Tuesday, January 12, 2010



Hank Stone October 25, 2009

The sustainability of our civilization is in question. If humankind is to have a successful future, unsustainable behaviors must cease. Everything unsustainable about our way of life WILL change.

What can we do to help bring about a successful human future? We were brought up to believe in “projects.” If something is broken, we do fix-up projects, like reattaching a loose rain gutter. We know about dividing big jobs into small ones, and delegating the parts to different people. Our problem we is that projects we have done in the past are what have brought us to our unsustainable present. New methods are required.

We got here by DOING, and now look for better things to DO. And there is work to do, but it is not mainly scientific discovery, individual virtue, or political activism. It is neither hard work nor heroic.

We are now called on not so much to DO, as to BE, to BELIEVE, and to ENVISION.

Consider these Ten Principles:

BEING: Two Personal Principles

Principle 1: Be at peace. Fear, anger, distress and blame can distract from work on the human future. This isn’t escape through denial or addictive behaviors. It’s important to be in touch with our emotions, which can damage us if suppressed, and harm others if acted out inappropriately. Religious belief, meditation, gratitude, contemplating nature and helping others can be ways to inner peace.

Principle 2: Be kind and good. Trustworthy and considerate behaviors make us peaceful and enable large-scale cooperation. Attending to our own virtue is important precisely because all of us humans are flawed and make mistakes.

BELIEVING: Four Belief Principles

Principle 3: It Ain’t Necessarily So. Communication with people in other societies shows us that things we were all brought up to believe, our cultural stories, may not be true. While societies were relatively isolated, cultural stories about outsiders being enemies enhanced security. But this is a time of transition, and our security requires us to reexamine our most basic beliefs.

Principle 4: It Ain’t Necessarily False. Human societies have discovered amazing information, capabilities, and resources. The idea is to create a sustainable human future that respects the past. Like a multi-stage rocket, we accept the need to jettison the used booster stages.

Principle 5: Thoughts attract. Reality itself tends to mold itself to the thoughts we think, and (at least potentially) we get to choose what to think and believe. Therefore, getting the story right in our own heads is not denial or wishful thinking, but real work that the world requires.

Principle 6: Change cultural stories. The only way to change the institutions and behaviors of society is to change the cultural stories on which they rely. The stories we tell ourselves are interconnected, and stabilized by the many benefits they give both to decision-makers and ordinary people. We must create an interconnected set of NEW stories in which to live.

ENVISIONING: Four World Principles

Principle 7: Oneness of humanity. Getting the future right can only be done cooperatively. Prejudice of all sorts will have to go: racism, extreme patriotism, intolerance of gays, gender discrimination—all of it. We must guarantee basic human rights for everyone on earth.

Principle 8: Protect the planet. Population must be brought into balance with available energy, fresh water and food. This must be done using non-coercive incentives and disincentives, so that people are encouraged to act in the interest of the human future. If we’re not living sustainably, human numbers will crash.

Principle 9: World peace system. Military competition among sovereign states has become too dangerous in the nuclear age. The world needs ways to guarantee the safety of people in every country, something the war system of dispute settlement can no longer do. A world peace system will not change human nature and will not eliminate all violence, but will require nonviolent conflict resolution and will hold every person, including state leaders, liable for criminal behavior.

Principle 10: Human success. The world’s population and lifestyle have become unsustainable, so things WILL change. But if we’re not preparing to live “happily ever after,” our work is not finished. In religious terms, we have no reasonable alternative to trying to bring about “the kingdom of heaven on earth.”

No comments:

Post a Comment