“We humans have a brief window of opportunity to navigate the passage from a 5,000 year Era of Empire characterized by violent domination to an Era of Earth Community characterized peaceful partnership. This passage to a new level of species maturity promises a more secure and fulfilling life for all. It is ours to choose.”
The Great Turning
Our common future depends on navigating a Great Turning from the dominator cultures and institutions of Empire to the partnership cultures and institutions of Earth Community. This passage to a new level of species maturity promises a more secure and fulfilling life for all. It is ours to choose. The window of opportunity is closing rapidly. The challenge and opportunity can only be fully appreciated in their deep historical context.
Out from Eden
Originally, we humans organized as tribes. Moving with the seasons, we lived as one with each other and nature, and we honored the Earth mother who birthed and nourishes us from the bounty of her breast. The Abrahamic religions recall these as the days of Eden.
Around 10,000 B.C., we began our departure from Eden as we learned to grow our own food, settled into larger agricultural communities, and began to develop the material and social technologies distinctive to our species. We learned to domesticate plants and animals, store food for the lean times, design and construct buildings, weave clothing and baskets, make pots, design and construct buildings, and organize under institutions of law, government, and religion.
It turned out to be a 5,000-year transition period preparing the way for the the Era of Empire.
The Turn to Empire
Somewhere around 3,000 BC, a few of the more individualistic among us discovered they could use the tools and abilities developed during the separation to dominate nature and one another. Kings and emperors arose to organize great empires under their personal rule. They systematically expropriated nature’s gifts and the surplus of human labor beyond bare subsistence to the end that they and their favored might enjoy unchecked power and lives of opulent self-glorification. Some ruled in the name of a god. Others believed themselves to be gods.
From that time forward, economic relationships were organized not to improve the lives of all, but to secure the power and privilege of the few. The wealth of nature and human labor was appropriated and squandered on wars, opulent luxuries for the ruling class, and the military and police forces and prisons by which they secured the obedience of the oppressed—which prevails to this day.
The Turn to Earth Community
The institutional structures of the Era of Empire, both state and corporate, are losing credibility. Their ruthless domination and exploitation have reached the limits of what the living systems of Earth and society can and will endure. The social and environmental relationships on which the viability of imperial institutions depended are disintegrating. We the people will not, can not, continue to tolerate the squandering of the real wealth of nature and human labor to maintain global systems of domination that sustain themselves by destroying living Earth's capacity to support life and depriving billions of people of the basic essentials of a healthy, happy, and productive life.
Modern communications technologies have eliminated the isolation between peoples on which empire depends. They reveal the truth of our common situation for all to see. And they allow we the people to organize independently of the imperial institutions of power and domination. We have the means to navigate a Great Turning to a new era of Earth Community that works for the whole of life. The essential foundation is a new economy that meets the needs of all in balanced relationship with a finite living Earth.