Three Steps for Seizing An Alternative
Thinking - Practicing - Living
Seizing An Alternative *
1. Thinking an Alternative.
This is we think the organic philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead can help. It is not the only relational perspective available to us, but it can indeed help, because it shows how we live in a world of inter-being and creativity, with living beings having intrinsic value. It offers "big ideas" that make sense scientifically, artistically, ethically, and spiritually.
2. Practicing an Alternative.
This is where the international "in transition movement" is so helpful in terms of practical ideas for community development. We recommend an information-graphic produced by the In Transition network. Click here.
And this is where we are called to resist powers in the world -- national and transnational, corporate and religious -- when they tell false stories about "the way the world is" and cause so much harm to so many. For an example of this resistance, see the work of Andre Vltchek an his website: Vltchek's World in Word and Images.
He simultaneously shows how art and politics come together as powers for social transformation, beginning with truth-telling.
3. Living an Alternative in Daily Life and Personal Relationships.
This is where, at their best, spiritual traditions from different parts of the world -- Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Muslim,. Hindu, Bahai, and many others - can help. At their best, they encourage a spiritual transformation that helps us live lightly on the earth and gently with one another, with respect and care for the community of life, in the concreteness of daily life. At their best, they help us become the kinds of people who bring wisdom and compassion, creativity and joy, to daily life.
Which comes first? All three come first. We can think in fresh ways, we can promote and embody alternative public policies in our communities, resisting powers of destruction; and we can become the kinds of people who embody the change we want to see in the world.
SEIZING AN ALTERNATIVE: TOWARD AN ECOLOGICAL CIVILIZATION
John B. Cobb, Jr.
We live in the ending of an age. The age that ends may be just the modern period. But the ending of the modern period differs from the ending of previous periods, such as the classical or the medieval. The amazing achievements of modernity make it possible, even likely, that its end will also be the end of civilization or even of the human species. At the same time, there are many new beginnings that give promise of an ecological civilization.
There have been numerous conferences devoted to finding a way to sustain civilization, and many promising practical responses have been proposed. There have also been conferences showing how the modern world has led us to the brink of catastrophe and calling for changes in basic attitudes and orientations. We support and celebrate much that has been accomplished.
June 4-7, 2015 we will hold in Claremont the Tenth International Whitehead Conference.... We plan to build on the work of previous conferences and on the widespread cultural changes that are already expressing an ecological sensibility. We are responding especially to the growing sense of urgency, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, to the deepening awareness that the changes must be radical, that is, go to the roots of what has led to the current threat of catastrophe. Some of these roots go even deeper than the assumptions of the modern age into the rise of civilization itself. The current interest in indigenous cultures expresses a profound insight.
The “we” who are planning this conference belong to a group of thinkers who have long believed that Alfred North Whitehead provides the best alternative to the Cartesian understanding of the world that grounds and pervades modernity. We have been working in many fields, often encountering in those fields others who share most of our concerns and insights. We do not, however, know of any other thinker who offers so comprehensive a vision. We find in Whitehead a conceptuality that can ground and unify the creative and promising work that others are already doing. We believe that Whitehead offers not just an alternative to the modern organization of thought and life but the most promising one. We invite those who know that the transformation and survival of civilization require an alternative to join us in considering this alternative....more