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A New Story for a New Economy

David Korten's new essay (available to read as a PDF) connects the work of finding a new sacred story with the effort to build a new economy.

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Those who follow my work are aware that I believe a viable human future depends on navigating a deep cultural and institutional transformation grounded in a story of unrealized human possibility. For the past two years, I’ve been on a quest to frame a story that reflects the depth and breadth of human knowledge and points the way to an essential cultural and institutional transformation of our human relationships with one another and Earth.

The quest has led to a simple self-evident truth with deep roots in traditional wisdom cultures:

We humans are living beings birthed and nurtured by a living Earth in a living universe. To survive and thrive, we must learn to live as responsible contributing members of the whole of Earth’s community of life.

Obvious as this truth might be, we currently organize ourselves as if we are money-seeking robots inhabiting a dead Earth in a dead universe. This potentially fatal error explains why we are in deep trouble.

The wisdom of traditional peoples, the lessons of religious prophets, and current findings of science together confirm the true story that lives in each human heart and defines our authentic nature. To find our way to a vibrant future, we must acknowledge and share with one another that which we already know.

I elaborate the conclusions of my quest in “A New Story for a New Economy: To Find Our Human Place in a Living Universe.” This web essay connects three themes:

1. The theme of a Living Universe Cosmology that recognizes and celebrates all being as the manifestation of the spiritual ground of creation seeking to know itself through a creative, self-organizing unfolding toward ever-greater complexity, beauty, awareness, and possibility.

2. The theme of a Living Earth Community comprised of countless trillions of individual intelligent, choice making organisms that function as an adaptive, resilient, evolving community to maintain the conditions essential to the existence, health, and vitality of organic life.

3. The theme of a Living Earth Community Economy by which we humans organize to meet our own needs as responsible contributing members of the Living Earth Community that birthed and nurtures us.

I urge you to read the essay and reflect on the questions in the discussion guide on page 24. Then, extend an invitation to selected friends to read the essay and join you in your home or community gathering place to share reflections in search of a deeper understanding of your respective beliefs, stories, and possibilities.

Beginning on page 25, I share the personal story behind the essay. Some readers suggest that reading the personal story first provides a context that helps to bring the essay more fully alive.

You can download the complete essay as a pdf here.

My next project is to further revise and expand the essay into a short book for release by Berrett-Koehler Publishers. The working title is Change the Story, Change the Future: To Find Our Human Place of Service as Members of Earth’s Community of Life.

The book will further develop the framework of a Living Earth Community Economy. Watch for it in early 2015.


David Korten author picDavid Korten wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas and practical actions. David is the author of Agenda for a New EconomyThe Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community, and the international best seller When Corporations Rule the World. He is board chair of YES! Magazine, co-chair of the New Economy Working Group, a founding board member of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, president of the Living Economies Forum, and a member of the Club of Rome. He holds MBA and PhD degrees from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business and served on the faculty of the Harvard Business School.

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