Success or  Distress? A Post-Modern Exploration of Values


By: John Deglado

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Hi, my name is John. I’m an earthling just like you, or any other, on this tiny spec of space dust that we call home. Let me start by saying that I don’t have any answers. In reality, I know very little, but I am wildly curious.

Answers have their place, don’t get me wrong; they serve as guidelines and tangible stepping stones along the fluidly adapting life in which we live. The thing about an answer, is that it’s only as good as the question being asked. A great question, asked in the correct context, and applied with grace and skill, can lead to major breakthroughs in relevant issues and provide novel creations. In a sense, you can say that answers to a given challenge lead us to greater developmental complexity within our created reality. This applies at the individual level, culturally, and the systems and societies that all co-operate at any given point in time.  

It is not my aim here to define success. There are many definitions out there, and each individual person will likely have their own nuances of what success looks and feels like to them. It is inexorably engrained within the contexts of our own experiences and personal journeys.

What I am interested in, is asking different questions. Questions like, “What does success mean within the context of a hypercomplex world, that is rapidly accelerating toward an unclear, unpredictable, and nonlinear future outcome?” Again, a singular perspective or linear equation is not my aim here. There are some foundational mindsets and value systems in play that would radically change the answer given to this question, depending on what that “lens” allowed the viewer to see.


The modern day success story is still largely a personal one. A triumph against great odds, with a valiant display of brilliance, and the acquisition of the “good life” surrounded by life’s finer things are all commonly idealized characteristics of success. (Especially in modern-day Western culture). This drive of the individual to grow to great heights, based in an economy that feeds off of finite (scarce) resources, generates a competitive advantage against other “players” in the same game to the top. This game has dire consequences when the success of the “whole” is not fully taken into account by each individual or organization.  Perpetuation of a culture based on competition, personal gain, win-lose scenarios, and exponential technologies equal systemic failure for all life on the planet.

We have one planet that sustains the optimal life conditions for all life. When we extract life supporting resources faster than the Earth can regenerate them, we threaten the delicate equilibrium of the local and global ecosystems on our planet. Without a healthy and thriving ecology, there is no possible notion of having thriving political, economic, or social systems. We are alive at a time in human evolution that has converged to a critical point. Looking forward we can see a fork in the road: do we see a dystopian reality that forecasts catastrophic or existential outcomes? Or do we see the potential for an unprecedented quality of life for all life on our planet? Both paths are equally as valid, and there are no guaranteed outcomes. I believe that if we shift our personal and collective values from the success of the few to the success of all, that we can co-create the necessary systems and structures that can sustain a new way for humanity to exist on this planet that has never been seen before.

“If we are gaining the power of Gods, then without the love and wisdom of Gods, we self-destruct.” ~ Daniel Schmactenberger