There is a deliberate similarity between the title of this blog, Consciously Evolving Language, and Barbara Marx Hubbard’s book Conscious Evolution: Awakening the Power of Our Social Potential. Einstein said that he stood on the shoulders of giants. I do too; she is one of them. She transformed the concept of evolution from being something that just happened outside of our control to being something within our locus of control. We don’t have to sit by and watch how we evolve(d) in the rear-view mirror! We don’t have to leave it to “chance.” These days it is imperative that we don’t!
Barbara has continued to evolve her own thinking way beyond what is in the book. It can be found through her website, in the movies, videos, and podcasts she has made, in the courses she teaches. www.barbaramarxhubbard.com
From the richness of her writing, I’ll extract just a few points that interact with and resonate with what this website is all about.
1. Telling a New Story
In her book, she tells us, “We need first and foremost to know our ‘new story’” (p. 19). Indeed, that is what the new paradigm writers are trying to craft, a new story by which we might better understand our reality. As she mentions, our stories have shifted from the exploits of the gods and goddesses of Greek and Roman times, to the story of a man whose life was dedicated to transforming the world through the power of love, to the story of progress through knowledge of how the “out there” works and the importance of shaping your own being. But somehow pursuing the story of freedom, wealth, and the sovereignty of the individual has resulted in a world of over-consuming, over-defense, starvation, and violence.
The importance of having a new story is that it provides a vision of where we are going. Unfortunately, we don’t have many positive visions of our future. (Well, I’m sure readers of this blog do, but just look at the apocalyptic movies that Hollywood keeps feeding the general population.) The futurist Fred Polack looked back historically at what previous generations thought the future would be like and found that society’s image of the future is a self-fulfilling prophecy (p. 341, Cultural Creatives). Knowing that, what story do we want to have fulfilled by none other than ourselves?
Stories occur in language (well, not exclusively, as you can tell a story in pictures, mime/acting, music, or dance). Telling a slightly new story could involve changing around some of the players, like putting the sun at the center rather than the earth. Or it could involve adding new players, such as quarks and gluons. What might a radically new story be? Would it involve revising the nature of the relationship between the players, wherein two separate things are now seen to be interconnected aspects of one fundamental reality, like the sides of a Mobius strip in which there seem to be two sides but there is only one side?
Can we tell a new story using language from the paradigm we are leaving, the one we are consciously evolving out of? Perhaps, but that might simply keep us stuck longer in the old paradigm.
How are our stories limited by the language we use to tell them? To answer that, we may need to ask a more basic question:
2. What is Language?
Barbara Marx Hubbard says that “Language is a design innovation, a way to pass on information exogenetically” (p. 63). So let’s keep designing it, innovating it, finding ways to pass on more complex information, more simultaneous information, different types of information (let’s not get stuck in the “more is better” paradigm—indeed that might be one of the stories to retell). Indeed we have been doing that, while the complexity of language has also deteriorated (e.g., we no longer have to make nouns have the different case endings of Latin). The process of creation is inextricably bound to the process of destruction. For example, as the speed and volume of information transfer has increased, it has been vastly simplified (for people “in the know”—would my grandfather, who doesn’t “text,” understand LOL, OMG, or CUL8R?). Just a few years ago I was still using dial-up internet service. Although I now have broadband and voip for my phone, I’m still speaking and typing essentially the same words and definitely the same types of words that Isaac Newton used! It is time to bring broadband capabilities to language.
One of the foundation stones of conscious evolution is the notion of co-creation, that we are partners with ((God, source, the great mystery, whatever you want to call “the wellspring of creation”)) to create this world of “ours” (though it certainly doesn’t belong to us, in the sense of ownership), this world for which we are responsible. Barbara proposes a “new spirituality in which we shift our relationship with the creative process from creature to cocreator” (p. 99).
We create all the time, consciously and unconsciously. It is our nature as humans to operate in the image of the suprahuman creative principle. As we come to know and experience our profound interconnectedness, we become aware that the whole, of which each of us is an integral part, is/has a creative capacity of “its” own. (By no means is it an “it,” but I don’t have other adequate options for pronouns. That might be the first language innovation we could co-create!)
Thus, changing the form of language will also change the consciousness of human beings (and vice versa). So our project is not just “catching language up” to the shifts that have already happened, it is also about laying the foundation for the next stage of human consciousness, which is/will be co-creative. That is also to say that it will be more attuned to collective consciousness. We will be more aware of the paradox of having an individual consciousness as well as access to the consciousness of the whole.
So, thank you, Barbara for being an inspiratrix for this endeavor, which, of course, is intricately interwoven with your own endeavor. We here at Consciously Evolving Language join with you in cyberspace to co-create the awareness of now-becoming-next now interconnected in thought, word, and deed.