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Rising and Declining Cultures

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In thinking about the epochal shifts now underway on our planet and how they relate to the evolution of America, I see two primary cultures, one in the ascendancy and one just starting to decline. These two cultures are not defined by skin color, language, ethnic group, or religion. They represent ways of thinking that have unique national expressions while transcending the borders between nation-states.

The declining culture is one in which the boundary of community, identification, and concern is drawn at the national level. For those on the inside of this boundary, we are mostly empathetic, wanting the best for our fellow countrymen and women. With this group, we tend to economically align our interests. For those on the outside of this boundary, we are willing to engage in exchanges but retain a certain sense of suspiciousness, a protective looking out for "our " interests versus theirs,

This boundary is evident in the distribution of military forces virtually no forces are focused on boundaries between states in America, for example, while massive resources are allocated to potential disputes with other countries. When most citizens of the United States are asked who they are, they are likely to say "American " before they say, "I 'm a Minnesotan, " or "I 'm a global citizen. " When we watch the Olympics, the coverage focuses our emotions on "our " team. The medal count becomes a surrogate measure of our national worth in competition with other nations. Similarly, when reporting on armed conflicts or natural disasters, the primary number of concern is how many of "our " people were injured or killed. The total body count, if even reported, is largely secondary.

Although it remains dominant, this nation-centered culture is declining in power. On the Internet, language is important but national boundaries are almost non-existent. In commerce, we are increasingly an interconnected world, with trans-national corporations producing and operating globally. Our environmental challenges no longer respect national boundaries. Science is a global endeavor. Even our entertainment, food, and travel are all increasingly global.

So, while nation-centered culture wields much of the real political power in the world, the underpinning psychology and infrastructure are starting to shift in dramatic ways, which will ultimately require a shift towards a global sense of culture and consciousness. Eventually, we 'll be more concerned with how many people died in an earthquake than how many Americans. We 'll be more likely to celebrate the best athlete 's achievements than the best American 's. We 'll gravitate towards global accords when addressing environmental challenges rather than focusing on our national interests. The ascending culture is thus global in its sense of identity and concern, although it does not yet wield power over the nation-centered culture.

As this interweaving of nations occurs, it will eventually make large militaries unnecessary, replaced by police forces to maintain internal order. En route to that endpoint, though, we face many challenges, the primary one for America being the balance between the tenuous security that our dominance can provide in the short-term and the relinquishment of nation-centered power that is required for the long-term for the health of the planet.


That 's why the task of honoring (and seeing clearly) what has gone before us is so important. If the transition to the ascending global culture is too abrupt, in the sense of rejecting the America-centered past that has allowed us to grow into a world power, we might actually undermine the emergence of a truly global culture by rejecting the economic and military force that is helping provide the stabilizing matrix out of which global culture is emerging. The ascending culture needs time to mature and grow structures of support and collaboration. Different countries are at different stages in this development. Psychologically and spiritually, millions of people need to evolve their worldview. Organizationally, the ascending culture needs media, institutions, and political platforms that embody and reinforce its sense of global focus.

America is thus in a pivotal position. To the extent that we cling to the alpha-dominant nation status for too long, we become the problem that the rest of the world needs to halt and they will, one way or another. If we relinquish our alpha-dominant status too early, the festering ethnic, religious, and tribal rivalries may spiral the world order backwards, which could be increasingly dangerous as we hit Peak Oil and mounting environmental crises.

That 's why we need to deeply honor what has made our country successful while also gently peeling our fingers from the staff of power and gradually handing it over to forces that are globally-centric. At the root, America needs to wield its power with wisdom, recognizing that it is not intrinsically ours but has been entrusted with us temporarily as a transition to a still more conscious, sustainable, and peaceful planetary culture.

Our deep sense of patriotism can then be seen as a necessary stepping-stone. Our many victories for the advancement of democracy must likewise be honored. On the other side, our abuses of power must be illuminated and dealt with humbly. Our tendency towards arrogance must be softened so that we can take in the negative feedback that all good leaders require. We thus walk a tightrope between shirking our responsibilities through abdicating our power too quickly versus clinging to our power for too long for selfish motives.

If America wants to be an evolutionary leader for the next stage of our planet 's development, as I believe was coded in the founding DNA of our country, we must see ourselves as champions of the ascending global culture while also respecting the American-centered culture in which we 've played an important role in growing a healthier planet. If we don 't do both, the European Union might emerge as the next global superpower since they will be aligning more effectively with the needs of the emerging sociopolitical reality than we are.

As the ascending culture gains in prominence over the coming decades, there will be a natural relaxation of the tension that characterizes the boundary between countries. From a spiritual perspective, that boundary in collective consciousness is artificial and creates an uncomfortable tension a sort of spiritual friction that erupts as war and conflict. This friction wastes money, time, and resources. Evolving a truly global perspective will eliminate large amounts of waste in the system, opening the door to a more abundant world.

Originally published at OpEdNews.com:

Sacred America Series #11
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Stephen Dinan is the author of Radical Spirit and the founder of the Radical Spirit community, as well as the Director of Membership and Marketing for the Institute of Noetic Sciences. He graduated from Stanford University with a degree in human (more...)
 

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