Turning Points

People often ask me "What was the turning point in your life?" I identify five significant turning points. 

  1. Going International. The decision to pursue an international career devoted to ending poverty rather than returning to my home town in Longview, Washington to run my father's retail music and applicance business was my one abrupt and totally life changing decision.
  2. 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. It freed me to draw from the full range of human knowledgte and experience in a quest to understand and address many of the most complex issues facing humanity working in countries with varied and ever changing social system dynamics. It was a real world education impossible to achieve within the confining walls of academia.  
  3. 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. Initially, I caste my lot with nonprofit, nongovernmental groups funded by the foreign aid system that were at the time beginning to share similar doubts. In the end, they remained captive to the system that funded them. Significantly, it was only after I drew my last pay check from the foreign aid system that I began to recognize fully the source and consequence of its failure, became a leading critic, and engaged the search for true alternatives. This was the beginning of my focus on changing the framing stories of the dominant culture. See The Forum and the Economic Story Revolution.
  4. Returning to the United States Eventually, I came to see the connection between the social and environmental 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. 
  5. Learning from Living Systems. I've long been drawn to nature and was deeply influenced by the argument in Limits to Growth that the quest for infinite growth on a finite planet is suicidal. It was a breakthrough moment, however, when Mae Wan Ho and Elisabet Sahtours introduced to me to the new biology that studies organisms as intelligent self-organizing living systems. My professional life has since been devoted to applying the lessons of life's self-organizing evolutionary journey to the quest to discplace a global corporate-driven money-seeking suicide economy with a life-serving living Earth economy.