“What is missing I think from the equation in our struggle today is that we must unleash radical thought. … America has never been moved to perfect our desire for greater democracy without radical thinking and radical voices being at the helm of any such a quest.” We Must Unleash Radical Thought, Harry Belafonte, February 2013 -
“Millions of people around the world find themselves searching for a more meaningful, relevant, and profound way to engage with life. Not only do they want to become more conscious as individuals, they want to personally participate in the creation of a better world…The fourteen-billion-year project that is our evolving universe has reached a critical juncture where it needs conscious, creative human beings to help build the next step, together.” Andrew Cohen, Conscious evolution for thinking people, EnlightenNext magazine
The big picture
The Big Theories Underwriting Society Are Crashing All Around Us — Are You Ready for a New World? by Terrence McNally, AlterNet, January 27, 2010…Many of the ideas and institutions that define our culture are breaking down — and that’s a good thing…today’s crises are part of a natural process — clearing out what no longer serves us to make room for a new way of being…We can no longer afford to indulge outdated worldviews. In order to deal with the crises we now face, we’ve got to act on the new realities and understandings revealed by science…Rather than focusing on what’s coming apart, we want people to understand that this crisis makes it possible to move to a much higher level of evolution.…Every cell counts. Every human counts.
Scientists find visions of a benevolent future society motivate reform By Eric W. Dolan, Washington Post, March 21, 2013 — Activists, take note: People support reform if they believe the changes will enhance the future character of society…people support a future society that fosters the development of warm and moral individuals… If you can communicate how a policy will serve its primary function and help community-building, our research suggests you will gain broader public support.
The Fate of Humanity Is at Stake Noam Chomsky, AlterNet, October 5, 2012…There are two issues of overwhelming significance, because the fate of the species is at stake: environmental disaster, and nuclear war…governments have not responded to the change with any…urgency…This reaction demonstrates an extraordinary willingness to sacrifice the lives of our children and grandchildren for short-term gain. Or, perhaps, an equally remarkable willingness to shut our eyes so as not to see the impending peril… Passivity may be the easy course, but it is hardly the honorable one.
What is civilization by Will Durant — Civilization is social order promoting cultural creation… It begins where chaos and insecurity end.…Man differs from the beast only by education, which may be defined as the technique of transmitting civilization…
The Values Question by David Brooks,New York Times, November 24, 2009 — …all great public issues…[are] a debate about what kind of country we want America to be. During the first many decades of this nation’s existence, the United States was a wide-open, dynamic country with a rapidly expanding economy. It was also a country that tolerated a large amount of cruelty and pain — poor people living in misery, workers suffering from exploitation. Over the years, Americans decided they wanted a little more safety and security. This is what happens as nations grow wealthier; they use money to buy civilization…
Global economic crisis also values crisis - Davos poll — by Tom Henegan, Religion Editor, New Frontiers, Reuters, January 27, 2010 – Two-thirds of people around the world think the global economic crisis is also a crisis of ethical values that calls for more honesty, transparency and respect for others, according to a World Economic Forum poll. Almost as many name business as the sector that should stress values more to foster a better world, said the poll for the Forum’s annual Davos summit that opened on Wednesday…
Compassion and empathy
The Empathic Civilization by Jeremy Rifkin, Interview by Amanda Gefter, New Scientist.com, February 17, 2010 …before we can save ourselves from climate change we have to break a vicious circle and embrace a new model of society based on scientists’ new understanding of human nature…We have to think deeper, to think as a human family… Empathy is the invisible social glue that allows a complex individuated society to remain integrated…
Wisdom: The Forgotten Dimension? by Mary Jaksch, January 12, 2013…Wisdom means having the moral will to do right by other people, and to have the moral skill to figure out what doing right means. This is not a new idea; it is something that Aristotle taught that in ancient Greece.…A wise person takes the overview…Compassionate action – the outflow of wisdom – happens when we stop being the center of our concern . Then we can open up to a wider view of reality that includes the suffering of others, as well as our own – and respond with compassion.
Dark Ages Redux: American Politics and the End of the Enlightenment by John Atcheson, Common Dreams, June 18, 2012 — We are witnessing an epochal shift in our socio-political world… Much of what has made the modern world in general, and the United States in particular, a free and prosperous society comes directly from insights that arose during the Enlightenment. Too bad we’re chucking it all out and returning to the Dark Ages…Now, we seek to operate by revealed truths, not reality. Decrees from on high – often issued by an unholy alliance of religious fundamentalists, self-interested corporations, and greedy fat cats – are offered up as reality by rightwing politicians…Second, the Enlightenment laid the groundwork for our form of government. The Social Contract is the intellectual basis of all modern democratic republics, including ours. John Locke and others argued that governments derived their authority from the governed, not from divine right. Governments could be legitimate, then, only with the consent of the governed. Jefferson acknowledged Locke’s influence on the Declaration of Independence and his ideas are evident in the Constitution. Here again, our founders used reason, empiricism and academic scholarship to cobble together one of the most enduring and influential documents in human history. For all its flaws, it has steered us steadily toward a more perfect union. Until recently… We are, indeed, at an epochal threshold. We can continue to discard the Enlightenment values which enabled both an untold increase in material wealth and a system of government which turned serfs into citizens. A system which – for all its flaws – often managed to protect the rights of the many, against the predatory power of the few. Or we can continue our abject surrender to myths, magical thinking, and self-delusion and the Medieval nation-state those forces are resurrecting. Republicans and Tea Partiers may be leading this retreat from reason, but they are unopposed by Democrats or the Press. And in the end, there is a special place in Hell for those who allow evil to prosper by doing nothing.
Climate change and overcoming denial
The Earth Is Full by Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, June 7, 2011 — You really do have to wonder whether a few years from now we’ll look back at the first decade of the 21st century…and ask ourselves: What were we thinking? How did we not panic when the evidence was so obvious that we’d crossed some growth/climate/natural resource/population redlines all at once? “The only answer can be denial,” argues Paul Gilding… “When you are surrounded by something so big that requires you to change everything about the way you think and see the world, then denial is the natural response. But the longer we wait, the bigger the response required.”…we are currently growing at a rate that is using up the Earth’s resources far faster than they can be sustainably replenished, so we are eating into the future. Right now, global growth is using about 1.5 Earths.…That is what happens when one generation in one country lives at 150 percent of sustainable capacity….…We will realize, he predicts, that the consumer-driven growth model is broken and we have to move to a more happiness-driven growth model, based on people working less and owning less. “We are heading for a crisis-driven choice,” he says. “We either allow collapse to overtake us or develop a new sustainable economic model. We will choose the latter. We may be slow, but we’re not stupid.”
How the Common Good Is Transforming Our World by Douglas LaBier, HuffingtonPost.com, October 17, 2010 … a steadily growing consciousness and behavior that refocuses personal lives and public policies towards promoting the common good. By the “common good” I’m referring to a broad evolution beyond values and actions that serve narrow self-interest, and towards those guided by inclusiveness — supporting well-being, economic success, security, human rights and stewardship of resources for the benefit of all, rather than just for some….It’s an awareness of interconnection of all lives on this planet, and a pull towards acting upon that reality in a range of ways. They include rethinking personal relationships, the responsibility of business to society, and the role of government in an interdependent world.
Politics and power
America’s War for Reality by Robert Parry, January 15, 2013 by Consortium News — The real struggle confronting the United States… is testing whether fact-based people have the same determination to fight for their real-world view as those who operate in a fact-free space do in defending their illusions.….Simply put, the Right fights harder for its fantasyland than the rest of America does for the real world. The American Right’s collective departure from reality can be traced back decades, but clearly accelerated with the emergence of former actor Ronald Reagan on the national stage…Facts didn’t matter; results did… this strategy wouldn’t have worked if not for gullible rank-and-file right-wingers who were manipulated by an endless series of false narratives. The Republican political pros manipulated the racial resentments of neo-Confederates, the religious zeal of fundamentalist Christians, and the free-market hero worship of Ayn Rand acolytes…That these techniques succeeded in a political system that guaranteed freedom of speech and the press was not only a testament to the skills of Republican operatives like Lee Atwater and Karl Rove. It was an indictment of America’s timid Center and the nation’s ineffectual Left. Simply put, the Right fought harder for its fantasyland than the rest of America did for the real world…This post-modern United States may have reached its nadir with George W. Bush’s presidency. In 2002-03, patently false claims were made about Iraq’s WMD and virtually no one in a position of power had the courage to challenge the lies… the nation lurched off into an aggressive war of choice…the United States continues to see the consequences of three decades of right-wing delusions…The country is going to need its conscious inhabitants of the real world to stand up with at least the same determination as the deluded denizens of the made-up world. Of course, this fight will be nasty and unpleasant. It will require resources, patience and toughness. But there is no other answer. Reality must be recovered and protected – if the planet and the children are to be saved.
It’s Time to Fight the Status Quo by Bill McKibben, Solutions Time For Outrage On Behalf of the Planet, June 7, 2012…slogans and proposals and will mean nothing without the requisite power standing behind them…All along, two things have been clear. One, the scientists who warned us about climate change were absolutely correct…Two, we have much of the technological know-how we need to make the leap past fossil fuel…We need politicians more afraid of voter outrage than they are of corporate retribution…So, if we have an emergency, and we have the tools to fight it, the only question is why we’re not doing so. And the answer, I think, is clear…They go against the power of the status quo, and hence they will be enacted only if we build movements strong enough to force them…We’ll never get the solutions we need—the solutions everyone has known about for two decades—unless we build the movement first.
We the People, and the New American Civil War by Robert Reich, Common Dreams, November 6, 2012 .…I think the degree of venom we’re experiencing has deeper roots.…In other words, white working-class men have been on the losing end of a huge demographic and economic shift. That’s made them a tinder-box of frustration and anger – eagerly ignited by Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and other peddlers of petulance, including an increasing number of Republicans who have gained political power by fanning the flames. That hate-mongering and attendant scapegoating – of immigrants, blacks, gays, women this degree of divisiveness would have taken root had America preserved the social solidarity we had two generations ago. The Great Depression and World War II reminded us we were all in it together. We had to depend on each other in order to survive. That sense of mutual dependence transcended our disagreements…The challenge – not only for our president and representatives in Washington but for all of us – is to rediscover the public good.
The Constitution is inherently progressive by John Podesta and John Halpin, Politico.com, October 10, 2011 - Progressives disagree strongly with tea party views on government, taxation, public spending, regulations and social welfare policies……As progressives, we believe in using the ingenuity of the private sector and the positive power of government to advance common purposes and increase freedom and opportunity…Coupled with basic beliefs in fair play, openness, cooperation and human dignity, it is this progressive vision that in the past century helped build the strongest economy in history and allowed millions to move out of poverty and into the middle class. It is the basis for American peace and prosperity as well as greater global cooperation in the postwar era…the story of America has also been the story of a good nation, conceived in liberty and equality, eventually welcoming every American into the arms of democracy, protecting their freedoms and expanding their economic opportunities…
Democracy of the people, by the people and for the people – the only countervailing force sufficient to stand up to the power of money
Democracy Should Be a Brake on Unbridled Greed and Power - Bill Moyers…Interview with Amy Goodman, Democracy Now — The greatest change in politics in my time has been the transformation of democracy, America, from a citizens’ society, the moral agency…to a consumer society, where most of us are caught up on that treadmill, trying to get more…I think this country is in a very precarious state at the moment….the escalating, accumulating power of organized wealth is snuffing out everything public… I think we’re at a very critical moment in the equilibrium. No society, no human being, can survive without balance, without equilibrium…We don’t have equilibrium now. The power of money trumps the power of democracy today…democracy should be a break on unbridled greed and power, because capitalism…can turn from a servant, a good servant, into an evil master. And democracy is the brake on my passions and my appetites and your greed and your wealth. And we have to get that equilibrium back… you have to exercise your will optimistically, believing that each of us singly, and all of us collectively, can be an agent of change. And I have to get up every morning and imagine a more confident future, and then try to do something that day to help bring it about.
Threats to democracy
Democracy in America Is a Series of Narrow Escapes, and We May Be Running Out of Luck by Bill Moyers, May 17, 2008 , CommonDreams.org…The reigning presumption about the American experience…is grounded in the idea of progress, the conviction that the present is “better” than the past and the future will bring even more improvement. For all of its shortcomings, we keep telling ourselves, “The system works.” Now all bets are off. We have fallen under the spell of money, faction, and fear, and the great American experience in creating a different future together has been subjugated to individual cunning in the pursuit of wealth and power …there is a class war and ordinary people are losing it….extremes of wealth and poverty cannot be reconciled with a genuinely democratic politics. When the state becomes the guardian of power and privilege to the neglect of justice for the people as a whole, it mocks the very concept of government as proclaimed in the preamble to our Constitution…Our democracy has prospered most when it was firmly anchored in the idea that “We the People” — not just a favored few — would identify and remedy common distempers and dilemmas and win the gamble our forebears undertook when they espoused the radical idea that people could govern themselves wisely.
Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem By Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein, Washington Post, April 27, 2012
….We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party….The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.
When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.
Citizen education and participation
We have an opening in this crisis for a deep transformation in American politics…But it requires people — this is the hard part — to get out of their sort of passive resignation…and engage among themselves in a much more serious role as citizens…to force the changing values of the system. William Grieder being interviewed by Bill Moyers, July 24, 2008
“The new education must be less concerned with sophistication than compassion…The old emphasis upon superficial differences that separate peoples must give way to education for citizenship in the human community…Human destiny is the issue. People will respond.” Norman Cousins
Trickle-Down Cruelty and the Politics of Austerity by Henry A. Giroux, Truthout | Op-Ed , July 11, 2011 …Any society that allows the market to constitute the axis and framing mechanisms for all social interactions has not just lost its sense of morality and responsibility; it is given up its claim on any vestige of a democratic future. Market fundamentalism along with its structure of extreme inequality and machinery of cruelty has proven to be a death sentence on democracy. The time has come…to rethink what a real democracy might look like and to consider what it will take to actually organize collectively to make it happen.
Imagining a new economics
Reclaiming Our Imaginations from ‘There Is No Alternative’ by Andrea Brower, Friday, January 25, 2013 by Common Dreams — We live in a time of heavy fog. A time when, though many of us dissent and resist, humanity seems committed to a course of collective suicide in the name of preserving an economic system that generates scarcity no matter how much is actually produced. To demand that all have enough to eat on a planet that grows enough food, that absurd numbers of people do not die from preventable disease, that utter human deprivation amongst plenty is not tolerated, or that we put the natural laws of the biosphere above socially constructed economic “laws” — is presented as unrealistic, as the fantasy of idealists or those who are naive to the “complexity” of the world’s problems. If we create and recreate the world every day, then how has it become so supposedly absurd to believe we might actually create a world that is honestly making the possibilities of egalitarianism, justice and democracy? Capitalism — the logic of subordinating every aspect of life to the accumulation of profit (i.e. the “rules of the market”) — has become today’s “common sense.” It has become almost unthinkable to imagine coherent alternatives to this logic, even when considering the most basic of human needs — food, water, healthcare, education. Though many have an understanding of capitalism’s failings, there is a resignation towards its inevitability…What sustains the tragic myth that There Is No Alternative? Those committed to building a more just future must begin re-thinking and revealing the taken-for-granted assumptions that make capitalism “common sense,” and bring these into the realm of mainstream public debate in order to widen horizons of possibility…
Failure of the main stream media
How the Mainstream Press Bungled the Single Biggest Story of the 2012 Campaign by Dan Froomkin, Huffington Post, 12/07/2012 — Contributing editor, Nieman Reports … coverage in 2012 was a particularly calamitous failure, almost entirely missing the single biggest story of the race: Namely, the radical right-wing, off-the-rails lurch of the Republican Party, both in terms of its agenda and its relationship to the truth… Democrats were hardly innocent but…the Republican campaign was just far more over the top.”…[Mann and Ornstein] dramatically rejected the strictures of false equivalency that bind so much of the capital’s media…The 2012 campaign …exposed how fabulists and liars can exploit the elite media’s fear of being seen as taking sides… if the story that you’re telling repeatedly is that they’re all…equally to blame — then you’re really doing a disservice to voters, and not doing what journalism is supposed to do…
Crimes Against the Soul of America by Caroline Myss, Huffington Post, September 5, 2009 There is such a thing as a crime against the soul of a nation. A person or a political party can deliberately incite actions that diminish the strength, the integrity, and the overall well-being of a nation’s inner core. America’s soul is in a fragile state. It has suffered severe violations over the course of this past decade and to lesser degrees, in previous decades…of all the crimes covertly and overtly committed by the Bush administration against the soul of America, none is as vile as the deliberate efforts they poured into turning American against American. We see that in the near hatred between the Republicans and Democrats, between liberals and conservatives, between free-thinkers and evangelicals that continues to fester. This crime was a strategic one, a well thought out plan to fragment the people of this nation in a type of contemporary replay of the Civil War. And sadly, the Republicans succeeded. Thank you, Karl Rove. The result is that the soul of America is exhausted, wounded, mistrusting, suspicious, fearful — and compromised. This is not a soul that can rebuild a country, not if you know anything about the laws of nature and the fundamentals of healing…A conscious effort to “dumb down” the education of this nation qualifies as a crime against the soul of America.…I deeply believe the soul of our nation can’t take much more of their strategy of deliberate division against the people of their own nation. That is a true crime — and perhaps their greatest crime — against the soul of this great nation.
A Values– and Vision-Based Political Dream by Benjamin Mordecai Ben-Baruch, Tikkun, Winter 2011, We need leaders and organizers to inspire people and communities to act on their values and hopes. We need help articulating our values and vision of the ideal future. Right-wing successes have been achieved by appealing to peoples’ fears, hatreds and prejudices. But the politics of hope is stronger than politics of fear. Imagining our future based on our highest ideals can mobilize us to overcome the paralysis of fear and hatred. The politics of hope is not issue oriented, and people who share the same values and vision often disagree on the issues…We need to go beyond issue-oriented politics and the politics of fear to a public discourse focused on articulating our vision for the ideal future and what that future would look like. We need a vision of a society without the injustices of poverty and social inequality. We need a dream..
Idealism, Conscience And The Spiritual Left by William Horden, Huffington Post, March 1, 2010 …Spiritual Left did not, of course, originate with the 60s.…it dates back at least to 1838, when Emerson and other Transcendentalists began their quest for a path “away from the old ‘religions of authority’ into a new ‘religion of the spirit.’”…sought a first-hand experience of the divine grounded in nature and community rather than institutionalized dogma. Rooted deep in the grain of American culture, the Spiritual Left has long acted as the progressive conscience of the nation, championing as it did from its very beginning unpopular causes like abolition and women’s rights… Amorphous and anti-authoritarian, the Spiritual Left is perhaps best defined as a borderless association of leaders. Free thinkers and independent seekers of spirituality beyond dogma, its members engage in–and disengage from–political activism as a matter of personal conviction, not ordained groupthink…The Political Left will need to return to the moral high ground of progressive American thought and give voice to the American conscience of compassion if it is to recapture the imagination and heart of its spiritual counterpart. It has to want to change the world for the better, not just get elected…
A Time for ‘Sublime Madness’ by Chris Hedges, January 21, 2013 by TruthDig.com - The planet we have assaulted will convulse with fury. The senseless greed of limitless capitalist expansion will implode the global economy. The decimation of civil liberties, carried out in the name of fighting terror, will shackle us to an interconnected security and surveillance state that stretches from Moscow to Istanbul to New York. To endure what lies ahead we will have to harness the human imagination…It is the imagination that makes possible transcendence…“Ultimately, the artist and the revolutionary function as they function, and pay whatever dues they must pay behind it because they are both possessed by a vision, and they do not so much follow this vision as find themselves driven by it,” wrote James Baldwin. “Otherwise, they could never endure, much less embrace, the lives they are compelled to lead.”
A Global Convergence of Social Movements? By Joe Brewer, Chaotic Ripple, Cognitive Policy Works In Collaboration, Economic Patterns, Social Change on May 24, 2011 — What will the world look like in 2050? 2070? 2100?…Imagine if the major social movements of the world — sustainability, global justice, world federalism, corporation reform, open collaboration, and social finance – were to congeal into a new way of being. There are trends that suggest this is already happening. We can help amplify this convergence. Or we can suppress it…
We May Be Witnessing the First Large Global Conflict Where People Are Aligned by Consciousness and Not Nation State or Religion By Naomi Wolf, Al Jazeera English, Posted on AlterNet.org, November 1, 2011 …Suddenly, the United States looks like the rest of the furious, protesting, not-completely-free world. Indeed, most commentators have not fully grasped that a world war is occurring. But it is unlike any previous war in human history: for the first time, people around the world are not identifying and organising themselves along national or religious lines, but rather in terms of a global consciousness and demands for a peaceful life, a sustainable future, economic justice and basic democracy. Their enemy is a global “corporatocracy” that has purchased governments and legislatures, created its own armed enforcers, engaged in systemic economic fraud, and plundered treasuries and ecosystems…
The Great Turning: The End of Empire and the Rise of Earth Community by David Korten, January 27, 2008 …finding a pathway to a viable human future is the Great Work of our time…Our environmental, social, and economic systems are collapsing around us….This is a defining moment for the human species. We have a brief window of opportunity to navigate the passage from a self-destructive Era of Empire, characterized by 5,000 years of violent domination, to an Era of Earth Community characterized by peaceful partnership.…This is arguably the most exciting time to be alive in the whole of the human experience. Creation is calling us to reinvent our cultures, our institutions and ourselves. It is in our hands. We have the power. We are the one’s we’ve been waiting for.
Peace and prosperity for all
5 Ways to Achieve World Peace and Prosperity — 2048: Humanity’s Agreement to Live Together …One of the most pernicious myths is that peace and prosperity are hopelessly complicated and unattainable…This is untrue. Peace and prosperity can be attained through the realization of five basic fundamental freedoms, for all people, everywhere in the world. They are: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, freedom for the environment, and freedom from fear…The problem is those who are presently profiting…have an interest in maintaining the status quo. It is time for the human rights community to have the strength and daring to band together so that we have the clout to stand up to this narrow-minded view…Awareness can be created with … only 1% of humanity to share the news…This 1% of humanity already exists…now the Internet and 2048 are bringing all these communities together…