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Building a world beyond

Building a world beyond

Having just recently written a review for these pages of an anthology made up of multiple writers published in 2023 with a similar title that was edited by Ervin Laszlo, I am taking the liberty to review the much more singular and shorter primer that Laszlo wrote in 2022 prior to putting together his large anthology.

I feel that this earlier book of Laszlo’s needs to be highlighted due to its knowledgeable focus and importance at this time in human and planetary history. 

Being as Laszlo is a world-renowned philosopher, scientist and musician and based on what I have read of his work in the past, I take his words seriously. In this book, simply titled “The Upshift,” (Waterside Productions, 2022, 127 pages), Laszlo gets right down to business and doesn’t pull any punches in doing so. As he writes in the preface: “The message of this book is an antidote to the pessimism and inaction spreading in today’s world. It shows that we can meet the challenges that face us — the challenges of war and aggression, of climate change and poverty-driven migration, and of a persisting pandemic.” 

While outlining in detail the issues we are facing now on the planet, Laszlo focuses on the practical steps that we can take right now regarding our personal and collective destiny. In doing so, he puts out a call for creativity and diversity; for responsibility; and for planetary consciousness.

I’m just going to say it upfront; after reading this book and taking copious notes, my feeling is that its message is “biblical” in its significance. I can see people referring to it and to Laszlo in the distant future as such and as a talisman, a kind of prophet speaking out to the masses in a time of crisis.  

In what is an inspirational and educational handbook for the future, Laszlo begins in part one of the book titled “Tipping Point,” where he talks of how a crisis can also be an opportunity for shifting up to a better world. He is not shy about pointing out the elements of the crisis with which we are currently confronted, even quoting the Bible: “where there is no vision, the people perish.” 

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But he is just as quick to then point out the forces that empower us to shift beyond the challenges of our time. In chapter two he focuses on the economy and capitalism and the implications for “business as usual” upon the planet’s essential physical and biological resources and the unsustainable implications this has on other social and political aspects of our lives. In chapter three — titled “The Way Forward” — he focuses on “the critical factor: our mindset” and calls for an upshift in consciousness as well as a call for more creativity and diversity in our lives, focusing on the arts and more conscious interaction with all living systems on the planet. Here, he uses the word “evolution,” stating that as a species we are in a situation where we need to make an evolutionary leap in consciousness, behavior and governance.

In part two — titled “Your Role in Creating A More Peaceful World” — Laszlo begins writing about “the path to peace” by quoting a Chinese proverb that says “Even the longest journey begins with a first step.” By questioning current practices and beliefs and with an enlightened new perspective, he says we can chart out a path to where we want to go and the kind of world we want to create that includes both cultural and natural diversity rather than a limiting monolithic perspective. He even goes so far as to create a “ten commandments” of living in a world of diversity. More specifically, he continues along this line of thought by focusing on the idea of self-exploration, aesthetic experience and a new and greater awareness related to science.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, he indicates that we “need to Be the change you want to see in the world.” This all has to do with an upshift in mindset and spirituality. Here, he references the traditional peoples of this continent and the planet who “knew that what was good for them individually was good for their community.” He focuses on priorities that are not only sustainable, but that seek a sense of oneness with each other and the natural world with unconditional love. And so, he goes on to say, “we must work, live and play Together, as One, Unconditionally and with Love, through intuition and enlightenment — which is the only way we are going to avoid and survive what science is calling ‘The Sixth Extinction.’” 

In part three “The Vison of a More Peaceful World,” Laszlo talks about “The World in 2050 and Beyond,” where he discusses future lifestyles, morality, social and political organizations and beliefs and insights into creating a better world. Here, he ends his 127-page testament with the quote:

 “Collaboration inspired by love is the way to achieve health and well-being for ourselves, and for all the beings with whom we share the planet.” 

But I have mainly spoken in generalities, here, about this guidebook and there is much more discussion and clarification of some of the principles I have cited. A more personal and intimate interview concludes the book, which allows us to know Ervin Laszlo a little better and understand his inspirations and reasons for writing this important book. The bottom line? “Remember,” he says, “who we really are and what our mission is in this life.”

(Thomas Crowe is a regular contributor to The Smoky Mountain News and author of the multi-award-winning non-fiction nature memoir “Zoro’s Field: My Life in the Appalachian Woods.”)

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