I want to say four things. The first is
that the world is facing some big problems. No surprise there.
The other three things I'm calling "secrets," in the
sense that how to address these problems is rarely mentioned in
Secret 1: ALL the problems must be addressed
or none can be solved.
Secret 2: Resisting the problems won't work.
We need "creative activism."
Secret 3: Creative activism requires, and produces,
joy. There are ten rules for joyful activism.
PROBLEMS: There are big problems facing the United States
and the world. These include global warming, looming oil shortages,
genocide, the war system of dispute settlement, falling water
tables, rising oceans, the nuclear threat, racism, economic injustice,
poverty, hunger, HIV/AIDS, and environmental damage. Plus the
war in Iraq.
These problems are serious and interlocking,
but worth solving. Since they aren't currently being solved, citizen
activism is required.
SECRET 1: Solving the problems has to be a package deal
Neither the U.S. nor any other community can
be secure in a world of poverty and hunger, global warming, nuclear
weapons, and desperate people. The world is interconnected so
that long term success in any country requires success in every
But there's more. The world is now spending
about $1 trillion every year on the war system of dispute settlement.
People estimate that that money is enough to pay for a world peace
system, plus universal education, universal health care, and food
security for the whole world.
A worldwide plan for a peace dividend, however,
is not enough. People are becoming aware of relatively immediate
threats to world society, including global climate change and
running low on oil. These are political, economic, economic justice,
and national security questions, as well as ecological questions.
Because time is short to take action, it's too late for half-measures
and jockeying for position. It's too late for patching up the
present systems, and hoping for the best.
Whatever we attempt must be right spiritually,
protecting both the Creation and our human progeny, or it won't
earn the support needed.
Especially with the end of the age of oil, we
will have to start thinking about non-coercive ways of getting
to optimum population, everywhere in the world.
It could happen this way. Activists in the U.S.
get changes in the government including
including honest elections, instant runoff voting, honest districting,
and clean elections. The U.S. government cleans up its act, throws
off corporate control, and makes corporations operate in the public
interest. This restoration of democracy allows the creation of
non-commercial media to present the realities to the public. The
U.S., and the world discuss possible global get-well plans. Deliberations
eventually result in a democratic world government. This allows
a peace system to replace the war system, beginning a new era
of sustainable peace and prosperity.
Of course, this is Utopian thinking. It contradicts
the cultural story that says our present way of doing things is
the best possible. But the cultural story always assumes
the inevitability of what is. Ships couldn't run on steam. Humans
couldn't fly. Mankind couldn't go to the moon.
Unprecedented things are happening already. The question is how
to assure human success.
SECRET 2: Fixing the problems will require changing our cultural
stories through "creative activism."
As children, we all learn our culture, including
language, religion, how to behave, and the way the world works.
That is, we learn cultural stories while we are too young
to question what we're taught. For example, children in one culture
may be taught Islam and sympathy for Palestinians, while others
may be taught Judaism and sympathy for Israelis.
We learn culture from our parents, our family,
our peers, TV, school, church, and our personal experiences. We
grow up immersed in cultural stories that are likely to be shared
by everyone we know, so our personal experiences tend to reinforce
what we have been taught to believe.
Consider this chart:
Our social institutions, including schools,
churches, jobs, government and businesses are built assuming the
correctness of our shared cultural stories.
Members of society then take actions
(Human Behavior) defined by their roles in these social institutions,
as mothers, fathers, citizens, workers, soldiers, students, consumers,
Finally, actions taken by members of
society result in benefits but also in problems.
Our American way of life has brought us benefits
including economic well-being, comfort, privilege, personal freedom
and military power. But our collective behaviors have also brought
us the big problems listed above.
Our cultural stories urge us to "act locally", trying
to solve problems directly, or to do charity (Benefits and Problems).
Society assumes that its institutions are OK, so we merely have
to tidy up any effects we don't like. The problem with that approach
is that it leaves intact the unhelpful behaviors, and institutions
that produced them.
Other activists try to solve problems by opposing
individuals (e.g. Saddam Hussein) or their behavior (Human Behavior),
but this leaves the Social Institutions unchanged.
Some activism tries to "fight city hall"
by opposing Social Institutions. Targeting draft boards during
the Vietnam War did this. The trouble is, there is a broad consensus
in our society to support our institutions, and to fear anarchy
if they are attacked.
Creative activism seeks to change the
cultural stories from which social institutions, and human behaviors,
and benefits and problems arise. In a sense, all the world problems
are really symptoms on just one problem: The world doesn't yet
have cultural stories for human success.
Examples of obsolete cultural stories: