Transcript of my speech on bringing love and power together
Hi, this is Jack Butler. Thanks for your attention. I want to talk today about love and power. I was with a friend yesterday and they asked me what is the edge that I most want to bring into the world or what am I most about in the world and the first thing that came to mind was love and power. I’m really wanting to bring the fullness of the love that I have to share in the world, with the fullness of the energy and power to change things for the better.
Martin Luther King said that, “Love without power is sentimental and anemic but that power without love is reckless and abusive.” I think we live in times where, more than ever, we fully need both of these things to come together in the world. We live in an integrative age. We live in an age where things are converging. Science and spirituality are coming together. Masculine and feminine are coming together. People are integrating within themselves the different capacities that they have, the different edges that they have so that they can be a more fully whole human being, a more fully integrated human being. What I call a full spectrum human being who’s living a full spectrum life. A life where you are more in touch with who you really are and your essential self. A life where you notice the patterns of your personality, and the fixations, and distortions, and the way in which you manipulate or distort what is really fundamentally going on in your experience.
We live in an age where we have available to us so many of the tools, and traditions, and wisdom from the ages, and updated wisdom with the technologies that we have at our fingertips. We live, in my view unquestionably, in absolutely remarkable times and what I feel that those times need in order for us to best be the agents of conscious evolution that we can be, for us to be the people that can shape the processes, the systems, and the culture, the politics, and the agreements that we keep together to create the best possible outcomes for the greatest number of people. You know, 7.3 billion of us and rising, so that all of us are closer to the opportunity that Maslow talked about, to self-actualize, all of us are closer to living in peace, and prosperity, and abundance, and happiness. I’m really interested how we actually make that happen, I’m really interested what these times allow us to do that hasn’t previously been possible in human history.
Love and power, it strikes me, are really central to what I’m talking about. The ability to bring all of our love, and all of our power, through too much of our human history, power has been wielded without a fullness of love. Too often, I think we look at those in politics and we see self-interest at work, corporate interest at work and we don’t see the interest of the people. If it’s true that we are emerging now fully into our one human family, that we, in our globalized age, we notice that actually we are all deeply interconnected in this process of life together here on Earth as people, and as a planet and potentially as life beyond that.
What does that mean for how we need to work together? What does that mean about who is really worthy of your love? Where does the boundary of your love extend to? Is it yourself, your family, your tribe, your kin, your country, all people on Earth? That’s something that you can come to, your own view on, do you happen to think that if we are truly in a global age, that there is a global citizenry that is emerging from the association of one people at the global level?
I’m curious what we need to do to make sure that we have the best systems and structures and cultures in place to allow us to live peacefully and in prosperity together. Bringing love and power is a really important part of that and I know in my own experience that it can be easy when I’m driven to do things, and I want to make things happen in the world, and I want to achieve, and I want to build my business, and I want to build my platform, that I can get really caught up in that, to the extent that I might miss the full sensitivity and tenderness of my heart, and the things that only my heart can know. The truer, deeper, vocational, purposeful, authentic calling things that only your heart can know.
How do we bring that fully, whilst also bringing our agency? On the spiritual journey, a lot of it is about letting go. A lot of it is about allowing the process of life to move through us, not having to control everything that’s going on around on. Not having to make all the decisions from our head but allowing life to inform us as to what decisions are best for us. Allowing life, to trusting in the process of life and what it brings forth in us, and why we’re here, and what we need to learn when we’re here.
Sometimes, when we get so far into that trust, it can be hard to know what to do with our agency. It can be hard to know how fully to bring our power in the world and if we don’t have power literacy, by which I mean we don’t really understand how power operates in the world, how decisions get to be made, how collective decisions that affect all of us are being made, then we might be having less influence than we can in making the world a better place.
My vision is this. My vision is that more conscious people engage in the collective decisions that we are all a part of. I think we live in an age where a more fully mature democracy is possible. I remember writing a paper at university about whether democracy was a set of values or a form of government. Ultimately, in the both and way, that seems quite obvious to me, I argued that it was both those things. You have seen some experiences around the world of trying to export democracy when there’s not really a democratic culture to support it. Democracy isn’t just a constitution, or a process by which politics happen, it’s intimately entwined with the culture that’s around it, and the values that support it. In essence, placing a value on everyone being a part of the governance process – that is a value and if that value is not there, it doesn’t matter how good the checks and balances and the processes are, it’s not grafting onto something that’s really being held in the minds and hearts of the people around.
I think we live in a time where we can have a more fully democratic age. I look at finance and see how it’s democratizing with things like crowd funding and crowd sourcing platforms. I look at the eventual possibilities of direct democracy with technology, so that more of us, more of the time, can be more involved in the decisions that bind us together in our future. I look at social media and the fact that so many people, whatever the size of it, have a platform to share who they really are, and what they’re about, what they want to bring into the world. That we’re moving away from the age of centralized media into a much more decentralized mesh work where more narratives are held, where more information flows more freely, and where we’re more free to be who we really want to be.
We live in remarkable times. We also live in fragile times and I think it’s incumbent upon us to fathom the level of coordination, the level of global coordination that would allow us to have democratic control of some of the emerging technologies, and some of the technologies that already exist. That we’re not that far away from artificial intelligence, various forms and there is, for example, the control problem of how we ensure friendly A.I., and who is ensuring that, and who owns that sort of technology. I get very excited about technology that’s owned on behalf of the global commons, that some things belong to us all. Even if there are certain people that deserve certain awards for commercializing them, that actually there’s some things that really just belong to us all. Like how the Native Americans think of land, a lot of us think about land.
At the same time, how is it that we can have people who’ve done some of the work of consciousness, who have gone inside, figured out more about who they really are, dropped some of persona and identity that they’re being bound into, so that they’re really more free in their experience, they’re really more free to learn and live what’s importantly coming through them.
How do we have those people more engaged in influencing where we’re going as a country? One of the frustrations that I hold is that some of the most conscious people I meet are not the people who are most responsible for the center of gravity of culture, of politics, and of business and I do say business because I think it is one of the greatest, most potent vehicles of our time. That’s why I get very excited about social purpose business, impact investing, social entrepreneurship more than profit entrepreneurship, things that bring the power of business with the service, the contribution, the love. Actually, this is not about a business, this is about what we’re contributing into the world, and taking a stand for making the world a better place and for the actions, and the attention, and the behaviors, and the attitudes that I bring into the world. That they are making the world a better place. They’re making this a better place for us to live in.
We live in remarkable times. Arguably we live in times where it’s the best it’s ever been. If you take a utilitarian frame, say, how are the outcomes for the greatest number of people across a whole set of indices, whether it’s political and the number of people that live under democracy, whether it’s human rights, and the number of human rights that are enjoyed across the world. Whether it’s the treatment of women and children, whether it’s health outcomes, whether it’s educational outcomes, whether it’s a number of people that die in violence. All these indices are trending better. It’s not an unequivocal march forward, it can be two steps forward and one step back and sometimes two steps forward and three steps back. If you look at the meta trends, if you look at it from an historical perspective, we live in times that’s the best the world’s ever had it. One of the challenges is that a lot of people see the crisis that we have in the environment, the issues of climate change, the ways in which companies pollute, the ways in which there is not the social safety net for people who are not doing well in the current system, the ways in which profit can be put above other things, and the ways in which communities aren’t always able to come together and draw the wrong conclusion.
The people, when they focus on those things, miss that the meta trends, that we are moving in a better direction. That doesn’t mean that there’s not a whole lot of work to do but if we take a stance that’s anti-modernity, we take a stance that’s anti-business, anti-finance, anti-some of the status quo, that we are not actually bringing the better solution into the world.
I’m all for pointing out the ways in the world that aren’t working for us, the less healthy expressions of business. Like, you know, supply chains that involve slave labor. Absolutely, we need to do whatever we can to eradicate that from our world. At the same time, I notice that business is such a great vehicle for change. It’s such a great vehicle for mobilizing energy and it’s the best of the systems that we have at the moment. When I talk about bringing love and power, I want to make sure that the power crowd can bring more love through their hearts and really open their hearts to more people and expand the circle of moral concern, that’s what I want to do. At the same time, that the love crowd, if you will, can bring more power in the world and not push off against all the systems they see around them as the the problem which needs to be overthrown, but to evolve them into something better, and to see the seeds of emergence for the better within the current system, and champion and accelerate those things. That’s the challenge of our times.
You look in the system at the moment, you see the sharing economy, for example. You see that there are people who get that it’s not about accumulation. It’s about what we can do together, that we don’t all need to own everything. That in fact access is more important than ownership. That in itself has the seeds of a dramatic reduction in consumption, which is a key part of us preserving the environment, and us preserving this world for future generations.
We can draw our attention to that, we can accelerate that process. We can invite more people into that conversation and that is a more purposeful thing to do than to be angry at big business, and big politics. Without an attention and a plan on how we make it better, and without noticing that the seeds of something better are right there in front of us. We can do both those things. We can talk to the ways in which the world, as it is, is not working for us, whilst at the same time, taking a real stand for what is better and how we can do it and being pragmatic activists, not just ideological activists, but knowing what the lever points are, knowing what the leverage points are where we can take action, step by step and we can kick the can further down the road.
I remember David Allen of Getting Things Done coming up with that can kicking analogy. There might be times, when relating to someone, that you develop at different rates. Like you kick the can down the road, and that perhaps, one time your partner has more developed their edge than you have and then maybe a few years later, you go through some kind of transformation, and then you’re a bit further along. I like that imagery of kicking the can for what we’re here to do in evolutionary terms. That we are here to kick the can down the road. We are here to be a part of holding the torch, and holding the flame for making this world a better place and doing our little bit and not being overwhelmed that our little bit is enough because there’s a unique purpose that’s unfolding in you and that’s your contribution to this wider purpose that’s manifesting through the world. If you can bring your heart to that, if you can being your gut, your belly, your instincts, your embodied leadership to that, to the actions that are called through you into the world, then you’re on a good path.
It’s the path of our times, I believe, to have more conscious people involved in business, involved in politics, involved in the civic space, who want to make this world a better place, and who take that dearly and are willing to put the interests of the whole above their own self-interest, or at least to notice that there are sets of interests there that all need digestion. They’re not antithetical to each other and a lot of what is most really in our self-interest, is actually in the interest of the whole and that we need to make sure that this whole system is getting better, is moving along and that we are taking collective responsibility, all of us, as citizens.
Remembering Margaret Mead, that the great things accomplished in the world, and I paraphrase, the great things accomplished in the world have been accomplished by a small group of committed people. Indeed, that’s the only thing that has created a deep change in the world.
We’re about that kind of change. Let us band together in that and I particularly put the call out to collective conscious men, I think, in my view, it’s like at least half of the burden or more falls on us because when I look around in the world, I find it easier to see that there are more conscious women bringing it in the world. That’s how I see it at the moment, that there’s a responsibility on men to do more of their own work. To find more of their truth and masculine edge, and depth, and spirituality, and purpose and to be confident in bringing that to the world and to be confident to join as brothers in something better and building something better and that we need to rely on each other.
It takes all of us, I’m not putting something out there only for men. I just notice that I’ve had a lot of conversations recently with people that say, “Yeah, I think I do know more people that I would say are conscious women than are conscious men.” Whether that’s true or not, I want all of us that are in this process of doing our own work, and wanting to contribute something very meaningful to the world, and wanting to be comfortable with the resources of money and power that allow or accelerate change to happen. All of us that are involved in that journey to be in support of one another, in support of inspiring one another. Calling one another. Touching one another. Deeply drawing from each other more deeply. Pushing each other more deeply. To bring that fully, powerfully, and lovingly to bear in the world.
Thank you so much for listening with me today. Let me know your thoughts and comments. I look forward to being of service, if I can, with more of this perspective and here’s wishing you all the best on your journey.