“We humans have a brief window of opportunity to navigate the passage from a 5,000 year Era of Empire characterized by violent domination to an Era of Earth Community characterized peaceful partnership. This passage to a new level of species maturity promises a more secure and fulfilling life for all. It is ours to choose.”
The Great Turning: An Epic Passage
Choosing Our Future
The capacity to anticipate and choose our future is a defining characteristic of the human species. We must now choose between two contrasting models for organizing human affairs.
- Empire, which has prevailed for some 5,000 years, organizes by principles of elite domination and competition to appropriate the resources of the society for exclusive benefit of the few.
- Earth Community organizes by principles of partnership and shares resources equitably to grow the generative potential of the whole.
Our common future depends on navigating a Great Turning from the dominator cultures and institutions of Empire to the partnership cultures and institutions of Earth Community.
Apologists for Empire maintain that we humans are by nature self-centered, materialistic, and driven to violent winner-take-all competition. Coercive hierarchy and unrestrained market competition are therefore necessary to maintain social order and channel our energy to productive ends. Their favored institutions, however, create an insidious self-fulfilling prophecy by cultivating and rewarding the sociopathic behaviors that by their reckoning define our human nature.
The institutions of Earth Community, by contrast, nurture and celebrate higher order human capacities for love, cooperation, and service to community, which define our true potential. ...see "The Great Turning in Bullet Points."
Imperative as Opportunity
Guided by the dominator institutions and cultures of Empire, we humans have created a global civilization that depends on a one time nonrenewable fossil fuel subsidy to suppress and destroy the natural dynamics of human community and Earth’s biosphere. The resulting convergence of potentially terminal social, environmental crises creates an imperative to bring forth the culture and institutions of a planetary system of living economies that align and partner with the structure and dynamics of the biosphere to maximize the health and happiness of all of Earth’s people. ...see "New Economy 2.0”
What We Humans Want
There is significant evidence that for all our apparent differences, all but the most psychologically damaged humans want the same thing: a world of happy healthy children, families, communities, and natural systems. Properly understood, the imperative combines with the communication revolution to create an unprecedented opportunity to unleash long suppressed potentials of the human consciousness and bring forth the world for which we humans have long shared a deep yearning.
There will be difficult adjustments, but mostly we must give up wasteful or actively destructive forms of consumption to free up resources for uses that actually increase our happiness and well-being. It involves, for example, reallocation from:
- Instruments of war to health care and environmental rejuvenation.
- Automobiles to public transportation.
- Suburban sprawl to compact communities and the reclamation of forest and agricultural land.
- Advertising to education.
- Financial speculation to local entrepreneurship.
Far from acts of sacrifice, these are transitions from self-destructive to intelligent living.
To Change the Future, Change the Story
Empire’s power depends on its ability to control the cultural stories and language that shape our collective understanding of our world and our choices as a species. Empire stories induce a kind of cultural trance that conditions us to accept the dominator relations of Empire as just and righteous and to dismiss talk of alternatives as naïve, dangerous, or even sinful.
Once we recognize the truth that Empire stories deny, the trance is broken. To change the future, change the story.
Fundamental social change begins with a discussion of unrealized possibility. Fortunately, that conversation is already underway in localities all over the world, spreading the good news that the world we must now create to secure the human future is the same as the world most all the world's people want.
We are in a race against time between the awakening of an Earth Community consciousness and spreading social and environmental collapse. Whether by intent or neglect, we humans will within this decade make an irrevocable choice that will determine our children's future for millennia to come.
The institutions of Empire will not act from within to relinquish their power voluntarily. Leadership for the turning must come from popular civic initiatives centered outside the institutions of Empire.
Empire has always met resistance from those with a larger vision of human possibility. Jesus, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. were among the more visible examples.
Modern communications technology has obliterated the barriers of geography and is linking ordinary people into a seamless global web of learning and sharing unfiltered by imperial agents and institutions. Millions of people of every race, religion, and nationality are now using this technology to create a species capacity to choose and act as a whole in the service of life, as documented by Paul Hawken in Blessed Unrest.
Those of us who are taking up the challenge of accelerating the awakening and shaping the flow of transformative life energy thereby released are privileged to be engaged in the greatest and most creative adventure in all of the human experience. The time is now. We have the power. We are the ones we have been waiting for.