75 Chapters
Medium 9781887208086

CHAPTER 4: THE OPPORTUNITY

Korten, David C. Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

The light-skinned race will be given a choice between two roads. If they choose the right road, the seventh fire will light the eighth and final (eternal) fire of peace, love, and brotherhood. If they make the wrong choice, the destruction they brought with them will come back to them, causing much suffering, death and destruction.1

Seven Fires Prophecy of the Ojibwe people

We are now experiencing a moment of significance far beyond what any of us can imagine.… The distorted dream of an industrial technological paradise is being replaced by the more viable dream of a mutually enhancing human presence within an ever-renewing organic-based Earth community.2

Thomas Berry

Perhaps nature’s most powerful metaphor for the Great Turning is the story of the metamorphosis of the monarch caterpillar to the monarch butterfly, popularized by evolution biologist Elisabet Sahtouris. The caterpillar is a voracious consumer that devotes its life to gorging itself on nature’s bounty. When it has had its fill, it fastens itself to a convenient twig and encloses itself in a chrysalis. Once snug inside, it undergoes a crisis as the structures of its cellular tissue begin to dissolve into an organic soup.

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CHAPTER 13: WAKE-UP CALL

Korten, David C. Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

America is lurching to the right.… Until the 1960s, there had been almost no relevant right-wing organizations in America.… By the 1970s, the Right had been transformed into an institutionalized, disciplined, well-organized, and well-funded movement of loosely knit affiliates.… The New Right network supports whoever shares its desire for radical political change and its resentments of the status quo. As such, the New Right is anything but conservative.1

Alan Crawford

The evil was very grave: the Republicans, entrenched in power, cynically abused it; they subverted the integrity of the vote, and of the press; they mocked the spirit of the Constitution through partisan legislation, and copying the tactics of tyrants, used overseas wars to deflect attention from their actions.2

José Martí, Cuban poet and independence hero on the U.S. election of 1884

Following World War II, the United States developed a broad middle class that made it the envy of the world. Achieving this took a devastating depression, a labor-friendly president who refused to field federal troops to fire on striking workers, a world war, and a strong, well-organized labor movement. Those elements combined to create a dynamic that for a time moderated the excesses of Empire.

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19 LEARNING TO LIVE, LIVING TO LEARN

Korten, David C. Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Once an emergent phenomenon has appeared, it can’t be changed by working backwards, by changing the local parts that gave birth to it. You can only change an emergent phenomenon by creating a countervailing force of greater strength. This means that the work of change is to start over, to organize new local efforts, connect them to each other, and know that their values and practices can emerge as something even stronger.

MARGARET J. WHEATLEY

Midway in my international development career I had a defining learning experience. I was engaging the question of what makes the difference between development initiatives that achieve sustained positive changes in people’s lives and those that produce only fleeting, or even negative, changes. As I examined the experience of a number of successful interventions in different countries of Asia, the answer revealed itself.

In the unsuccessful initiatives, outside experts were brought in to prepare a detailed blueprint with clear rules, budgets, timelines, and benchmarks. A public or private bureaucracy then attempted to implement those plans through a top-down process of command and control. This was the practice for most official development projects, which have an impressive record of failure.

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12 NEW VISION, NEW PRIORITIES

Korten, David C. Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

We cannot manage the scale, complexity and dynamics of the 21st Century with the tools of the 20th. We are at a turning point in world history where new ideas, new values, new strategies and new institutional arrangements are needed. We must find the vision, the leadership, and the creativity to collaborate in developing constructive solutions to offer a decent future to present and succeeding generations.

R. MARTIN LEES, THE CLUB OF ROME

There is no place on an already overstressed living Earth for war, speculation in phantom wealth, advertising to encourage people to consume beyond their means and needs, paving over or otherwise taking productive land out of service, depleting or contaminating water reserves, or engaging in gratuitous displays of material excess. Yet a major portion of the current GDP is derived from or dependent on these activities. On a living Earth these are acts of suicidal insanity that of necessity must be strongly discouraged or prohibited.

We can and must reallocate to more beneficial pursuits the resources these undesirable activities expropriate.

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1 LOOKING UPSTREAM

Korten, David C. Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

A man was standing beside a stream when he saw a baby struggling in the water. Without a thought he jumped in and saved it. No sooner had he placed it gently on the shore than he saw another and jumped in to save it, then another and another. Totally focused on saving babies, he never thought to look upstream to answer the obvious question: Where were the babies coming from, and how did they get in the water?

ANONYMOUS

Our economic system has failed in every dimension: financial, environmental, and social. Moreover, the current financial collapse provides an incontestable demonstration that it is unable to self-correct.

Bloomberg News estimated in March 2009 that total federal bank bailout commitments and guarantees topped $12.8 trillion, nearly the equivalent of the total U.S. GDP.1 Yet private bank credit still wasn’t flowing into the real economy more than a year later.

The Bush administration’s response to the financial crisis focused on bailing out the Wall Street institutions that bore primary responsibility for creating the crisis; its hope was that if the government picked up enough of those institutions’ losses and toxic assets, the banks might decide to open the tap and get credit flowing again. It did not happen, because Wall Street is not in the business of financing the real economy.

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