The Journey

In 1980, in front of an audience of 28,000 in person, and another 30,000 via video link, Werner Erhard spoke what was then a new possibility into existence:

“We can choose to be audacious enough to take responsibility for the entire human family. We can choose to make our love for the world what our lives are really about. Each of us has the opportunity, the privilege, to make a difference in creating a world that works for all of us. It will require courage, audacity and heart. It is much more radical than a revolution – it is the beginning of a transformation in the quality of life on our planet. What we create together is a relationship in which our work can show up as making a difference in people’s lives. I welcome the unprecedented opportunity for us to work globally on that which concerns us all as human beings.”

—Werner Erhard (1980)

We can now grant that such a world is possible, yet for too many of us it still lives as idealistic and impractical. But as Buckminster Fuller argued, the choice we need to make may be between utopia and oblivion.

Until the needs of human beings are met, the planet will remain in peril. In The Natural Step, the group of scientists assembled by Karl Henrik-Robert concluded that meeting people’s fundamental needs was essential to preventing the ecological damage caused by extracting things from the earth, piling up toxic wastes, and despoiling nature. Social wellbeing is as important to sustainability as the the economy or the environment: unless humans have “enough” they will continue to ravage the planet.

Thus we are faced with a profound moral, as well as a scientific, technological, and economic, dilemma. Can we effect a worldwide transformation in the way we think and operate on the planet today? And if we can, what is the nature of this transformation, and how can we bring it about? Who will embrace it and who will resist it? How can we defeat the forces of darkness and despair and the deadening effects of what we call “everyday life” — that is, a life that is the struggle of each against all, that is the product of indentured servitude to the corporations, and the culture of over-consumption that our economy supposedly depends on.

Beginning to operate from the premise that a world that works for all is, however, just that: a beginning. It is, in fact, the beginning of a perilous journey. As Werner says, there is no certainty that such a world is possible, and there is much historical evidence against it.

As Mary Earle and Neal Rogin argued in their article describing the 1980 event:

Humanity is at a point of choice. The rules for living successfully on the earth are shifting. No longer can we pretend that we are not deeply and profoundly connected to everyone and everything. There is only one humanity, and weare it. Millions of people are realizing that we are emerging into a you and me world. Whatever each of us does makes a difference to all of us.

Humanity is at a point of choice. The rules for living successfully on the earth are shifting. No longer can we pretend that we are not deeply and profoundly connected to everyone and everything. There is only one humanity, and weare it. Millions of people are realizing that we are emerging into a you and me world . Whatever each of us does makes a difference to all of us.

 

Sometime around now, each one of us has the opportunity to make a choice about what life is really going to be about. Is it going to be about making it — or making it work? Are we going to continue to keep our visions and dreams to ourselves — or are we going to bring them to life? Are we going to be buried with our potential still intact, with our gift undelivered — or will we seize the opportunity to live life as if we make all the difference?

 

For many people, life seems to be a kind of brief candle — hardly worth living. But for those who are bold, who are venturesome, who have the humility to deal with what is possible rather than what is predictable, Life is an exciting and challenging adventure. Life is no brief candle to me. In a world that can work for everyone, especially in which I can make a difference–that is a life worth living! That is living! That is being alive!

—Werner Erhard

There are a number of things we know about the realities we face: that the biodiversity we have known throughout the course of human history is now severely diminished; that the climate is changing, the oceans rising, and drought, fire, flooding and wind damage becoming more extreme; that our economies are increasingly unsustainable; and that human conflicts are worsening, not lessening. But the answers are not so easy to come by. To quote Werner again,

No une knows what it will take to create a world that works for everyone — no one has a blueprint for action-and no one said it was going to be easy. Similarly, no one can tell you wha t to do. You are the one who will create what’s next. You are the only person who can make real for yourself that you make a difference. Only you have the power at all times and under all circumstances to give meaning and purpose to your life.

But not having the answers is not the same as not having the right questions. We can’t have the right answers for everyone. As earlier generations discovered, socialism and communism were not capable of providing the right answers, nor could fascism or nationalism or any other form of religion, ideology, or limited and limiting belief system. According to Werner,

The biggest difference you can make is to empower others to make a difference. To empower means to give power or ability to, to enable. It can seem foolish and sometimes even threatening to give power to others. Certainly it is difficult. Can you trust them? What if they make mistakes, make the wrong decisions, or don’t support you in return?

 

Empowering others demands courage, creativity. and above all letting go of an attachmenttobeingrigh1. Enablingothers is a function of your willingness to have everyone succeed and of your trust that, fundamentally, each of us wants to make a difference. Sometimes it may mean working behind the scenes, working without recognition or credit, or giving up your own position in order to make
the whole work. Setting an example of workability is the most empowering action of all.

 

You can empower others and at the same time expand the creation of the context by spreading the word-getting out the message of this event. Each day, in a myriad of situations, there are opportunities to let others know that the world can work, that in fact we are emerging into a new era for humanity, and that each of us really does matter in bringing about the transformation.

 

As for specific actions that make a difference, you will need to discover those within your own realm of activity according to your own talents, skills, and inclinations. Each of us has special gifts, a unique contribution to make. The action need not be big or dramatic or far-reaching to make a difference. A simple comment can shift a context; a small deed can tum a situation around. Discovering what’s really wanted and needed (including what you yourself really want and need) is a challenge requiring vision and sensitivity. To be sure, you will make mistakes, head down the wrong tunnel only to discover (at the other end) that something entirely different was really required. Almost certainly there will be failures and setbacks, which are always an opportunity for breakthrough. Persistence is neces- sary; perseverence furthers.

What then are we to make of all this in 2014 and beyond? This is the journey we are inviting you to take with us. It begins, as did Werner’s, with taking an honest look at the world as it is. What we see is not exactly what Werner argued at the time, that what was more likely than collapse was the continuation of a status quo in which nothing really mattered, which was already at a dead end. Rather, our failure to change course has indeed brought us to where we were headed, the brink of disaster, of irreversible damage to the environment, of fatal harm to agriculture, to forestry, and to the web of life. Things that cannot continue won’t; and unless we hang together we’ll all be hanged separately. We need to find common solutions, regenerative solutions, global community solutions that don’t depend on the institutions we now have.

But of course much of what we see is the same, and Werner’s words ring as true today as they did thirty years ago. The change we need to bring about

is not “more, different, or better” than what went before . It is not merely a rearranging of the circumstances; it is a transformation, an entirely new way of living.

Can life be transformed? Can the world actually support and nurture everyone? Clearly, our history will give us little, if any, agreement for such a notion. Our history reflects the old paradigm of you or me. In such a condition, to think that the world can work is considered idealistic, to say the least; to think it can work for all of us is completely naive; to consider that individuals make any difference is to be deluded….

This new context… represents something much more radical than a revolution. The nature of revolution has been to destroy and dismantle. It is directed against something which it is attempting to replace. Transformation, however, does not negate what has gone before it; rather, it fulfills it. Creating the context of a world that works for everyone is not just another step forward in human history; it is the step which will allow humanity and history to be fulfilled. It is the context out of which our history will begin to make sense. The transformation reaches back into the apparent senselessness and cacophony of history and gives it meaning and dignity which then guides and directs us in the future….

Clearly, the competition, the manipulation, the hostility, and the struggle for survival that has characterized our you or me world [has to be] replaced in a you and me world by cooperation, compassion, harmony, and love.

“W e are not speaking of altruism,” Werner said. “In a you alld me world, when you are successful, whole, vali- dated, and fulfilled, I win. What is the meaning of concepts such as selfishness and altruism when you experience the Self as all things-as the space in which all things occur?”

In the past, we have maintained a you or me world by sharing our surplus rather than sharing the ability to produce surplus. That kind of altruism, those “gestures of good will” have only served to strengthen the status quo and perpet- uate a world of “haves” and “have-nots.” In a you and me world, true generosity means empowering people to produce for themselves.

Thus we need an entirely new way of thinking, an utterly different set of rules for living.

This brings us back to the central dilemma, and the central challenge, which is to find our way forward, to create a new paradigm for our generation, and for the one already arising to take our place. We need to be willing to take chances, to risk failure, to be “boldly naive.”

A key to mastery, Werner emphasized throughout the day, lies in the willingness to risk failure. In a you and me world, every failure, every obstacle, is the opportunity for a breakthrough. Transforming failure into breakthrough is perhaps the basic principle in a new set of principles, for it enlivens failure and inadequacy so that they contribute to the whole.

Finding and articulating this “new set of principles” is what our journey is about. It’s reinventing what we say about ourselves, about the world, and about others. It’s recognizing that everything we think we know is filtered through our existing interpretations, and that the possibility of a different future requires us to transcend many of those interpretations. We need to take responsibility for creating a different future, standing for it without certainty or evidence but with the conviction that comes from knowing that we have the power to create it.

“Every human being’s deepest, most natural expression is the desire to make a difference in life, of wanting to matter. This opportunity is not limited to the individual; we can recognize ourselves at the level of relationship, community, organization, and society, and have each of these expressions of ourselves make a difference in life.
“We can choose to make the success of all humanity our personal business. We can choose to be audacious enough to take responsibility for the entire human family. We can choose to make our love for each other and for the world what our lives are really about….”

Life shifts, and a whole new array of options, opportunities, and outcomes are revealed — if we but look to see them. If we look through the lens of “I make a difference, ” we see a whole world of difference to be made.

Humanity is at a point of choice. The rules for living successfully on the earth are shifting. No longer can we pretend that we are not deeply and profoundly connected to everyone and everything. There is only one humanity, and weare it. Millions of people are realizing that we are emerging into a you and me world . Whatever each of us does makes a difference to all of us.

Sometime around now, each one of us has the opportunity to make a choice about what life is really going to be about. Is it going to be about making it — or making it work? Are we going to continue to keep our visions and dreams to ourselves — or are we going to bring them to life? Are we going to be buried with our potential still intact, with our gift undelivered — or will we seize the opportunity to live life as if we make all the difference?

In short, our fundamental challenge is the same. It’s what we make of it in our time that will make the difference. We choose to affirm that all humans are created equal, with inalienable rights that are not “given” to us by God but are ours because we are, ultimately, responsible for our own choices. It is not just Americans who seek “a more perfect Union,” but indeed all of humanity, and all of life, on this little ball of dirt we call home.

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Creating a World that Works - A World that Works

  2. I DO BELIEVE THE TIME FOR CHANGING IS ALREADY HERE, I START CHANGING ONE PERSON AT DAY, AND I STARTED WITH MYSELF. I HAVE A DREAM, WHEN EVERYONE IN THIS PLANET WILL ENGAGE ONLY ONE CAUSE, THE HUMAN CAUSE, AND FIGHT THE WAR AGAINST EVIL WITH THE UNIVERSE MOST POWERFUL WEAPON LOVE. I PROPOSE AT FIRST BRING PEOPLE TO SPEND TIME TO THEIR SELVES, 30 MINUTES PER DAY IN WHATEVER DAY WANT LIKE SOCIALIZING, SPEND TIME WITH THEIR FAMILIES FRIENDS, READING,MEDITATING,HELPING OUR KIDS WITH THEIR HOME WORK, ANYTHING BUT WITH THE “PROGRAM”, NO SHOPPING, NO WEB SURFING,NO TV,NO RADIO,NO DRIVING,ETC…
    I WILL TRY TO SPREAD MY WORD AND GOAL TROUGH ANYWAYS AS I CAN AND TRY TO REACH AS MANY AS I CAN, AND MAYBE ONE DAY WE CAN HAVE SO MANY PEOPLE ON DOING SOMETHING SO SIMPLE BUT YET SO HARD DUE TO THE POWER OF THE “PROGRAM”, MAYBE ONE DAY WE CAN SPREAD THIS WORD ALL AROUND THE WORLD AND MILLIONS WILL GET TOGETHER, SOME IN THE MORNING, SOME IN THE EVENING, BUT WITH THE STRENGTH OF A SILENT VOICE SAYING WE ARE BRINGING BACK HUMANITY TO HUMANS, LITTLE BY LITTLE. IF WE BRING MILLIONS TOGETHER IN ORGANIZED TIME SCHEDULES AWAY FROM THE “PROGRAM”, THE EVIL VIBRATION AROUND THIS PLANET WILL SHAKES AND LIGHT MAY FINALLY COME BACK.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

− 3 = 1

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.