The World We Want: Why Now?

By David Korten | Great Turning website

Read more posts in The World We Want series.

Change begins with a new story that celebrates the best, rather than the worst, of what we are and can be. It’s pretty straightforward. If we convince ourselves that we are innately brutal, greedy beings and that this is all for the good, then we set ourselves a goal of perfecting our capacity for greed and violence, thus perpetuating the world of our nightmares.

It is time to start filling our heads instead with the story that it is our nature to be caring and giving and that this is all for the good, and therefore we properly set our sights on perfecting our capacity for love and caring and create the world of our dreams. It isn’t a particularly new story. A young fellow named Jesus built quite a following by preaching it to large crowds of adoring fans some 2,000 years ago. Some of our most revered heroes, for example Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., preached the same message and built powerful social movements.

OK. I know the question you are about to ask. Hey, you look at me and say, “Didn’t this guy Korten just say it’s been this way for 5,000 years? They crucified Jesus and they assassinated Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. Why should we expect things to change now? It’s over. The ice caps are melting. We’re cooked.”

Here is the key to “Why now?” For the first time since the first empires were formed in the lands we now call Iraq and Egypt, we have both the means and the imperative to liberate ourselves from the story in our heads, break the cycle of domination, and live Earth Community into being. It is the Great Work of our time. Some of us call it the Great Turning.

The communications capabilities of the Internet provide the means to hold the global conversation needed to awaken ourselves from our cultural trance and create global alliances for change that bring together people from all levels of society. It starts with local conversations that grow and merge through the Internet into global conversations.

The global scale of the collapse of social and environmental systems provides the shared imperative to have that conversation, a conversation now already well underway. For the first time since our earliest human-like ancestors walked the earth millions of years ago, we humans have the means and the imperative to engage this conversation on a global scale.

We weren’t born with the Empire story in our heads. It’s not in our genes. It got there because it is a constantly recurring theme of the cultural stories we turn to for answers to our most basic questions about ourselves and our possibilities. It got there from the economic, political, and religious institutions that perpetuate it and reward those who serve its values by showering them with financial success and promoting them to positions of unaccountable power.

More next Tuesday…

© 2008 David Korten. All rights reserved.