Poland. Of all of the academic papers we had received two stood out in particular. We awarded the authors Kristian Stålne (Sweden) and Svein Horn (Norway) for their paper “An Integral Perspective on Peak Oil and an Energy Perspective on Integral Theory” because of the quality of constructive criticism it brings to the field. The second academic paper award went to Simon Sirch from Germany for his paper “Extreme Sports: An Integral View and Quest for Applications” for his novel and thorough integral approach in the field of sports.

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Peak Oil at IEC in Budapest

Next week the first Integral European Conference takes place in Budapest, where I will make two presentations: one about Adult development and one about Peak Oil: Here is the abstract. This post will focus on the second and introduce the crossing of an energy perspective with an Integral or AQAL perspective. I have been engaging in Integral theory for almost ten years (here is an introduction in Swedish), I was introduced to the issue of Peak Oil almost five years ago and now seems to be the time to aim for a synthesis between them.

I have written a few earlier blog posts on Peak Oil and its relation to Integral theory and worldviews: Here is an introduction to Peak oil, here I give some Adult development perspectives on Peak oil and here I reflect on the difficulties on integrating Peak oil (or Collapse) perspectives into Integral theory.

The conference paper and work is the fruit of a joint effort together with Svein Horn from Norway, who was first on the integral scene to give perspectives on Peak Oil in an own book chapter in 2009. Although we wish that we’d have a lot more time and energy (!) to put into the work, we think that can give a significant contribution to introducing energy perspectives in integral contexts and into integral theory.

The preliminary outline of the presentation, which will follow the outline of the paper, is as follows:

First Peak oil will be introduced. This is outlined in the recent blog post. This can be seen as the engineering and scientific part of the presentation. Next we move to the historical part where we review the human history from an energy perspective and its importance and necessity for human evolution. This is a perspective that up till now has been omitted in Integral theory and AQAL according to theorists, such as Ken Wilber and Sean Esbjörn-Hargens.

But why is it so? Why hasn’t the Peak oil issue gained more attention in integral contexts and by Integral theorists? First it can be said that they are not alone. The energy perspective is often overlooked by economists, historians and anthropologists (although they seldom claim to be integral and all-embracing), although the issue seems to gain in attention now that we are facing problems and disturbances in our energy supply.

Here we turn to the more philosophical or meta-theoretical part of our work. When we try to assimilate an energy perspective to the AQAL theory and the quadrants we face two problems. The first is that it simply doesn’t seem to fit into any quadrant. Intuitively, it would perhaps fit into the lower right structural quadrant, but that is not how Wilber describes tetra-evolution in this quote from Excerpt A:

“With regard to the LR social system and its techno-economic base, what generally happens is that a technological innovation begins in the mind of some creative individual (UL)–James Watt and the steam engine, for example. This novel idea is communicated to others through the inventor’s verbal and cognitive behavior (UR), until a small group of individuals eventually understands the idea (LL). If the idea is compelling enough, it is eventually translated into concrete forms (e.g. the building of actual steam engines), which now become part of the socio-economic base (LR).”

Thus, the lower right quadrant according to Wilber’s description of evolution and human development is the structural or techno-socio-economic aspect of that which is developing. Tetra-evolution in this sense is the interplay between the four quadrants’ development. And of course, we could see the different systems for extracting energy as significant for a certain stage of development. But not energy itself. Energy comes from the sun (except for nuclear and geothermal), we don’t produce it – we harvest it from our surrounding environment.

It is interesting that Wilber uses the industrial revolution as an example without addressing the influence of energy and that industrialization would not have taken place hadn’t we found coal and then oil and gas to burn in large scale. We conclude that the quadrants given by the AQAL theory do indeed include many useful perspectives, but also limit our view on evolution so that we can overlook important aspects such as our energy dependence.

When we discuss the consequences of peak oil with an integral lens, and an “energy addendum” so to speak, we come into the issue of possible decoupling. Decoupling between energy and the lower right quadrant and between the lower right and the other quadrants.

And we also go one step further and investigate the view on the future according to the integral and the energy perspective. What is the direction of the universe according to these two perspectives? And here we find some conflicting conclusions, to say the least.

But that can be left as a cliff-hanger and reason for joining our presentation, session and discussion. See you there!

Oil platform Holly

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A short introduction to Peak Oil

We need to transition the community away from fossil fuels!

This is a message we hear often today, too often according to some. But still, it seems to progress slowly. Climate negotiations stalled in Copenhagen and since then not much has happened on the scene of world politics. People generally seem not interested enough to assert pressure on their leaders or for that matter themselves reduce their transportation and other energy consumption. And now we also have an economic crisis to take care of. We first need to get back on track with our economic growth before we can consider reducing carbon dioxide emissions, it is typically stated. And global warming is, after all, something that happens to someone else, somewhere else and some other time…

But if we again ask us why we should transition, there is another answer. Instead of focusing on the waste product of fossil fuels, the CO2 emissions that are causing global warming, there is a very good reason to look at the resource side, how much fossil fuels is left to extract and consume. And that is exactly what Professor Kjell Aleklett has done with his research team at the Division of Global Energy Systems at Uppsala University in Sweden, the last decade or so. In 2012 he released his book Peeking at Peak Oil that summarizes the results of their research and of his own experiences of the issue.

It is a somewhat different physics book to read, with historical views, anecdotes, own reflections, comments on and sometimes criticism of other experts and politicians, meetings with intelligence services(!) and some economics. But it is primarily a physics book, which is a very important point to make and the reason why you should listen more to Aleklett in the future. Energy and oil extraction, more often referred to as “production”, primarily regards physics and geology. But today it is mainly economists who “decides” the extent of future oil extraction and consumption. But no economic model contains any scenario where oil extraction will decline, after what is referred to as Peak Oil, the time of maximum global oil extraction.

But how can Aleklett and his colleagues be so certain that oil extraction will decrease in the future? The most straightforward way to estimate this is to study how much oil is found throughout history, where one finds that the largest discoveries were made in the 60’s and that it is increasingly difficult to find new sources of oil, despite investment and new technology. New oil reserves are usually found in places that are hard to access and that require hazardous deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico or the Arctic when the ice melted. The easily accessible oil, the so called low hanging fruit, have already to a large extent been extracted and consumed.

By making inventories of the size of the world’s oil reserves, calculate how fast these can be exploited, make realistic estimates of future discoveries and account for other unconventional fossil energy sources, such as Canadian tar sands or natural gas from fracking, and renewable energy sources, such as biofuels, Aleklett concludes that we have major problems and not much preparedness.

So when does Peak Oil occur? You can’t really tell what the maximum extraction is until you have past the peak, but it seems that we may already have done so. Since 2005, the global extraction of oil remained at a constant level. During this plateau phase, the domestic consumption of the exporting countries increased, which means that the nations that must import oil has had to make do with a steadily declining export market. In addition, the importers China, India and Southeast Asian countries increased their consumption, a trend that is expected to continue (see the diagram below where the global oil extraction optimistically is assumed to be constant).

What then can be expected in the wake of Peak Oil? One could as well ask what consequences it already has had. Oil accounts for over 90% of the fuel to the transport sector which will be affected in the first place, which is evident at the gas pump when you fill up your car and for the airlines companies that are struggling. But it also has a significant impact on the world economy. Oil demand during the 00s has steadily increased while the extraction has not been able to follow the increase as the leading economic analysts have predicted. If supply can’t follow the demand, the price will go up and on 11 July 2008, the oil price peaked at 147 US $/barrel, which most likely was the trigger for the global economic mayhem and crisis, starting with the US subprime crisis:

”In the United States before the financial crisis in 2008 it was noted that it was these poorer, fringe-dwelling households that were the first to be affected by high oil prices. The more than doubling of the oil price from 2005 to 2008 took a huge toll on the budgets of these households. One way for them to cope was to abandon their mortgage payments and give their house keys back to the banks. Thus, Peak Oil and the financial crisis were intimately linked.”

The relationship between oil consumption and economic growth is complex, but the two do correlate to each other. And that is of course not consistent with the constant economic growth that is a prerequisite for the current economic system to stay healthy. Some would argue that oil extraction can always be increased through economic instruments such as increased investment and technological innovation, should the economy so require. Aleklett, on the other hand, regards the economy as something that has to adapt to the physical reality. Economy does after all mean “householding”.

Peak Oil also has some major political implications. EU (as a whole), and the US leads the consumption league and both have major economic problems, which implies a global shift in power that now also starts to have social consequences. Also consider that the two, by far, largest oil exporters Saudi Arabia and Russia, one can understand why Western politicians prefer not to offend them unnecessarily, such as calling them dictators or the like. Not even Obama complained when Saudi Arabia went into neighboring Bahrain to crack down on democracy activists. And this spring we have seen Russia using the “gas-weapon” as a means of gaining political influence on its neighboring countries, such as Ukraine, as well as on the EU. So it really is an inconvenient truth that Aleklett delivers.

But is it really a truth? Because it is far from all who agree, for example most economists, analysts in the oil business and political advisers. But unlike others Aleklett’s group have produced a solid body of research in the form of a large number of peer-reviewed articles and doctoral dissertations. Neither are they funded by any oil company or allow themselves to be influenced by political interests. Above all, they base their estimates on calculations that they present openly instead of making guesses that the world’s energy policies until now have been based on. So if you disagree with the conclusions or if you believe that the alternative energy source X will solve everything and save the day, the obvious counter-question should be: “How many millions of barrels of oil per day do you anticipate that X can replace and how quickly can X be developed?” A useful overview of alternative energy sources is given in Richard Heinberg’s short booklet “Searching for a miracle”, that is available online.

After this very limited and at most incomplete summary, it can be concluded that we must adapt to a future with less energy and we must do it quickly. Not because we should, but because we have to. Our inability to transition primarily affects ourselves and in a very near future. It is difficult to say how soon, but a lot has happened to the economy in just the last five to six years after the beginning of the economic crisis. Here a 5 to 10 year horizon is typically discussed, rather than the 50 to 100-year perspective of the climate change issue.

A final reflection from Aleklett on the future:

“…but what the world needs most is a global leader who understands systems thinking.”

I would put it this way : The world needs many leaders who can step out of the conventional “business as usual” thinking, that are at least meta-systematic thinkers and that can take perspectives on physics, economics, politics, security, etc. and their interrelatedness.

Here follows some psychological perspectives on Peak oil, and in particular an adult developmental perspective.

Illustrations from the book are by Olle Qvennerstedt and one from

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Human-nature relations in Czech Republic – Part 5

In this final part I would like to offer some conclusions, evaluations and perspectives on the course we gave. You can read about preparation of the course and how it was carried out more explicitly in the previous parts:

Part 1 – The preparation process
Part 2 – Introduction and energy
Part 3 – Food production, material flow and the big history of values
Part 4 – Solutions, principles of sustainability and who we are in relation to nature

Firstly, the core principle and aim of our teaching can be summarized in one sentence as follows:

Introducing knowledge, overview and perspectives on our global and grand challenges and balancing this with tools, insights and embodiment on what it means to grow as human beings and to engage with these challenges we face.

The ambitions of the course have certainly been greater than what has been possible to achieve in 48 hours. The ambitions have been about bridging gaps:

  • bridging the personal/local scale and the global,
  • bridging the concrete issues and the complex perspectives,
  • bridging abilities and tools with challenges and their solutions (or way of dealing with them),
  • bridging seriousness of the future outlooks, the playfulness of the present and fascination of past achievements,
  • bridging integral and sustainability

The last point has been one of my strongest motivations. I am quite familiar with integral theory, especially with the vertical or developmental perspective that you find in the adult development field that I perform and publish own research in. But my engagement in issues of sustainability, e.g. energy perspectives such as Peak oil, has only been for the recent four years. I still feel like a beginner in this field (and I really am!) and despite all complexity scaffolds, such as MHC and AQAL, and abilities for perspective-taking the learning process has been very hard for many reasons.

One is that a broad view on sustainability has not been easily assimilated into any integral framework, at least according to my understanding (although it has been pointed out that there are not one integral theory but several, e.g. Morin and Bhaskar). Even if you have the ability to take several perspectives and is a complex (e.g. metasystematic) thinker, you still need to dig into the concrete issues with all their details. My sidekick Stina, with her several decades of experience of environmental and sustainability issues, made sure that I was aware of this. It takes decades to build up true expertise and abilities in these types of issues, even if you are a complex thinker in other domains.

One example to my difficulties to assimilate sustainability issues into to the integral framework is the following: When you learn about sustainability you sooner or later realize that we are not sustainable. It is not only one perspective or way of looking and engaging in the world that is unsustainable, it is our entire modern civilization and our societies. Evolving to the next stage in complexity or meaning-making, whatever that might be, does not necessarily solve any issue.

Engaging in issues. Photograph: Stina Deurell

The most central or core question that integral aims to answer is typically “How do we grow/develop/evolve?” and a core question in sustainability is “How can we keep on doing whatever we do sustainably?” From this very simplified (and anthropocentric) way of looking at it one can realize that if we’re not developing sustainably, we can’t develop more than temporarily. Therefore, I find it easier to see integral as something that should be assimilated into sustainability, or at least in this context.

Despite my difficulties I certainly believe that integral models and theories can offer important tools, insights and perspectives that we absolutely should make use of. And those I have tried to introduce and employ in my course. A common question in integral settings is how to introduce abstract and challenging models such as the quadrants and levels such as those given by Spiral dynamics. Here I’d like to propose some lessons and guidelines I have discovered during the process:

  • Most importantly, the main focus of the integral models and the way they were introduced, were as tools for solving or addressing problems. The models themselves were not the goal of the teaching or holy in anyway – they are means to achieving something that is more important – addressing the problems of sustainability we work with.
  • Therefore, I try to introduce them at the right time, when they can be successfully applied and even better as support and confirmation when students are “already there” or to illustrate what they may be missing.
  • The integral models are typically complex meta-models, so they need to be built up piece by piece. The more the students are involved in this process the better and the easier for them to make it their own. This was the strategy behind creating the Big history timeline.

When it comes to important and useful principles I think that Wilber’s concept of transcend-and-include is central, and in our course we gave more emphasis to the latter. We have transcended nature and now we need to re-integrate and include it as well. We need to move from the anthropocentric view of integral to the view that emphasizes that we are still nature. Although integral typically give more emphasis to the transcendence it still contains the inclusion. And this shift, we could also see it as the shift from Eros to Agape, is something that perhaps is a trend in the integral discourse nowadays.

For me personally, the demanding process that led to the course and carrying it out felt like a journey with a happy ending. On a whole I’m very pleased with how it turned out and I think that we have a concept that works as it is or can and should be further developed. But on the other hand, when it comes to sustainability, so much is going in the completely wrong direction.

Course evaluation
Here are some voices from the course evaluation we did, where we asked what they thought was good, what was missing or needed improvement and what they take with them.

“I can’t really say that I missed something during this workshop – lectors were really nice, the topic was interesting and the way of learning new information was really well-made and well-prepared.”

“Also it is a pity that so few students attended this workshop because we need more you people to know about is! THANK YOU REALLY MUCH!!!”

“…sharing ideas, inspiration, discussion, global view, connection atmosphere, space for everyone to discuss…”

“I found very interesting and inspiring the cross [the quadrants]”

“I was surprised how enjoyable this course was. I understood almost everything, I gained lot of new info and it raised lot of questions as well.”

“I don’t have any suggestions for improvement. We had enough space for discussions and own opinions which I normally miss in those courses. It was dynamic and interesting.

The most important things I take with me

Using of energy (I didn’t know we use so much oil)

What is Earth Stewardship and Anthropocentrism -> how they relate

And with other topics about which we spoke I already heard before but I got some new ideas.


“The things that could be improved was to have more time to dig into the issues.”

On the question if the students would recommend the course or the teacher(s) to other students all students answered “definitely yes” on a scale ranging from Not at all, rather not, partly yes and definitely yes. This was also the case for questions regarding if the teachers could transmit the essence of the subject to the students, if the teacher used the latest research and knowledge within the field, if the students were treated with respect. The only negative opinions that were expressed was that some wanted to have more time to engage in the problems that we had introduced.

The overall rating of the course from a scale ranging from 1 to 10 (1 – a waste of time; 10 – a life changing experience) two students gave the highest score 10 and the mean value was 8.75.

As a final comment I just want to say that Stina and I had a wonderful time with the students who really contributed and engaged with us, and with the environment and culture in lovely Olomouc. We certainly hope to return some day and meet again!

Exploring Olomouc. Photograph: Stina Deurell


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Human-nature relations in Czech Republic – Part 4

Day 3

Session 7-8 – Own work and presentations. The last day started a bit slow, the students weren’t really sure on what we expected of them. The task was formulated as follows:

“In a short oral presentation of max 5 min, take one problem or big issue of importance and formulate some own principles for sustainability.

Try to formulate principle/s that can address what you can do on a personal/individual level and on a societal level.

What need to be changed in order to address the problem?

We will offer feedback and support and evaluate!”

We had to discuss further what we meant by a principle, but it got clearer during the discussion at the presentations. Typically, what was presented were either stated in negative terms as being against something: “we need to stop…”, “we have to decrease…”, or as solutions to various problems: “if we build…” or “we can invent…” In all cases we pushed them to formulate sustainability principles, not as specific so that they can’t be generalized and not as general so that they became too vague. For example, hyperloops is a proposed solution to transportation problem but the sustainability principle is that transportation systems needs to run on renewable energy, in this case solar panels. The system itself also needs to be sustainably produced, i.e. with circular material flows.

At the presentation we also found the opportunity to introduce another useful tool in the four perspectives or quadrants of the AQAL model. One student had in her presentation already touched upon all perspectives and from that we could introduce the quadrants so they could become a support and confirmation of what she already had found out by herself. If we want to transform a culture it is often necessary to address all quadrants. Therefore, one possible trap with proposed technological solutions is that relying on them doesn’t address what can and should be done on a personal level, e.g. decrease own energy consumption.

At lunch time Stina and I joined with three of the students that showed us a small guerrilla gardening project in the very center of Olomouc! After eating we talked about the results and how to make the final discussion and closing of the course. From a biospheric perspective Stina pointed out that most of the issues, discussions and principles had taken place from an anthropocentric perspective and that this needed to be addressed.

Guerrilla gardening in Olomouc. Photograph: Stina Deurell

Session 9 – Conclusions and closing. The final session started with me writing the course title (accidentally in wrong order):

Earth stewardship or anthropocentrism:

Human-nature relations

First I asked the students what anthropocentrism means?

– Well, when we place ourselves at the center of the world, as the most important thing.

Ok. And about human-nature relation? Why should we care about nature?

– Because if we don’t, we won’t survive! We need to take care of the nature since we are dependent on it!

This is of course correct, some technological solutions that we hear of today, such as artificial and 3D-printed meat or colonization of other planets, can be seen as ways of denying how totally dependent we are on nature to produce its ecosystem services, its half-meter thick layer of fertile soil, the pollinating bees and so forth. We should really acknowledge this fact.

But when we think of it again, isn’t this a purely anthropocentric view? Doesn’t this imply that nature is there for us, for our purpose? What if nature has a value of and in itself and should be respected as such?! In this case we can really have a relation with nature, a respectful one. We don’t talk about animal rights because they will be of better use to us if we treat them better. We do it because we respect them. However, the biologist had a further objection:

– But isn’t this division between human and nature false? We are nature too!

Indeed! From this conclusion we went back to the timeline and traced another theme in our history from stardust to life, to plant, to animal, to conscious human being with a technological, psychological and cultural evolution. The further we have traveled on our journey, the wider the gap seems to have been from us being part of nature to something that is separate. On one hand we seem to again and again have transcended our boundaries and limitations, but we also seem to have lost ourselves and were we came from in the process. In a psychological sense we have transcended nature but not included it.

The way forward that Stina and I argued for, and tried to embody throughout the course, was to emphasize both aspects of the development, the awesomeness of the process that led us here and beyond and the abilities and tools we have cultivated that can aid us, as well as the essentiality to reconnect to our past and the nature in us.

Finally when asked about the meaning of the word “stewardship”, I think that the proposed answer “to serve” best captured the way forward and concluded the course. Nature is not here for us or belong to us, rather, from this perspective we are here to serve nature and take care of that which we at the same time are. Yet one further shift, an even less anthropocentric, is to see nature as taking care of and embracing us, something that Stina explores in her project Wider Embraces (see in below).

A theme from our part was how to balance these perspectives or paradoxes. We needed to get the students understand the urgency and seriousness of the problems we’re facing, but yet give them tools, capacities and empowerment so that they can be effective change agents in an uncertain future.

Stina is enjoying a delicious cheescake after the course was done, and we were pretty done too! Photograph: Kristian Stålne (with Stina’s camera)

We took farewell and parted after a course evaluation and some final reflections. After this last session we went to a café and Stina could have a raspberry cheesecake that was as well-deserved as it was delicious! In the final part I will offer some evaluations and reflections on the process as well as on the outcome of the course.

References and further reading

Can we rely on technological development? TED-talk on the subject matter:

Introduction to the quadrants (and the rest of the AQAL-model):

Charles Eisenstein reasons about how we have differentiated from nature and as Stina and I argues that we should aim for and reintegration or inclusion of nature. This book is also a lot about economy:

Stina Deurell has a project called Wider Embraces that emphasizes the shift from us being there and taking care of nature to us being embraced by nature and the biosphere:

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Human-nature relations in Czech Republic – Part 3

Day 2
Session 3 – Further issues. We started by having a short discussion on the questions we left them with. Most recognize the energy they use in heating, lighting and transportation, but we also came to the conclusion that pretty much all stuff we use need energy to function.

After this we discussed the questions and controversies of climate change, what projections there are of the future and who should cut their emissions first. When we asked them for their view, some doubts and uncertainties were raised on whether human activities really are the cause on the global warming and how certain the future projections are and how reliable the IPCC is. How can I know for sure?

This is a delicate problem in the teaching situation. On one hand it’s tempting to use the authority as a teacher and say “Yes, we are beyond reasonable doubt causing the global warming and we are on a dangerous path. Period!” But on the other hand, I want to encourage them to find out and think for themselves and not to blindly trust authorities just because they are authorities. Obviously, this strategy doesn’t work for convincing everyone in society. And if we are to educate the future change agents of this planet they need to be able to make their own judgments, at least when it’s possible to do so.

I acknowledged their uncertainty by referring to my own understanding of the topic and my own previous doubts when I tried to build my own view and opinion in the matter. We continued to discuss handling uncertainty in information as well as in future projections and value of questioning, but also we emphasized that referring to uncertainty can also be a way of escaping from our own responsibility of doing something about it. I also mentioned that there is a general consensus among the world leaders as well as active climate scientists (see Oreskes in below) that we are the main cause of the global warming and that it’s a real threat. In a discussion on how to find reliable sources of information I listed IPCC and other UN organs as sources I personally considered trustworthy.

Another conclusion from this discussion is how much easier it is to have the energy and Peak oil perspective as a starter instead of the Climate change. Not to say that we should only focus on one and forget the other, even with the remaining fossil fuels we can still heat up this planet a lot beyond the politically agreed target of 2 degrees.

­We then separated into two groups where we analyzed and discussed the two big cluster topics of food production and material flow (stuff we buy and use) respectively. Stina and I participated in and supported one discussion each, she did the food production and I did the material. When the students divided the gender pattern became very clear to everyone’s amusement, and we teachers followed it as well! So for a short moment we could raise a gender perspective, which is really a national sport here in Sweden.

Here it was obvious that we could never go into detail and depth but to keep on a very general and principal level with questions such as: How much food and stuff do we really need in contrast to what we want? Can we produce food sustainably for 9-10 billion people? What are the difference between organic (ecologic) farming and conventional? How do we distribute fairly and stop wasting food? Are there sustainable principles for material flow (see e.g. Cradle 2 Cradle)? Are we running out of anything? What are the interconnections between food, energy and material?

Although we allowed this discussion to expand into the next session we would really like to continue for several more days, as some of the wrote in the course evaluation:

“…more time! For every topic, for whole course, so we could go deeper…”

“…but I still think that such a complicated issue requires more time.”

This was, however, expected and the main purpose of the course was not to solve any problems or view them into detail but rather to get an overview of what problems existed, the status of them and how they relate to each other so they can dig into them deeper on later occasions or on their own:

“What I’m taking with me? A huge packet of topics to think about, new ideas, a lot of information and great references to find out more.”

Session 4 – Economy. The second half of this section we spent on economy, about how different actor’s own economic interests often is an obstacle in sustainable initiatives since the fossil fuels are just free energy sources laying beneath our feet waiting for anyone to extract and how their real costs are being externalized to other countries and generations, how the current economic system that is based on the assumption of infinite growth, the intimate relation to the energy consumption and how it recent decade has been more or less driven solely by debt. This discussion was perhaps not as much of a pressing matter to the students as the Czech Republic has comparably solid and sound economy and is not part of the Euro project. The discussion on economy could perhaps be placed adjacent with the energy session due to the intimate relation between them, but it can also be used as a natural transition to the human side.

Session 5 – Making history. After lunch we made history – Big history! The students received the lunch assignment of each making a top-5 list of important moments in history (of universe, not just human history). We wrote them on Post-it notes with titles and approximate year and placed them chronologically to create a timeline on the wall. Approaching present time I couldn’t fit all the notes before the end of the wall space so I bent the timeline to create an unintended but nevertheless symbolic hockey-stick shaped curve:

Issues at the middle and the Big history timeline at the bottom and continuing up at the right end. Photograph: Stina Deurell

Through this shared process we could follow the trajectory from Big bang to present time with all thresholds and major historic shifts. For each shift we discussed what where the main drivers, the consequences, and the traces from it we can see today. Some themes were followed, such as increase in complexity of life, how energy were being used by humans, major technological revolutions, behavior patterns and increase in complexity of consciousness in what perspectives we took on ourselves and nature and how that shifted throughout history.

The most amusing detail and culture-clash in the process was when we discussed how the technological enterprises of space-travel shifted our view on ourselves when the astronauts turned their camera towards the earth. One student wrote “Gagarin 1978” which was totally unexpected to us Swedes that were thinking about the American Apollo project.

Session 6 – Spiral dynamics. From this exploration it was a short step to turn to an introduction of seven stages of Spiral dynamics which is a model that describes how values and worldviews has evolved in cultures throughout history. It is also a useful model to describe values of today and had a discussion on how to communicate and frame messages towards different vMemes or values.

Before we ended this intense day we gave them the assignment of deciding on an own issue to investigate further the next day and give a 5-min presentation of.

Relaxing after day 2. Photograph: Stina Deurell

Some references and further reading

Naomi Oreskes is often cited about consensus on climate change among climate researchers:

Cradle 2 cradle design principle. and

Story of stuff gives a simple and useful overview on material flow:

The population will probably stabilize at 9-10 according to projection, given a business as usual scenario. See e.g. Hans Rosling:

The relation between energy and economy is explained by Chris Martenson’s Crash course. Here is a shorter version:

There is something called Ecological Economics. Introduction:

Big history is a topic that grows in popularity. Here is a MOOC (Massive open online course):

Spiral dynamics is introduced e.g. here:

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Human-nature relations in Czech Republic – Part 2

Day 1
Stina and I arrived in Olomouc at noon, checked in at our hotel and met with the assistant from STL that introduced us to the lecturing room. I was being told that twelve students had signed up for the course, but only seven showed up which was less than I’ve anticipated and hoped for. On the other hand, the fewer participants, the easier it is to manage a group process and give everyone room for sharing, discussing and personal feedback.

The course as a whole was scheduled into nine 90-minute lectures, or sessions, and in below I will describe what we did and what happened at the respective session.

Session 1 – Introduction. After people got settled in we did a presentation round of me and Stina, and of the participants with their background, reasons for following the course and what they were expecting. Then we started the first exercise, which was the brainstorming about Issues – what issues around sustainability can we come up with? I only had a small whiteboard so we used Post-It notes that I put up on the wall. I sorted out, summarized and divided them into four clusters: Energy, food, material (stuff), human (needs and interaction).

Photograph: Stina Deurell

It’s important to yet again emphasize that this was a course more about the overview and interrelations between the issues than it was about going into details on the specific issues. It was about keeping it as simple as possible without making it trivial and about understanding the world around us rather than building expertise. Further, my focus as a teacher in this context is not just to give them information that they are supposed to memorize or learn, but rather to as much as possible build from what they already know and help them to organize that knowledge so they can decide what to do or what to learn next.

From the clusters of Post-it notes I could describe the outline of the course or workshop: First we focus on the present problems with energy/climate, food production, material flow (stuff) and economy. Then we turn to the human side, with some history, values, worldviews and perspectives. Finally we focus on some specific problems, solutions and principles, and on who we are.

Session 2 – Energy. Starting with energy was a very deliberate choice and although there was mainly lecturing I tried to engage the students as much as possible by having them list energy sources, fundamental differences between fossil fuels and renewables, and guess how much we use of each and for what (building, transport, industry). Few reflect on these questions. Here are some key facts:

– 80-85% of total global energy production comes from fossil fuels, 1/3 of the total is from oil that dominates the transport sector.

– Each person consumes about 40 kWh per day as a global mean (double if you live in EU and double again for US). 40 kWh per day is about 20 times more energy than what we can produce by ourselves with hard physical labor for 10 hours per day which we demonstrated with some basic calculations.

– Energy today is very cheap: One liter of gasoline that can produce 2-4 kWh of mechanical work (about 10 hours of hard physical labor) costs about € 1.5. (Half the price in the US)

– We have probably passed global Peak oil, the global export market for conventional oil peaked in 2005 and we have for the last 30 years extracted more oil than we have found new resources. The low hanging fruit has been picked and we now look for oil under the Arctic ice and chase it by hazardous deepwater drilling. The oil prices have increased and this is likely a main driver behind the current economic crisis.

– We are developing new and more sustainable ways of producing (extracting) energy, but the increase in coal, which we have been burning since the dawn of industrialization, has in absolute numbers increased more than renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power. Thus, so far alternative energy sources have not been alternative or complementary but rather just added to the ever-increasing contribution of fossil fuels.

Diagram from Swedish blog Cornucopia on global energy consumption (losses included) showing from the bottom and up: wood, coal, oil, fossil (or natural) gas, water power, nuclear and other renewables (wind, sun, geothermal, biofuels, wave, etc).

These are some facts that are quite easy to introduce and just as hard to deny. Not only do we have serious problems, nothing indicates that we are moving in a sustainable direction and we seem to lack all sorts of political leadership around these issues. We are not on a sustainable path! There are alternatives and possibilities in the future, but scaling them up to meet and replace the vast volumes of the fossil fuels we are burning today seems unlikely, or at least have been so far.

I finished the day by giving them the tasks of reflecting on how they use energy in their everyday life but also to think on what would happen if we were to solve the energy problem, if that would solve all of our problems.

After this first day we wondered if we were going to see any students for the second day. Luckily, they all showed up. Here is one of the reflections from the course evaluation:

“…As for the things that I’m bringing out of this course: a completely different view on global problems on a human-nature comparation level AND I have to say that we’re in a SERIOUSLY DEEP SHIT and if we don’t do something ‘bout it we’re gonna have really big problems. And I say WE – my generation.”

Some references and further reading:
Richard Heinberg: Searching for a miracle. The concept that captures the discussion on low hanging fruit is called EROEI, Energy return on energy invested. Available for download at:

The growing gap between extracted oil and  found:

The discussion on energy usage is sometimes referred to as how many energy slaves that are working for us. This gives different results depending on the way you calculated it and the assumptions you make, e.g. on energy loss and efficiency in the human work output:

and here is an illustrating demonstration of the principle of energy slaves where 80 cyclists are powering a family house in UK:

Here is a chart on The global energy system, 2010 is from Kjell Aleklett’s blog and where he criticizes the IEA’s World energy outlook:

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Human-nature relations in Czech Republic – Part 1

A week ago my friend Stina Deurell and I boarded a night train from Copenhagen heading for Olomouc in Czech Republic to give a three-day course or workshop with the title Human-nature relations: Anthropocentrism or Earth Stewardship?

But for me the journey was longer than that and started four years earlier when I got interested in the economic crisis and when I had my Peak moment of discovering the energy dimension and where our civilized societies seems to be heading. I followed the discussions, started discussing myself online, wrote some blog posts about it and gave an introduction for closed group of friends and fellow change-makers. I joined a distance course in sustainable transition, started networking and participated in two podcast interviews about Peak oil.

But to really teach it was still something I’d like to do, partly since I felt it was a step in the right direction for me and partly since I’m deeply worried about the future and the challenges we are facing today. I was, however, offered an opportunity by the School for Transformative Leadership (STL), a EU funded pilot project based at the Palacký University in Olomouc that encouraged trans-disciplinary, personalized and transformative ways of educating our future leaders. The offer came since I one year earlier had met with the main organizer Gaudenz Assenza at a workshop in transformative learning in Trondheim, who was recruiting teachers in various wide topic areas. I noticed that they lacked people giving courses in sustainability or relating topic so I proposed to give a crash course that introduced and covered pretty much all aspects of sustainability. I argued that if someone else would give a course in an adjacent topic I could narrow my scope down.

In the design of my course outline I pretty quickly came up with three major sections that I named Issues, Perspectives and finally Being and ethics. The issues part intended to cover what is generally referred to as current matters of sustainability that are typically studied by natural scientists, such as climate, energy and ecology. Perspectives was more about the part on humanity, where we come from, how we think, value and perceive the issues and how to communicate them. Being and ethics was more about the future, what we should do and how we should relate to nature. The first part was my main worry and concern, the second part I felt pretty secure in since it is one of my research areas and the final part I wasn’t sure about, but I had some ideas. On the other hand, no one has an expertise in sustainability. You really can’t specialize in such a vast topic. And this course was not about building expertise but rather to gain overview, in my opinion we have enough experts.

But even if the main outline was set, I still found it to be a very demanding process to prepare for the workshop. When it came to the issues section, I felt how disturbingly much I don’t know, although I think Gunnar Rundgren’s book offer great support and overview. But even if I had felt comfortable with it, some huge questions remained: How do you introduce such vast, broad and complex topics? How do you engage the students and make the huge and often abstract issues relevant to them? And if you succeed, what if the new insights become too heavy burden to the students? Further, do I as a teacher, representing an older generation, have a right to ask the younger students to transform their way of thinking and to engage in problems and that I to a greater extent am a part of than they are? And further uncertainties of practical nature, such as possible cultural or language barriers.

As a part of the process I invited some of my friends with interest in sustainability to an evening of exploring the issues section one week before the course. We did a brain-storming exercise around the issues and mapped everything from energy, food-production, water, biodiversity, poverty, etc on the whiteboard, which I found very useful. But then I tried to draw a big picture of flow and relations between everything, which turned out to be quite messy and the process slowed down and I seemed to get stuck. After a coffee break and some further futile actions someone started to ask about status on specific questions and issues and when we could limit and focus our attention the flow returned.

Until that point (or rather, a couple of days before) I was not that comfortable to write about or invite anyone into the process, but here I asked my friend Stina if she’d like to accompany me to Olomouc. She accepted and the two of us turned out to be a very successful team. She knows me very well and could support me in my process, ask clarifying or critical questions when needed and assist me and contribute to the actual teaching. Stina is an artist, photographer and web-designer with several decades of experience of working with environmental issues and could contribute with a solid biospheric perspective and voice on the issues. We complement each other to a great deal, but we also share many interests, such as broad and integral perspectives on the past and the future of our planet.

Stina was the one that suggested that we should take the night train instead, even though it was more expensive and cost a lot of extra time. But on the other hand, it is a more pleasant way of traveling, I could work with the planning process on the way and we could get the feel of moving a long way through Europe and the changing environment. When you fly, you go to the airport, which I always find a surreal isolated universe of its own, and a couple of hours later you arrive at your destination without really having the chance to emotionally grasp the vast distance traveled. Besides, teaching about energy and climate is kind of easier when you set an example.

On the night train. Photograph: Stina Deurell

And with that, we were on our way! We arrived in Prague at lunchtime and could get an afternoon glimpse of this beautiful city before we the next morning continued to Olomouc in the eastern part of the Republic.

To be continued!

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Some post-conventional thoughts on Snowden and the NSA surveillance affair

The hot topic of this summer has of course been Edward Snowden’s whistle-blowing about the state of global surveillance by the NSA and its partners. It is now clear that there is no such thing as privacy online and that we can count on every Google search, every email, every purchase, every link we click, every Facebook status update and like and so forth, basically everything we do on the internet, as well as phone calls, being monitored and stored for all future. I could complain about paranoid Americans, but we Swedes are one of the closest allies and collaborators in this matter, so that would be kind of a hypocrisy.

Nevertheless, this whole affair has concerned me a great deal. However, it is not the question of possible and apparent abuse of the surveillance of the people, even where there is no legal ground, that bothers me most, although it certainly does. Nor the excuses of it being necessary in order to prevent terrorist attacks, I’m not being that naïve that I believe that the intelligence service should be perfectly transparent. Any state needs to defend itself to threats and it needs to stay informed about these threats.

One thing that do bother me a great deal is the shift in power between the government and the people that comes as a result from this. There will and always should be a conflict or power balance between the government and the people in a functioning democracy. But ultimately, democracy means “rule of the people” where the people elects a government and this government answers to the people, not the other way around. This is nicely elaborated in this must-read WSJ article.

Even though you may have nothing to hide and even though you think that you are not breaking any laws, the fact that the government knows so much about you, in many cases even more than you know about yourself (oh, the infinite possibilities of data-mining), and that you know so little about the people that govern and monitor you and how they govern and monitor you, is what makes this such an unhealthy development away from our democratic ideal. The leak by Snowden gives a small contribution to leveling this asymmetry, although the self-censorship will remain. I am far from comfortable in reading, liking and sharing Guardian-articles on Facebook as well as writing this, of course. This could be slightly too uncomfortable for a presumptive employer, although I try hard to be a good and useful citizen and employee and work with issues of sustainability where our governments have done such a poor job on so many levels for so long.

While I mention sustainability, add to this issue a future with even further growing debts, depletion of finite resources (e.g. the oil export market peaked in 2005), growing economic inequalities and possible conflicts within as well as between nations. Given this possible, and I would say even probable scenario, do you think that in the future the governments’ desire for controlling their citizens will increase or decrease? If it will increase we have in the social networks and the internet as a whole implemented the perfect tools for the government to control the people. Or perhaps, hopefully, we will move in a more post-heroic direction in terms of leadership, where the government sees the people as mainly a resource rather than a threat, Big society rather than Big brother. Perhaps it is up to us citizens to first show that we are worthy of such responsibility, or to just claim it.

Another of my main concerns about this, since no one else have brought it up, is about the nature of post-conventionality. The term is associated with Lawrence Kohlberg’s higher stages of moral development. It was inspired from his experiences from WWII where conventional people followed orders and committed massive acts of cruelty in contrast to post-conventional people who would refuse to follow orders and instead act from higher moral principles. Post-conventionality starts with stage transition 4/5 (corresponding to the individualist stage according to Loevinger’s ego development theory, EDT) and it starts with questioning conventions, questioning the own culture and ethnocentricity and henceforth questioning the state. If a typical stage 4/5 can be seen as an antithesis to the conventional stage 4 where you typically are embedded in the system, the stage 5 (or autonomous in terms of EDT) view on society, to balance the conflict between the individual and the collective, could be seen as the synthesis.

Thus, when you reject your cultural conditioning and ethnocentricity (or at least some of it), if you try to search for yourself and for a way of defining yourself beyond conventions and other’s opinions, and if you’d choose to express yourself openly in e.g. online discussion forums, wouldn’t there be a risk that the government would see you as a threat? After all, isn’t the government’s views of what is rational and right in life pretty much what defines conventions and conventionality?! Therefore, I’m not foremost afraid of misuse and irrational use of the surveillance apparatus, I’m more afraid of it being used in a most rational way, as a weapon against those who do not conform. After all, post-conventional is non-conventional. Or in terms of Big mind, it seems that this state of surveillance is like the voice of the Controller, that is getting too much influence and dominance, is being fueled by the voice of Fear. And the more it controls, the more it finds to fear.

From this I see as a very important feature in the cultural aspect of a sustainable society in holding a space or bridge for people that allows them to move into post-conventionality. To allow for the new generations of post-conventional or even integral thinkers to emerge as the older generations eventually die out. Or simply put, to help people to grow, to flourish, to think, to question, to act and to be in the most complex and reflective ways they can or chose. This I see mainly as an integral task, could there be anyone else?!

However, in this discussion I experience a lack of integral voices, although I have noticed a few exceptions, one being Gary Stamper. In my view, leading integral thinkers are too rarely seen challenging or questioning the power and authorities. Although Wilber had some restrained critique against the Bush administration, he enjoys being endorsed by Bill Clinton. And the foremost advocate of integral activism, Terry Patten, is in turn endorsing Barack Obama. So why this silence or shadow? And how do we break it?

After a few of my analyses of what makes integral not that integral as it claims to be, I have some candidates to why I think so few step up:

  • Lack of collapse or resource perspective – one limitation within the integral view that I elaborated in a previous post was the focus on the evolutionary or developmental aspects of culture and society. The only way is up and that movement is driven by an evolutionary impulse. Should there be a crisis, we can solve it by evolving to the next stage of development. Besides, there are cosmic habits to take care of previous lower stage problems, right?!
  • Lack of conflict perspective – it is in the very core and nature of integral theory to integrate and to be constructive instead of emphasizing the conflict aspects. The relation between individual and culture or state is basically seen from a functional or integration perspective, which I have described and problematized here. We would never be where we were without development support, therefore we should be grateful to our culture, our institutions and the way they function, right?!
  • First tier business – it is also in the nature of integral to climb down from the barricades and instead take meta-perspectives of conflicts. The “everyone is partially right”-stance and the exclusive “I am second tier”-view doesn’t exactly invite to getting the hands dirty on the battle field. It’s easy to feel too important to exposing oneself as a critic and instead trying to stay under the radar. Perhaps this is a wise strategy, although not all leading edge thinkers such as Noam Chomsky would agree.

My response to this and my view is that regardless of which metaphysical or post-metaphysical assumptions or meaning-making one happens to be embraced by, whatever perspectives one happens to prefer, whatever life experiences one happens to have as a basis for this, and regardless of the amount of gratitude that one happens to feel for society, it may be that there are a lot of things that we have taken for granted and that we in the future will have to fight hard for sustaining. And sometimes I think it’s just a matter of decency not to keep quiet and passive. I would argue that we don’t have the moral right to so easily give up the democracy that previous generations have fought so hard for. We are betraying the democratic ideals by not speaking up in issues such as this one.

In my view, post-conventionality doesn’t mean complying with a new set of more complex conventions. It means to never stop questioning and taking critical perspectives, and it means always being solely responsible for your own stance and actions.

And regarding Edward Snowden, I see little interest in trying to evaluate his stage of development, be it moral, hierarchical complexity, ego development or whatever. We sometimes discuss leadership stage of development, e.g. according to Joiner and Josephs, but sometimes leadership is just doing the best with whatever means available to you in the situation that you happen to be in. I find Snowden’s self-sacrificing action utterly courageous, as well as for those reporting about it and those standing up for fundamental democratic principles.

The question is not if we should, the question is how we engage in this as skillfully as possible?

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