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Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed Published: Saturday, March 21, 2009 By: Dr. Manuel Ángel (Coco) Morales

In a very profound and interesting book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive, Jared Diamond explores a number of ancient and modern societies and why they failed or succeeded.  The author identifies twelve significant environmental factors that need to be addressed.  A core argument is that present societies can survive if humans have the courage to practice long-term thinking and are willing to make the bold, courageous, anticipatory decisions at a time when problems become perceptible, but before they have reached crisis proportions… There is also a crucial choice, which is the courage to make painful decisions about values:  asking which of the values that formerly served the society well can be continued to be maintained under new change circumstances; which of those treasured values must instead be jettisoned and replaced with different approaches.

The great challenge is how to contribute to new thinking for a sustainable society.  A top priority must be given to the good execution of the whole ecosystem, and second priority must be given to the good functioning of the society.  Only when these two are viable is possible to seek quality of life in the individualistic ways we may choose.  The components of the ecosystem are high quality of life and self realization, justice, security, compassion; equity, order, peace, health, goods and services, work, variety and stimulation, powerful knowledge, sense of belonging, participation and freedom; all of these components or factors as a strong platform for sustainable democratic, legal, safety, health, economic, educational and recreational systems; and for the convergence of branches and sectors, and for the emergence of the knowledge society.

A point of alertness.  It  is a very risky venture to give exclusive priority to economic values, because this will lead to sacrificing vital life systems at a time when the increasing world populations needs those life system components more than ever.  The core values that people hunger for these days are: love and compassion, justice, security and self realization.  A sustainable society extends love and compassion not only to those near and clear, but all of the people who are struggling, surviving or in pain.

A viable society recognizes the intricate web of relationships and binds all the people into a common future destiny.

Life cannot be mainly conflict and destructiveness, rather a sustainable society stresses partnership rather than domination; co-operation more than retaliation; solidarity more than power.

Another point to remember.  The viability of the society underpins the core social values and is a necessary prerequisite to the healthy performance of all its sectors.  Thus, when we talk and lecture about making Puerto Rico a more competitive, sustainable and viable society we are referring to a huge venture where all of us can play a constructive part the co-creation of social, economic and political processes. 

Within the wide research scope of social sciences some researchers (Owens and Hunter) have presented the FACT MODEL to emphasize some key processes for working towards the sustainable society.  The five key aspects are Freedom (freely participating without coercion of fear of reprisal); Alignment (all participant on board sharing the purpose of the cooperative venture); Congruence (correspondence between the people’s purpose, values, beliefs, assumptions, culture, and actions); Truth (whole person learning, love, compassion and collective wisdom); and Synergy (aggregated energy released and enhanced. 

In the area of business the goal is to foster a conscious evolution requiring that organizations, leaders and entrepreneurs, all alike, have to apply their genius to the development of socially responsible investments.  The purpose is a sustainable, regenerative economy that supports the restoration of the quality of life, the enhancement of human creativity and community, including expanded ownership, network marketing, community-based partnerships, micro credit loans and all kinds of social innovations.

If we are going to create a new society, we will have to reshape our manufacturing, agriculture, academic disciplines, government, institutions and companies that align with the new challenges. 

 


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