Huffpost Green
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Stephen C. Rose Headshot

Our Crisis Is Not Economic -- Part Two

Posted: Updated:

I have argued since March that our current crisis is not economic. It is political, but even that does not go far enough. If I say it is spiritual, I am open to severe misinterpretation. So let me take this tack. It is a crisis of what Dietrich Bonhoeffer signaled with the phrase "world come of age". That Harvey Cox suggested by the term secular city. That I suggest with the title Beyond Creed: From Religion to Spirituality.

It's implicit in Al Gore's "inconvenient truth".

We are in the birth-throes of a global move beyond "capitalism", beyond "communism", beyond the fatalism of understandings based on ignorance, superstition and divisive belief systems (theories, ideologies).

What's coming is not a new world order because there is still massive disorder and it won't be that new. We're talking about a beginning recognition that the world is in serious need of a polity that is global in fact. Global in operation. Global in consciousness.

The notion of a global forgiving of past debts is not beyond the meaning of this evolution.

Nor the notion of a global currency.

Nor is it any more a heresy to suggest that by continuing our automobile economy we are throwing money, architecture, design and ecology down a black hole.

The notion of designing human settlements and their dwelling units on a scale that would permit their being more than superficially green is now viable to anyone who thinks realistically. This means green is not merely retrofitting, it is new designs and new notions of how to build "villages" that are self-sustaining.

I mean communities less vulnerable than skyscrapers or sprawling detached units. Less subject to being washed or blown away.

The change involves, also, beginning to recognize that war itself is oh so retro. We can do better, cheaper things to resolve our disputes. We can decide to do that.

We can also decide to solve our transportation problems by moving to a more trusting public polity. In other words, a more tolerant and rational humankind. This is existential for the reclamation of rights of way and their rational use.

We need, in short, a resolute war against the blinking populace that Nietzsche once flagged. Not striving to be super persons, but moving some beyond obesity -- seen in a far broader context than mere body mass.

As I have noted previously, "The reason the current crisis is not economic is that our economy is by any measure unsustainable."

It would be too much to expect that Barack Obama could single-handedly midwife the sea change that I believe we are being swept into by the hand of -- shall we say, forces we need to learn to live with? (AKA us.)

The most important thing Barack said in his recent interview with Charlie Gibson went largely unnoticed. Here it is:

I mean, if you think about previous crises -- you know, FDR. There were a whole bunch of programs that he tried that didn't work. But what he was able to provide to people was a sense that somebody's in charge and we're going to get through this.

And -- and that is as important as anything. SOURCE

We may not be sure what to do, but we can get the people we need to figure it out. This is laughable to the sophisticates of punditland. But it is exactly why we should be glad if Barack is President.

If we are to have faith in anything, it is that the better side of our nature has from the beginning of time produced what we venerate as great and imaginative and enlightening.

We may wish to encompass this still with the stuff of creedal religion. But I firmly believe that the day of creedal religion is fading precisely as we begin to learn some self respect -- even as we acknowledge that we are spectrum people -- that everything is a spectrum. As Ken Wilber made clear more than thirty years ago.

Barack is an imperfect person like the rest of us. But he seems to have been tapped for the job of midwifing the change I am talking about.

We need to sit loose to it, think beyond past envelopes, give some space to reason and be willing to slough off a good deal of junk that is materially as noxious as the bonds and other paper that we are beginning to see as pure Wizard Of Oz.

Here Are A Few Destinations That Remind Us That We CAN Move Beyond Oil and the Dominance of the Private Automobile

Barack Obama's Apollo Project

The Seminal Site for Grasping the Concepts of Christopher Alexander's Pattern Language

Is Christopher Alexander's Pattern Language Dead -- Can The Original Pattern Language Survive?

Cascadia Living Building Challenge Challenged

The Timeless Way of Building -- A Signpost

Our Crisis is Not Economic

Alex Steffen Hits The Nail on The Head in Business Week

From Our Partners