The world is at a critical crossroads right now with various crises including climate change, ecological destruction, species decline, animal population decline, widening political gaps and a lack of shared sense of reality among political parties. We have unsustainable resource consumption, an impending energy crisis with major financial ramifications, possibility of nuclear warfare, rising suicide rates and poor mental health, ocean acidification, river and environmental toxification from pollution and unsustainable agriculture, to name only those that come to my mind. The collection of our global challenges is now known as the Meta-Crisis.
Our first instinct might be to demand change from politicians, but they can’t create massive change before the bulk of the population changes its behaviors and expectations. They know dramatic policy changes would be unpopular and would likely get them voted out of office and replaced by someone who keeps things the same or makes them worse after voters express backlash, leading to a something like the Trump phenomenon.
Moreover, the top-down solutions we try to implement become analogous to directions shouted from a backseat driver.
Our global system is like a self-driving car that is navigating itself, but is beginning to swerve all over the road. The direction we are tempted to shout to the system from the back seat is “Dammit, Alexa- just go straight!” And so Alexa will lock the steering wheal in the straight position. This may stop the swerving, but will not fix the system’s inability to navigate properly. Once the road ahead begins to curve, the straight position will no longer seem so straight. You can imagine how this scenario might end. Rather than locking the steering wheel in the position we think is straight, we need to improve the system’s inherent ability to guide and stabilize itself. This can only be done by changing the core programming in the computer that drives the system.
Passion, which we can all tap into, acts as a compass. When we follow our passion we are led to what is meaningful and important to us, and to what brings us joy. We get our need for purpose met by being ourselves, by which I mean doing the things that are authentic to us, and sharing that in any way that seems important to us, which is a natural next step for anyone engaging in their passions, passionately.
Following our passions is the proper way to use our strengths. Passion is always most pronounced in the areas of our greatest potential at any given time, and by engaging in our passions, we develop our natural talents and potentials to the highest degree possible for us right now.
Each individual who acts consistently on their passions becomes a highly effective agent of positive contribution to society. Every one of us has a unique perspective, a unique set of talents and strengths, a unique way of thinking and of making sense of the world. The strengths of all individuals fit together to cover all areas of necessity when we are in cooperation and a greater chunk of the population is being themselves and using their strengths.
As more and more of us consistently act from passion, our talents will synergize and support each other’s, each of our talents becoming more useful by combination with others’ talents and contributions, and thus begins a virtuous spiral that keeps expanding upward.
Each person acting on their passions is an example to all others that it is not only possible, but natural and highly rewarding to do so. It is equivalent to being ourselves, and a great version of ourselves as well.
Passion has the added benefit that it naturally seeks to be shared with the world outside oneself, whereas our goals, in general, tend to be selfish in nature and generally disregard others or the impact they have on the world at large. Passionate people are far more likely to direct their passion, increasingly over time, toward a wider positive impact. This is because they are already more fulfilled in themselves. Their cup is overflowing in this area, so naturally they will seek to share it with others rather than to make meaning from acquiring more for themselves.
The difference between our typical goals, and passion, is like the difference between engaging in sex primarily to get yourself off while hoping you get your partner off in the process, and on the other hand, engaging in sex to experience both you and your partner ascending into higher sexual union where you both appreciate each other and feel each other’s radiant love, leaving you both enriched.
If they are not over-absorbed in goals, the impact passionate people make is typically not a forced impact. Goals and initiatives focused on fixing a problem out of a sense of disgust or panic, even when well-intentioned, are narrow and rigid in the way they approach problems. The issues our society faces today are so complex, large and systemic that contrived solutions simply will not work, and will actually backfire. We do not need problem-oriented initiatives which try to manipulate the system in order to fix it. Systems thinkers know this is the wrong approach as the real outcome of manipulations rarely, if ever, match their intended outcomes, and often lead to battles. Complex systems with many moving parts must be treated differently. Passion does not focus on problems but on giving and sharing, which is fundamentally a different attitude. Sharing is by nature, non-manipulative. It does not demand that what it is offering be accepted and implemented or that anyone else or anything else changes. Rather, it gives because it feels good and right to do so, and that is enough. Counterintuitively, this is much more effective at inspiring the types of changes we desire in the face of our world’s highly complex, novel and abstract issues. A person focusing on the joys of their passions and simultaneously aware of the issues our world faces is a much more effective agent of change than someone focusing on the problems themselves and trying to fix them via a reactionary or forceful approach.
The more people we have acting on their passions and naturally sharing them to the collective out of a sense of joy rather than fear, disgust or panic, the better and faster we will transform our world’s situation.
There is a diverse wealth of people who care for our planet’s predicament. By giving them more opportunities and internal permission to engage in their passions, we will see more joy and more positive contributors springing up.
In this way, we can draw on our true resources as a global community to converge on real solutions which are powerful but lighthearted in nature and won’t be rejected by the system or cause havoc to its incredible array of moving parts.
We do not know the specific manifestations, projects, creative works, initiatives and changes which will end up impacting the system in healthy ways, we only know they exist in every area of human affairs. We don’t know how the people who comprise our global society will ideally change their day-to-day behavior and consumption. These things can only be worked out by each individual and organically as they collect and cooperate.
We can say, however, that passion is the driving force which will guide these changes. Passion is a person’s love for- and connection to- life, channeled into specific areas leading to action, exploration and understanding.
Being sourced by love, passion lends itself to empathy, to lifting others up, to ushering others and the world in the direction that is best for them or that they authentically prefer, without a selfish attachment to the acceptance of its help or to any particular path forward. Because of this, passion does not break the system, but helps it evolve into its healthiest manifestations.
So it is lucky that we don’t actually need to know the answers before making improvements, because the improvements start with each of us being more like ourselves and engaging in what truly lights us up, which is not a chore, but a rewarding and intrinsically motivated activity that can make sense to everyone with the right guidance.
In my personal opinion, if there were an answer, it really comes with 3 pillars, all approached simultaneously by us as individuals. The first pillar is Oneness, where we recognize that we are all one, not as an idea but as a genuine insight, observable as a fact. This helps generate the second pillar, Love. By knowing we are all one we are able to love each other and the entire world as ourselves, no longer feeling indifferent toward or hating certain people, ideas or animals, and thus failing to share our brotherly love with them and possibly even causing them more damage. The third pillar, Passion, is turning that love into action. It is what we naturally do when we harbor love instead of indifference, or the fear which leads to hatred. We act from passion to create more of what we love and to nurture it. In this way passion drives the actions we will take, which are the actual changes in our behavior. Each of these pillars is part of our personal solution and each can be inspired in others.
With that said, we must be careful to not react against the current system just because it doesn’t promote Oneness or the other pillars I mentioned. It is a better approach to be the change we wish to see in the world and share from that place, rather than primarily tearing down or attacking what others have built.