Monday, October 04, 2004



Countless cultures around the world have disappeared, along with the myths that once united them. Authors Stanley Krippner, Ann Mortifee and David Feinstein write in The Futurist of the need of creating a new unifying mythic vision for the future-using the word "myth" in the sense of an expression of the customs, traditions, institutions, attitudes, etc., of a people:

If we are going to avoid the fate of the Easter Islanders, we must change the myths that are leading us toward extinction and find inspiring visions of a plausible and appealing future. The old myths have collapsed, but no new ones have emerged to fill the vacuum. For transformation to occur, human beings must actively shape the future, an enterprise that goes to the heart of mythmaking. If we are each a cell in what Peter Russell calls "The Global Brain", then this is an individual as well as a collective venture.

Framing a problem in mythological terms can point toward solutions at deeper mythic levels. For centuries, the guiding myth of Western culture has been what might be called the "Grand Narrative of Progress." It is the story of movement toward a goal-achievement, improvement, and conquest. Modern science and technology have propelled this myth, extending the human life-span, harnessing natural resources and the power of the atom, carrying sounds through the atmosphere, and exploring outer space by defying gravity itself….

But as the Grand Narrative of Progress came to dominate other values and views, it cast a malignant shadow….Indeed, the Grand Narrative of Progress is a myth that stands in need of criticism…

Philosopher Sam Keen has urged us to shift from the myth of progress to a myth of sustainable growth in order to create the compassionate political order needed to avert humanity from its self-destructive course. Keen has identified some of the radical changes in values and principles of political action needed to achieve the myth of sustainable growth. They include:

Shifting personal identity from the egocentric to the community-rooted person.

Shifting from competition to economic co-operation.

Shifting from sanctified violence and the myth of just wars to peaceful means of conflict resolution.

Shifting from population explosion to zero population growth.

Shifting from a secular view of nature as raw material to the belief that nature is sacred.

Shifting from a world divided between the poor and the rich to a more just distribution of wealth and resources….

Yet, if systems design and policy planning veer away from the Scylla of the Grand Narrative of Progress and the Charybdis of the a Millennium Myths, it is still possible to foster mythologies based on sustainability and connection. The inhabitants of Island Earth can avoid the fate of the Easter Islanders as we set sail for the twenty-first century.

More here.


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