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A movement for the conscious evolution of increasingly conscious social systems


This vision of "a movement for the conscious evolution of increasingly conscious social systems" was born at the first Evolutionary Salon in 2005 and was first described in a blog entry by Tom Atlee. The idea has developed significantly since then.

This is not and cannot be a step-by-step program, but is rather an evolving collective inquiry guided by a sense of what is needed at this stage of social evolution.

Cosmic and biological evolution have been proceeding more or less unconsciously for billions of years -- and cultures, tools, and social systems have also been evolving more or less unconsciously (through their internal dynamics and environmental challenges) for tens of thousands of years. Consciousness provides an opportunity to bring greater awareness, intelligence, intentionality, choice, and wisdom to the re-shaping of our cultures and social systems.

To the extent we choose to expand our consciousness and apply it to the evolution of our social systems, we are practicing conscious evolution of those systems. In a very real sense we are also acting as or being the evolutionary consciousness of those systems.

So how can we tell how conscious a social system is? The same way we judge how conscious any other living thing is -- by its responsiveness to stimuli and change. To the extent a social system as a whole -- a community, a nation, a political system, an economic system, for example -- manifests the ability to respond well and creatively to changes in its environment -- in ways that enhance its survival and well-being, especially if it enhances the survival and well-being of its component people and groups -- that social system can be said to be conscious.

This is obviously vital for humanity at the opening of this incredibly challenging new century. So we are taking on the project of helping our social systems become more wisely responsive to their changing circumstances. In other words, we are setting out to nurture or create increasingly conscious social systems that can deal well and creatively with the challenges we face.

What would a movement -- a coherent engagement of thousands of people inspired by this vision and calling -- look like? What would it do? What would guide its work? How would it be organized or networked?

These are the inquiries we are pursuing now.

This is where we are as of the summer of 2008.

Much of the impetus for this approach came from the realization that people who think of themselves as helping social systems become more conscious would recognize the evolutionary role of conversation and naturally gravitate to the kinds of visions, approaches, and methods long advocated by the Co-Intelligence Institute. With the publication and popularity of our colleague Michael Dowd's book Thank God for Evolution!, we expect a burst of interest in this work in the near future and are preparing to engage people in it.


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