History has shown that great nations start out dedicated to high principles, and that, as they grow, those principles get lost in the ongoing process of providing resources for and protecting an increasing population at ever higher levels of consumption. As this process unfolds, the people become lazy and unhealthy, while the government becomes more and more autocratic and inept, until economic and population pressures cause the nation to fall apart. This has happened over and over again throughout the history of Western, Asian, and other civilizations. And as a culture watcher, I’ve been fascinated to watch the US move through this process, step by step, over my lifetime.
At the same time, as a student of cultures around the world, I’ve discovered that most other cultures see nation-states or empires as a temporary form of insanity that is so out of balance that they must dissolve. Many other cultures have prophetic myths or carefully worked out calendars that predict or prophesy the end of the way of life you, if you are reading this, think is normal. It’s part of what the Mayan 2012 ruckus was about. (For more about that, check out my book Make the World Go Away).
Studying previous cycles of history, it’s clear that the next stage – after collapse of the mega-government – is usually a wide mix of community styles and local governance, with more or less allegiance to the remnants of the nation that once held them together, and wandering gangs raiding them. (Robert Heinlein’s novel Friday provides one interesting image of what that might look like for us.)
Studying the prophecies and predictions of other cultures, it’s likely that the main operating principles of many new communities and local governments will tend to focus, not so much on material needs and growth, but on spiritual abilities and potentials, and that those who do so will thrive, while those who strive to live “life as usual” will suffer greatly.
Looking at the current levels and kinds of destruction being implemented across the planet, and projecting them even a short time into the future, we can see that the way of life we know cannot be sustained very much longer – it must either evolve into a high-quality, low-resource consumption pattern of living, or devolve into something like subsistence gathering and farming, in a very short (15-25 year) period.
So, with all that as the context, I’ve come to define the “Emerging Culture” in the most positive terms possible: as a way of life that is intentionally harmonious with the planet, other beings, and our inner spirit. There are elements of this culture emerging all over the world, and people by the thousands are discovering this way of thinking and acting every day. Continue reading What is the emerging culture?