Chapter 10: Living In an Integrated World
An Integrated World Requires Integral Education
The Keys to Unity
To design a more cohesive society, whose members are responsible for one another, people need to cultivate a few ground rules.
1) Food and other necessities: First and foremost, people must have food security. Without the confidence that they can feed their children and themselves, people will not feel they are integral parts of society because they will constantly be fighting for food (if not physically, then mentally).
Additionally, it is imperative that people have sufficient security concerning medical services, housing, clothing, and education. All the above will vary depending on the average standard of living in each locality, but basic sustenance must be provided for all at a level that preserves their dignity as human beings and as integral members of society.
In return for guaranteeing basic sustenance, all members of society will go through some form of training, which will help them understand the interconnected and interdependent nature of our world—which is why they are receiving these services. They will learn that being in a society that ensures their well-being also entails some duties. These will relate to people’s attitudes toward each other, as well as to their contribution of time or services for the common good.
For instance, making certain that all children receive basic education does not have to cost the state a penny. It can be done through unemployed teachers who voluntarily work in return for basic sustenance. This measure will contribute significantly to the social cohesion of the community, and along with the afore-mentioned training will be perceived as partaking in forming a better world, thus giving people another positive incentive to exert for the community.
2) The training: We have already mentioned the training that will help people understand the interconnected and interdependent nature of our world. The Integral Education social paradigm suggests that every citizen, even every resident of the country will partake in this training.
The training has a twofold purpose—a social one and an economic one. The economic purpose, which is more of a supplementary benefit than an actual goal in and of itself, is to furnish people with the knowledge required to support themselves in times of meager income. That part of the training will include consumer education (personal finance), so people can manage their households in an economically viable manner using limited resources.
The other, more extensive part of the course will include topics pertaining to the perception of oneself as part of a greater whole that shares a common goal. This perception is imperative to the society’s cohesion. Without it, it will be each man for himself, a dog-eat-dog society.
The growing dissonance between this type of society and the aggregative direction of today’s reality will no doubt heighten the already excessive pressure on people’s social functioning, and the result will be society’s meltdown. If that happens, as history proves and as described in the previous chapters, the Jews will be held at fault, the consequences of which are anyone’s guess.
Therefore, below are topics that I believe should be included in the IE training in order to usher people into a more cohesive, and therefore sustainable worldview:
- Interconnectedness in economy, culture, and society, and what it means to each of us. This topic will detail the evolution of desires and how, at the fourth level, we wish to enjoy wealth, power, and fame, meaning self-centered pleasures, and that these desires drive us to connect, albeit negatively, in order to use one another.
- Interdependence—why we have become interdependent and how it should affect our relations on the personal, societal, and political levels. This topic should continue the explanation of the evolution of desires and show why our desires to exploit one another make us more dependent on each other. As these desires cause us to engage in ever-tightening relations, while harboring inherently ill intentions toward each other, we are growing increasingly interconnected because we want to use one another. Yet, we are equally interdependent because we are dependent on others for the satisfaction of our wants.
- Improving social, emotional, and mental capacities:
- Learning how to cope with joblessness and the resulting financial insufficiency, stress, and depression.
- Communication skills such as learning how to listen, how to express one’s emotions and needs clearly, to respect one another, and how to read body language. The goal here is to defuse aggression and establish better mutual understanding.
- Resolving domestic conflicts in a non-violent manner.
- Socializing as a means of learning, self-enrichment, mitigating tensions, and restoring self-esteem.
- Media consumption: As stated above, mass media is the most powerful tool in shaping our views and values. For this reason, wise consumption of media can reduce aggressive tendencies, encourage prosocial behavior, and provide essential information and understanding of the world and our place within it. To be sure, the term, “media,” relates not only to the TV and radio, but also to the internet, newspapers, and some forms of pop culture, such as movies and popular music.
- Time-management skills: Learning to use one’s time for personal enrichment, expansion of social circles, acquiring new or improved professional skills, and nurturing stronger and more solid family ties.
- Qualifying trainees as trainers for future courses and trainings.
Also, where physical attendance is possible, the training will be given through social activities, simulations, group work, games, and multimedia presentations. The learning will not be in the traditional teacher-class frontal format. Rather, the teacher and students will sit in a circle and converse as equals, thus learning through mutual enrichment and sharing. Where physical attendance is not possible, the educational framework will be largely interactive, with examples and activities designed primarily for eLearning.
The results of such a training should be twofold: 1) understanding how to manage one’s personal life in today’s volatile social environment and economic instability; 2) understanding that there is a natural law galvanizing this unfolding, that that law is as stern and inexorable as gravity, and we must therefore master these new means of coping for our own good.
While we all have to know how to manage ourselves under the Law of Interdependence, imposed on us by the Law of Bestowal, the Creator, it does not mean that everyone will have to study Kabbalah. Those who wish to study may do so, but those who have no desire to attain the Creator will contribute just as much to the “super-organism of humanity,” to use the words of Christakis and Fowler, by simply living out the laws of mutual guarantee without attaining the inner workings of Creation.
Just as you do not need to be a qualified electrician to switch on the light successfully and safely, not everyone must be a Kabbalist, or an “expert in the workings of the Law of Bestowal,” to use a more contemporary phrasing, to successfully and safely apply the Law of Bestowal to their lives. After all, this law exists in order to do good to His creations, as we have learned in Chapter 2. Therefore, all we need to learn is how to use it properly, just as we have learned how to use electricity, gravity, magnetism, and any other natural law or force to our benefit.
That said, just as electricians build the systems that everyone uses safely without any professional knowledge, Kabbalists will have to build the social and learning systems that inculcate the quality of bestowal into society, so everyone may use these systems beneficially, even without any knowledge of Kabbalah.
3) The round table: A means that is of primary importance, and hence merits an item all to itself, is the round table discussion format. In this type of discussion, all participants are of equal status and represent different, often opposing views on subjects that are critical to the well-being and soundness of the community, city, state, or country.
The goal of the deliberation is neither to reconcile differences nor to induce compromise. Rather, the goal is to find a common denominator that stands above the conflicts and disputes. The result of finding such an element is that the topics in dispute suddenly seem far less important than before, and pale in comparison to the unity and warmth the participants now sense toward each other. Subsequently, solutions are easily found for previously persistent conflicts in a spirit of good faith, owing to the newly discovered common interest.
In Israel, several organizations and movements have implemented the round table discussion format. The Arvut (mutual guarantee) movement, for instance, has implemented this means of deliberation hundreds of times, and every time this format was used, it was reported as a major success by the participants themselves. In this manner, issues that had not been resolved for years were resolved in a matter of hours.
So far in Israel, this has been tried in big cities, villages and kibbutzim, in Arab and Druz villages, bringing together the most extreme right wing Judea and Samaria settlers with Arabs from the West Bank, in the Knesset (Israeli parliament), and within struggling populations such as immigrants from Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union. These events ended with a profound sense of unity and warmth 100 percent of the time. For video-recorded testimonials and more details on the round table discussions visit http://www.arvut.org/en/round-table.
Round table discussions have been conducted around the world, as well. New York and San Francisco (USA), Toronto (Canada), Frankfurt and Nuremberg (Germany), Rome (Italy), Barcelona (Spain), St. Petersburg and Perm (Russia), are just some of many places where this form of discussion has been implemented, all enjoying the same resounding success as in Israel.
In the spirit of equality, the actual deliberations also involve the audience, and follow this procedure: A panel of individuals of diverse, often conflicting backgrounds and agendas sit around the main table. The panelists express their views on a topic declared by the host of the event.
Next, the audience asks the panelists questions, to which one or more of them replies. It is an unbreakable rule that panelists must not reproof other panelists or interfere with their words. Personal criticism is also strictly prohibited. This way, the audience hears a variety of views that do not oppose one another, but rather complement one another.
Subsequently, the audience divides into multiple round tables and discusses questions posed by the host in the same manner and spirit demonstrated by the panel. Finally, the tables reconvene into a general assembly and each table presents its conclusions, as well as shares its impressions from the event as a whole.
Recently, even some online round table discussions have been tried, and they, too, were very successful. Naturally, each place has its unique mentality, and each vehicle—a live event, an online meeting, or a TV broadcast—has its advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, no two events are the same. Yet, the spirit of camaraderie and the commitment to mutual guarantee that stand at the basis of every such discussion ensure the success of these unique deliberations. Although the vast majority of societies is still a long way from living out the concepts of mutual guarantee, these discussions, as the video recordings demonstrate, manage to induce a genuine sense of what living in mutual guarantee will feel like.