Introduction | Worldview | Criteria | Declaration | Vision | Interviews
Our Current Situation
Most people want a good job, a healthy family, and a decent chance to create a better life. And they want the same for their children and their grandchildren. In fact, they want the same for all people.
Achieving these goals, however, is becoming more difficult. Conditions worsen, opportunities shrink, morals decline, the culture cheapens, and the social fabric frays. Today, most Americans are swimming against the tide, trying to keep their head above water.
We stand at a crossroads. On the one hand, global turmoil threatens to throw humanity into a downward spiral. The future could hold increasing violence, war, terrorism, economic collapse, poverty, global warming, ethnic conflict, culture wars, fundamentalism, and totalitarianism. The world may be changing so rapidly that mankind cannot keep up, cope, and move forward.
At the same time, we face the opening to a new era of peace, social and economic justice, sustainability, broad prosperity, fair play, trust, caring communities, personal growth, health, tolerance, and increased democracy. The pendulum, hovering at mid-point, could move in either direction at any minute. We need to make that pendulum swing in a progressive direction, and push it so far that we never regress to our present condition.
If we get our act together, humanity could evolve to a higher plateau on the historic path of social progress. We could find ourselves in a new world.
Innovators are constantly creating new tools to empower individuals and communities to take control of their lives. Change is bursting open everywhere. Almost daily, creative discoveries, methods, and resources are emerging to help people live healthy, happy, creative, productive and meaningful lives. New developments are happening so rapidly, it’s hard to keep up with them.
This website aims to highlight the high-quality options for joining in the never-ending process of progressive change. Whether your interest is personal health, better schooling, neighborhood organizing, environmental cleanup, nonviolence, or whatever, we offer suggestions for humanistic tools to help you and your people achieve your goals. In this way, we hope to contribute to comprehensive, fundamental transformation.
Steady change can lead to qualitative transformation. Adding heat turns water into steam. A seed becomes a flower. A caterpillar becomes a butterfly. Biological evolution transforms one species into another. Likewise, human social evolution has repeatedly produced profound changes, moving humankind up to new levels of political and cultural organization. We now need to move once again to a new stage.
Social change is never-ending and unpredictable. Occasional setbacks are inevitable. But over time, mankind has made forward progress. If we put our mind to it, we can make another fundamental advance and leave the world in much better shape for future generations. We can steadily change America until it is qualitatively different -- a truly compassionate, healthy, fair, sustainable, and peaceful community that is an overlapping network of such communities. We can redefine the primary purpose of our society and reform all of major our institutions so that they help achieve that purpose.
At present, this country is geared toward helping those who are already powerful and wealthy to become even more powerful and wealthy. Our economic system, energized by the drive for profit, has an inherent tendency to increasingly concentrate wealth, which provides the super-rich with enormous political power. Today, power and wealth are concentrated in the hands of one percent of the population. Of this elite, many are primarily motivated by greed and lust for power. The hyper-competitive ambition of this corrupt elite drives them to routinely break laws and violate basic morality. Cheating and lying are becoming commonplace. Concern for future consequences has been diminishing.
This glorification of money and power contaminates the entire society and is spreading like an epidemic. Though there is evidence of reversal of these trends among young people, Americans are becoming increasingly selfish, materialistic, and immoral. In every institution, we see the same pattern. The growth in cheating at school is only one example. Active concern for the human family and our future is diminishing. Most of us realize that this ego-centered approach leaves us empty and hollow, but we often find it difficult to avoid the quicksand.
To overcome this decline, the American people must unite, create compassionate communities, demand that its government act to correct, tame, and regulate our economy, and advance steady, comprehensive progressive change throughout society.
First of all, we need to establish that America’s primary mission should be:
- to improve the quality of life for all people by creating a more compassionate, just, sustainable, and democratic America that treats other nations fairly as members of an inter-dependent global community that no one country should try to dominate.
This mission would not guarantee complete success. We cannot force others to accept the burdens of freedom. To attempt to do so would be hypocritical and counter-productive. A few people will be irresponsible and/or self-destructive, regardless of our best efforts. And some other countries would decline our assistance or be unable to use it. But given real, reasonable opportunities, almost everyone takes advantage of them.
In addition to establishing a new mission for our society, we need to reform our institutions so that they help fulfill this mission. Progressive transformation needs to be comprehensive. It needs to happen simultaneously on every level and in every arena. By making progress in every arena and on every level at the same time, changes can reinforce one another and move us forward. To maximize our effectiveness, we need to promote simultaneous personal, social, cultural, and political change.
As individuals, we need to become better human beings. As Cornel West put it, “It takes courage, persistence, discipline, and energy to be a mature, compassionate, decent person.” We must not allow fear to cloud our ability to think clearly. We must move beyond anger and the impulse for revenge. We must move forward step-by-step effectively, with compassion and confidence."
Throughout society, we need to form better families and stronger communities. Our childcare centers, schools, libraries, parks, media, entertainment industry, museums, artists, small businesses, large corporations, farms, churches, synagogues, mosques, police departments, governments – every institution needs to fulfill its highest ideals. Systemic change involves not only politics. Government is only one of many means that are available.
And we need to create a culture that is more enriching, ennobling, and inspiring.
So this catalog addresses all of society's major institutions.
Everyone makes his or her own decision about how to contribute. Parents concentrate on raising their children to be good, caring, and responsible adults. Workers try to do their job well. Individuals engage in self-improvement. Religious people work on their spiritual development. Citizens pay attention to public affairs and try to vote responsibly. Activists engage in organizing and lobbying. Most everyone tries to spread positive energy by being polite and kind. People lend each other a sympathetic ear and words of advice. Book clubs, self-help groups, and all sorts of community activities assist people to grow, learn, and fulfill their human potential. Homeowners cultivate flower gardens. Hobbyists express their creativity in workshops. Dance clubs enrich lives. People share with each other in the joy of life. Bit by bit, we do what we can to make the world a better place. No one can do everything. But everyone can do something.
Most of us, however, would like to do more. We would like to be more effective in our efforts to serve humanity. If you fall into that category, you may find this catalog helpful.
You are invited to assist by letting us know what you learn. This project is a learning experience for all of us. If we share our discoveries, all of us can become more informed and more effective.
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