Yesterday we employed David Korten’s book, The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community, as a prophetic naming of the dynamics of our time, even our era, which might be remembered as the Age of Reckoning but also, perhaps, as the Age of the End of Empires and the building of an Earth Community.

Headshot of David Korten taken from his website.

Following are some observations from his book which I share in my book on reinventing education in the chapter on character building, The A.W.E. Project: Reinventing Education, Reinventing the Human.  (Recall that Gandhi says that education that fails to build character is a grave danger to society.) 

Korten says that about 5000 years ago, faced with the organizational challenge of dealing with growing population densities, our forebears made a choice for the dominator relations of Empire.  A self-destructive era of warfare, greed, racism, sexism, and suppression of the higher order of human consciousness followed.

To stick with a patriarchal and imperial notion of character and “values” such as warfare, greed, racism and sexism is destructive, as Gandhi warns us.  Expanding human consciousness, as mysticism does, is the future.

Cover of David korten’s new book. You can find out more here.

Korten criticizes schools that prepare the young for obedient service to the institutions of Empire, but not for life and leadership in vibrant human communities nor for roles as social architects of a new human  era.  He thinks this invites drop outs and self-destructive ways of living. 

Historian H. G. Wells, some 80 years ago, warned that our species may yet end its strange eventful history as just the last, the cleverest of the great apes.  The great ape was clever—but not clever enough.  It could escape from most things but not from its own mental confusion. 

Matthew Fox, The A.W.E. Project: Reinventing Education, Reinventing the Human, pp. 140, 18f.

Banner Image: A ceremonial circle at the San Francisco Civic Center in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and the Water Protectors standing against the Dakota Access Pipeline, 11/15/2016. Photo by Peg Hunter on Flickr

Queries for Contemplation

Does Korten help you to contextualize the emergence of Patriarchy and its alliance with Empire-building?  Is Wells correct that humanity has a hard time escaping its own mental confusion?  How heal that?

Recommended Readings

The A.W.E. Project: Reinventing Education, Reinventing the Human

The A.W.E. Project reminds us that awe is the appropriate response to the unfathomable wonder that is creation… A.W.E. is also the acronym for Fox’s proposed style of learning – an approach to balance the three R’s. This approach to learning, eldering, and mentoring is intelligent enough to honor the teachings of the Ancestors, to nurture Wisdom in addition to imparting knowledge, and to Educate through Fox’s 10 C’s. The 10 C’s are the core of the A.W.E. philosophy and process of education, and include: compassion, contemplation, and creativity. The A.W.E. Project does for the vast subject of “learning” what Fox’s Reinvention of Work did for vocation and Original Blessing did for theology. Included in the book is a dvd of the 10 C’s put to 10 video raps created and performed by Professor Pitt.
An awe-based vision of educational renewal.Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.

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5 thoughts on “Korten on Moving from Empire and Patriarchy to Earth Community”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, Today I’m going straight to our Queries for Contemplation, which are: “Does Korten help you to contextualize the emergence of Patriarchy and its alliance with Empire-building?” Yes, it seems to have arisen around the time when history first began to be recorded. And yes we can see the emergence of Patriarchy which has reigned supreme over 5,000 years. And its time that it end–in our government and in the Church. And secondly, you ask: “Is Wells correct that humanity has a hard time escaping its own mental confusion?” Yes, we do at times have a hard time escaping our own mental confusion about things. But right now that isn’t the real problem. The problem is the rich elite, and the powerful hold the reigns in their hands, and they could care less about us. It’s not like you could sit Putin down and talk to him about Creation Spirituality and he would have a conversion experience and would want to, “join and nurture the Earth Community” or join the Order of the Sacred Earth. We need to protect voting rights because that is about the only place we have power.

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    “I’m just a human being trying to make it in a world that is very rapidly losing it’s understanding of being human…”
    “We have power… Our power isn’t in a political system, or a religious system, or in an economic system, or in a military system; these are authoritarian systems… they have power… but it’s not reality. The power of our intelligence, individually or collectively IS the power; this is the power that any industrial ruling class truly fears: clear coherent human beings”….”Every human being is a raindrop. And when enough of the raindrops become clear and coherent they then become the power of the storm.”
    John Trudell, Native American Activist, Poet, Musician

    Reclaiming our humanity, may be the single most important task for our species in these times. As we adults re discover this, then it can be kindled in our children and consciously lived again.

    “Children Must be taught how to think not what to think” Margaret Mead, Anthropologist

    “We can’t afford to sacrifice another generation of American children to bureaucratic politics. We’ve got to get it done. The future, the health, the life – our nation depends on it and it’s just foolish to think or act otherwise.”

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    I really appreciated Mathew’s video message today. I also find the words “The Great Turning”, and the way in which Mathew expanded on this, to be inspiring. I am also gratefull for the many spiritual writers, like Mathew and Miribia Starr, just to mention a couple, whom have greatly assisted myself and many others, in not only turning to the wisdom of the mystics; but whom have personally helped me become more consciously awake and aware to the ways in which I can take responsibility for the great turning that is unfolding, evolving and emerging within my own heart, mind, soul and psychy. Through all of these blessings of givenness, I have deepened my personal, intimate relationship with Spirit, trusting in this spiritual reality, experienced for myself; which has kept me grounded, centered and focused during these very confusing times we are living in. Thank you.

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    Beautiful and profound meditation Matthew!!! We all have to definitely read David Korten’s book. With the climate/environmental crises and chaos humanity is presently experiencing, this is indeed our ‘Day of Reckoning’ of our Mother Earth and all Her living species, including our own. This is the culmination, like you, David Korten, and other deep humanist thinkers have reflected and expressed, of our 6000 year human history of unbalanced, toxic, egocentric, and destructive patriarchal values and behavior towards humanity and Mother Earth… This dualistic and egocentric mentality of the toxic patriarchy has mainly separated us from our Sacred Source and Divine Presence within and among us in Mother Nature and in our relationships/interconnectedness/Oneness of Divine Love~Wisdom~Peace~Justice~Healing~Creativity~Beauty~Joy… Hopefully and faithfully, this confusing, stressful, destructive, and grieving period we’re all experiencing is part of our deeper spiritual death, transformation, and resurrection/rebirth on our sacred, graceful journeys towards a more compassionate humanity and society with Mother Earth and All God’s co-Evolving Creation~Cosmos… Along side these eternal journeys of our souls, we faithfully and gratefully live our daily human lives in small communities with one another and Mother Nature in God’s Loving Presence….

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