Jim Garrison is, among other things, the chairman and president of the State of the World Forum, which he cofounded with Mikhail Gorbachev in 1995. The State of the World Forum (SWF) is often thought of as a "shadow UN," in that it is the largest forum of world leaders outside of the United Nations. From Margaret Thatcher to Ted Turner, from the Queen of Jordan to Desmond Tutu, from Jimmy Carter to George Bush Sr., all have been part of the extraordinary dialogue that is the State of the World Forum. Jim is also the president and chairman of Wisdom University, a higher-education institution that offers a "commitment to personal and professional renewal" by "nurturing and addressing the whole person."
"The planet," Jim Garrison is fond of saying, "is on a collision course with itself." The monumental challenges of the 21st century seem dire indeed, almost insurmountable in many ways. And to make matters worse, only a portion of the population has the developmental capacity to fully recognize the complexity of our collective problems, while the majority of the world remains blissfully unaware of the impending catastrophe we seem to be heading toward. And many of those who can see feel utterly helpless to do anything about it, unable to find their own ecologically sensitive values reflected in the culture at large. And so they anxiously await what many perceive as the inevitable, a tsunami of global crises to wash over us all, rendering the fruits of human civilization undone in a single fell swoop.
And yet, isn't it too soon to write the future off to these sorts of doom and gloom scenarios? After all, aren't we finally beginning to see some sort of shift for the positive, a shift toward more progressive attitudes and more effective strategies for the future? Many in the U.S. are experiencing a real sense of rekindled hope and civic potency—especially in light of the Democratic primaries, which seems to be galvanizing a great number of people toward much deeper engagement with the political process. Researchers such as Paul Ray are reporting the rise of an exciting new demographic in the world within a population he refers to as the "cultural creatives." While there is still some debate over how to slice up this data or what conclusions to draw from Ray's statistics, it is clear that the number of "cultural creatives" is increasing at a fairly explosive rate, currently representing about 26% of the American voting populace. But many of these "bright greens" (as they are often called) continue to struggle to have their voices heard by the movers and shakers of world politics, and fear that unless they find a way to constellate themselves into a viable political voice, the slumbering giant of humanity will continue to sleepwalk ever closer to the precipice of ecological collapse.
If there is one thing to be said for certain about the human race, it is that we will always find a way to actualize every ounce of potential available to us, in whatever form that potential takes—whether it is the potential for barbarism, for savagery, for merciless destruction, degradation, and depravity; or whether it is the potential for transcendence, for compassion and idealism, for the heights of creativity and noble vision—we are all of these, simultaneously, all at once. We move in every direction possible, though always with a slight-but-significant tilt toward greater depth, freedom, and fullness. The current condition of humanity has been described as growing "better and better, worse and worse, faster and faster," which only makes some sort of breaking point seem even more inevitable, and the need for a developmental understanding of the human condition more crucial.
"All the world's a stage," history's most cherished bard tells us, "and all the men and women merely players." But what Shakespeare could not have possibly known at the time he wrote these words is that the world is not a single monolithic stage, but is in fact a graduating succession of stages, each built upon the other — each with its own set of players, its own set of shared values, and its own lens through which the world is interpreted. Likewise, the game of global politics is not to be played upon a single flat chessboard, but on many boards simultaneously — like a game of "Asimovian Hyperchess" in which moves are played across multiple geometric planes simultaneously. This is how politics in the 21st century must be approached, taking into account all of the different developmental levels human beings grow through (e.g. magic, mythic, rational, postmodern, and integral), while bringing as much healthy balance as possible to the individuals and cultures who exist at each of these particular levels. And only a genuinely integral analysis of world politics can promise the sort sanity and stability our yet-unborn progeny prays for us to find, before it's too late....