The migration of the monarch butterfly is truly phenomenal. After wintering in a favorite tree in Mexico, they fly up to 3,000 miles to southern Canada, with a little loving in the milkweed fields along the way. Sometimes these tiny wonders fly as far as 100 miles in a day. At the end of the summer, the process happens in reverse and they often end up back at the very same Mexican tree. But get this- a year later, its not even the same butterflies arriving at the tree. Several generations of butterflies have passed from egg to caterpillar to butterfly since the last year. How do they land on the same tree as their great grandparents after traveling thousands of miles? I’m sure they’re not asking for directions along the way, at least not the male monarchs.
No one knows for sure how they do this. They seem to have some sort of innate memory, a form of common sense. Lets follow the lead of the monarch butterfly and put the common back in sense. Sure, there are some people who have an uncanny, down to earth wisdom. We all enjoy these Mr Rogers type sages. But I’m talking about COMMON sense or collective consciousness and we can ALL participate in this. If the tiny monarch butterflies can organize themselves so amazingly, imagine what humans could do with our ability to reflect and set intentions. Imagine what would happen IF we had the will to get beyond our individual needs and rights, to see our role in the whole.
Collective consciousness is up for grabs, it’s always up for grabs. It WILL go to the highest paying bidder, the moneyed elite, unless those of us who care a whole lot make sure that values like kindness, generosity and respect are in the mix. These values make sense, and we have the memory of that sense built into us. They’re the same values our great grandparents fought for, and we need to follow their lead, tap into that common sense of what holds us together. The problem is we spent too long hibernating and while we slept collective consciousness followed the money.
We’ve lost our way. We can’t find the Mexican tree where we gather as a tribe and tune in to collective wisdom. But we can rediscover it, following the lead of the monarch butterfly and using the hundredth monkey principle.
The hundredth monkey principle is that if enough people act in a similar way, eventually there will be a tipping point. A study of monkeys on an Island in Japan showed that if they taught one monkey to wash their potatoes before eating it, eventually it caught on, other monkeys followed suit and possibly even monkeys in other places picked up the same habit. The habit was repeated until it became common sense. The story clearly merges fact and myth, but the principle still holds. We yawn when someone near us yawns. Smiles are contagious, as are moods. We learn from each other, even mimic each other.
I’m not talking about conformity. Just as every monarch butterfly has its own color and shade, and the change from caterpillar to butterfly is about as massive as any change, we all have our unique ways of being the change and living the values.
The important thing is to make kindness a habit, to shift common sense from head only to head and heart together. Eckhart Tolle said,
A group of people coming together in a state of presence generates a collective field of great intensity. It not only raises the degree of presence of each member of the group but also helps to free the collective human consciousness from its current state of mind dominance. This will make the state of presence increasingly more accessible to individuals.
How do we affect the collective consciousness?
There are three main ingredients to a tipping point.
- The law of the few
The number might be 99, as with the monkeys, or it could be more or less. There is no exact number. But the point is that it only takes a few people to create a tipping point. It just needs to be the right people. It needs to be people who care, and who care in a persistent way no matter what the obstacles, no matter how discouraging it can get. The people who can get other people excited by possibilities are the sort of people who shape common sense.
- The stickiness factor
Everyone knows that Martin Luther King Jr had a dream. It’s a phrase that stuck, and still inspires people today. There was nothing new about what he was saying, nothing original. It was the passion and imagery that made his message stick. We need to keep finding ways to make kindness sticky, sexy and sustainable.
- The power of context
Are you more likely to laugh at a movie you’re watching by yourself, or in a crowded movie theater? Most people will laugh louder in the theater. We need to create the type of contexts where change is not only possible, but exciting. We need a sense of occasion that is inspiring, like being at a massive sports stadium but we’re not cheering on a sports team but the common good.
We need a few of the right people, people like you and me, to use sticky imagery in inspiring settings to shift consciousness. But above all else, we need the will to change. In the words of Australian cartoonist Michael Leunig, “To know the need for it. To deal with the pain of it. To feel the joy of it. To undertake the journey without understanding the destination. The art of gentle revolution.”
We need to remember our connections; our essential unity, and our responsibility to do what we can do to serve the whole.
David Bohm, the father of quantum physics said,
We are all linked by a fabric of unseen connections. This fabric is constantly changing and evolving. This field is directly structured and influenced by our behavior and by our understanding.
This is part two in a series on common sense. Part one is about the relationship between common sense and personal wisdom.