We Are Hard-Wired to Care and Connect – Part IV

By David Korten | Website

Reprinted from  "Purple America," the Fall 2008 YES! Magazine
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Read the first part of the article here.

The Power of Conversation
out of our current mess begins with a conversation to change the shared
cultural story about our essential nature. The women’s movement offers
an instructive lesson.

In little more than a decade, a few
courageous women changed the cultural story that the key to a woman’s
happiness is to find the right man, marry him, and devote her life to
his service. As Cecile Andrews, author of Circles of Simplicity,
relates, the transition to a new gender story began with discussion
circles in which women came together in their living rooms to share
their stories. Until then, a woman whose experience failed to conform
to the prevailing story assumed that the problem was a deficiency in
herself. As women shared their own stories each realized that the flaw
was in the story. Millions of women were soon spreading a new gender
story that has unleashed the feminine as a powerful force for global

The voluntary simplicity movement organizes
similar opportunities for people to share their stories about what
makes them truly happy. The fallacy of the story that material
consumption is the path to happiness is quickly exposed and replaced
with the fact that we truly come alive as we reduce material
consumption and gain control of our time to nurture the relationships
that bring true happiness.

We must now begin a similar process
to affirm that those of us who choose to cooperate rather than compete
are not fighting human nature. We are, instead, developing the part of
our humanity that gives us the best chance, not merely for survival,
but for happiness.

The process of changing the powerful
stories that limit our lives begins with conversation in our living
room, library, church, mosque, or synagogue. By speaking and listening
to each other, we begin to discover the true potentials of our human
nature and our common vision of the world. It is not a new
conversation. Isolated groups of humans have engaged in it for
millennia. What is new is the fact that the communications technologies
now in place create the possibility of ending the isolation and melding
our local conversations into a global one that can break the
self-replicating spiral of competitive violence of 5000 years of

As this conversation brings a critical mass of people
to the realization that the Empire story is both false and
devastatingly destructive, we can turn as a species from perfecting our
capacity for exclusionary competition to perfecting our capacity for
inclusionary cooperation. We can create a cultural story that says
competition and polarization, whether the red-blue political divide or
the rich-poor economic one, is not the inevitable result of being
human. It is the result of suppressing the healthiest part of our

There are no trade-offs here. The institutional and
cultural transformation required to avert environmental and social
collapse is the same as the transformation required to nurture the
development of the empathetic limbic brain, unleash the creative
potentials of the human consciousness, and create the world we want. It
is an extraordinary convergence between our reptilian interest in
survival, our mammalian interest in bonding, and our human interest in
cultivating the potentials of our self-reflective consciousness.

Purple America Resource Guide  
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Purple America Discussion Guide  
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