Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.
Martin Luther King Jr.
As usual, I’ve addressed several insightful connections between the present learning process I’m getting through Gaia Education, my personal and collective approaches, and consequently some life changes I’ve decided to face. To drop out from the mode of “To Have” to drop into the mode of “To Be” (1*) is by no means an easy task, I’m quite aware it’s for the long haul. By dint of conviction I’ve tried to strive myself to give up my role as passive observer (and victim) and thus gaining authority to pursue a truly productive life. In doing so I’ve had to obviously deal with my own huge ignorance, with my drawbacks. However, by acknowledging my dim view I’ve also found the ways of developing mindfulness, a state that has let my creative power arises genuinely. The more I’ve allowed my human powers to emerge, the more I’ve been able to fairly realize, with love, my abilities as systems ecologist / cultural creative / evolutionary activist / evolutionary leader, among other systemic skills by which I’m aiming to contribute my grain of sand towards the ‘story of integration’. So next, and being in tune with what I’ve assimilated herein, I want to share some of the inspirations that have brought direction to various of my life approaches and shifts.
Productive/Mature Love, Empowerment & The Path of Eldership
The notions of Erich Fromm, the prominent psychiatrist, have highly inspired me. Because of him I began to grasp what love really is, as well as approaching other concepts that have enriched my path. It was my mother (Cielo Alejandra…she got into transformation more than three years ago) who gave to me the entrance to the Fromm’s ideas by passing me his book The Art of Loving (it was in 2012). Indeed, by means of this book the also humanist philosopher, sociologist and systems thinker clearly influenced many thoughts of Martin Luther King Jr. Specially his interpretations on the Power of Love. Fromm’s Art of Loving “provided the intellectual framework for Luther King’s spiritual awareness of love as a divine force uniting all life.” (Mindful Staff, 2010). In this regard the late nonviolence activist declared:
“…Erich Fromm can write a book like The Art of Loving and make it very clear that love is the supreme unifying principle of life. I’m trying to say in this movement that it is necessary to follow the technique of nonviolence as the most potent weapon available to us, but it is necessary also to follow the love ethic…”. (Mindful Staff, 2010)
According to Mindful Staff (2010) Fromm’s body of work on Mature/Productive Love supported King’s understanding on how “the right kind of self-love and the right kind of love of others are interdependent…”. Thus, Erich Fromm keenly expresses in The Art of Loving:
“Mature love is union under the condition of preserving one’s integrity, one’s individuality. Love is an active power in man, a power which breaks through the walls which separate man from his fellow men, which unites him with others; love makes him overcome the sense of isolation and separateness, yet permits him to be himself, to retain his integrity. In love the paradox occurs that two beings become one and yet remain two.” (Fromm, 1956)
In terms of Empowerment as a process that is both individual and cooperative, Fromm also denotes what the productive orientation of personality is. He conveys it’s “a fundamental attitude, a mode of relatedness in all realms of human experience. It covers physical, mental, emotional, and sensory responses to others, to oneself, and to things.” (Fromm, 1970). In addition, the sociologist argues:
“Productiveness is [hu]man’s ability to use his powers and to realize the potentialities inherent in him. Saying he uses his powers implies that he must be free and not dependent on someone who controls his powers. It implies, furthermore, that he is guided by reason, since he can make use of his powers only if he knows what they are, how to use them, and what to use them for. Productiveness means that he experiences himself as the embodiment of his powers and as the ‘actor’; that he feels himself as the subject of his powers, that he is not alienated from his powers, i.e., that they are not masked from him and transferred to an idolized object, person, or institution.” (Fromm, 1970).
Arguably these Fromm’s ideas on empowerment and productivity could have inspired approaches such as The Drama/Power Triangle among many others seeking out for a change in attitude far from passiveness, domination, and misleading attitudes of helping to others. In my case, his viewpoints helped to me to foresee what I’ve dubbed the Ecobiopsychosocial (EBPS) Capital.
With respect to The Path of Eldership as the capacity of attending first and foremost to the well-being of the whole, Fromm points out to the remarkable term of biophilia which was coined by him in making reference to the necessary return to the essential unity of love between Humans and Nature. He indicates the complete spread of biophilia is to be found in the productive orientation as well. The systems thinker asserts that:
“the person who fully loves life is attracted by the process of life and growth in all spheres. He[She] prefers to construct rather than to retain. He is capable of wondering, and he prefers to see something new to the security of finding confirmation of the old. He loves the adventure of living more than he does certainty. His approach to life is functional rather than mechanical. He sees the whole rather than only the parts, structures rather than summations. He wants to mold and to influence by love, reason, by his example; not by force, by cutting things apart, by the bureaucratic manner of administering people as if they were things. He enjoys life and all its manifestations rather than mere excitement.” (Fromm, 1964).
In this way, it’s clearly gazed how Fromm conceives the journey from the ‘story of separation’ to the ‘story of integration’ here, i.e., The Path of Eldership.
The Creative Power of the Universe (CPU)
Because of Gaia Education I met the gripping book Reflections on Evolutionary Activism written by Tom Atlee in which he unfolds the heartening concept of The Creative Power of the Universe (CPU). It has recently sparked up my trail towards evolutionary activism. By all means the Creative Power criterion developed through the module’s contents is related to the Atlee’s CPU elucidation in the interweaving of the evolutionary process. The module’s handbook exposes that:
“Creative power implies a gift of our individual wisdom and beauty to enhance the process of life. Creative power is not a property we own, but rather processes that we open up to. We are integral parts and participants of the whole process of life. This process of life – as a whole – evolving and diversifying is the ultimate creative process on Earth and intimately linked with the evolution of the Universe.” (Gaia Education, 2018, p.5)
That’s precisely what Atlee is referring by saying:
“Evolution is, above all, a creative undertaking. Its hallmark is novelty, […] Novelty arises from and feeds a vast creative enterprise that never stops, a creative act we call the universe, a story being written by itself, always in search of what works, what’s next, what’s interesting, what’s possible now.” (Atlee, 2009).
The ecologist and social changemaker also reveals:
“while some like to put this creative power outside of reality and personalize it as The Creator, I find it more meaningful and enriching to sense the creative power as present within all aspects of Creation itself. It is a natural property of reality. The universe is fundamentally creative. Creation is what it does. So I call this ultimate cause of everything the Creative Power of the Universe. CPU for short.” (Atlee, 2009).
Lastly, he manifests:
“this symphony of creativity is virtually infinite in its scope, depth, and complexity. And it doesn’t stop. A major quality of this symphony is that it is co-creative, co-evolutionary. Any particular thing exists because of so many other things. Events and phenomena come into being alongside one another, arising from the same ground, interacting as they go. I am because you are, and because we are, and because we are in all this together.” (Atlee, 2009).
Hence The Creative Power of the Universe can be similarly understood as the creative interbeing between the whole parts of Creation.
Focusing on my approach as Systemic Organizational Development Consultant, it’s evident the importance of developing my knack as evolutionary leader. In this interdependent process of learning and collaboration I got in touch with the Institute for Evolutionary Leadership (IEL) based on California (San Francisco Bay Area). Through Capra Course Alumni Network, I had the privilege of meeting Manuel Manga, an experienced organizational consultant, facilitator, leadership coach, and one of the Co-Founders and Managing Partners of this social endeavor which “builds leadership capacities across sectors to redesign worldviews, cultures and institutions in service to a more just, sustainable, and flourishing world.” (IEL, 2018).
According to Manga (2018): “Evolutionary leaders are people that are competent and effective within their own organizations, while also competently exercising their visions of a great transition toward a just and sustainable civilization.” Additionally, he expresses that:
“To be an evolutionary leader is to recognize that the current state of our world is unsustainable for humanity and for the rest of the biosphere. The facts tell us that we are living on a dying planet. Our great global problems are systemic and interdependent with cultural, social and natural systems.” (Manga, 2018).
That is, likewise Evolutionary Leadership could be understood as Holistic Leadership since the individuals combine here their power and functional knowledge of the environment and external reality where the human organization dwells upon and operates. Moreover, both approaches – that in my opinion, and from my holistic view, are pretty similar – aims to meet both individual and collective needs.
Concerning the different types of leadership skills, the formation of Evolutionary leaders in the IEL conceives seven critical and complementary competencies (2*) which will guide individuals in coping with systemic problems by means of systemic solutions, as well as empowering them to head a conscious and necessary cultural evolution in order to achieve systemic sustainability, which includes shifting the prevalent socio-economic model, encouraging both new educational models and setting up technologies for the sake of the whole web of life (Manga, 2018). (In order to avoid expanding this reflection, you can address the seven competencies clicking here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/seven-competencies-evolutionary-leadership-framework-ovchinnikov)
Manuel also argues:
“Evolutionary leadership offers a new interpretation of leadership based on an ethics of love, collaboration, co-inspiration, and empowerment. Evolutionary leaders can identify adaptive-evolutionary challenges, embrace the collective intelligence of the people, create shared visions, coordinate effective actions to solve tough problems, and mobilize their communities to build a better world. In this sense, anyone can be a leader, and anyone can learn to be an evolutionary leader.” (Manga 2018).
Thereby we can see how evolutionary Leadership is therefore bound to truly productivity, empowerment, The Creative Power of the Universe (CPU) and Love as the supreme value that makes us (including the entire community of life) being one but not the same.
As conclusion, regarding all over what I have exposed herein, I want to simply make a match with my personal and collective approaches. Being a cultural creative, a systems thinker or a ‘mind’s ecologist’ (thanks G. Bateson), an evolutionary leader and an ‘evolutionary activist’ does not mean to pursue ‘militancy’ on blind radical positions and ideologies that just would go against my life principles and purposes. As per Atlee (2009), ‘Activism’ simply means an active commitment to co-create a better future by trying to contribute with the shifting of deteriorated social situations and social problematic systems which are decimating Gaia, our household, our life, our presence as individuals and human organisations. That’s the main reason I’m convinced that working for encouraging meaningful conversations that include ‘love’ or – as Fromm would say – ‘Productive/Mature love’ as the most vital value in human organizations shall open up a possibility for its evolution as reflexive, conversational and interdependent living systems, and thus tracing the path towards the formation of genuine Homo & Organizatio Sapiens Reciprocans.
If we want to consciously and intentionally change our social systems—if we want them to evolve in ways that make sense—then we need to talk together about it. The more inclusive, wise and productive our conversations are, the more powerful and positive the changes will be. It is no accident that the conversational dimension of our work is usually called ‘process’. Conversation is our way of being in process and evolving together. Given the many crises that are emerging today, high quality conversation is an essential evolutionary force.
Tom Atlee, Reflections on Evolutionary Activism (2009)
(1*) I highly suggest reading the book ‘To Have’ or ‘To Be by Erich Fromm. I’d say it’s a compelling manifesto on both the necessary human and social change towards a necessary cultural evolution.
(2*) These are the seven competencies: 1. Personal Evolution – 2. Emotions and Generative language – 3. Systems of Being and Thinking – 4. Ontological Designing – 5. Systemic Sustainability – 6. Adaptive Work and Collaboration – 7. Wisdom and Evolutionary Visions
Author: Juan Sebastián Cárdenas Salas (November 19, 2018)
From the serie: Reflections Around Gaia Education
Watch U2 – Pride (In The Name Of Love)
Watch The Mike Wallace Interview: Erich Fromm (1958-05-25)
Watch U2 one
Watch Introduction of Evolutionary Leadership by Manuel Manga (YouTube)
Resources of support / Book & Article references
Social Dimension – Module’s 3 Handbook general contents and references (Gaia Education, 2018)
The Art of loving by Erich Fromm (1956)
The Heart of Man: its Genius for Good and Evil by Erich Fromm (1964)
Social Character in a Mexican Village: A Sociopsychoanalitic Study by Erich Fromm (1970)
Reflections on Evolutionary Activism by Tom Atlee (2009)
Surrendered to love by Mindful Staff (2010)
Evolutionary Leadership for Systemic Sustainability V518 paper by Manuel Manga (2018) [file shared directly]
Institute for the Evolutionary Leadership [IEL] (2018)