Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Future of the World

An online journal called “Kosmos” asked for a reaction from its readers on the following topic:

"Here is the current topic for reflection:

Many of us have been living with the knowledge that our world and its institutions are nearing collapse. We long for that time – that rare opening – when evolution takes a momentous leap forward. The election of Barack Obama aroused an explosion of spirit in the world. It seemed to be an outer symbol of an inner knowing that the tipping point from collapse to creation may well have arrived.

The slogan heard around the world is “Yes we can.” What does this mean to you?"

Here's the first draft of a response:

What does the slogan “Yes we can” mean to me? It means that another empty slogan has gained popularity. The kind of change we’d like to see occurs through social movements - collectivities of more or less ordinary people getting together to push for what they want, not through the election of an official in the most powerful country in the world. Obama is a centrist politician who may, because of the dangers in the current financial situation, make some significant changes in the way things are done, but who will also reestablish, with some modifications, the prevailing order. Better than Bush but also Bush with a human face. Obama is a symbol of the civil rights struggles of the sixties, but he is also an acceptable establishment figure who wouldn’t have gotten elected were it not for the dangerous financial and economic situation.

I’m not sure that we are “nearing collapse.” Collapse could occur, but it’s hard to imagine what it would look like. The “explosion of spirit” in reaction to the election of Obama is not an “an outer symbol of an inner knowing that the tipping point from collapse to creation may well have arrived.” It is an outer symbol of the yearning for a better life which will be realized if common people of a like mind band together to wrest power from those who control things in ways that favor the interests of the powerful.

Much more heartening is some of the change occurring in South America where massive organization has produced some structural changes. By focusing on Obama, we divert our attention from the real work of being involved with others in creating the societal changes we want. To work creatively and productively with others who share our goals requires heightened inner and outer awareness in order to know what needs to be done, how to do it and how to be the kind of person who can engage with others and act together.

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