Home > Blog: Currents & Futures > “Rome Dies… But You Don’t Have To…”

Our present society is terminal – in so many ways.  The process of societal birth, death and re-birth is inevitable.  All civilizations are born, and ALL of them die eventually.  (I am reminded of the words of Eric Honnecker, the former leader of the former country of “East Germany”.  He said, “The Berlin Wall will last another hundred years!”  At the time he made the statement, neither the wall nor the country lasted another hundred HOURS.)

The problem is not (just) that society is dying, but the fact that too few of us are really FOCUSED on the birthing of a new society.  When Rome died, there were too few people focusing on birthing the next society – they were too busy partying. Bread and circuses.  (Sound familiar?) The “Dark Ages” went on for quite awhile, because the people living at the end times thought they were living at the peak.

Compare this to the ancient Chinese societies.  Before the old one completely disappeared, a new one was being birthed.  Societies rose and fell, but none were erased completely — there were few (if any) gaps.  This gave the Chinese people a civilizational span of thousands of years.

Right now, it’s like we’ve got a stuck imagination.  Too many of us believe that the problems that we see right outside our doors (including homelessness, a polluted environment, despair and suicide) are the price we have to pay in order to get our “stuff” (flat screen TVs, iPhones, supermarkets…).  Too many of us believe that the “problems” articulated by the media are the most important…

So, what is the antidote to a stuck imagination?  What is the antidote to depression, despair and suicide?  (You’ve heard me talk about the suicide rate.  You remember the suicide exercise from my TEDx talk:  Now, here’s a graphic that might bring home the magnitude of the crisis:

Increase in Suicide Rates

The ONLY place in the entire US where suicide is not dramatically up is Nevada… and that’s because the suicide rate there was already above the national average.

Donald Trump and the Republicans have NO IDEA how to fix this.  Hillary Clinton and the Democrats have NO IDEA how to fix this.  (And, before you say the knee-jerk “more money for mental health”, please read this article: well over half of the suicides have NO PRIOR SYMPTOMS of mental unbalance.  And, there is little evidence that mental health resources reduce suicide rates.) Suicide is not an issue of “mental health”.  This is an issue of HOPELESSNESS.

We have to come up with our own solutions.  AND WE WILL!

I believe that, with a sufficient focus, WE, THE PEOPLE, are smart enough to discover a path that leads to “A World for All”.  (Without the proper focus, we will stay stuck in the thinking that drives all of our crises.)

Spiritual challenges cannot be resolved via politics or economics.  We have had a tendency in this society to throw money at problems until we get tired, then throw money at something else. 

The last Presidential election cost us $2.4 BILLION dollars… for which we got almost nothing.  2020 will cost us more, and we’ll get less.

The Democrats and Republicans LIKE spending that kind of money.  Both political parties are like pigs, feeding at the same trough.  Money spent to maintain a toxic status quo.  And, each side will do their part to make us feel alienated, afraid and depressed – so that we are willing to give them the money to spend.

I believe that we can and will do this differently.  I want us to PROVE that, with less than ½ of 1% of that ridiculous amount of money spent on nothing, we can profoundly transform our society.  With a fraction of the amount spent on the politics of stagnation and separation, we can CREATE A WORLD THAT WORKS FOR ALL BEINGS.

We cannot ask politicians to resolve our spiritual challenges. We cannot wait for the tech wizards to solve our crises with the latest digital gadget.  We cannot even ask our “religious” leaders to provide our moral compass – mired in scandals and controversies, fighting to stay alive.

It’s not up to “them”.  It’s up to US. 

This is the idea behind “The Butterfly Project”. 

First, we re-learn the art of talking directly to each other.  Face to face, as real human beings.  Not yelling obscenities, or talking only to our followers and “friends”… We can rediscover that we FEEL GOOD when we are engaged in positive discourse with our neighbors, even with “The Other”.  I think we’ll find that our suicide rate goes down when our collective discourse goes up!  

We’ll talk about real issues, away from the cameras, lights and microphones.  Facilitated conversations, designed to open our hearts and minds.  The fear levels go down as the visions go up. Together, we will envision positive solutions to our real challenges.

And then… we will create and model those solutions for each other.  We won’t wait for someone else to do so.  We will give each other permission to act, and the resources to do so.

Along the way, we will test new ways for us to govern our actions and behaviors, for the good of ALL.

This is the way that Vaclav Havel achieved a nonviolent, positive, “Velvet Revolution”, in the face of the world’s second-largest superpower.

Now, it is our time to face up to the first.  

How You Can Get Involved:

Right now we are identifying the first locations for our “Imaginal Café” dialogs,  laying the groundwork for scores of cafés, raising necessary funds, and (most importantly), raising our consciousness, our collective vision of what is possible. (We’ve got our first two or three locations – we are looking for perhaps another dozen “early adopters”.)

To the extent that people like YOU get involved with their local “Imaginal Café” dialog, this process will successfully turn the tide of separate, exclusivist thinking.

Do you have a community/group that would be interested in creating/hosting an “Imaginal Cafe”? (PLEASE view the video “The Dream of the Butterfly”, along with instructions on how to contact me, below.)  

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