Pathways to a Respectful Culture
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The Five Havens Web pages are dedicated to the vision of creating a respectful culture -- a society devoted to fostering and protecting the well being of all people and of the natural world.
Since ancient times, people have worked to improve the various conditions of life: their relationships with each other, their tools, their understanding of the natural world, and the practices of the society itself. Unfortunately, many of these changes, based on partial knowledge, have caused far more problems than they solved. Todays most serious difficulties are the side effects of yesterday's improvements.
Compounding the misfortune, these flawed innovations are widely adopted before their harmful side effects are discovered, and once they have become standard practice it seems impossible to get rid of them. The side effects require solutions, which in turn have further, poorly understood but generally unfortunate, side effects of their own. All in all, the accumulated failure of wisdom is quite astonishing.
Currently, major aspects of the dominant culture of our "developed countries" are based on assumptions and practices which ensure that they will fail to support the well being of many of their own citizens, and relegate people living in "developing" areas to marginal ways of living, if even that. Specifically, our traditions, policies, standards and habitual practices entice or coerce vast numbers of people into devoting their time, effort and resources toward striving for goals that cannot possibly be attained -- effort which leads to widespread feelings of failure, dispair and alienation, along with more and more increases in human population, greater and greater degradation of environments, and a host of other unfortunate consequences.
We believe that these problems are based on ignorance -- ignorance of the fundamental nature of human life and ignorance of the natural world. It isn't facts that we lack -- we have more than enough information -- what is missing is understanding. Accordingly, our goal is to seek out the roots of these failures of our current ways of doing things, to discover or develop alternatives based on deeper understanding, and to set them out for public examination and further exploration.
The vision of a world emerging from this sea of self-made disasters is more than just wishful thinking. From aboriginal cultures, from Western science, from contemplative and spiritual traditions all over the World, people are finding the deeper understanding, the wisdom we need to correct these difficulties. Believe it or not, looking over the ideas and resources we've already found, the whole situation seems actually quite promising. Please feel welcome to join in this difficult, vital, powerful and delightful work.
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This work began as a series of discoveries: People learned how to solve certain problems, problems that the experts believed were unsolvable:
Hildred Schuell developed a way to cure aphasic patients.
Betty Edwards found a way to let almost anyone learn to draw.
Tibetan doctors developed medicines with no negative side effects.
Dr. Deming showed us how to increase quality while reducing costs.
The village of Gaviotas, Columbia, accidentally restored a rainforest.
Considering each of these wonderful examples of applied intelligence, one has to wonder how it was possible -- what was the secret key to their success? At first, each one appears to be a unique, isolated miracle, with no relevance to other problems. As we look into how these methods do what they do, though, parallels and similarities emerge. Indeed, the more we study these amazing results, the more they seem to be based on the same principles:
Sustained devotion to a vision.
Appreciation of a whole system.
Respect for natural variation.
Understanding of human psychology.
Systematic application of unbiased awareness.
Looking over these principles, and the methods that revealed them, we see that they are entirely consistent with two of humanity's great systems:
Western science and Buddhist meditation.
These two systems might seem as different as it is possible for two human activities to get, but I believe that there are deep connections between them.
What we'd like to do here has several facets:
1. Present the stories of these discoveries and systems, along with links to further information about them.
2. Present the principles, along with ways to learn more about them.
3. Suggest applications of the principles, and ways to implement them.
Links to the various aspects of this project are given in the Index:
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Five Havens is like a tree. Haven Home is at the center, focusing on whatever one views as central in the situation: oneself, one's family, one's own neighborhood, and so on. The emphasis of Haven Home is individual integrity and leadership. Haven Home represents the basic goodness of human beings, and the goal of establishing basic sanity and compassion as the foundation of all social action.
From Haven Home grow four great branches, extending the basic principles, standards and practices into economic, educational, health, and environmental relationships:
Health Haven - health and healing, birth and death.
Work Haven - economic and organizational sanity.
Earth Haven - environmental stability.
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Revised on May 2, 1999
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