People often ask me "What was the turning point in your life?" I identify five significant turning points.
- Going International. The decision to pursue an international career devoted to ending poverty rather than returning to my home town to run the family business was my one abrupt and totally life changing decision.
- Leaving Academia. The decision to leave Harvard for a Ford Foundation assignment in Manila proved to be a permanent break with academia and the most intellectually liberating decision of my life. No more disciplinary silos. By the nature of my subsequent assignments I was engaged in many countries with a wide array of organizations and initiatives in many different economic sectors, each with its varied and ever changing social system dynamics. It was a real world education impossible to achieve within the confining walls of academia.
- Defecting from the Establishment. In 1998, I began my break with an official foreign aid system I was coming to see as part of the problem. I caste my lot with nonprofit, nongovernmental groups I hoped might mobilize to challenge the conventional aid system and its underlying ideology. My institutional liberation allowed me to explore ideas and issues well-outside main stream thought.
- Moving Up Stream. Eventually, I came to see the connection between the devastation I was witnessing abroad and the economic policies practiced and advanced by the United States. The decision to return home to the United States from Asia to focus on the upstream source of many of the problems I had gone abroad in the hope of helping to resolve took me to a whole new level of inquiry and engagement.
- Confronting Evil. By my understanding, evil is that which is destructive of life. My research for When Corporations Rule the World raised my consciousness of the central role of money and the system of money creation and allocation as a primary source of the old economy's devastating destruction of life. It was difficult, however, to draw serious attention to the money system issues, because the whole system is built on illusion and its inner works are largely invisible. Then the September 2008 Wall Street crash exposed the system's corruption and consequences for all who cared to look. I decided to grasp the moment.