Speaking of Transformation

A series of stories to encourage
the new age

Over the last few centuries, business as usual, has produced immense abundance. In the early industrialized countries, human need was overcome by the end of the 1800s and has grown on to encourage material accumulation well beyond need. Today many products are made to be thrown away after a single use or to become obsolete in short order. While ever more waste is required to keep the system expanding, natural resources are being depleted and polluting wastes are causing serious problems.

This economic model cannot endure, yet it is all that most people have ever known. A new vision has to be nurtured of a model that will not overwhelm our planet.

"Living on Earth as if we want to stay" is a collection of stories that stimulate thought and discussion about an order that respects the Earth's limits and lives within them.

The basic elements are these:

1) A fundamental change has come about in the relationship between people and the Earth.
Throughout the human experience, until recently, there were vast new frontiers for the human family to move into when more resources were needed or waste became annoying. This has changed. Most "new frontiers" are now being exploited and our waste is accumulating toward intolerable levels.
A clear illustration from the Canadian experience is this country's East Coast fishery is expressed in item 1.2 here.

The bottom line is that the amount of fish we can catch no longer depends on how much we invest in fishing. It depends on how many fish there are in the sea. This fundamental change is also occurring with forests, fossil fuels, fresh water, soil fertility and the Earth's ability to absorb our waste. Accumulating capital to invest in providing these things is no longer as important as keeping our demands within the Earth's ability to provide them. This fundamental change requires an equally fundamental change in how we manage ourselves.

2) Economic growth is not essential:
This detail is not part of the vision of the new order; it is a prerequisite understanding. Belief that economic growth is essential to well-being obstructs the ability to see how we can endure on this finite planet. Once understood, it is far easier for people to imagine and start to create a sustainable future. I present this story early in my talks so that people realize that the apparent "need" to grow is a custom that can be changed, not a fact of life. If story telling were not linear, this story would be in a parallel space, distinct from the narrative about possibilities.
The basic message is that "charging interest on the use of money is a growth hormone that the human family has outgrown." It is told in items 1.6 and 1.7 and video #7 here.

3) Life is not hard to maintain:
This is the exciting promise that awaits humankind when we accept that we are now mature as a species and leave the compulsion for growth behind, along with our long collective childhood and adolescence.

Making the case that it doesn't take much to live is Jean Baptiste Van Helmont's experiment showing that the vast majority of what it takes to grow a plant comes from air and water that are available almost everywhere on Earth, video #4.
and audio clips 2.3 & 2.4 here.

The other story in this section is that of Pattern Integrity. Even the materials that are soil bound and do not float to us in the air can be maintained in cycles that have operated effectively since life began. This is video #5 and audio files 2.5 & 2.6.

Once we acknowledge that our planet is finite and reintegrate our activities with natural processes, we can sustain well-being for as long as the Sun is viable. Key for this adaptation is seeking satisfaction from what our lives offer, rather than from acquiring material things. Acquiring things does not fill the longing at our core. We are, after all, human beings not human havings.

4) Legitimacy:
To accomplish the transformation to a sustainable world requires shifting legitimacy from the growth model to a model based on the perspective described above.

Two stories make this point.
One story explains how shared values provides what might be called our "Cultural DNA." Societies grow into different forms depending on the values shared by the people. For the last several hundred years, the values of economic growth have created the materialistic society that we have today. Now that we are pressing our planet's limits, new values of minimizing our impacts on the material world, gathering satisfaction from life and an approach to natural resources that respects the needs of the children and grandchildren will evolve a civilization that can endure.

The second story is about a caterpillar becoming a butterfly and how that illustrates the shift in values and the consequent change in the form of civilization.

Both these stories are presented in audio file 2.8.

The caterpillar story is the topic of videos #8 & #9.

Note also, where video #12 would be on that page, a third observation about this story that we didn't know when we had help to produce those videos.

After presenting this set of stories I have often found my audiences feeling positive and excited about working to create a new order. I don't want to downplay the gravity of the human predicament. We face the greatest challenge that humankind has ever faced. Rather than freezing in the headlights of the bad news, however, our prospects increase with each person who grasps the vision of what can be, and starts taking actions to spread the vision and bring it into reality. As Raymond William said "To be truly radical is to make hope possible, rather than despair convincing."

We are looking for help to produce this series of stories into a quality video that can carry the message freely through cyber space. You can help stimulate creative action toward a secure future by learning to tell the stories and doing so wherever you can. (Look for more on our site about how to tell the stories as the winter progresses.) You can also make a donation to the production fund for the video. In Canada, charitable receipts are available for contributions to this educational work.

More on Shifting Society's Goals at: www.sustainwellbeing.net/invite.html