Your kids are screaming, making noise, and attacking each other. You’re screaming back at them and feel no support from your co-parent. As a parent, when your emotional brain is disconnected from its creative, mindful brain, you may feel like saying, “Get me outta here!”
Contrast this to when you feel supported by your co-parent. When your calm co-parent is present and empathetic to all, the family system calms down. Everyone refocuses on the new parental narrative that invites reconnection with one another.
What has happened is that the calm co-parent’s emotional brain can think, activate creative problem-solving, and find ways to resolve distressed family signals. In other words, cool cognition regulates hot emotion.
Can we generate an instinctive, calm Global Mind across the internet—a digital version of that calm co-parent? This challenge presents the most complex obstacle to human cultural evolution.
From the nuclear family to the global village
Secure attachment to our body begins in infancy. The foundation of a true self is laid down in the brain’s circuits, when a mother gazes into her baby’s eyes and the baby mirrors her gaze back. Trust in the care-giving environment and family shapes our creative resilience.
When families provide “good enough” love, empathy, and validation, a child’s natural wonder is kindled, urging them to explore the world and create new attachments. This is the beginning of social mind.
These new attachments inform a child’s sense of connection and tribal belonging, as well as provide a shared family narrative. In his book The Consciousness Instinct: Unraveling the Mystery of How the Brain Makes the Mind, Michael Gazzaniga describes how the brain’s multiple modules of consciousness create a singular narrative of emotion and cognition that form a sense of self. A child’s sense of self emerges as the brain matures, becoming part of the family identity.
Similarly, if the global village is analyzed under the purview of the individual brain/mind and family dynamics, the internet can play a role in nurturing that sense of security and trust in one another. The Global Mind Concept envisions an internet with myriad modules of consciousness—social, science, art, economics, religion—communicating in a coherent, humanistic narrative of compassion, connectivity, and creativity.
To continue thriving, the global village needs a stronger sense of species tribalism, a coherent experience of identification with others. When seven billion brains instantaneously connect over the internet, mirroring each other, the primary response is emotional, both positive and negative. It will take an enormous coordinated effort to activate the potential for generating a reflective Global Mind to produce species tribalism.
How can this be done?
Our Global Mind
Our greatest challenge to species survival is kindling a Global Mind with instinctive care and compassion. Like the individual brain/mind, where self-awareness confers a visceral connection to the body, Global Mind has the potential for connecting billions of human bodies with a shared sense of being and purpose. Global Mind offers the greatest hope to collectively regulate the immense diversity across our planet and tip us away from the natural biases and competitive distrust we have of others. Instead, we move toward connection.
Just half of the 7.5 billion brain/minds on the planet are connected by the internet. We are still so divisive among our fellow human beings that it is hard to imagine a gradual emergence of a Global Mind without an intensive, concerted effort, such as a Global Mind Project, much like the Space Project of the 1960s.
A Global Mind project
Fortunately, we are witnessing a worldwide cry streaming across the internet for freedom, autonomy, and respect. Unfortunately, it is motivated by escalating political oppression, climate change, and failing pre-internet systems (e.g. monetary systems, trade systems, economic inequity).
Countless humanistic movements show up across the internet, from mindful meditation to “save the environment” to self-empowerment groups. But a coherent narrative has yet to emerge that will have a palpable self-regulating effect on the global system.
A Global Mind Project will require a truly consilient effort. In his book Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, E.O. Wilson talks about consilience as the unification of different knowledge domains. The fact is that we are generating new platforms of knowledge—from biology to artificial intelligence to the emotional fabric of relationships—to create a shared narrative on the internet. However, fear-based stories persist, halting progress. So-called “World War Zero” is an example of a consilient effort to address climate change as an existential threat to the planet. Like so many movements, it comes and goes as a topic of interest and action.
If we are to generate a coherent experience of shared mindful self-regulation using the internet, it will take an extraordinary effort that looks beyond a singular problem to figuring out how to produce a Global Mind Project with meaningful results. This can only happen when global burnout becomes a more obvious and acknowledged threat to our lives.