PAIR Articles

We stand here, at the start of the 21st century, gazing through time and space toward our beginnings. Based upon what can now be observed, scientists can reconstruct our 13.7 billion-year journey from our origins to the present moment. This is the evolutionary story, which includes the Universe, our solar system, Earth, and us. An evolutionary perspective offers a new way of thinking about the world and the role each of us plays in evolution’s continued unfolding.

Evolution has a trajectory—a movement toward increasing complexity, consciousness, elegance, and efficiency. One line of development in this trajectory is accumulated knowledge—experience aggregated and coded over billions of years and passed from one generation to the next.

Contemplate the number of human generations that were lived and learned from to enable each of us to be here, now. The ability of living organisms to accumulate and pass on to future generations such huge quantities of information inspires awe.

And when you further consider the trials, errors, fatalities, struggles, joys, and suffering that enabled this learning to take place, it gives us a new appreciation of our own transitional role in time. Not only are we the carriers of the hard-won knowledge of generations past, we are also the instruments through which new information vital to survival is learned and passed on to the future. While we are not the first species threatened with our own demise, we are the first species who can consciously hasten, forestall, or even avoid it. The choice is ours.

It is this awareness that inspires hope. As the late Dr. Jonas Salk, scientist, humanitarian, and inventor of the polio vaccine, stated: “Once the human species becomes conscious of evolution, then the human species can consciously evolve.” To stay on the evolutionary trajectory, humankind must now choose to do consciously what all other successful life forms have done automatically—evolve into a healthy, cooperative species that lives in dynamic balance with life’s larger processes.

Looking at both modern sciences as well as ancient wisdom traditions, the Global MindShift team has identified four “tools for evolution” it believes can help the human species do this: being Present, Authentic, Inclusive, and Responsible (PAIR).

PAIR is simple in concept but profound in execution: It is a process to help develop ways of being with ourselves, with others, and with the emergent moment we live in.

The Global MindShift team, a project of the Foundation, has a website [] which contains brief statements from a variety of individuals on these four concepts. On the following pages, Timeline presents excerpts from some of them.

Be Present - Accept what is

Being present, being in the here and now, is one of the most important values and practices in my life for the last almost forty years that I’ve been meditating. The way my teacher used to explain it, we lose a lot of our vital capacity because we’re anxious about the future, or we’re regretful about the past, and that means that part of our vital energy is not there.

Michael Nagler, Professor of Classic and Comparative Literature (retired,) University of California, Berkeley.

I have found in my own work that the most healing act we can do for one another is to simply be truly present as good listeners—not interfering, not trying to fix, not giving advice, not saying, “Oh, I know just how you feel,” or “let me tell you about my experience,” but, in fact, just sitting there really as an attentive, fully present listener. Over and over again, I see that there is no better way to form a relationship than when we are simply present for one another. And you have to contrast this to how crazy our culture has become, where we’re in public spaces together. We’re on buses, we’re on trains, we’re in cars, we’re in airports, we’re on street corners, we’re in restaurants, and everyone is talking on their cell phones or listening to their own music. It does alarm me how un-present, or non-present we are these days, and I notice it in myself as well.

Margaret Wheatley, Ed.D. President, The Berkana Institute. Author, Leadership and the New Science

Be Authentic - Know yourself

So much of political activism, which is the world I come out of, is about bluster, it’s about show, it’s about the drama, and it’s about the politics of confrontation. It becomes very addictive, and so often we’re playing our role—the advisors are playing their roles, the police are playing their roles, the reporters are playing their roles. And then somebody—maybe your grandmother, maybe a child—will just say something that’s so true and so honest and so heartfelt that it transforms the whole moment.

Van Jones, Executive Director, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights

Authenticity for me means that I am willing to let you know who I am; I am willing to be truthful. This is something that grows over time in conversation. I often remind people that when we start a conversation, we’re not going to be fully authentic. We’re going to be guarded, we’re going to be cautious. But authenticity is something that grows from presence; and it grows in a good relationship.

Margaret Wheatley, Ed.D. President, The Berkana Institute. Author, Leadership and the New Science

So many times we’re trying to be this, or be that, without responding to the deeper authentic impulses of ourselves. And, therefore, we end up going in directions that reflect that disassociation from self. So authenticity is a personal strategy: I can’t possibly know what I need to know, think what I need to think, feel what I need to feel unless I’m authentic.

Marianne Williamson, Author, A Return to Love and Everyday Grace

Be Inclusive - Embrace differing points of view

Being inclusive is recognizing that this wonderful world, Universe, planet…consists of energy and matter in a glorious profusion of forms; and to honor and recognize that all of those forms have value and have their place. Whether those forms are different kinds of humans, or different kinds of other animals, or different ecological issues, every being has the right to fully actualize whatever it is, whoever it is. Inclusivity is to allow every being to be exactly who it is, and to actualize its potential.

Christian de Quincey, Professor of Philosophy, John F. Kennedy University

For me, the only real sin on this planet is separateness, or a separative consciousness. It creates all these “isms,” those places where I find myself apart from someone else, rather than living according to oneness, and the fact that we really all do share this planet and live under its laws and principles—all of us. Inclusivity is on all levels, recognizing that everyone’s voice counts. The way I work in the business world, or in the nonprofit world, or in anything that I’m involved in is through a shared leadership/shared responsibility model that is all-inclusive.

Dorothy J. Maver, Ph.D. Executive Director, Peace Alliance Foundation

I’m always looking at how we can all be part of something and still have our differences—first to look for the samenesses, because within the samenesses is the place where you unite.

Nina Lynn Meyerhof, Ed.D.

Be Responsible - Act for the long-term benefit of all life

All of us can be responsible at the individual level of responsibility—what we buy, how we vote, and who we are when we are with other people. No matter what the oppressor does, no matter what the exploiter does, no matter what the polluter does, you still have to be accountable within all of that. Our own responsibility, regardless of what the power holders are doing, is to hold ourselves to high standards and to be kind to each other in this walk.

Van Jones, Executive Director, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights

At the conclusion of World War II, there was a worldwide effort to come up with a document on human rights, which the UN eventually adopted. I am not saying that it wasn’t a useful instrument, but it’s interesting that when they brought this document to Gandhi, thinking, “Oh, surely, he’ll be the first person to sign this,” he said, “No, [but] you bring me a Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities and no one will sign faster than me.” It’s one of those funny things, the more we go after it, the more we lose it. If you go after rights, you lose them, but if you go after responsibilities, you get the responsibilities and the rights.

Michael Nagler, Professor of Classic and Comparative Literature (retired), University of California, Berkeley

To be responsible means that I take responsibility for my actions. I never say, “I had to,” or, “I should,” “they made me,” “it’s company policy,” “it’s the law.” I say, “I choose to do it.” I try to be responsible for seeing that each of my actions is chosen, and it is chosen for the purpose of serving life.

Marshall B. Rosenberg, Founder and Director, Educational Services Center for Nonviolent Communications

Responsibility is how we show up; whether we show up; whether we’re willing to step forward. When I engage with you as another human being, through our authentic presence for each other, no matter how different you are from me, I will act more responsibly. All of these things—presence, authenticity, inclusivity, responsibility—you can’t have one without the other. They are all, for me, the precursors, the foundations for what’s required.

Margaret Wheatley, Ed.D. President, The Berkana Institute. Author, Leadership and the New Science

Global MindShift, Palo Alto, California