The world is a big place, big enough that we still have troubles getting together with our neighbors in neighboring towns, let alone on continents across the oceans.
However, the world is rapidly shrinking in many ways.
- Local problems anywhere in the world are soon problems for the entire world. We are all increasingly interconnected, which is a good thing if we can use it to fix our problems before they spin out of control.
- Using electronic telecommunications and the internet, we can connect with anyone in the world in an instant. We don’t need to travel anywhere in order to do any of the things that merely require our presence of mind.
With our rapid rate of industrial growth, we now have many global problems that seem to be no one’s responsibility. Every nation, acting in its own best self-interest, has the incentive to exploit its “own” resources and the shared resources of the world such as the oceans and atmosphere. Every person and corporate entity has the incentive to get what they can before someone else beats them to it. And so we all suffer as a consequence. This is called the “Tragedy of the Commons” .
Denying that we have global problems won’t make them go away. They are bound to come about sooner or later, and we are bound to deal with them one way or another. Not dealing with them means we would not be taking responsibility for our own actions; it would mean giving up and letting whatever the consequences are just play out, affecting not just ourselves, but our children and to some degree, all life on Earth.
So we need some kind of global effort, some modicum of global self-control, some strategy for achieving global cooperation to deal with problems at this level.
This way of thinking about taking responsibility for our problems applies at all levels, from the whole world down to the smallest organization, because anywhere there is a group of individuals each acting in their own interest, with common resources, we either figure out how to share the resources equitably in a mature civilized way, or we destroy the resources, or the organization, or both.
Why do we need to use a consensus decision making process? Several reasons. Basically, what are the alternatives to consensus?
- No rule at all means no one has control, and it is a free-for-all, anarchy. Some people believe this can work, but this could only work if market forces and every other force of nature and man is somehow automatically balanced to avoid and resolve problems. Clearly that ideal situation has not been the case, nor should we ever expect it to be. In fact, it seems destined to create more problems.
- Tyrannical rule by a secretive powerful elite means we have to depend on them to do the right thing, but, guess what, they are obviously not doing the right thing, and why should they? No matter how benevolent their dictatorship, they ultimately serve their own interests at the expense of the people and the environment.
- Majority rule means that maybe half the people are happy, but the other half, the minorities, have lost, so basically their needs are ignored, their right to justice and due consideration, as long as they are still in the minority, doesn’t matter. This “tyranny of the majority” just breeds discontent, followed by retribution when the table is turned. We have no more time to waste on such pointless conflicts.
- Proportional representation is where every group of people holding a position or ideology is at least fairly represented in proportion to their numbers. This is certainly aiming in the right direction, though we still must hand off control to our elected representatives. The problem is that any imbalance in the decision making process will give some groups more power than others, and that power will be exploited to gain more power, again corrupting our best efforts.
- We can’t trust ANY government, or united nations, or commissions or cartels, or new world orders to do the right thing on our behalf. They have proven they are inadequate, and the best they can do is act in their own interest, which is probably not our collective interest.
- No global decision making process can be authoritative unless we have global organizations for fairly electing representatives, etc, but we still have problems doing that at local and national levels. A consensus process strives for a clear agreement by as many people as possible, and where it achieves that goal, it does not need accurate vote counts to assert its moral authority.
- Think of what you do as an individual to make a decision? Do the two halves of your brain argue forever and never get around to acting? Do you always follow what your stomach says? Do you let your emotions rule you to the exclusion of all reason, or vice versa? Perhaps you do, but there is only one of all of us, and we have to figure out how to do the right thing for “all of us”.
Consensus decision making aims to be inclusive, participatory, cooperative, egalitarian, and solution-oriented. All good stuff that we all need.
By “consensus” I DON’T mean an artificial illusion of agreement created by a few elite imposed on everyone else. It should be inclusive of everyone who is willing, and everyone should be actively encouraged to participate. It should seek out contradictions and dissenting minority opinions to focus on resolving the disagreements and misunderstandings, and exposing diversions and misinformation. It should aim to not merely talk, though due process will require lots of talking and reflecting. But ultimately, and as soon as possible, we should be able to take decisive actions with the confidence that we are right and just.
But how can it possibly work if any decision can be blocked by the dissent of any minority? And is there any guarantee that the process will be used as intended, or that it will even make good decisions? Fair questions. The simple answer is that compromises must be made, and that is what the consensus process embraces. But we should be ever-mindful of what we are doing or not doing, who we are including or excluding, how well it is working or not working, and we should always be trying to make the process better.
Think Globally, Act Locally
How can a Global Consensus organization do anything more than just talk? How can we take any meaningful action? The answer is that while we should be able to think globally with one mind of humanity, the actions must happen locally by way of each of our individual bodies in our separate homes, and indirectly through our own towns and countries. But we will have the enormous power and force of the collective will of the people to draw on.
We will know when rogue nations are not acting in our best interest, and we will be able to dig down to the root causes of disharmony and reintegrate. We will know when we are unable to act, and find ways to work around the impasse. We will know when we are headed toward a global crisis and be able to act quickly to resolve the situation. We will know when we are successful in all this, and we will be very grateful to acknowledge it and celebrate.
(Copied from WiserEarth GlobalConsensus group)