|Many of us, living in this world of unprecedented prosperity and wealth, somehow sense that there is something terribly wrong. Everywhere we look we see conflict, deprivation, violence, waste, suffering, greed, destruction, hatred. This document is an attempt to understand why this is, and what can be done by each one of us to make our communities and our world a better place, a happier place.
A Better Way uses an approach that has been used successfully by businesses for many years to fix their problems, to overcome enormous obstacles and create organizations that are now seen as exemplars, as models for others to follow. This methodology has three parts:
A Better Way is designed to be a living document. As we create it, together, it will change. We will learn from our mistakes, and from our successes. As more and more people become involved, and add their critical skills and creative solutions to it, A Better Way will evolve from being a plan to being a collaboration, a movement.
In addition to the problem-solving methodology described above, A Better Way will also use a community creation methodology. This second methodology has five parts:
You are probably skeptical. We must be hopeless idealists or naive to believe that such a grass-roots transformation of our world is possible. Except that it has already happened at least twice before. The agricultural revolution at the dawn of our civilization transformed our world from a hunter-gatherer society suffering from horrendous starvation when over-hunting and climate change suddenly killed off most of the large game on which primitive man depended. And the industrial revolution transformed us again from a world in which everything made for human use had to be painstakingly, unaffordably constructed one-at-a-time through human labour. These revolutions were not brought about by government, but by innovative farmers and innovative artisans. We can do it again. A Better Way is a social movement, which will in time become an economic movement and finally perhaps a political movement as well. It’s a movement that starts with us and ends with us, all of us, as equals.
This document is the first draft of the first part of A Better Way — it presents only the Values Statement and the Vision. Most people will never read this version. They will read a version vastly improved by collective effort — including your effort — the result of the infusion and exchange and integration of the ideas and knowledge and skills of a million people. Join us. There is A Better Way.
The Values Statement
Since our first appearance on this planet three million years ago we have striven to be happy. The things that make us happy, and give us ‘well-being’ are universal, and have never really changed. We call these things ‘values’. Here are the values that underlie A Better Way:
All human activity is directed toward the achievement of these values, yet we now live in a world filled with their opposites: Disease, physical and mental suffering, homelessness and alienation, loneliness, hatred, violence, enslavement and disconnection, ignorance, withdrawal, tedium, narrow-mindedness and passivity, unemployment, aimlessness, greed and selfishness, war, anger, lack of personal freedoms, injustice, anxiety, hopelessness, disregard for others, fear and despair and self-loathing. Where have we gone wrong? Our intentions were good, but somehow we have lost our way. Some people believe that man is inherently weak and evil can be overcome only by endless struggle, but there is evidence everywhere that man is inherently good, and we all want to do the right thing. But we’re overwhelmed at the size of the challenge, and we don’t know what to do.
We humans are very adaptable. Despite all the horrors and failures all around us, most of us have convinced ourselves we’re making progress, that it used to be worse, that it’s not so bad. There are those who believe it has to get much worse before enough people will be motivated to do something to make it better. But when it gets much worse, we adaptable humans will be able to convince ourselves that it’s still not really that bad, and that there’s nothing we can do about it anyways. Until it’s too late. We need to realize that, although it’s not our fault, if we don’t do something, now, we will just keep going in the direction we are headed, towards a world with much more of the ‘anti-values’ enumerated in the previous paragraph.
So rather than blaming others for our failures, or throwing up our hands, let’s instead create a vision of a world, a possible world, where our values are fully realized, and see if it’s not too late to find our way there.
Imagine a world that has no nations, only communities, ‘tribes’ of people who have self-selected to live together. Each tribe has only the number of people that their community can comfortably and sustainably support. They are self-sufficient — they need not trade with or import goods from other communities in order to allow their members to achieve the 7 Values. They do trade their surpluses and their non-essential specialized products in return for non-essential specialties from other communities. Each community is self-governing — there are no politicians, and decisions are made by a consensus of the whole.
When you are young, you learn critical skills: How the world works, including the study of nature and the study of your own and other communities, and about human nature, the arts, sciences and technology; and How to make your own way, including critical thinking, self-reliance, self-discipline, how to ‘make sense’ of the world, how to create, innovate, collaborate, accept responsibility, tell stories, make a living, find like minds and create community. As a child you learn these skills from the members of your own community, and from self-study on the Internet, not in schools. As a teen-ager you travel extensively to other communities, living with them and learning more of these same skills and applying them through apprenticeships in work of your own choosing — work that draws on your natural talents, learned skills, and things you enjoy doing.
Then you decide, from what you have seen, what community you want to call home. When you’re accepted into that community you share what you have and what you know with the others in the community, and they in turn share what they have and what they know with you.
Despite the importance of local community, this world is very connected. Knowledge is freely shared over the Internet, and people use it to create relationships and networks with others all over the world. Technology allows your virtual ‘presence’ to be nearly as profound and complete as your real presence, and allows you to look over the shoulder of anyone, anywhere, in a rich and multi-dimensional, multi-sensory way, so there is little need for physical travel.
In order to live within its means, each community works in highly efficient, cooperative ways. There is no pollution, no waste. Because everyone has the essentials of life and has been brought up to take care of themselves and others, and because the community is small and close-knit and owns everything communally, there is no stressful ‘fear of not having enough’, no theft, no crime, little anti-social behaviour and, through prevention, little disease. Because everyone is equal, there is no greed, no abuse of power. As in the prehistoric human communities and most animal communities, the ‘work-day’ is short — an hour per person is enough to provide for the community, and the rest of the day is free for play, for study, for observation of nature, for telling stories, for hobbies and sports — for whatever you want to do.
This ‘extra’ time, and this community spirit, have allowed communities to reconnect with the sacredness of place, and with nature, and with their senses. As a result, communities have reintegrated with wilderness, leaving the majority of their land to revert to its ‘unimproved’ natural state, and experienced a profound philosophical and spiritual re-awakening.
If That’s A Better Way, How Do We Get There?
We’re not saying it’s going to be easy. We’re placing a lot of faith in two very wise people who know a lot about changing things:
Bucky Fuller said: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
So we’re going to build a model, one that transforms today’s messed-up world into the world of the Vision above. A model, by definition, is miniature. We’re going to build a few model communities. You don’t tell people how to change, you show them. Let them kick the tires, try it out, adapt it, see if it fits them. People learn by doing, not by reading or listening. These model communities are going to be so amazing that everyone’s going to want to live in communities modeled after them. They’ll walk away — no, they’ll run away from their existing rat-races and social and economic and political tyrannies to start their own.
Margaret Mead said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
So we don’t need billions of people to get on board. Just a few, say a million, should do.
The Action Plan will have to be big. Lots of roles, lots of work, lots of learning from failures and success. We’ll need a lot of help to create it, and a lot more to implement it. But knowing where we want to get to is half the battle. And we’ll draw on the Wisdom of Crowds and the Power of Many to get there. A true collaboration, drawing on the knowledge and ideas and skills of millions.
Oh, and another thing. John Kotter says there are two absolute preconditions to effective change: A sense of urgency, and Executive sponsorship. We need you to help create a sense of urgency. Complacency, hopelessness, they’re the real enemy. A sense of urgency can overcome both of them. You’re probably not sure whether it’s really that urgent yourself. There’s a lot of people out there who will tell you the world is OK as it is. There’s a lot of people out there who are paid to tell you it’s OK. If you’re not ready, if you aren’t convinced it’s urgent, that it’s now or never, that inaction is not an option, then that’s fine. We’re not going to argue with you. Come back when you’re ready. We’ll be here, and we’ll still need you.
And the Executive sponsorship? The highest order of all is on-side with us. Nature, instinct, God, whatever you want to call it, Him or Her. It’s the wisdom in your bones, in the heavens, in the land. It was the way we lived for our first three million years on Earth, and it’s coded in our DNA, and in every atom of every molecule in the universe. Just listen, and you’ll hear it.
That’s all I have so far. First step down a long and rocky road Home. Tell me what you think of the Values Statement and the Vision, and the persuasiveness of the stuff I’ve wrapped around it. What do we need to do to make this a Collective document? How can I make it more accessible to conservatives, libertarians, those with different ‘frames’? When you think it’s ready I’ll make it a Manifesto on ChangeThis! I’m lousy at selling and implementing things, so I need a lot of help to make this salable and to sketch out the big-picture implementation plan. What would the high-level Action Plan look like? How should we organize to put it together? How about the name ‘A Better Way’ — is that better or worse than The Green Movement? And what about the logo: I wanted it to be simple, elegant, green. It’s based on the torus, and on the ellipse used to make representations of natural beings in Westcoast Indian art. You can ‘personalize’ it by putting in its centre a photo or symbol, like a cameo, of whatever personifies A Better Way for you. The example above is a child photographed by Heap Han of DigitalHeap. The logo could be made into a broach, a bracelet, a conversation piece for telling others about A Better Way.
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My Bio, Contact Info, Signature PostsAbout the Author (2016)
--- My Best 100 Posts --
Preparing for Civilization's End:
What Would Net-Zero Emissions Look Like?
Why Economic Collapse Will Precede Climate Collapse
Being Adaptable: A Reminder List
A Culture of Fear
What Will It Take?
A Future Without Us
Dean Walker Interview (video)
The Mushroom at the End of the World
What Would It Take To Live Sustainably?
The New Political Map (Poster)
Complexity and Collapse
Save the World Reading List
What a Desolated Earth Looks Like
Giving Up on Environmentalism
The Dark & Gathering Sameness of the World
The End of Philosophy
The Boiling Frog
What to Believe Now?
Conversation & Silence
The Language of Our Eyes
Cultural Acedia: When We Can No Longer Care
Several Short Sentences About Learning
Why I Don't Want to Hear Your Story
A Harvest of Myths
The Qualities of a Great Story
The Trouble With Stories
A Model of Identity & Community
Not Ready to Do What's Needed
A Culture of Dependence
So What's Next
Ten Things to Do When You're Feeling Hopeless
No Use to the World Broken
Living in Another World
Does Language Restrict What We Can Think?
The Value of Conversation Manifesto Nobody Knows Anything
If I Only Had 37 Days
The Only Life We Know
A Long Way Down
No Noble Savages
Figments of Reality
Too Far Ahead
The Rogue Animal
How the World Really Works:
If You Wanted to Sabotage the Elections
Collective Intelligence & Complexity
Ten Things I Wish I'd Learned Earlier
The Problem With Systems
Against Hope (Video)
The Admission of Necessary Ignorance
Several Short Sentences About Jellyfish
A Synopsis of 'Finding the Sweet Spot'
Learning from Indigenous Cultures
The Gift Economy
The Job of the Media
The Wal-Mart Dilemma
The Illusion of the Separate Self:
Did Early Humans Have Selves?
Nothing On Offer Here
Even Simpler and More Hopeless Than That
What Happens in Vagus
We Have No Choice
Never Comfortable in the Skin of Self
Letting Go of the Story of Me
All There Is, Is This
A Theory of No Mind
The Ever-Stranger (Poem)
The Fortune Teller (Short Story)
Non-Duality Dude (Play)
Your Self: An Owner's Manual (Satire)
All the Things I Thought I Knew (Short Story)
On the Shoulders of Giants (Short Story)
Calling the Cage Freedom (Short Story)
Only This (Poem)
The Other Extinction (Short Story)
Disruption (Short Story)
A Thought-Less Experiment (Poem)
Speaking Grosbeak (Short Story)
The Only Way There (Short Story)
The Wild Man (Short Story)
Flywheel (Short Story)
The Opposite of Presence (Satire)
How to Make Love Last (Poem)
The Horses' Bodies (Poem)
Distracted (Short Story)
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