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A List of Ten Critical Challenges

(Part 1 of a 3 part series An Introduction to Community Peacebuilding and Cultural Sustainability) (All 3 documents in the series are accessible at http://cpcsc.info/about-this-website/ )

by Stefan Pasti, Resource Coordinator Community Peacebuilding and Cultural Sustainability (www.cpcsc.info )
[Note: Supporting evidence for the list of ten critical challenges is detailed in the document IPCR Critical Challenges Assessment 2011-2012: Summary Report (444 pages), and summarized in the document Many Danger Signs Flashing Red (62 pages) (November, 2012)]

Introduction
Below is a list of ten critical challenges (with some commentary) which I have identified as critical to making the transition from dysfunctional systems which are very complex to functional systems which are much less complex. The list does not just represent one persons view thoughit is more like a compilation of the views of many peoplemost of whom are people with decades of experience at assessing evidence in their fields (as readers will see if they explore the source documents referenced above). I believe framing the most important issues discussion in this way can lead to bringing people together rather than creating us vs. them scenarios, because people who recognize the serious nature of allor mostof the challenges listed below will realize that a) overcoming these challenges will require problem solving on a scale most of us have never known before b) we will need the best efforts each one of us can make if we are going to succeed. I am hoping that sharing this list of ten critical challenges might generate discussion on the topic of what other people participating in this Discussion Forum believe are the ten most critical challenges of our times. Such a discussion would be helpful, because in our current circumstances, people who are not sufficiently informed about critical issues are everywhere, and they are investing their time, energy, and moneyvotingall the time. Thus, it seems there could be agreement that there needs to be more discussion. It may easily be the case that there wont be consensus among the readership here on the ten critical challenges listed below. Hopefully, a consequence of a variance in opinions on this topic would be the question: then what list of ten critical challenges would represent consensus opinion here, at this Discussion Forum? If many people did submit their own list of ten critical challenges, such a consensus could be approximated. And such a consensus will be helpful, to see a baseline awarenessto see where this communitys awareness is now, on the most critical issues of our times. There may be many people who believe that if they resolve the larger issues in their own life, that is as much as they can do. But when the problems and challenges are so multi-dimensional and intertwined as the ones Im highlightingand when it appears that we will need the best efforts each one of us can make to overcome such challengesawareness of the challenges ahead needs to be widespread, and

collaborative problem solving processes need to be well established. Only then can a majority of people focus their investments of time, energy, and money effectively enough to arrive at a positive tipping point. I offer this post as Part 1 in a Three Part series under the heading of An Introduction to Community Peacebuilding and Cultural Sustainability. Part 2 of the series is titled A Constellation of Initiatives Approach to Overcoming the Ten Critical Challenges, and Part 3 of the series is titled The Treasured Wisdom of Religious, Spiritual, and Moral Traditionsis it in the tool box? (All 3 documents in the series are accessible at http://cpcsc.info/about-this-website/ ) There are three sections which follow the List of Ten Critical Challenges: a) a list of 4 short documents which summarize my work up to this point b) a brief introduction to the Community Peacebuilding and Cultural Sustainability website, at www.cpcsc.info c) a Concluding Comments section. (Note: The same Concluding Comments section will be included at the end of part 2 and part 3 of this series. Thus, I am giving much emphasis to those comments.)

A List of Ten Critical Challenges


1. Global warming and reducing carbon emissions--a) the energy industrys ability to boost production of oil, coal, and natural gas in North America is feeding a global surge in demand for these commodities, ensuring ever higher levels of carbon emissions.. b) Scientists agree that countries current United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change emission pledges and commitments would most likely result in 3.5 to 4C warming. And the longer those pledges remain unmet, the more likely a 4C world becomes. (Dr. Jim Yung KimPresident, World Bank) 2. Cultures of violence, greed, corruption, and overindulgencewhich have become so common that many of us accept such as inevitable; which are a significant part of the current crises of confidence in financial markets; and which are in many ways slowing the restructuring of investment priorities needed to respond to an increasing number of other critical challenges 3. The end of the era of cheap energyOur industrial societies and our financial systems were built on the assumption of continual growth growth based on ever more readily available cheap fossil fuels Butone day it will definitely end. We should have stopped to ask ourselves, what can we do with this to provide the most good for the most people for the longest time? However, at the present time: lifestyles and habitats are becoming more and more dependent on high energy input infrastructures, machinery, and devices; becoming more and more dependent on energy intensive transportation; and running greater and greater ecological deficits (resource consumption and waste dischargein excess of locally/regionally sustainable natural production and assimilative capacity) 4. The increasing world population and its implications relating to widespread resource depletiona) with special focus on the increasing number of people who are consuming material goods and ecological resources indiscriminately b) More than half the worlds people live in countries where water tables are falling as aquifers are being depleted. 2

5. Current trends indicate that we are creating more and more urban agglomerations(cities with a population of more than 1 million peoplemore than 400), which require more and more complex and energy intensive infrastructures, where it is more and more difficult to trace the consequences of our individual investments of time, energy, and moneyand which are the least appropriate models when it comes to implementing resolutions to many of the other challenges in this ten point assessment 6. The U.S. and many other countries will enter the next 15 to 20 years burdened by substantial public debt a) Unfortunately, the kind of economic growth which is most often being referred to (as needed to resolve the sovereign debt crises) requires the continued exploitation of flaws and weaknesses in human nature, fragile ecosystems, and already significantly depleted natural resourcesand which are much of the reason why cultures of violence, greed, and corruption have become so common that most people believe they are inevitable. b) Some might assume that bond markets are shielded from the effects of climate change, ecosystem degradation, and water scarcity. With more than $40 trillion of sovereign debt in global markets at any given time, that is a very high-risk game. 7. A marginalization of the treasured wisdom associated with religious, spiritual, and moral traditionstreasured wisdom which includes many teachings relating to sacrificing personal desires for the greater good of the whole, and finding contentment and quality of life while consuming less material goods and ecological services 8. Global inequities and the tragic cycles of malnutrition, disease, and death 9. Community building associated with responding to the above eight challenges may or may not be accompanied by an exponential increase in compassion for our fellow human beingsshortages of goodwill in times of unprecedented transition could tilt already precarious systems into further disarray, and thus erode established systems in even the most stable communities and regions 10. Sorting out what are real challenges and what are sound and practical solutions is becoming more and more difficultas there are now, in most communities of the world, a multitude of ideas of all kinds coming to the fore in personal, family, community, and cultural lifeall at the same time. Thus, even analysis supported by much credible evidencethat there are many danger signs flashing now (involving significant threats to ecological stability and social cohesion)can be easily lost amidst a swirl of misinformation, other more trivial information, and the siren song of multiple entertainment venues.
[Note (repeated for emphasis): Supporting evidence for the above list of ten critical challenges is detailed in the document IPCR Critical Challenges Assessment 2011-2012: Summary Report (444 pages), and summarized in the document Many Danger Signs Flashing Red (62 pages) (November, 2012)]

Four short documents which summarize my work up to this point


Four short documents can serve as a summary of my past work (all accessible from http://cpcsc.info/key-documents/ ). 1) 2) 3) 4) A List of Ten Critical Challenges (1 page) New Approach to Collaborative Problem Solving and Citizen Peacebuilding (6 pages) The Potential of Community Visioning Initiatives (in 500 words) (1 page) The Potential of Community Teaching and Learning Centers (in 500 words) (1 page) 3

The Community Peacebuilding and Cultural Sustainability website (at www.cpcsc.info )


Many of the documents and resources I created in the past which have lead to the four summary documents above are now accessible at a new website (August, 2013) (www.cpcsc.info )under the heading of Community Peacebuilding and Cultural Sustainability. The website includes homebases for The Interfaith Peacebuilding and Community Revitalization (IPCR) Initiative, Community Visioning Initiatives Clearinghouse, Community Teaching and Learning Centers Clearinghouse, a homebase for my Returning to College Coursework search, two Discussion Forums, and a Key Links section.

Concluding Comments
I hope that this post might be a starting point for one of a very long series of periodic re-examinations of our moral compassas we will need many such re-examinations if we are to make the transition from dysfunctional systems which are very complex to functioning systems which are much less complex. There are many positive outcomes which might arise from such re-examinations. One would be that if there were more people who understood how very serious the challenges ahead of us are, they would (I believe) be less likely to demonize others (and thus perpetuate the us vs. them scenarios especially when its mostly all of us who have got us here anyway),and much more likely to participate in collaborative problem solving and citizen peacebuilding processes (like the kind of community visioning initiatives this writer advocates for). Another positive outcome which might arise from a long series of re-examinations of our moral compass is increased understanding of the value of collaborative problem solving and win-win solutions. The constellations of initiatives approach I advocate for (described in detail in part 2 of this 3 part series) is not a narrative or agenda hidden as a problem solving approachit is a way in which narratives can be grown with no preconceived idea of which ideas will attract consensus, and which will not, and in contrast to a competitive match, with winners and losers. This kind of organic growth process is what the combination of preliminary surveys, Community Teaching and Learning Centers, Community Visioning Initiatives, sister community relationships, etc can offer, and it is appropriate to call such activity collaborative problem solving and citizen peacebuilding. Both the challenges to be addressed, and the solutions preferred, are grown from within the communityand by participating in such collaborative problem solving and citizen peacebuilding processes, citizens become stakeholders in that which is being grown. But what is being grown does not need to be named even before it is grown in fact, having a name before it is grown might stifle key elements of its growth. So, it could befor some communities, anywayenough that a majority of citizens know they are taking part in a kind of naming process. And it may be decades before the final outcome is well enough defined to be named. In the meantime, (in between now and a positive outcome some distance in the future), there will be more and more people becoming aware of the profound and unprecedented nature of this time, in the whole course of history. And as more and more people appreciate the profound nature of this time, more and more people (I believe) will understand that the idea of fighting over the naming of the narrative twenty or thirty years before a positive outcome is assured is really something to be avoided in favor of the more urgently needed collaboration on issues which are much more critical to our common welfare. 4

There are times for resistance and opposition as a part of non-violent protests and non-violent dialogue, and as a part of movement towards non-violent conflict resolutionbut in our current landscape of multiple critical challenges, we would be better off exercising such forms of personal expression in the wider context of collaborative problem solving and peacebuilding processes in our local communities... where it would become clearer and clearer that all of us need to do better at constructive, civil, courteous, and respectful problem solving and peacebuilding at the local community level and where it would become clearer and clearer that all of us need to be helping each other more, so that our collective efforts are enough to make a positive tipping point possible.