The Commission

“…the real challenge and barrier to change is how to ‘socially construct’ a personal- to civilizational-scale transition to a whole new cultural narrative, one that eschews perpetual growth and abandons most of the other beliefs, values and assumptions of modern techno-industrial society concerning long-term human well-being.

Any takers for the job?”

Bill Rees [1]

My midwestern, blue collar upbringing taught me the value of work and how to get a job done. Despite what my degrees and somewhat esoteric interests might suggest, I remain a thoroughly practical person. When there’s a problem or something needs doing, I feel compelled to lend a hand if I can.

So, when Bill Rees asks if there are “any takers for the job” of constructing a new cultural narrative, I raise my figurative hand and step forward.

It’s work I’m doing anyway, and have been for a while, in my own small ways. But his clear and persistent articulation of need sparks a desire in me to do more and do it faster. Revered as the high priest of ecological overshoot and, as Ruben Nelson [2] recently declared, among the “best of the prophetic tradition,” Bill’s call feels like more of a commission.

Consider this series intro my official acceptance, a public renewal of commitment to do my part to help bring into being a new way of being.

It sounds grand, I know. And it is in a way, but it’s also thoroughly practical.

I know too that it’s only one item on a long list of work that needs to be done. But it’s the one I’m in a position to work on, so work on it I will.

What to Expect

Among other related projects, the book I’m currently writing responds directly to the pleas of Bill and so many others for concerted efforts toward a transformational culture shift and a paradigm that better reflects biophysical reality. But that doesn’t seem like the most efficient strategy. I figured it might speed things up a bit if I were to develop and share those ideas in bite-sized pieces here. That way, if there are any other takers for the job, we can get a head start on working together.

In this series, devoted to the ins and outs of “Creating a New Cultural Narrative,” I’ll explore—in as pithy and practical ways as possible—questions like:

  • What is a culture narrative and what makes for a sound one?
  • What is the current narrative and what’s wrong with it?
  • How are narratives “socially constructed”?
  • Can we deliberately re-construct a better narrative and, if so, how?
  • What are the likely implications either way?

Who knows where else it may lead?

The overall goal is to contribute to the work of confronting the genuinely “grand challenge” that goes mostly unaddressed: how to grow and live into a better understanding of reality as it actually is.


References

[1] Rees, William. May 24, 2022. SCORAI email listserv.

[2] Nelson, Ruben, hosting Bill Rees on Canadian Club of Rome webinar. “Too clever by half, but not nearly smart enough.” May 12, 2021.

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