Letter from the Editor
posted Jun 30, 1997I got a call the other day from a Wall Street Journal reporter who was contemplating an article about hope and publishing. "Are people actually interested in reading a magazine that focuses on the positive?" he wanted to know. And: "Are you optimistic?"
The truth is, I'm not optimistic, but I am hopeful. I'm very troubled by the implosions in Africa, the prospects of the former Soviet Union and China, and the many ways industrial society demeans people -- through overwork, poverty, and commercialism. The prospect of exponential increases in population and consumption on a finite planet is ludicrous. And perhaps most troubling, leadership from those in charge of the powerful institutions -- media, government, religion, business, and education -- is sadly lacking.
What gives me hope are the creative responses that are bubbling up in every sector of society and all over the world; these responses are, I believe, creating the seeds of a new era, the DNA for a new civilization.
The fault lines that run through this time of transition penetrate deeply into our lives -- dreams go unfulfilled, relationships fall apart, careers are stillborn; the foundations of life seem shaky and unreliable.
For some, this creates a nostalgia for the past, when life was seemingly more stable and easy to understand. Some look for scapegoats to blame for the rapidity of change.
But there are others who are energized by the possibilities that are arising from a time of historic transition. Whether or not they are conscious of the connections, they are creating ways of living, working, and interrelating that integrate our recently acquired planetary awareness with modern know-how and ancient wisdom. These new experiments integrate self, nature, and community within an implicit or explicit awareness of the sacredness of all life.
This creative process is happening now within every realm of society and within a number of social and political movements. In each case, it may be just a few individuals who have the vision, curiosity, and persistence to take the lead in exploring new possibilities. But it is happening across disciplines and sectors, and with astounding creativity and persistence.
Our aim with Yes! and with Positive Futures Network is to invite participation in this common adventure. This is not a movement that will come from a few leaders or top-down organizations. It is self-organizing, inclusive, evolutionary, and unpredictable.
Another aim of Yes! is to make visible this up-swelling of creativity - to show that many individuals efforts are part of a larger pattern of potentially historic significance.
While the new patterns are still forming, here are some of the threads we see weaving across sectors and disciplines:
Living systems are providing a powerful metaphor for the structure of society. Industrial ecology, in which the waste from one product is food for another, is one way nature's model is being applied.
People in all sectors are moving away from win-lose to win-win-win solutions. The third "win" refers to the community at large, the natural environment, or the planet. Increasingly, winning involves -- not vanquishing someone nor even compromising -- but reframing and creating a new synthesis.
A striking example is General Lee Butler, former commander of the US nuclear forces, who is calling for a ban on nuclear weapons. Butler is suggesting a win-win-win approach that transcends the usual argument over who has, and should have, how many nuclear bombs. There is no moral justification for any, he says.
Diversity, among humans and ecosystems, is a wellspring of creativity and divergent strengths from which rich interaction and new possibilities emerge. For example, Frances Moore Lappe and Paul Du Bois find that artistic expression by some on society's fringes is helping to revitalize communities, while adding insight and depth to life.
Many people are turning away from gurus, demagogues, and "experts" and instead discovering and acting on their own deepest values and experienced sense of the sacred. This is providing a powerful foundation for new, transformational leadership.
The creators of new money featured in our theme section are especially striking examples of this kind of leadership. As the failings of the global finance system become clear, they are designing new means of exchange that point to new, cooperative forms of economics.
Will people read a magazine that finds and reports on these emerging patterns? Do people want news about innovations in communities, technology, sustainability, business and learning? Can a journal that seeks possibilities rather than dwelling on dysfunction make it in a world of cynicism and info glut?
I told the Wall Street Journal reporter that we don't know yet - time will tell. But early signs indicate a tentative - dare I say it - Yes!
In small ways and large, consciously and unconsciously, people from all walks of life are creating a new era, drawing on ancient wisdom, contemporary know-how, and an awareness of - even a love for - this finite, living planet.
Now, if I can just figure out how to say that to the reporter from Wall Street Journal.
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