State of the Union 2004

 

RENEWING THE AMERICAN EXPERIMENT

Keynote to Seattle Thunder “The State of the Union”
Saturday, January 24, 2004, Trinity United Methodist Church

By David C. Korten

Welcome to Seattle Thunder. American democracy is in crisis and we join together here in common cause to restore and renew it. Feel the power of our collective energy as it flows through this sanctuary and beyond to meld with the powerful new political energy flowing from people all across our great nation as they awaken to the responsibility and opportunity of this critical historical moment.

It brings to mind the moment when America’s founding fathers gathered in Philadelphia in 1776 to issue an audacious declaration that raised the human species to a new understanding of its possibilities and changed the course of history. Recall the words that framed the American experiment the founders launched — an experiment dedicated to demonstrating the possibilities of a society governed by ordinary citizens that gives full expression to the ideals of liberty, justice, and opportunity for all — the ideals of the true American patriot. Listen carefully. These are words for our time.

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness—That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The American Experiment was at the time a truly audacious idea. When the founders boldly declared that all men are created equal and that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, the evidence of 5,000 years of rule by hereditary emperors, kings, and feudal lords suggested such an idea might even be contrary to human nature.

The situation was grim. Washington’s rag tag part-time army of volunteer farmers stood against a much larger British force of disciplined professional soldiers. British loyalists controlled most of the institutions of government. And many colonists were royalists who remained loyal to the English king and the institutions of hereditary elite rule.

Resistance from neo-royalists has continued at every step from then forward. There were those who wanted to model the new government on the institutions of monarchy. There were major constituencies committed to preserving the institution of slavery, advancing genocide against Native Americans, denying rights to workers, and the vote to people of color, women, and those without property. It provides a useful perspective on the present threat to the American Experiment from the right wing extremists who have for the moment taken control our government.

Given their historical context it is not surprising that the lives and actions of the founders themselves were in many ways deeply conflicted. The land they declared free had been expropriated by force and treachery from the Native Americans whose own democratic traditions and institutions were a source of the founders’ inspiration. The founders were all white males and nearly all owned slaves. Their bold framing of the American ideal, however, gave latitude for those who followed to expand on a powerful idea that ultimately has spread throughout the world and transformed our beliefs about human possibility.

The road to democracy is long and uncertain. The American Experiment was launched in 1776 with the Declaration of Independence. The U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1789. The Bill of Rights was added in 1791. The Thirteenth Amendment of U.S. Constitution that finally abolished slavery didn’t come until 1865. In 1870, nearly a hundred years after the founding, the Fifteenth Amendment declared that no citizen could be denied the right to vote on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Women were not added to this list until the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified in 1920, nearly a hundred and fifty years after the founding.

Yet constitutions and their amendments are but words on paper that remain to be actualized in new cultures and institutions through the work of millions of people over centuries of time. The struggles of the U.S. labor movement in the late 1800s to mid-1900s prepared the way for the progress made in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s in reducing extremes of wealth and poverty to transform the United States into a predominantly middle class nation. Successes of the civil rights, peace, women’s, and environmental movements in the last half of the  20th century produced profound cultural and institutional advances that at each step brought the United States closer to realizing the vision of human possibility for which people the world over have come to admire our nation. Given the backdrop of 5,000 years of imperial history, it adds up to quite an accomplishment for a period of little more than 200 years.

Yet the American Experiment remains an unfinished project. The time has come to renew that experiment within the context of the realities of this special moment in the human experience.

The tragedy of September 11, 2001 awakened a desire among Americans for a new sense of national purpose and unity. Those in power turned that desire to ends wholly contrary to the ideals on which this nation was founded — rolling back civil liberties at home, robbing from the poor to give to the rich, and pursuing a policy of belligerence and domination abroad. It remains to we the people to assume our rightful authority and responsibility to protect and advance the great ideals and purpose to which the founder’s dedicated this nation.

We of the human species stand poised on the threshold of a choice between self-destruction and creative possibility. Able to imagine worlds yet to be, enquire into creation’s deepest mysteries, journey to the stars or into the world of sub-atomic particles, create great civilizations and systems of global communication, unlock the secrets of the physical building blocks of matter, and decipher and rearrange the genetic codes of life, we now confront a set of conditions new to the human experience.

  • Our nuclear and biological technologies give us the capacity, by miscalculation or intent, for total self-annihilation.
  • Our human demands on the life support system of our living planet exceed the planet’s limits of tolerance; increasingly overstressed sub-systems are going into decline and collapse with alarming speed.
  • On the positive side, we have ventured into space and looked back to see ourselves as one people sharing a single destiny on a living space ship hurtling through the vastness of dark space.
  • Global institutions have been created that make it possible for representatives of all the world’s nations and peoples to resolve their issues and solve common problems through dialogue rather than force of arms.
  • Our communications technologies give us the ability, should we choose to use it, to link every human on the planet into a seamless web of communication and to choose our future through a dialogue of the whole.
  • Millions of people the world over are coming together to create a global social institution unlike any other in the human experience: a dynamic, self-directing social organism that transcends the boundaries of race, class, religion, and nationality to function as a shared conscience of the species. We call it global civil society and on February 15, 2003 it mobilized more than 10 million people around the globe in the cause of peace.

Each of these conditions has come to be within the lifetime of a single generation — the generation to which I was born. Together they present us with the opportunity and imperative to choose our common human future as a conscious and intentional collective act. It is time to renew the American Experiment in light of the distinctive needs and opportunities of this unique moment, because to meet the challenge we must bring to bear the full creative potential of our species. Unleashing this potential depends in turn on the full flowering of democratic institutions in America and beyond. That is what the still unfinished American Experiment is about.

Polling data tell us that the vast majority of Americans wants peace, fairness, a healthy environment, opportunity, freedom, democracy, and security for all — a world centered on people, not profits; on spiritual, not financial, values; and on international cooperation, not domination. These are not distinctively liberal or conservative values; they are the universally shared values on which the United States was founded.

It is instructive to recall that to get within a half million votes of the man the majority of American’s thought best suited to be our president, George W. Bush had to present himself to the electorate as a compassionate conservative who would work for ordinary people, be fiscally responsible, leave no child behind, protect the environment, and pursue a peaceful, cooperative, and non-belligerent foreign policy respectful of the rights and interests of others. Remember that? In short, those who wrote George W’s speeches knew what Americans across the political spectrum actually want. He promised — in effect — to advance an agenda that serves and honors the best and truest of both conservative and liberal values. We can presume that most of those who voted for him did so because they took him at his word.

Unfortunately, as it turned out, George lied.

Many of you heard political commentator Kevin Phillips speak in Town Hall about his new book forthrightly titled the American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush. Phillips is not a Democrat. He is not a liberal . He is a conservative Republican insider who served as a highly celebrated political strategist for Republican Presidents Nixon and Reagan. In his book he lays out how George W. Bush assumed the office of U.S. president as current heir to a family dynasty that has been building its power over four generations based on its connections to the oil, military, and intelligence industries. According to Phillips the Bush dynasty has brought to these involvements an unbroken record of ruthless profiteering from many of the worst political and economic scandals of the 20th century with a stunning lack of moral principle.

Phillips quoted the famous warning of Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower in his 1961 farewell address that the growing power of a military-industrial complex endangers America’s liberties and democratic institutions. Phillips concludes that the Bush dynasty — which built its power on oil, military procurement, and covert intelligence operations — has come to personify that endangerment. It’s spelled out chapter and verse in conservative Republican Kevin Phillips’ book.

Phillips’ insights into the Bush dynasty bring new clarity to our understanding of the priorities of the Bush II administration. The deeper purpose of virtually its every action from its tax cuts for the rich — including abolition of the estate tax — to its energy policy, the invasion of Iraq, the contracting of Iraq’s reconstruction, and the sale of Iraqi assets to U.S. private interests can be explained by its relentless use of the power of the presidency to increase the wealth, power, and reach of the Bush dynasty.

Our American history teaches us many lessons useful to our own time. Recall, for example, that our nation and the American Experiment were born in a declaration of liberty from the tyranny of a king named George. The time has come for a declaration of liberty from our own King George. Let us achieve that liberation in November. Retiring George W, however, will only be the beginning of the great work before us as we engage the task of rebuilding our crippled political system and imploding economy and putting our nation on a path to prosperity, security, liberty, justice, and opportunity for all.

As a nation we are living a false and fragile prosperity based on borrowed money and depletion of the planet’s natural wealth. We neglect or even actively deny the security threats that most endanger our physical well-being — global climate change, collapsing environmental systems, toxic and nuclear contamination, the export of jobs and hollowing out of our manufacturing base, a skyrocketing trade deficit, a falling dollar, and extremes of inequality and exclusion that lead to the social breakdown and violence of which terrorism is but one manifestation. Our nation is beset with moral decay as well, especially at the highest levels of corporate and political leadership. And, as a direct consequence of the arrogant unilateralism of the Bush II administration, international regard for U.S. leadership has fallen to a historic low.

We the people have much work ahead. Beyond retiring George W, we must create a just and sustainable economy, address the full range of threats to our personal and national security, build an ethical culture grounded in strong spiritual values, and restore America to a position of respect and leadership in the world community. Those who wait for a president, any president no matter how wise and just, to lead us to the promised land will wait in vain — for whoever gains the presidency will be captive to a corrupt political system that George W. inherited and used to maximum personal advantage, but did not create. That corrupt system will remain. Leadership must come from We the People.

Yet We the People are hindered in our great and necessary work by an artificial political divide intentionally cultivated by power seeking political extremists at both ends of the political spectrum.

 The real political divide in America is not between liberals and conservatives, who in fact share a great many core values. Many of us in this room come from liberal backgrounds. Others of us, I among them, come from deeply conservative backgrounds. But we find ourselves here in common cause, conservatives and liberals, because the real political contest in America is between those of us committed to a politics based on principle and the common good; and those who pursue a politics of individual greed and power. It is between those of us who represent the true political mainstream and truly want to solve the problems that beset us all — and those at the extreme political fringe whose primary agenda is advancing their personal power. Call those of us on the side of the American Experiment progressives — progressive conservatives and progressive liberals — for although we may have our differences, we share a commitment to advancing the Experiment’s progressive goals.

The power of the extremists comes not from their numbers, which are relatively small, but from their ability to control the stories by which we answer three basic questions: How will we prosper? What will make us secure? And how will we find meaning? These are increasingly serious questions for a great many Americans.

By controlling the stories by which we answer these question, the power seekers have defined and limited America’s political discourse. “How will we prosper?” is reduced to “What will you do to promote economic growth and reduce my taxes?” “What will make us secure?” is reduced to “What will you do to protect me from evil people?” “And how will we find meaning?” is reduced to “Will your policies please my jealous and wrathful God?” Progressive politicians thus find themselves unwittingly reduced to a debate framed by the worldview of those who believe in a system of elite rule.

Let’s look at each of the elitist stories in turn.

The Elitist Prosperity Story

The elitist economic agenda centers on increasing economic growth and stock prices through market deregulation, a rollback of social and environmental protections, the opening of economic borders to the free flow of goods and money, privatization of public services and assets, tax reductions for the wealthy, weakening of anti-trust enforcement, an assault on the rights of union members, and the dismantling of social safety nets. Each element of this agenda serves an exclusive elite interest, yet the story crafted to justify the agenda is so convincing in the simple logic of its claim to benefit us all it is often tacitly embraced even by those most harmed by it.

The elitist prosperity story that lends a sense of legitimacy to the elitist agenda goes like this:

Economic growth, which expands the pie of wealth for all, depends on investment. Since the poor have no money to invest, a wealthy investor class is essential to prosperity. The greater the return to the investor class, the faster the economy grows, and the faster the lives of all improve. Inequality is thus essential to prosperity.

 The private sector creates wealth and through the market rewards each individual in direct proportion to their contribution.

Government, by contrast, creates poverty and distorts the allocation of rewards. Through regulation and taxes it kills the incentive of the rich to invest. By reducing investment it reduces the availability of living wage jobs. By offering welfare programs for the poor it destroys their incentive to work and become productive members of society.

Therefore the key to achieving prosperity and ending poverty is to free the private sector from the dead regulatory hand of government. Eliminate taxes on the investor class. Eliminate the disincentive of public welfare programs. And eliminate government to the extent possible by transferring public assets and services to more efficient private management.

The free market will then put people to work, eliminate poverty, get money in people’s pockets, create the wealth necessary to protect the environment, and provide people with better services at a cheaper price. The rich may get richer, but so do the poor so it works for everyone.

 That, in a nutshell, is the elitist prosperity story repeated endlessly in the corporate media. Once spelled out in these terms we can easily see the story has a number of serious flaws. For one thing, it assumes that prosperity is defined solely by goods and services available for purchase in the market place. It takes no account of many of the essentials of a healthy life, such as clean air and water, trust, job security, safe neighborhoods, well maintained streets, loving homes, and much else beyond the means of markets to provide.

Many things economists count as positive contributions to economic growth actually devalue the quality of our lives. For example, sales of tobacco, guns, and violent video games to children, the fees of divorce lawyers who specialize in breaking up families, costs of security guards and devices, weapons sales, toxic chemicals, tobacco, and food contaminated with pesticide residues and the costs of treating the cancers these toxics cause.

The claim that unregulated markets allocate wealth in direct proportion to individual contribution neglects the obvious reality that many fortunes began with a large inheritance or were acquired all or in part through fraud and deception, monopoly power, corporate welfare, preferential tax breaks, usury, financial speculation, market manipulation, and/or exploitation of workers and the environment.

To work efficiently markets require rules impartially administered by government to assure honest dealing, limit monopoly power, place the costs of pollution on the polluter, secure the health and safety of workers, maintain a living wage, and in general counter the unregulated market’s bias for financial values over life values, short-term private profits over the public good, inequality over equality, and rich people over poor people. As confirmed in daily reports of financial fraud and other forms of corporate crime an unregulated market is an invitation to criminal exploitation.

The actual consequence of the deregulation of markets and trade is not to free markets, but to free predatory transnational corporations to acquire and abuse monopoly power to manage trade and markets to their exclusive financial advantage.

The self-serving claim that inequality — even extreme inequality — is beneficial to society ignores the obvious reality that free” markets — a code word for unregulated markets — respond only to money. The more unequal the distribution of money, the more the economy directs its attention to providing the super rich with obscenely extravagant luxuries such as multiple trophy vacation homes and private jet airplanes and neglects even the most basic needs of the poor. As the devastation spreads, institutional legitimacy erodes and the anger and desperation of the disaffected create a growing security threat for all.

Elitist Security Story

The security doctrine of the power seekers centers on using the police and military powers of the state to protect the rights of private property and the established order of elite privilege from those who challenge its legitimacy.

States to a perpetual war against evil as manifest in terrorism. He has embellished the basic elitist security story with a messianic edge and made it a defining framework of national policy, his presidency, and his self-concept. The elitist security story ala Bush, goes something like this:

The peace, security, and prosperity of America and its people are threatened by the forces of evil as manifest in criminals, terrorists who hate us for our freedoms, the rogue regimes who support terrorist networks, and others who seek to undermine the established order. We must defend the American people and the world by whatever means necessary in a perpetual war against these evils.

Internationally, war is the natural state of humankind. Peace and order prevail only when imposed by the military power of a righteous empire. As a righteous and powerful nation it is therefore the responsibility of America to use our military might to eliminate the evil rulers who oppose us, harbor terrorists, and threaten us with weapons of mass destruction. We will eliminate these evil rulers and liberate their people by bringing them free markets and democratic regimes that share our values. Those who are not with us in our war are presumed to support the terrorists and must be dealt with accordingly.

Similarly domestic criminals must be imprisoned or executed to protect the good and righteous and to serve as an example to others. America’s crime rate is falling as its prison population grows, demonstrating that jailing criminal elements works.

Perhaps this story’s most serious flaw is its focus on terrorists and criminals as our primary security threat to the exclusion of what are in fact far greater threats — in particular the threats of financial breakdown, environmental collapse, and a disintegrating social and moral fabric.

The elite security story equates dissent with terrorism and implicitly brands both as evil to justify the suppression of all forms of dissent to protect the elite status quo.  

Furthermore, the elitist security story calls for waging wars against whole nations in the name of fighting terrorism. Terrorists, however, work in invisible networks that extend throughout the territories of virtually every state in the world. The 9/11 terrorists trained in the state of Florida, were financed by the state of Saudi Arabia, and were led from caves in Afghanistan by a man too powerful for Afghanistan’s weak government to control. So we ignored Florida and Saudi Arabia, and invaded Afghanistan and destroyed its government. Unfortunately, the guilty party — Osama Bin Laden escaped. So we responded by invading Iraq, a country with a weak military and lots of oil that occupies a pivotal geographic position in the Middle East, but had nothing to do with 9/11. By any definition Saddam Hussein is an evil man and the world is the better for his being in prison, but he posed no credible threat to us.

Terrorism more closely fits the frame of a crime, than the frame of a war. George W’s embrace of the war metaphor is carefully chosen to make it more acceptable for him to assume dictatorial powers as commander in chief and dismiss his critics as disloyal. Furthermore he has declared the war, and therefore his power, to be perpetual.

The military devastation of whole nations to apprehend individual criminals is neither moral nor wise and worsens the very conditions of helplessness and rage that motivate the terrorist impulse. Terrorists hate us not for the freedom bestowed on our people by democratic institutions, but rather for our frequent use of the freedom our economic and military power gives us to arbitrarily oppress and humiliate other nations and peoples. Bringing terrorists to justice requires international cooperation among nations working together in the spirit of trust and respect that our nation’s arrogant and unilateral war posture actively undermines.

Domestically, we are filling our prisons with minor drug offenders at great public expense. Offering little or no support for rehabilitation our prisons function as schools for crime, creating a recipe for soaring future crime rates as those who have served their time are released.

If public safety and well-being were truly the security goal of the elitist power seekers, they would give high priority to eliminating the deeper social and economic causes of criminality, rehabilitating and preparing those convicted of crimes for useful roles in society on their release, and prosecuting the criminal activities high level corporate and public officials.

Elitist Morality Stories

In the realm of morality and meaning, the power seekers find support for their doctrine of elite rule in two quite different stories. One is a sacred story based on a misreading of biblical scripture; the other is a secular story based on a misreading of evolutionary science. According to the sacred story of the power seekers:

Nothing happens in Creation except by the will of God who created the world in six days, gave his creation to man in return for strict obedience to his will, and in his infinite righteous judgment favors the obedient with wealth and power. Great wealth and power are thus a mark of the pure and righteous; poverty and suffering a mark of impurity and disobedience. It is therefore both the due and the responsibility of those God has identified as the righteous to pass judgment on others and to make and enforce the rules that others must follow in the market place, politics, and relations among nations. Those who obey are rewarded with eternal salvation. Meaning is found in obedience.

Although it claims biblical authority, this story completely dishonors the life and teaching of the prophet Jesus, a man who chose a life of poverty, taught that the poor enjoy God’s special blessing, and urged compassion for all people.

Secular power seekers find meaning and moral legitimacy for elite rule in the story of social Darwinism. According to this story: 

Progress comes through a competitive struggle in which the fit triumph, the unfit perish, and the species grows stronger. As with other species, so is it true for humans. The victors prove their worth by virtue of their victory and have every right to claim the rewards that are their due without guilt or concern for those who perish in the struggle. It is victory in the struggle that gives life meaning.

This has long used by social Darwinist not only to justify ruthless competition, but as well all manner of racism and classism. It ignores substantial biological evidence that life is a fundamentally cooperative enterprise in which the species that survive over the long term are those that find their place of service to the whole.

Each of the power seeker stories embodies a theory of how things work that speaks to deep emotional needs and converges on a clear bottom line of support for elite privilege. These stories have become so established in media and academic discourse that they have become the conventional wisdom that frames and limits our political discourse.

It is not enough merely to point out the flawed and ethically challenged assumptions of an established story. A story that embodies a flawed theory can be challenged successfully only by a more compelling story. Herein lies an important challenge for progressive movements.

Those of us committed to causes that advance the ideals of the American Experiment focus much of our energy on critiquing and resisting elitist stories and elitist agendas, and alleviating the damage to the groups of greatest interest to us. From time to time some of us join together in common cause in ever shifting tactical alliances — most often to resist a particular elitist initiative.

Although justice, peace, and a healthy environment are scarcely special interests, our fragmented and piecemeal articulation of our many causes makes it all too easy for the neo-royalists to portray us as a divided collection of special interests lacking a coherent and pragmatic alternative to their more comprehensive agenda. Little, if any, of our energy is devoted to articulating stories that communicate positive, holistic theories of prosperity, security, and meaning.

We thus concede the initiative, the national story, and political power to the modern bearers of the royalist torch.

Furthermore, a quick look at what our fragmented causes and stories communicate when placed within the prevailing frame of the power seeker stories makes it easy to see why our lack of stories that address the larger questions place our progressive messages at a serious disadvantage.

The power seekers offer a prosperity story that promises ever-growing material prosperity for all and spells out a clear plan in which, by their telling, everyone wins. Within the frame of their story, the progressive agenda is easily reframed by the far right to sound like a call to tax those who are productive to provide welfare for those too lazy to get a job, take jobs from white males to give them to women and people of color, and reduce our standard of living to save exotic species most people have never seen and wouldn’t recognize if they did. No matter how truthful our claim that elitist policies actually destroy wealth and take from the poor to give to the rich, the elitist story will carry the day until we are able to counter it consistently and convincingly with a coherent prosperity story that communicates a compelling theory of wealth creation based on engaging the talents of every person in productive contribution.

The power seekers offer a security story that promises to impose peace and order on a demonstrably unruly world populated by dangerous criminals, political extremists, and religious fanatics intent on violence and other evil deeds. By contrast, the progressive international security story centers on unilateral disarmament and the rejection of war as an instrument of policy. Our domestic security story calls for greater attention to protecting the rights of the accused, constraining the police, making life better for those serving time, reducing sentences, and closing prisons. It seems we have little to offer by way of comfort to those who fear for the lives of themselves, their families, and their children. It should be no surprise that the elitist security story carries the day.

It is especially significant that the power seekers ultimately ground both their economic and security stories in a story of the sacred. From the beginning of time we humans have looked to sacred stories for meaning, moral guidance, and understanding of creation’s deep mysteries. Except for the civil rights movement, progressive movements have generally been self-consciously secular — carefully avoiding discussion of the sacred. We are thus left by default with a dehumanizing scientific story devoid of meaning or inspiration that speaks of a world in which only the material is real, life is an accidental outcome of complexity, and consciousness is an illusion.

Yet I am struck by the fact that nearly every progressive leader of my acquaintance acts from a deep sense of spiritual connection. If we are to renew the American Experiment, perhaps it is appropriate to acknowledge and renew its spiritual foundations.

If we are to gain a place for progressive voices in the national political discourse and build a values based mainstream alliance of principled conservatives and principled liberals committed to the progress of the American Experiment we must get serious about crafting credible progressive stories that answer critical questions, enlarge and redefine the terms of the debate, express our vision of the human possible, and evoke a new sense of national purpose.

We need prosperity stories that spell out a practical path to creating wealth and jobs for all within a framework of economic justice and environmental sustainability. We need security stories that address the reality of criminal elements, rogue states, and the need for a sense of safety within a framework of commitment to civil liberties for all and cooperation among the world’s peoples and nations. And we need sacred stories that address our need for meaning, moral guidance, and understanding of the infinite within a framework of mutual responsibility. All must be stories that invite the imagination to soar in its search for an ever-expanding vision of human possibility. Stories such as those of the power seekers that demean and diminish the human spirit cannot compete with the stories of creative human possibility it is ours to tell.

I offer YES! magazine as a resource in this endeavor as it is filled with stories of the possible. You can find it on the web at <www.yesmagazine.org>.  The longer draft paper on which this presentation is based along with commentary from colleagues is available on my own website at  <www.developmentforum.net/Experiment/>. 

***

Our nation, the United States of America faces a defining moment of challenge and opportunity. The goal of creating a world that works for all is integral to the American Experiment. The United States is a natural social laboratory for advancing its realization. Nearly all the world’s many traditions come together within our borders by virtue of our rich racial, cultural, and religious diversity. And we have a long history of social and technological creativity and innovation.

The time has come to renew the American Experiment. This is our opportunity to join with all the world’s people and nations in a cooperative effort to realize the ideals of liberty, justice and opportunity for all people everywhere.

In these turbulent and frightening times it is important to remind ourselves that we are privileged to live at the most exciting moment in the whole of human history. We are being called by the deep forces of creation to awaken to a new consciousness of our own possibilities and to embrace the responsibilities to one another and to the planet that go with our collective presence on the living jewel of life called Earth. The choice is ours. Now is the hour. We have the power. The work starts here. We are the one’s we’ve been waiting for.

Thank you all for your wonderfully important work.

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David C. Korten <www.davidkorten.org> is president of the People-Centered Development Forum<www.developmentforum.net>, board chair of the Positive Futures Network, which publishes YES! magazine<www.yesmagazine.org>, and the author of When Corporations Rule the World  and The Post-Corporate World: Life After Capitalism.