Are Rocks A Path to Wisdom?

Could rocks be a starting point to ground and generate the wisdom needed to power our collective future?

What prompts me to ask this rather abstract question is a great beta website I discovered called Anthropocene.   The word "Anthropocene" was not a familiar term, hence a Wikipedia search which revealed "Anthropocene is a recent and informal geologic chronological term that serves to mark the evidence and extent of human activities that have had a significant global impact on the Earth's ecosystems."  The information at the Anthropocene website includes an excellent 3 minute video that aggregates the last 250 years of our history, from the start of the Industrial Revolution to the Rio+20 Summit. The video shows that the growth of humanity has become a global force on an equivalent scale to major geological processes.  What I got from that video is that humans can look to Earth, this rock we live on, for clarity of our current and future interdependent status. 

One purpose of this blog is to explore how humans recognize and act on the reality that all matter is interconnected.  My work over the past few years has planted itself firmly in the awareness that each individual represents a basic building block of the global sustainability solution we are collectively generating.  A side note, but a paradigm-shifting thought for me:   the realization that a strategy which considers global sustainability as the end goal is inappropriately limited.  The broadest vision we can paint calls for strategy and action in support of universal expandability. 

Whether we are talking global or universal landscape, I have clarity the Earth's future is our future.  Earth will take care of herself; the question more accurately is whether humanity will also be living on Earth, or will she have been rendered an inhospitable host to our survival needs.   

The  Anthropocene website is a collaborative project between researchers and communicators from some of the leading scientific research institutions on global sustainability.  The goal is to improve our collective understanding of the Earth system, as well as to inspire, educate and engage people around humanity’s impact on Earth.  I am impressed after exploring the combination of high-level scientific data and powerful imagery found there.   It helped me visualize and better understand humanity’s geographic imprint in recent time and how that connects to me.

Clients over the years have benefited from my focus on the process by which we gather information (data, or perhaps data arranged to answer a specific question) and convert it to knowledge (systematic, aggregating information across certain webs of questions which we often define as disciplines).   As I have grown into my life work, I have become even more intrigued with the next step:   how we take knowledge and leverage it into wisdom?  Getting from knowledge to wisdom requires something radically different than just aggregating information. 

Nelson Kelloggdescribes the crisis humans find themselves in:  “… not that of the depredation of the planet, or the exploitation of entire peoples, but one of meaning and purpose, both individually and collectively.   In “Wisdom Communities”, Nelson’s essay included in the book “Healing Our Planet Healing Ourselves”, he writes

“Wisdom requires a meditative thinking that uses conversations amongst knowledge systems to aid in answering questions of meaning, incorporating the insights provided by knowledge systems through the high art of empathy."

Anthropocene's website facilitates its visitors moving from the information stage to the knowledge stage quickly in the way it has aggregated science and communication disciplines.  These two disciplines could simplistically be thought of as representing left and right brain approaches to processing knowledge.  The art of engaging unique right and left brain fortes to generate individual and collective understanding is another area of fascination and focus for me.  (The brain represents duality at our individual level that, when integrated, allows us to apply our most complete brainpower capacity to address the challenges in front of us.  However, I will hold that discussion for a future post.)

The collaborative effort represented at the Anthropocene website yields a full-brain pathway for the layperson to explore information that has been gathered into knowledge.  The website facilitates the generation of a personal knowledge/understanding of "how planetary boundaries and planetary stewardship have heralded a profound shift in perception of our place in the world, as well as articulating the growing evidence base of scientific observations that show we have become the prime driver of global environmental change."

The beauty of high level knowledge articulation combined with easy access for any internet user means more and more lay people can be equipped to create their own wisdom and empowered to contribute to the collective’s wisdom.  This phase of the process, moving from knowledge to wisdom, happens as each of us contributes our individual knowledge to the conversations we engage with in our networks and our communities. 

In same essay, "Wisdom Communities, Nelson Kellogg also notes the conversations that will yield wisdom are the ones that explore and reveal satisfying answers around questions that address the crisis of individual and collective meaning and purpose.  Questions like:

 "What constitutes a good life?"
 "What is the narrative of my own life?"
 "How do I understand my linkage and responsibility to other human beings?"
 "Is there any meaning to be found in the succession of human generations on this planet?" 

Kellog writes, "If we cannot address such questions straightforwardly, without a smirk of irony, what does it matter that we do anything in life beyond the immediate and the selfish?"

Are you interested
in generating personal and planetary evolution
by choice rather than by chance?

If you are, I believe it will require traveling a path that takes us from information data points, to aggregate knowledge across multiple disciplines, and on through the quantum leap required to generate wisdom. 
I propose we study how Earth's systems work and ways in which we humans impact the rock on which we live.  In a nutshell let's explore how humanity's fate is interconnected to that of Earth.  From that place of knowledge, we employ our hearts and capacity for empathy to power our internal, personal, community, national and international conversations.  It is those conversations that will yield the meaning and wisdom needed to generate our personal, collective and planetary future.