It is Outlandish to think that in a world of nearly 7 billion people, you could make a difference. Yet you do. You make a difference just by being alive and making the decisions that you do. It’s hard to see this sometimes because you are just one among billions, and here for such a small time compared to the life of the earth or even civilization. But if you see that your life and context are part of what all ancestors have built for you then you can see how what you build today will affect the future as well. By seeing this way, that you are a part of something larger that you can change, you live with Civilization Awareness. Civilization Awareness includes the recognition that…
Civilization is a thing. Most of us aren’t raised to think of civilization (or society) as a thing with dimensions to it because it is so much bigger than us. It’s like the air we breathe, we don’t notice that it surrounds us and provides context for our life experience.
Civilization is like an amoeba. It explores in multiple directions at any time, but one progresses overall in the direction with the greatest energy. Do you recall looking at an amoeba under the microscope in science class? An amoeba moves in a forward direction like a 2 dimensional blob, slowly extending tendrils in various directions until one tendril seems to “win” thus convincing the rest of the mass to move in that direction and the mass behind the leading tendrils falls in line. (video here). Civilization is like this.
Civilization is not fixed. The “world” (by this I mean civilization) as we know it is much different today than it was 100 years ago and even different than it was 10 years ago (YouTube and Facebook didn’t exist in 2001).
Civilization change starts in one mind. Every man-made element you see surrounding you started as an idea in one person’s mind.
Civilization is collaboration. Though an idea starts in one person’s mind, in order to come to life in civilization it must interact with others in a process of collaboration.
Civilization is communication. Your life is communication. You communicate internally with your self, with the physical environment through signals, and through spoken and non-verbal interactions with other individuals. Therefore, the level of openness in communication between citizens is a reflection of how open the civilization is.
Civilization starts with self-awareness. Changes on a civilization scale start with individual self-awareness. Changes of scale start with one person asking how they can make a more meaningful life for themselves or others
Civilization is comprised of systems. Civilization becomes a set of systems that are either informally enforced through social code or formally enforced through laws.
Civilization is a platform and it is man-made. If you were to imagine all humans disappearing from Earth, then there would be no civilization. Eventually our buildings would crumble and the natural world would take over. Civilization is a thing that we humans built and maintain. Civilization is not “of” the natural world, it is man made. It is a platform that we have built to support ourselves.
Civilization is not done. It continues to evolve and as you see from the above, you are part of deciding how it moves into the future.
Civilization needs guiding stars. So where is this amoeba of civilization moving? As you can see, we get to decide where it goes. If it’s going somewhere, let’s say where we want it to go. Paying attention to the leading thinkers of our time it seems that we are collectively trying to build a civilization that does 2 things.
1. Civilization should be sustainable. As a platform it should be porous enough that as it sits on top of the natural world (our environment) it allows the rest of life to live through it with radiance. In other words, civilization should be sustainable in context of the natural environment.
2. Civilization should support the empowerment and development of every individual. Our systems should be based around helping others live better lives.
Of course, these are big picture and without significant definition, but that is exactly why they are guiding stars. At any point you could ask the question of whether a given idea or activity lines up with the guiding stars.
Civilization needs your curiosity. In order to progress our civilization further in line with the guiding stars your self-awareness and curiosity is needed. We need your curiosity to outweigh any feeling of fear you have in raising questions. Fearlessly question. That is how we individually and collectively progress.
Civilization is simply a collection of people like you. You and your decisions are significant. You decide what tendril of the amoeba you are part of and where we are going.
As you can see Civilization Awareness promotes the sense of connectivity both with others alive now and how the world will be in the future. It promotes the idea that we are in charge of this thing and we each play a part. How does your view of the world change when you see civilization reframed like this? How would civilization change if we all thought this way?
Be outlandish. Be civilization aware. Spread the word.