Sunday, July 31, 2011


Although we are born human, we must grow to be humane, which I’ll define as sane and wise.  Neither sanity nor wisdom is innate except as potentials in human beings, qualities needing to be developed and nurtured if they are to flourish.  Nonetheless, to become a humane human being is the end state of perfection or full self-realization we may infer to be our species' paragon.

Jesus and Socrates and the Buddha have long been admired for their perfected humanity, for their humaneness par excellence, as paragons beside whom we may measure our own developing sanity and wisdom.  But many other saints and sages, men and women, also stand on pedestals to be honored, revered and emulated for the various aspects of human perfection they have demonstrated: sanity and wisdom such as we ourselves have yet to achieve but mean to pursue.

And just that quest is our implicit imperative.  The overarching goal of all our education is not to grow merely smart and capable, knowledgeable and clever, but to grow sane and wise—to grow humane. 

Ponder that and emulate your paragons.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Now that we humans have finally broken the time barrier and can communicate with the past, we, your descendants in the year 2050, have determined it best for the planet for you to share in the wisdom we have gained four decades later.

We know well the risks of tampering with the past, and we have taken great care that although we share with you our wisdom, you will receive it as simply science fiction or fantasy.  Nonetheless, we mean for this transmission to impress you as inevitable common sense, infectious common sense that will subtly alter your consciousness in ways that orient you toward the world we now inhabit, forty years beyond you. 

In fact, we already know that our experiment in time travel has worked because we are living in the world you created, a world of peace, prosperity and, above all, sanity.

Take heart, then, in reading this document, which you’ll call “future history” though you think of it as mere speculation.  Take heart because the inspiration and guidance you gain from these pages are seeds that will sprout in years to come.

We need not describe for you the means by which our world of 2050 has come to pass but only depict for you the happy outcome, the goal you are headed toward inevitably.  As you dwell and dream upon that spectral futuristic image, you will find it gradually solidifying over the intervening decades into fact, into the world of now: a fruitful world, a peaceful world, a just world, and adventurous world. 

Now, let us show you the details . . .


Sunday, July 24, 2011


In the world of the living, challenge abounds.  Organisms small and large must be fed and protected lest they die, and must reproduce lest their species die.  Organic existence is an on-going struggle.

Yet for the most sophisticated Earthly species, humankind, the struggle to flourish into fullness of being, into the complete realization of our latent potentialities, far transcends the satisfaction of mere organic needs and includes as well psycho-spiritual needs more elusive and problematical than cravings of the body.

What is it that we humans need above and beyond what lower-order animals want in order to be complete?  In answer to my asking, the ancient triad flies to mind: Beauty, Truth and Goodness—that we need.


Saturday, July 23, 2011


          I’m pretty sure we just came pretty near
                    To driving off that cliff—
                    They’d find us cold and stiff—
          So why I think that’s pretty isn’t clear.


Friday, July 22, 2011


From out the dim Mysterium
    Come images and words
To praise the Source whose steady hum
    Inspires and undergirds.



The implicit aim of every person is to build a worthy character, to become a worthy human being in deed and word.

That intention is implicit, folded inside our souls, latent and waiting to be triggered into action by cultural stimulation, support and instruction, which is what educational institutions should provide: guidance on developing strengths of character (virtues) that define fully realized humanity.

Our moral imperative is to become the best that we can be. 

Although perfection will always elude us (like a will-o-the-wisp), our approach toward it should be steady, earnest, urgent and courageous: becoming who we are at our best.

Valedictory: “Go forth and make the best of yourself.”


Monday, July 18, 2011


Notoriously, we human beings have a penchant for demanding services from others, starting with breast milk and clean diapers; yet our survival requires just such imperious expressions of ego, and we’re genetically wired for tyranny.  That’s a given of our nature.

Culture, though, immediately begins to modify our inborn nature, and some cultures, particularly the micro-culture of one’s family, will shape our innate tyrannic tendencies, reinforcing or subduing them, as the case may be.  Polite, gentle, self-restrained is as much a personality profile to be enculturated as selfish, aggressive, and domineering, even through innate dispositions one way or the other are factors to be accounted for.  Males, on average, may be more inclined than females to use force to get their way, as a function of hormonal makeup.

Assuming this premise, then, of our adaptability, I would say that David C. Korten, author of The Great Turning From Empire to Earth Community, rightly makes the case that imperialistic cultures, though deeply entrenched in our history and presently dominant globally in the form of multinational corporations, may theoretically be modified to communitarian cultures that are based on fundamentally different values than imperialist motives.  Hypothetically, at least, we might imagine that the genocidal logic of Empire, now madly devouring Earth’s biosphere, may give way to the sanity of collaborative and partnership cultures that work for the benefit of all—for Earth’s viability as a unique planet.

Such, I think, is Korten’s central argument and the basis of his optimism that humanity will “wake up in time” (in Peter Russell’s challenging phrase), to reset the calamitous course of our cosmic adventure, a course now leading to the exhaustion of Earth’s resources for sustainable support of our sundry, precious populations.


Sunday, July 17, 2011


The basic facts appear to be that the Earth’s intricate ecosystem is under great and increasing stress owing to our human population and our demands on resources for energy—from fuels to forests to food—as well as to the toxic byproducts we put into the biosphere, upsetting the viable balance of nature.

Given the technologies of destruction we’ve invented, we may be capable of extinguishing life or at least intelligent life on this planet, which would be a crime of cosmic proportions, since the odds against the existence of intelligent life emerging elsewhere in the universe are huge.  We may well be it.  All there is.

A major moral imperative derives from these facts: that a wisdom beyond technical intelligence needs to emerge within humans, a wisdom that values supremely the flourishing of life on this fragile and infinitely precious planet, and a nurturing of human intelligence to mature beyond rivalries and conquests into a culture of cooperation and custodianship worldwide.  We must come to see ourselves as the protector, not the plunderer, of this planet.  We must grow up fast.


Friday, July 15, 2011


The familiar “fight or die,” “survival or the fittest” conception of evolution is challenged these days by neo-Darwinists like David Loye and his partner, Riane Eisler, who maintain that human evolution is a subtler process that requires attitudes of cooperation and partnership to be established in cultures that promote the full flourishing of human potentials.  This later, higher stage of human evolution promises to take us beyond the imperialist stage of power politics, the dominance of Big Men over slavish underlings, the era of the Big Stick.

Whether or not, once upon a time, there existed pre-historical matriarchal societies who worshipped goddesses, gynocentric and not phallocentric deities, who encouraged nurturance rather than nuisance, collaboration rather than clobbering, we have nonetheless developed both of these contesting conceptions of human culture.  The historically dominant culture of dominance has now prevailed to our peril, threatening the sustainability of advanced life on Earth, and making the partnership cultural model look wiser and wiser.

Both Eisler’s The Chalice and the Blade (1987), endorsed by Ashley Montagu and Ervin Laszlo, and Loye’s The Great Adventure: Toward a Fully Human Theory of Evolution (2004), an anthology with eleven contributors, present the case for our recreating human culture more viably.

David C. Korten’s The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community, similarly proffers an analysis of human history as increasingly captivated by the cultural paradigm of imperialism, morphed nowadays into a ruling corporatocracy that privileges exploitative greed and the aggregation of wealth in the hands of the few, while vast populations languish in poverty and misery.  Korten advocates a “great turning” of human culture toward the model of power sharing, of cooperative partnership in the distribution of wealth and power, expressing values of equity, democracy, and rights for not only human beings but all living beings in a thriving biosphere.

Would not Darwin applaud that motive?


Wednesday, July 13, 2011


A prime principle in Paragonia is that all conflicts need to be resolved amicably.  The defunct notion of “letting the best man win” in an adversarial contest has died with the demise of Empire.

Wars have ceased, and so have what William James called “the moral equivalent of war”: sports.  Athletic contests and rivalries, so much a part of ancient and modern culture, have faded in the light of wiser understanding.  The closest surviving vestiges of athletics are “martial arts” (now recognized as an oxymoronic term) like aikido, in which the aim is to demonstrate humanely the futility of aggression—conflict resolution in action.

While Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” maxim aptly depicts more elementary levels of natural evolution and seems to privilege power, violence and dominance; optimally enculturated humanity transcends such primitive paradigms, having learned to live in concord, in the harmony of partnership, where respect rises above rivalry, sharing out-shines hording, and serene modesty prevails over arrogance.

Jesus, Lao-tse, Confucius, Gandhi, Mother Teresa and their kind turn out to be the templates of the Culture of Cooperation in Paragonia.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011



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.


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.


Saturday, July 9, 2011


All this conversation we hear and read about a “shift of consciousness,” about our species undergoing a transformation comparable to a grub’s becoming a butterfly, about a new stage of maturity, a New Age of enlightenment in which Cultural Creatives define a sane and sustainable modus vivendi for a truly humane humanity—is it true?  Is it credible?

Or is that dream a desperate fantasy we invent to delude ourselves from despair as we watch the inexorable forces that Modernity has loosed on the world—through a combination of scientific prowess and political imperialism—destroy the very matrix of our life on Earth?

Can we as a species “come of age” and develop a maturity and wisdom hitherto unpracticed globally?  Is there any reasonable hope that a “shift in consciousness” in a sufficient number of global citizens can do what Jesus, Lao-tse or Gandhi, for all their godly glamour, failed to achieve?  How will “the mass of men” leading lives of noisy desperation be solaced and satisfied and civilized in the “mad, mad, mad” world we live in on 21st century Earth?

You and I, perhaps, have the affluence and leisure to dally with dreams and fantasies of loftier levels of consciousness and grand schemes of salvation in “a world that works for all.”  But do we not delude ourselves that human depravity is no more than a passing stage of adolescent acting-out, which we’ll outgrow with time and guidance?

More realistic seems the Judeo-Christian premise of innate sinfulness as our default setting as a species.  We are born broken.  Looking out for #1 is our prime imperative: may the fittest defeat their adversaries to rule and exploit the weak.  While cooperation and partnership are salubrious when possible, graceful side-dishes, the main course of society is force, the dominance of the strong in wealth, resources, and will to rule—the essential stuff of human history: power politics.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Pardon my grammar in the title, but I’m trying to riff on naval commander Oliver Perry’s famous “We have met the enemy, and they are ours,” which was previously riffed on during our Vietnam era by Walt Kelly’s Pogo: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

The enemy is me.  I am the enemy because I’m part of the problem and not enough of the solution.  The problem I mean is unsustainability: the way we humans are living heavily, not lightly, on the Earth, behaving collectively like a cancerous growth, devouring and poisoning Earth’s vulnerable ecosystem.

Although I like to write loftily about “creating a sane society” and imagining “positive futures on the human frontiers,” I have not closely and critically examined my own modus vivendi.  I have a large house.  I use chemicals on my lawn.  I eat meat.  Though I ride my bike to work, I own two gas-powered cars with middling mileage.  While I recently attended a high-minded conference on “Teaching Literacy for Love and Wisdom,” I flew 3,100 miles round-trip to do so.  In lots of ways I know better than I do.

For instance, I know I ought to work concertedly to “raise my consciousness” and thereby alter my behaviors in salutary ways.  I ought to meditate and do yoga programmatically so as to tune up my mind and body to function most effectively.  I ought to be more dedicated to community service or have better excuses for time and energy frivolously squandered.  Rather than just talking about “Love and Wisdom,” I need to practice them, daily, liberally, generously.

Maybe at best, people like me can hope to be “wounded healers.”  We mean well, intend to help the world grow saner, healthier, wiser; but we see our own fallibilities and faults.  We work to improve ourselves, to cultivate our own gardens and help others tend theirs.  And we seek for clearer visions of how to live and thrive so that all others may do likewise.

But to the extent that we seek our own advantage, looking out for Number One to the detriment of others, we are the enemy of health and harmony on Earth.