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"The Great Turning -

from Empire to Earth Community" by David Korten

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The Great Turning is a work of amazing scope and depth. This is a wise and much needed book that shows we can create cultures where our enormous human capacities for joy, caring, and cooperation are realized.

Riane Eisler, author of The Chalice and the Blade - I love this book! David Korten has done it again - created a masterpiece of big-thinking to help us find our way in this death-or-life historical moment. With fascinating analogies, intriguing stories and eloquent analysis, Korten draws in the reader. He then emboldens us to believe that we can trust and cultivate the best in the best in ourselves and, despite the lateness of the hour, choose life.

Frances Moore Lappé, author Hope's Edge and Democracy's Edge - David Kortens classic bestseller, When Corporations Rule the World, was one of the first books to articulate the destructive and oppressive nature of the global corporate economy. Now, ten years later, Korten shows that the problem runs deeper than corporate domination with far greater consequences. In The Great Turning, Korten argues that corporate consolidation of power is merely a contemporary manifestation of what he calls Empire: the organization of society by hierarchies of domination grounded in violent chauvinisms of race, gender, religion, nationality, language, and class. The result has been the same for 5,000 years, fortune for the few and misery for the many. Increasingly destructive of children, family, community, and nature, the way of Empire is leading to environmental and social collapse.

The Great Turning makes the case that we humans are a choicemaking species that at this defining moment faces both the opportunity and the imperative to choose our future as a conscious collective act. We can no longer deny the need nor delay our response. A mounting perfect economic storm is fast approaching. A convergence of climate change, peak oil, and the financial instability inherent in an unbalanced global trading system will bring an unraveling of the corporate-led global economy and a dramatic restructuring of every aspect of modern life. We cannot avoid the unraveling. We can, however, turn a potentially terminal crisis into an epic opportunity to bring forth a new era of Earth Community grounded in the life-affirming cultural values shared by most all the worlds people and eloquently articulated in the Earth Charter.

The Great Turning is an essential resource for those who understand this need and are prepared to engage what Thomas Berry calls the Great Work. It cuts through the complexity of our time to illuminate a simple, but elegant truth. We humans live by stories. We are held captive to the ways of Empire by a cultural trance of our own creation maintained by stories that deny the higher possibilities of our human nature including our capacities for compassion, cooperation, responsible self-direction, and self-organizing partnership. Changing our future begins with changing our stories. A work already underway, it ultimately calls out for the participation of every person on the planet. The Great Turning points the way to the inspiring outcome within our reach.

Table of Contents (some chapters are excerpted below)

Prologue: In Search of the Possible

Part I: Choosing Our Future 1. The Choice 2. The Possibility 3. The Imperative 4. The Opportunity

Part II: Sorrows of Empire 5. When God Was a Woman6. Ancient Empire 7. Modern Empire 8. Athenian Experiment

Part III: America, The Unfinished Project 9. Inauspicious Beginning 10. People Power Rebellion 11. Empires Victory 12. Struggle for Justice 13. Wake Up Call 14. Prisons of the Mind

Part IV: The Great Turning 15. Beyond Strict Father Vs Aging Clock 16. Creations Epic Journey 17. Joys of Earth Community 18. Stories for a New Era

Part V: Birthing Earth Community 19. Leading from Below (excerpt) 20. Building A Political Majority (excerpt) 21. Liberating Creative Potential 22. Change the Story, Change the Future

Earth Community Dialogues

IMPERATIVE Business as usual is over. The era of cheap oil is ending, climate change is real and deadly, and the U.S. economy rests on an unsustainable foundation of financial and environmental debt. For most people, the debate on each of these issues is now over. Yet there is little prospect of constructive political leadership coming from Washington, DC. The initiative in embracing the moral imperative to fashion a constructive response to a growing planetary emergency must flow from the community level upward through an inclusive process that engages the interests and participation of everyone. Earth Community Dialogues are a response to this imperative.

UNIVERSAL PRINCIPLES Earth Community is a term from the Earth Charter, a declaration of universal responsibility to and for one another and the Living Earth crafted through consultations involving thousands of individuals and hundreds of organizations from all regions of the world. The Charter sets forth four overarching principles: (1) respect and care for the community of life; (2) ecological integrity; (3) social and economic justice; and (4) democracy, nonviolence, and peace. These principles define universal values affirmed by all the world's major faith traditions and embraced by a substantial majority of the world's people. They are the foundation values of Earth Community and provide the guiding framework for Earth Community Dialogues.


Negotiating a transition from the dominator relations of Empire to the partnership relations of Earth Community necessarily centers on nurturing the practice of partnership at all levels of society from local to national to global. Partnership relations are a product of trust building and the discovery of mutual interests. By their nature, partnership relations involve a leadership of the whole and represent the highest expression of the democratic ideal. Using instruments of domination as means to achieve the end of partnership assures failure. Partnership relations must emerge from the bottom up through processes of mutual empowerment as people discover and cultivate relationships of trust and otherwise dormant leadership potentials within themselves. Think of it as a process of community building. Earth Community Dialogues, which bring together diverse elements of a community around a commitment to creating a partnership world that works for the whole of life, are an essential part of this community building process.

DEFINING CHARACTERISTICS An Earth Community Dialogue is best understood not as a single event, but rather as an intentional, broadly inclusive, ongoing conversation centered in a community of place the embraces a commitment to:

1... The defining principles of the Earth Charter 2... The moral imperative to create a world that works for all Racial, religious, cultural, political, and class diversity Mutual respect, deep listening, heartfelt communication Values based learning and problem solving The work of gaining currency for stories of Earth Community. 3... The individual dialogues take many forms and go by many names, but share an underlying commitment to turning the current planetary emergency into an opportunity to create a world aligned with the deeper values most humans share. A small group or even a single individual might initiate an Earth Community Dialogue in a given locality, perhaps from within a local church, mosque, synagogue, interfaith alliance, local government, college, socially responsible business, or local nonprofit organization. It might build on and support existing initiatives intended to advance local agriculture, energy self-reliance, green building, or support for local businesses. It might begin with a series of discussions on The Great Turning, a YES! Circle, Conversation Café, or other regular discussion group. As these dialogues take root in a growing number of localities, they create a growing potential to merge into ever-larger dialogues of the whole.

STRATEGIC PREMISE We humans are captive to self-limiting stories that deny the possibility of any alternative to humanity's current suicidal path. To change course, we must step forward to break the silence that prevails when truth remains unspoken, end the isolation that undermines community, change the stories that define the prevailing culture, and thereby turn the human species to a future that works for all. Our collective behavior will change as our collective stories change. No matter how small the individual voice, it can contribute to changing the national conversation, and thus our politics and the course of the human future.

POSSIBILITY Possibilities for a rapid expansion of the processes of positive bottom up leadership in the United States are far greater than our nation's bitter political divisions might suggest. Eighty-three percent of Americans believe that we are as a country focused on the wrong priorities. Substantial majorities of both conservatives and liberals want to see greater priority given to children, family, community, and a healthy environment. In short, a substantial majority of Americans feel out of step with the way things are going and embrace the foundational values of Earth Community. The result is a historic moment of opportunity to make a conscious choice to turn away from the sorrows of 5,000 years of Empire and embrace the joys of Earth Community.


Uppdat.. 2012-02-04||  [an error occurred while processing this directive]