Figure 1 distinguishes between two interior conditions that we as human beings can choose to operate from. One is based on opening the mind, heart, and will — a.k.a. curiosity, compassion, and courage — and the other one is based on closing the mind, heart, and will — ignorance, hate, and fear. The upper half of figure 1 briefly summarizes the collective cognitive dynamics that have led us to Putin’s war in Ukraine. The freezing and closing of the mind, heart, and will have resulted in six debilitating social and cognitive practices.

“‘The world will never be the same.’ These are, according to New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, the seven most dangerous words in journalism. It’s not only Friedman who has used them to make sense of our current moment. Many of us are doing the same. Watching Putin’s invasion of Ukraine happen in real-time since February 24 makes most of us feel stuck and paralyzed by the horrific acts that are unfolding in front of us.

It feels as if we are crossing a threshold into a new period. This new period has been likened to the cold war era that ended in 1989. Some suggest that Vladimir Putin is trying to turn back the clock by at least 30 years in his effort to make Russia ‘great again.’ I believe, though, that we are in a quite different situation today. The cold war was a conflict between two opposing social and economic systems on the basis of a shared military logic that experts refer to as mutually assured destruction — or MAD, a rather fitting acronym. The MAD ‘operating system’ worked because it relied on a shared logic. It was grounded in a shared set of assumptions, and a shared sense of reality on both sides of the geopolitical divide.”

More on Putin and the Power of Collective Action from Shared Awareness: A 12-Point Meditation on Our Current Moment via Otto Scharmer, MIT Lecturer & Co-founder of the Presencing Institute.

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