The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community

With the constant chatter about global warming, peak oil, and an
ever-expanding economic divide, it’s easy to want to stick your
head in the sand as a million Chicken Littles rave about the
falling sky. David Korten, however, manages to write about
society’s predicted imminent demise without sending readers over
the edge to despair.

In an essay for
Yes! drawn from his recently published
book,
The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth
Community
, Korten — the co-founder of the magazine’s
publisher, the Positive Futures Network — outlines the
crossroads humanity faces. Our present actions have concrete,
profound effects on people’s future experience on Earth, he
writes. We can forge ahead with decadent lifestyles that we and
future generations will someday regret, or make drastic changes
and look back on this time as a seized opportunity to plan and
live within natural planetary boundaries.

Korten frames a brief history of human existence with his
concepts of ‘Empire’ and ‘Earth Community.’ While the former —
marked by domination and oppression — comprises most of our
written history, the latter, much older model functions through
partnership and sharing. As Empire reaches the limits of
exploitation and unequal allocation of resources, Earth Community
stands ready for its second wave. This would require a change in
values from material excess to spiritual fulfillment, and the
health of people and the environment. Such a change in values would
be reflected in the leadership chosen to galvanize and effect
change. What’s more, Korten believes that putting the emphasis on
family, nature, and spirituality could bring conservatives and
liberals together and elevate the general population to a higher
level of consciousness.

Idealistic? Yes. It won’t be easy to overcome the psychological
and physical control that Empire sustains, but Korten argues that
breakthroughs in communication that overcome geographical barriers
and resist censorship, such as the internet, have made such a shift
possible. He cites the 2003 protest in the days before the Iraq
war, which rallied more than 10 million people worldwide, as an
example of impressive organizing without a center, budget, or
charismatic leader. The challenges ahead may seem overwhelming, but
Korten, at least, is optimistic that change is possible. —
Suzanne Lindgren

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The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community

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