CULTURAL CREATIVITY 101
The main aim of our course is to learn about and to practice cultural creativity. We take our lead from Paul Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson’s book, The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million Americans Are Changing the World.
After coming to understand how people in society generally live by the “stories” of their particular cultures and subcultures—the prescribed and implied myths, beliefs, customs, mores, laws and life-ways of their “tribes”—we must then consider how we may intentionally alter and improve those stories so as to adapt better to the planetary exigencies that challenge our well-being and the health of our biosphere.
Unquestionably, the domineering and prodigal way we human beings now live on the Earth—propagating profusely, plundering resources, decimating biotic regions, and unbalancing geothermal systems (among other crimes against Nature)—demands redress. We must adopt enlightened ways to live, adapting our cultures accordingly: which is the goal of cultural creativity.
CULTURES EXPRESS VALUES
At the core of any culture lie its implicit values, the principles and priorities it expresses in its various manifestations; some of which are conscious and publicly proclaimed, others of which are tacit, but no less foundational.
Therefore, if we as self-professed “cultural creatives” are to undertake the job of redesigning contemporary culture into one more viable for a burgeoning world, we must scrutinize the prevailing value system inherent in world cultures and alter what does not serve the world well.
David C. Korten’s cultural analysis in The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community finds imperialistic values to be the chief culprit in contemporary ruling cultures, and he advocates instead the development of cooperative or partnership values, more radically democratic and egalitarian, as fundamental to the culture we need to create. Socialism and communism are failed efforts in that direction of cooperative communality to the extent that such revisionary efforts have been co-opted and perverted by domineering dictators rather than proving truly democratic.
On the other hand, capitalistic corporatocracy is equally misguided, being essentially predatory in its motive of aggregating wealth and power in the hands of imperialistic magnates who exploit the powerless masses, “trickling down” just enough capital to keep the multitudes toiling at the engines of wealth creation to fill their bosses’ coffers.
Such a cartoonish caricature may weaken the argument against the prevailing system, making it seem grotesquely absurd, but the grotesque inequalities of wealth and opportunity evident on Earth today shout out that something is radically wrong with cultures that promote or don’t prevent such inhumanity: starvation, disease, lack of education, and failure of human potentials to flourish fully.
The culture we human beings need to create on Earth now can no longer be provincial but must be planet-wide in its tenets: our interconnectedness and interdependencies now demand such universality of essential values among all peoples, despite the outgrown traditions, customs, and ideologies still strong in our sentiments and habits.
Now that we have seen Gaia from space and have viscerally comprehended our systemic interrelatedness as a fragile biosphere, we must work together to ensure Earth’s equitable flourishing under charters and declarations and systems of governance that promote and protect values intuited as supreme by the wisest reckonings of Earth’s hallowed sages, saints and seers, ancient and contemporary.
Such documents as the Earth Charter, the Charter for Compassion, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Global Ethic have recently articulated core values that, if widely promulgated, might win the hearts and minds of human beings world wide, guiding them to create a planetary culture befitting the adulthood of our species, a mature humane culture that governs the planet like the vulnerable spaceship that it is, filled with incomparably precious cargo.