The December solstice opens the door to the theme of Power in the Human Hive. Gaia’s Reflective Organs (as individuals, collectives and human hives) have evolved through three eras of Power: Over, With and As.
In today’s world too often, Power is associated with Power Over. The news delights in reporting the conflicts that Power Over engenders, and we regularly read about stories of Power Over at all levels of human scale from individual to family to organization to city and nation and planet. But the news is changing because those who have been the victims of Power Over are pushing back. Most of these resistors are staging their protest in cities – where nearly half of all people naturally live, work, relate and co-create.
Women are declaiming, through the #metoo movement, the gender-based power-over structures that disempowered them. The Catholic Church has been taken to court in many countries for the exploitive power some of its priests have exercised over children’s rights of safety, security, and sense of worth. Hong Kongers have refused to allow their democratic rights to be disempowered by battling Chinese hegemony on the streets of Hong Kong for the better part of this year. The Gilet Jaunes in Paris have protested the unfairness of the governmental power that makes decisions that directly affect citizen’s lives without consultation or input.
It is difficult to imagine a world without circumstances that permit and placate the practices of Power Over. The “Over” kind of power is an evolutionary capacity that naturally arose out of Tribal cultures. As such it is usually connected to masculine energies and embodied even today in the most powerful political leaders of the most powerful nations: Trump, Johnson, Putin, Ping.
Interestingly, it is alive in both democracies (where the stranglehold of Power Over practices drag those nations down the evolutionary spiral) and in totalitarian states (where the traditional Power Over practices are meeting an uprising of resistors who want to move up the evolutionary spiral). Thus, the tectonic plates of Power Over nations are becoming locked into Power Over subduction zones. Progress is becoming difficult in either direction because the Power Over leaders are not adapting to the changing world.
This becomes evident when we consider the impacts of globalized communication combined with technological energy exploitation. Whether it is China building more coal fired generators that are polluting their population to early deaths or North Korea flaunting its nuclear arsenal, no nation can keep “power” activities out of the global eye. Satellites and their power-detection capabilities rapidly expose most such activities to public view. This combustible combination means that Power Over is no longer an unassailable right of those in positions of power who too often could keep secret the impacts of their exercise of Power Over. We see now that smaller nations like North Korea and Iran, Syria and Bangladesh can hold their own cities and the world to ransom by threatening use of dirty bombs and/or polluting industry.
In such circumstances, it is hard to imagine how Power Over could transform into Power With. But out of the ashes of the fires of human insecurity – related to climate, water, food, energy, culture and finance – has arisen a whole value chain of service providers trying to meet the needs of the most destitute. The Not-for-Profits (NFP) and NGO’s have mustered the will and the way to build bridges between the developed nations and developing nations.
Power With brings into the power equation the power of feminine ways of knowing – the power emerging from the deepest relationships of bonding, belonging and caring.
The UN is the most widely recognized organization born out of an aspiration that power could be shared, and justice could emerge so the haves would be able and willing to share power, resources and developmental opportunities with the have nots. The vision that people signed up for was that an international organization could come alongside everyone in need and share “Power With”. After 50 years of operation – that is often decried as ineffective and too costly – the UN (and its cadre of related global Agencies) – can point to many successes that have shifted worldviews, resources and health outcomes.
Practising Power With while the most powerful nations continued to exercise Power Over at the voting level of the UN has proved frustrating and damaging.
The model of Power With has been replicated for other global initiatives like Climate Change Conferences (Conference of the Parties) known widely as COP. And we have seen just this month at COP25 in Madrid, the terrible impasses that result when the Power With meme gives all members equal votes/rights but without requirements for matching evolutionary responsibilities to life on earth.
Nevertheless, out of Power With has emerged some recent more advanced variations like Extinction Rebellion (XR). The younger generations have taken lessons from the fields of complexity science and organized protests and non-violent direct action that practices inclusion but with some rules of engagement. XR is confounding the institutions of Power Over (police) and Power With (social services) by discerning the lessons of natural power, ecological relationships and organic emergence.
Thus, Power With is creating the conditions for a more complex practice of Power As.
Power Over is dominator-based.
Power With is relationship-based.
Power As is consciousness-based.
Power As combines both the masculine and feminine sources of power into a fully human – or some would say even Gaian – source of power.
Power As recognizes that each person has the capacity to be purpose-driven in a way that can transcend and include domination for appropriate reasons, like responding quickly to disasters. Power As also transcends and includes relationships (for bonding, belonging and collaborating) to co-create and meshwork situation-responsive cultures and structures.
We see Power As enacted by those who have been willing to step into the fires caused by Power Over and Power With, witness the deepest truths (however uncomfortable), come along beside others (to strengthen and help them release their powerful capacities) and be open to learning why Nature, Life, Consciousness, Gaia (aka the Divine) has evolved us for a higher purpose.
We see Power As called forth by Dr. Monica Sharma who has worked at the UN so deeply, broadly, widely that she speaks of the Power we possess when we see the Practical, Political and Personal as a system with the capacities to meet any challenge.
Her colleague and scientist (and Nobel Laureate) Dr. Karen O’Brien integrates this wisdom into climate challenges researched by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) where she has served as a social scientist for 25 years.
Likewise, Terry Patten, Founder of State of Emergence and lifetime activist has shifted his influence on power into framing a “New Republic of the Heart” that explicitly reveals the heart-based intelligence that lies at the core of Power As.
Thomas Huebl’s online inquiry into Trauma and Healing and Charles Eisenstein’s vision of a “beautiful Earth we know is possible” also evoke and enact Power As.
On the city-scale Power As integrates all the intelligences – from Contexting to Individual to Collective to Strategic, into and as an Evolutionary intelligence.
Power As can be practised by individuals, empowered to tap into deep knowing or not-knowing (as Charles Eisenstein would suggest) in service to a purpose greater than any one person.
Power As can be practised by collectives, able and willing to act as WE-Holders, tuning into a Hive Mind (perhaps exemplified by Spiritual Activist Alistair McIntosh and his Scottish Land Reformers and the Lorian’s Subtle Activists tapping into the Subtle Realms as life partners from other different dimensions).
Power As would result in a worldview naturally arising from making decisions through the lens of the Master Code – to Care for Self, Others, Place and Planet.
Even as we have declared our current age to be the Anthropocene, we enter the era when Power As is called into being, because Power Over has been applied not only to every scale of human life but to every form of life on this planet. Power Over without the transmutation of Power With and Power As has proven to be ultimately disruptive, traumatizing and life-destroying.
Power As is also called forth because Power With seems powerless against Power Over. Power With has the best intentions to include Power Over in the dialogues and collaborations it imagines and attempts. But Power With fails to recognize the capacity for hijacking resources that Power Over can too easily manipulate. Only Power As is willing to speak Truth to Power Over and offer Appropriate Love (and not be naively manipulated) to Power With. Power As has the wisdom to act AS Life to realign and recalibrate the inappropriate use of the Powers that have evolved in earlier eras.
Gaia’s Reflective Organ Reflects
When we stand at this point in time and look backwards, it is too easy to simply condemn Power Over and Power With as incapable and unworthy. But each of those eras was powered by natural fuels that enabled the accumulation of power as wealth and knowledge that set the life conditions for the next Power to emerge.
Bio Fire – enabled Power Over. Cultural Power Over was powered by the forests and peat that could be collected from the Earth’s surface and support the spread of agriculture.
Fossil Fuels – enabled Power With. Without the accumulation of wealth enabled by fossil fuels, mined from below Earth’s surface, Power With culture could not have emerged to try to right the injustices caused by Power Over structures and systems.
Solar/Renewables – enable Power As. Without being able to source our energy needs from natural sources like the natural systems that build up life on Earth, we would not have the natural models, teachers, or sciences that show us how Power As is shared in Integral Ecologies and circular metabolisms.
When we look back at the evolutionary trajectory of Power Over, Power With and Power As we can perhaps appreciate that Power has always been a blessing and a curse in human life. But perhaps now, we have matured enough as a species that as we access and use our Power, we can take responsibility for the rules of engagement (and related authority) and relationships (and related influence) that Power As can reveal to us.
We look to the new faith practices (like subtle/spiritual activism), universal patterns of life-giving principles (like New Republic of the Heart) and holistic decision sets (like the Master Code) to guide us through the maturing of our stage of Power As.
May that be the legacy we will remember from this Age of the Anthropocene , with and as Gaia’s Reflective Organs.