More about One World Bearing Witness
One World Bearing Witness will be the first global online-live ritual, integrating a deep global vision of one humanity in all its differences, an opening for healing, and a sacred and art-full expression of our shared existence on Earth. The event is free and is being supported by small contributions and donations, and the free labor of volunteers who really want this event to happen. (If you would like to donate, please click here.)
One World Bearing Witness is a project of One World in Dialogue, which is a global initiative of emerge bewusstseinskultur e.V. (emerge consciousness-culture). emerge is a charitable education association located in Frankfurt, Germany, that also publishes a well-regarded magazine, evolve, about human consciousness and cultural development. Elizabeth Debold, Ed.D., is the founder of One World in Dialogue, and has initiated One World Bearing Witness. She is joined by Thomas Steininger, Ph.D., the co-founder of One World in Dialogue and the vision leader of emerge bewusstseinskultur. Annette Loy is co-designing and curating One World Bearing Witness, and manages the project. (More biographical information can be found below.)
Context for One World Bearing Witness
When humanity first saw our home planet from space, a hope arose that we could live from the reality that we are one species, one humanity, on the only Earth there is, spinning silently in the dark void. Today we, as a species, seem far from that goal. Fear, not hope, dominates. Across the world, the forces of separation and division have gained momentum. Increasing friction between different cultures and their core values, caught in the net of an exploitative global market, accentuates ethnocentrism and makes collaboration to address pressing issues like climate disruption almost impossible.
Most of problems facing the human species have historical roots that grow deeper and more hidden with each passing generation. The legacy of Western colonization, tribal and ethnic blood feuds, claims of racial or religious superiority, and the juggernaut of modernity and capitalism have created fault lines between us that make true meeting and deep collaboration difficult because we do not see each other as fully human. Our inhumanity toward one another scars the human soul – individually, collectively, and as a species.
To begin to acknowledge and heal these wounds calls for a new kind of healing process at a cultural and global level. As spiritual teacher Thomas Hübl says, “There’s power in creating global social witnessing as part of our responsibility as global citizens—a kind of witnessing capacity to respect and to ‘see again.’… I believe being a citizen of the world comes with a witnessing responsibility.”
One World Bearing Witness is such a social witnessing project. From the perspective of the ONE, intentional aggression against parts of the human family constitute a profound wrong. The gamut of human experience – absolute and relative – can be brought together in a process of bearing witness to open a space for the healing necessary for us to meet eye-to-eye, heart-to-heart. It is a first step that makes next steps possible.
What does bearing witness mean?
Bearing witness has a deep spiritual, historical, and psychological significance that all relate to the intention behind One World Bearing Witness.
In Christianity and Islam, bearing witness refers to acknowledging and standing for the Light, Goodness, and Truth – no matter what the cost.
After the Holocaust in World War II and in contexts like the South African Truth & Reconciliation Commission, bearing witness means bringing the truth to light so that a nation or people may grapple with their past. The core hope is never again.
In trauma therapy, where listening with empathy to someone’ s story is a first step in healing, bearing witness brings the survivor back into human community through the empathic recognition that he or she has suffered a deep moral wrong.
What is a vigil? What is a ritual?
Human beings create vigils, often staying up through the night, as a way of showing love and respect for something or someone.
A vigil is a form of ritual, which is a solemn ceremony used to mark or celebrate important events in the life of a human being or people. Since the dawn of time, human beings have used ritual to create spaces where we can connect to the deepest dimensions of Life—and to mark the boundaries between tribes.
Now, at this time, when fragmentation and tribalism of all kinds—nation, race, religion, ethnicity, politics—threatens to tear us apart, the binding force of ritual becomes even more important.
Because there is one tribe that we each belong to: humanity.
One World Bearing Witness is a new kind of ritual that allows us to come together globally to show our love and respect for all of humanity in its beauty and struggle.
Using the connectivity of the latest web-based videoconferencing, communities across the planet will be able to see and hear each other engage in rituals that express the beauty of unity and the intention for cultural healing.
The History of One World Bearing Witness
For the past eight years, emerge, the parent organization of One World Bearing Witness/One World in Dialogue, has organized a 24-hour meditation event every December in the German-speaking countries. Over the past four years, emerge began to reach out globally, simply out of love for the beautiful, unified transparent field that intensive meditation practice can generate. In 2015, we had seven different spiritual organizations partner with us, and groups from Shanghai to India to California joined. In 2015, after the 24-hours of meditation was over, we sat in such a pristine field of nonseparation that we fell into silence. We were on a teleconference, with about fifty people who stayed on, unwilling to let the depth dissipate. Several of us noted that the power of this undivided sea of consciousness seemed too precious just to “have” for ourselves. It was not “ours,” but belonged to humankind. Within a few days, Elizabeth Debold developed the idea for One World Bearing Witness.
Elizabeth, and Thomas Steininger, at that point had just finished producing and hosting One World Rising, a two-day webcast that featured spiritual leaders and political activists from each continent and major civilization. Starting with music and wisdom from Steven Wanta Jampijinpa Pawu-Kurlpurlurnu Patrick, a Warlpiri elder from Lajamanu in the Tanami Desert of Australia, our aim was to bring together the unity and diversity of our humanity in a dialogue that would be both a confrontation of our beliefs and a celebration of humanity’s beauty. With 3,000 listeners on Maestro teleconference, and 30+ guests, this project was supported by Integral Life (US), Ten Arrows Zen (US), Ubiquity University (Netherlands/US), SEKEM (Egypt), Heliopolis University (Egypt), Villa Unspunnen (Switz.), Synergy Forum (US/Germany), EveryOne’ s World (Ethiopia), and The Emergence Network (Africa/US). The response from listeners confirmed our hope that deep and authentic meeting across the world could happen virtually. We also recognized that there was a deep hunger for contact across the borders that not only divide the land but also divide us in our souls.
Currently, we offer a monthly open, free, global videoconference, the Global Dialogue Lab that is co-hosted by Elizabeth, Thomas, and Bayo Akomolafe, a Nigerian psychologist, writer, and activist. We are discovering how to “warm” “cold” technology through the cultivation of intersubjective awareness. In our courses on dialogue and through the Lab, we have begun to learn how aliveness can penetrate the flat screen of a videoconference so that we can feel and be with each other’s presence. It is subtle work that often depends on the individuals’ cultivation of meditation or other depth practices, but shows real potential for developing global relationships. Given how critical it is for human beings who share a desire for peace and connection to authentically meet and dialogue together, it seems important and precious to develop the capacity to create living virtual spaces that connect the furthest distances on this planet.
ELIZABETH DEBOLD, Ed.D., founder of One World in Dialogue, came to her interest in global dialogue through her expertise in gender development. Trained as a developmental psychologist (Harvard, 1996), she is a leading authority on gender development and author of the bestselling Mother Daughter Revolution (Addison-Wesley, 1993; Bantam, 1994). For the past three decades, she has worked on the front lines of gender and cultural evolution as activist, researcher, journalist, spiritual explorer, and transformative educator. As an editor of the German quarterly magazine, evolve, she writes an article on gender for each issue, looking into the intersection of individual and cultural development. Recognizing that our core patterns of human relationship need to change in order to transform gender relations, Elizabeth has been pursuing new contexts and practices for deep dialogue for the last twenty years. As a result of this inquiry, she recently founded One World in Dialogue, a global conversation space for people keen on meeting across differences to transform cultural tensions into creative friction.
Elizabeth has been sought out as an expert on gender and the evolution of culture by major media outlets in the U.S. and abroad and has lectured in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Europe. She served as Academic Director of the Master of Arts program in Conscious Evolution at The Graduate Institute. She has also taught at Harvard University and the New School for Social Research, and is currently on the faculty of Meridian University. Her work has appeared in academic publications, popular media, and international anthologies as well as in the now-defunct quarterly magazine, EnlightenNext, where she was Senior Editor for nearly a decade. She has made multiple appearances on Oprah, Good Morning America, and NPR, and was featured in a major Lifetime documentary on girls’ development. Her most recent film, A Seat at the Table, based on her work with girls at Miss Halls School in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, was released in Fall 2012. Currently, she is working on several book projects as well as supporting the growth of One World in Dialogue, and its Global Dialogue Lab, a free, open series of forums on the changing nature of making change.
THOMAS STEININGER, PH.D., studied philosophy at the University of Vienna, specializing in consciousness and social evolution using the work of Martin Heidigger and Ken Wilber. He worked for the Austrian Radio (OE1) and as a freelance journalist. Founder of the German magazine, evolve, he served as its editor-in-chief and now serves as publisher. He also hosts the weekly webbroadcast, Radio evolve.
Thomas taught at the Masters program for Conscious Evolution at The Graduate Institute in collaboration with Don Beck, Susanne Cook-Greuter, Allan Combs, and more. He has pioneered the development of the emerge dialogue process, a new consciousness-aware collective process for creative engagement.
As part of the Vision Team for emerge-bewusstseinskultur, e.V., the parent of One World in Dialogue, he holds responsibility for developing programs on meditation and dialogue. He lectures internationally and gives seminars on evolutionary spirituality and dialogue, such as at the Academy Heiligenfeld and Benediktushof Holzkirchen. He has co-organized the annual Spiritual Fall Academy-Frankfurt for the past decade, and co-leads the integral-evolutionary Studium Generale, “Menschen in Spirit,” with Annette Kaiser and Sonja Student. Thomas has led different efforts to address the legacy of German history from the 20th century, most recently the conference, “Reconciliation with Germany,” with Prof. Dr. Barbara von Meibom and Heiner Max Alberti.
ANNETTE LOY holds an M.A. in Social Work and a B.A. In Art History. She is active in the field of youth empowerment and develops projects at the intersection of rites of passage principles, we-space work, immersive arts practises and positive cultural change. Her program development and youth work includes „project peace – Mein JA!hr für die Welt,“ a transition year for young adults between 17-24 about sustainability, cultural change and personal development, and „The heART of CHANGE“ Erasmus+ KA2 Strategic Partnership of four NGOs in Youth Empowerment from Germany, Hungary, Austria, and Italy to explore authentic vocation for social transformation for young adults (www.theheartofchange.eu). Annette has co-edited the book, Take The Future in Your Hands – A Roadmap to Authentic Vocation for Social Transformation and co-authored “The Unsticking Game“ coaching kit. Between 2008-2010, she was assistant to Regina Hellwig-Schmid (Founder, Head of Board) and several curators at donumenta Regensburg, the annual arts and culture festival of the Danube countries, (www.donumenta.de). In 2015, Annette has co- developed and hosted the arts and we-space festival “Impulsee Sommerakademie – Das Atelier ist zwischen uns”, in 2016 she was sound and visuals facilitator to the personal transformation ritual project “Ecstatic Carneval Vienna” (www.ecstaticcarneval.at). Since her early years in University, Annette has been regularly experimenting with artists and co-creative processes to catalyze the transformational potential of immersive arts practises and seeks to explore the purpose of aesthetic, arts-based approaches to we-space and rites of passage work.