Change Begins With a Conversation

"The impetus to reform . . . springs in every age from the realization of the contrast between the external order of society and the moral standards recognized as valid by the conscience or reason of the individual."
R. H. Tawney, historian

When something seems wrong, we talk about it with others. If the concern is shared, the conversation spreads, with people discussing, adding to and refining the alternative view, until a new perspective of a better way comes into being. As that perspective spreads, lifestyles, technologies, laws and institutions change. This process led to the end of Apartheid in South Africa, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the installation of seat belts in cars and the prohibition of smoking in public places, to name a few notable examples. It will also eventually shift the organizing principal of our societies from perpetual expansion to sustainability.

The 7th Generation Initiative is dedicated to encouraging a conversation about the underlying goal of society. Is it appropriate, now that we are pressing up against planetary limits, for public policy to aim for continuous expansion?

Throughout history, human activity was of little consequence. Our activity doubled and redoubled repeatedly before we even realized there were planetary limits. With the last couple of doublings, however, we have come to press against those limits. To double, yet again, would fill an entire additional Earth sized planet. Even if such a planet existed, we'd again be running out of space for human activity.

Fortunately, as the consequences of continued expansion make frequent news, the conversation about what we are trying to accomplish is emerging in many places. Humankind is grown up now. We are challenged to take responsibility for the impacts of our actions and to develop ways of living within planetary bounds.

The faster the conversation spreads, the sooner viable change will take place. Every time you raise the topic with someone, our entire society moves closer to the necessary change.

Handy materials for introducing the conversation.

The underlying Challenge and Goal.

You can help the 7th Generation Initiative to stimulate this conversation. 

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"There is a tradition in some societies,
whenever decisions are being made, to consider
the interests of the next seven generations.

For the modern world to do the same
would mark our passage to maturity."

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