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Jed Diamond, Ph.D. has been a health-care professional for more than 40 years. He is the author of 9 books, including Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places, Male Menopause, The Irritable Male Syndrome, and Mr. Mean: Saving Your Relationship from the Irritable Male Syndrome . He offers counseling to men, women, and couples in his office in California or by phone with people throughout the U.S. and around the world. To receive a Free E-book on Men’s Health and a free subscription to Jed’s e-newsletter go to http://facebook.com/menalivenow. If you enjoy my articles, please subscribe. I write to everyone who joins my Scribd team. My new book, my 10th, Tapping Power: A Man’s Guide to Eliminating Pain, Stress, Anger, Depression and Other Ills Using the Revolutionary Tools of Energy Psychology, is due for publication in the fall, 2011 or spring 2012. “People don’t seem to realize it that it is not like we’re on the Titanic and we have to avoid the iceberg,” says Rob Watson, CEO and Chief Scientist of The EcoTech International Group, who Pulitizer-Prize winning author Tom Friedman calls one of the best environmental minds in America. “We’ve already hit the iceberg. The water is rushing in down below. But some people just don’t want to leave the dance floor; others don’t want to give up on the buffet. But if we don’t make the hard choices, nature will make them for us.” We all have a sense that there are massive changes going on in the world and things look pretty scary. Like the massive luxury ocean liner that most believed unsinkable, it seems that the Ship of Civilization has struck a lethal “iceberg” with economic dislocations, peak oil, climate change, and environmental destruction, causing people throughout the world to be thrown into unknown and turbulent waters.
But what exactly is it that is sinking? If it’s Civilization itself, most people would rather stay on board. Who would voluntarily give up on all the good things we’ve achieved in life? We’re not afraid of giving up the buffet, we are afraid we’ll have to give up indoor plumbing, living in houses rather than caves, and living past the age of 35. There is another view of what is sinking and another view of what is emerging to take its place. Here’s how David C. Korten describes the choices we face in his book, The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community, “The defining choice is between two contrasting models for organizing human affairs. Give them the generic names Empire and Earth Community. Empire, which features organization by domination and which has been a defining feature of the most powerful and influential human societies for some five thousand years, appropriates much of the productive surplus of society to maintain a system of dominator power and elite competition. Racism, sexism, and classism are endemic features of Empire. “Earth Community, which features organization by partnership, unleashes the human potential for creative cooperation and allocates the productive surplus of society to the work of growing the generative potential of the whole.” Clearly “the most powerful and influential” people on the planet are a small minority of the total population, but they control the media and are deeply invested in trying to convince people to remain on the Ship of Empire. But the truth is that Empire is a system that is unsustainable on the planet. We cannot continue to take resources from the Earth and power our Empire with fossil fuels that are reaching their peak. To draw a sports metaphor, Nature Bats Last. Any system that is as out of balance with nature can only bring despair and destruction.
“Energy always flows either toward hope, community, love, generosity, mutual recognition, and spiritual aliveness,” says social activist and Rabbi Michael Lerner, “or it flows toward despair, cynicism, fear that there is not enough, paranoia about the intentions of others, and a desire to control.” How the Largest Movement in the World Came Into Being and No One Saw It Coming Paul Hawken is an environmentalist, entrepreneur, journalist, and bestselling author. I’ve known him since our children went to Waldorf School in Marin County more than 30 years ago. I reconnected with him at a conference shortly after the publication of his book Blessed Unrest in 2007. Hawken had spent the last 10 years travelling around the world. Although the dominant media were writing about wars, death, and destruction, he was getting a different story from the people he was meeting. “These people were typically working on the most salient issues of our day: climate change, poverty, deforestation, peace, water, hunger, conservation, human rights.” What surprised Hawken, was how many people there were and how large these efforts had become. He initially estimated there were a total of 30,000 organizations around the world addressing these issues. But the more he looked the more organizations he found. “I now believe there are over one—and maybe even two—million organizations working toward ecological sustainability and social justice.” The fact that the elite control the media is only one reason we are not aware of this huge uprising of humanitarian spirit in the world. The other reason is that this is no ordinary social movement with a defined leader and specific, limited goals. “They share no orthodoxy or unifying ideology,” says Hawken. “They follow no single charismatic leader; they remain supple enough to coalesce easily into larger networks to achieve their
goals. While they are mostly unrecognized by politicians and the media, they are bring about what me one day be judged the single most profound transformation of human society.” Hawken’s book, Blessed Unrest is an exploration of this movement—its participants, its aims, and its ideals. Part of what I learned,” says Hawken, “concerns an older quiescent history that is reemerging, what poet Gary Snyder calls the great underground, a current of humanity that dates back to the Paleolithic. Its lineage can be traced back to healers, priestesses, philosophers, monks, rabbis, poets, and artists, “who speak for the planet, for other species, for interdependence, a life that courses under and through and around empires.” That’s definitely the great underground tribe I feel connected with. It’s the reason I joined the WiserEarth Community that Paul Hawken started to bring us all together. WiserEarth helps the global movement of people and organizations working toward social justice, indigenous rights, and environmental stewardship connect, collaborate, share knowledge, and build alliances. If this resonates with you, please join us. The real disease of Empire is the feeling that we are alone, that it is us against the world and we are in a dog-eat-dog struggle for survival of the strongest. The architect Howard Roark, played by a flinty Gary Cooper in the movie version of Ayn Rand’s book The Fountainhead, is one of our greatest modern icons—the very model of the strong, powerful, lone wolf, feeling threatened by a world he doesn’t understand. He dynamites his housing project rather than allow his vision to be bastardized by “second-handers.” At his courtroom trial, armed only with is uncompromising words, he defends himself against charges of vandalism by delivering a call to arms for the individual.
“The creator who lives for his work needs no other men,” Roark announces, wheeling around to face the jury. “I do not recognize anyone’s right to one minute of my life, nor to any part of my energy.” In the book and movie, Roark triumphs, inexplicably managing to avoid a prison sentence despite having blown up a city block. Well, maybe not inexplicably considering that no one has been brought to justice from the destruction of our economy by Wall Street. However, in real life, it has been shown that lone-wolf individualists are more likely to get sick than those who feel they are a part of a larger community of citizens. In her book, The Bond, award-winning journalist Lynne McTaggart, says, “The every-man-forhimself attitude fostered in the West, particularly in American society, can prove deadly to us, particularly to our hearts.” She goes on to cite numerous studies showing that people who are Roark-like—self absorbed, cynical, and hostile to the world—are more likely to die from a heart attack. The heart expert Dean Ornish, M.D., discovered an extraordinary statistic: All the usual risk factors for heart disease—smoking, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, and a highfat diet—account for only half of all heart disease. “Every so-called lifestyle risk factor laid at the door of cardiovascular illness by the medical community,” he says, “has less to do with someone having a heart attack than does simple isolation—from other people, from our own feelings and from a higher power. In that sense, heart disease can be viewed chiefly as a disease of emotional alienation.” So we can continue to remain on the Ship of Empire and try and fight our way to the upper decks where the rich and famous reside (and ultimately go down with the Ship) or
we can join Paul Hawken, David Korten, Lynn McTaggart and millions of others and create our own Earth Communities. The choice is ours.