Home > Blog: Currents & Futures > Observations: Where We Are, and Where We Need to Be.


Since coming back from the “sacred civilizations” world journey last year, one thing has become glaringly apparent:

We need a comprehensive world-view, a new way of perceiving and acting in the world.  We need it, but we don’t have it — and are not doing much work to develop one.  There are two main reasons why:

  1.    Many of us are too scared, too lazy or too “entertained” to create a world-view.  (Some have called it a “cultural coma”.  Others refer to the “deer in the headlights” syndrome.)

2.  Many who want to don’t know how, or only see part of the problem, or are locked in value structures that do not allow “inclusive” thinking (“Progressives” and “Conservatives”, for example; or overly-focusing on climate change, as though that’s our only mega-issue).

From the time I wrote “Creating a World That Works for All” (15 years ago!), the need for a comprehensive world-view has been obvious.  And lacking.  By now, I thought there would be any number of competing/collaborative/parallel world-views and meta-visions in motion, each helping to refine, expand and critique each other.

That hasn’t happened.  The best people seem to be able to do is dust off concepts that are hundreds of years old.  Faced with the demise of concepts like communism and anarchy, we have neo-communism and neo-anarchy.  (As though the term “neo-“ makes the failure go away.)  Faced with the imminent demise of capitalism, we have “neo-capitalism”.  You get the picture…

There are lots of people ready to inflict various hare-brained schemes on us, from collaborations with space aliens to the restoration of various monarchies.  But these aren’t world-views.  These aren’t meta-visions.

What are the elements necessary to create a world-view, a meta-vision?  Click here: The Seven Elements of a World-View

For more decades than I care to count, I have been focused on the emerging world-view, the new story.  I’ve written about it in my books.  It’s my answer to the seven elements of a world-view.



Even if you think you already “know” all this, it bears repeating.  Look how often you hear (and repeat to others) the bad news, the partial solutions.  Let’s start articulating the concepts that will support the massive changes necessary for a new society.

It’s time to wake up and get moving…

It takes re-discipline and re-focus. It’s not easy to do… the odds are stacked against us – the Media Machine would do anything other than have us WAKE UP.

But… you are smarter than that. You’re reading this, aren’t you?




10 Comments, RSS

  • ptery

    says on:
    June 4, 2014 at 10:17 am

    Im down with talking about this. It was exciting when the governors wife invited some of the best of oregons thinkers. I am imagining that what i do is connected to Gaia’s mind and i am performing a very speciffic task here, but return to the mind.

  • Greg Smith

    says on:
    June 4, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    Hi Sharif,

    Thanks for these. Your discussion about civilization reminded me of a book I encountered while in Australia last year. It’s entitled The Biggest Estate on Earth and was written by an historian named Bill Gammage. It explores the way that Australia was carefully managed by the Aborigines to produce as much food as possible without resorting to agriculture or civilization or empire. There’s also a series of TV programs entitled First Footsteps about the Aborigines’ 50,000 year residence on the continent. What I hadn’t realized before is the degree to which there was a set of common understandings shared across different language/tribal groups–which Gammage refers to as the Law–that shaped people’s relation with Country and one another. Finally, if you can find it, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation presented a set of dramas in a series called Redfern Now (http://www.creativespirits.info/resources/movies/redfern-now-2) written, acted, and directed by contemporary Aborigines. Redfern is a suburb of Sydney with a large Aborigine population. These plays have the depth of Greek tragedy but all involve ordinary people. The understanding about human relationships and dilemmas is profound. They suggested to me that Aborigines possess a depth of understanding uncommon in modern societies–or at least not represented in our literature. All of this raises real questions about our ideas about the evolution of humanity. I left Australia feeling as though I was in the presence of what had been (and in some places still is) a remarkably high expression of human intelligence and feeling. It’s the same sense I got after watching the Inuit film, Fast Runner. I’ve also been reading a couple of books by an anthropologist named Pierre Clastres (Society Against the State, The Archeology of Violence) that might be of interest. Clastres primarily studied Indigenous people in South America who had found ways to prevent individuals from asserting oppressive authority over their communities and to avoid the formation of larger social organizations likely to do the same thing. Unlike Marx, his primary concern was the abuse of power, which he saw as fundamental. I’m chewing on how all of this relates to my own worldview and sense of the possible.

    Finally, we’re showing Grace Lee Boggs: An American Revolutionary at Lewis & Clark (Graduate School Campus, Student Lounge in the York Building) at 6:30 this coming Sunday. Thought you’d be interested.

    All my best,

    • Sharif

      says on:
      June 4, 2014 at 12:28 pm

      Thanks for the wealth of information here!

      Grace Lee Boggs is one of the VERY few living teachers that I have. I will be glad to get the word out for this event.



    • John Brown

      says on:
      June 4, 2014 at 12:39 pm

      Thanks, Greg, for these references and for your sense of wonder on this topic.

      • Lisa Reed Guarnero

        says on:
        June 4, 2014 at 5:30 pm

        I meant to say that my reference to “in appreciation” was in response to your post John. 🙂

    • Lisa Reed Guarnero

      says on:
      June 4, 2014 at 5:19 pm

      I am very much in appreciation of your post Greg.

      I believe that “civilized” people (breakers) came and messed up systems and ways of living that worked while they were so busy looking down on the wise indigenous people.

  • John Brown

    says on:
    June 4, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    This thought thread took me to the piece on “ordinary ecstasy” and the two immediately combined and connected in my mind/heart.

    Several threads of the fabric come to mind in the “OE” context – The first and the one I bring to this comment is not from our species. What may happen when the hive of bees work unwavering toward the time when the hive splits and there is a new swarm. The “peak ecstasy” may be when the queen takes her flight eliciting a male’s fertilization which is the start of that new hive. The entire several generations that have gone into this moment “know” they are on purpose. That “knowing” is what I imagine to be “OE”. This “knowing” gives un-inhibited action. Action that is so efficient that “bees can fly”, because it is certain.

    So if I take this example and bring it to this current post, it is this missing sense of purpose on the individual level and on the collective level that has us in such suicidal turmoil.

    The examples of “OE” mentioned in some of the comments can seem somewhat passive unless I look at appreciation as a definite act that feeds that which is being appreciated. I believe and experience appreciation as a definite act that is beginning to even be measured from the outside. And I am wondering if “appreciation” just might be a practice worthy of being that world view. I know that anytime I go into a fit of appreciation or even a small moment of it, I experience “oe” and feel in alignment.

    The talk with Kapi (of http://www.Mystic-monkeys.com) stirred my imagination when he mentioned (perhaps it was on one of his web-sites) the practice of “thinking without words”. I wonder about this! Perhaps there is some of that happening when a bunch of people get taken by surprise by an unexpected meteor and collectively emit “bushels of appreciation”.

    All of this gives fuel to the conversations around “senses” which I have been contemplating in more depth recently. Particularly the sense of “life”.

    Thanks, Sharif.

  • Lisa Reed Guarnero

    says on:
    June 4, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    I absolutely agree with Sharif that in order to Create a World That Works for All, we must prepare ourselves as individuals FIRST so that we can perceive and act with inclusivity. I also agree with the challenges you stated in #1 and that there is a lot of “deer in the headlight” syndrome due to it just seeming too big and overwhelming.

    I think a good place to start is to work on our challenge towards HOW WE VIEW AND EXPERIENCE DIFFERENCE. In the some fields or circles, this is called intercultural sensitivity. Culture crosses racial, ethnic and religious lines. It includes all sectors, including, class, political party lines, sexual orientation, disabilitites, etc. And of course, each of these different cultures has many facets and subcultures, which provides lots of diversity within each culture.

    There are surveys to measure intercultural sensitivity to give one a view on where they’re at. Some will provide suggestions on how to increase one’s level (I have more info if wanted).

    As Sharif says, without doing the work as individuals, there is no way to change this. I definitely had “deer in the headlight” syndrome and had to shut out all the noise around me to only focus on me FIRST, so I could work on being the change I wanted to see in the world. I don’t ever think I will be done. Because the world is ever changing around us all the time, I’m sure every life-time I return, I’ll be forever working on myself.

    As far as changing on a societal level, I think we also need to extend this to processes to heal before we can move beyond the atrocities of the breaker ways, such as truth and reconciliation. In my opinion, we need to start this in the United States STARTING WITH our indigenous people and going on down the line. If we don’t start the healing process (including lancing the wounds), then we will only be building on a faulty foundation. I think this is much of why we are stuck and not going very far or fast.

    In addition, I think that there is a huge identity factor at play here. Individuals, communities and societies are attached to their pain, privilege, struggle, frivolity, etc. It’s hard to change, even if we think we want out of the difficulty or challenge because we internalize our environment in order to survive it. We need to heal and deprogram ourselves from the existing and past world in order to be able to let go and move forward. And even those with privilege are experiencing pain (Sharif’s suggested reading of Wendall Berry’s book the Hidden Wound).

    Meanwhile, I’m still working on lancing my own wounds and healing so I can be a better participant and contributor.

    Thanks for your work and sharing Sharif,

    • Lisa Reed Guarnero

      says on:
      June 4, 2014 at 5:28 pm

      Apologies for misspelling your name Shariff! I know others with the same name and got confused. *sigh…*

    • Lisa Reed Guarnero

      says on:
      June 7, 2014 at 7:22 pm

      I would highly recommend watching this Ted Talk to add more “compost” to Shariff’s thought of needing a comprehensive world-view.

      I’m not sure that a comprehensive world-view is as important as the need to learn to have an intercultural mindset (the ability to accept difference).

      How shall I talk of the sea to the frog,
      if it has never left his pond?
      How shall I talk of the frost to the bird of the summerland,
      if it has never left the land of its birth?
      How shall I talk of life with the sage,
      if he is prisoner of his doctrine?

      Chung Tsu, 4th Century B.C.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *