In the book The Day After Roswell Colonel Philip Corso (a member of President Eisenhower's National Security Council and former head of the Foreign Technology Desk in the US Army) describes a conversation he allegedly had with an extraterrestrial being. He gruffly asked: "What's in it for us?" The being replied: "A new world, if you can take it."
We are rapidly approaching one of the great pivot points in the evolution of life on Earth. The human family is confronting a future of great opportunity and great peril. For this reason, it is imperative that we begin to think in terms of the planet as a whole and not limit ourselves only to national or local issues.
A communications revolution is sweeping the planet, providing an opportunity for achieving a new level of mutual understanding, which can support a future of sustainable global development. Because we will be caught within a rapidly closing circle of problems in the next decades, our human family will be challenged to reconcile its many differences and pull together to actively cooperate in creating a synergistic planetary civilization.
Additionally, it increasingly appears obvious that there is an elite class whose agenda is rulership, and currently involves all the people of Earth.
Simultaneously, there are - and will continue to be - counteracting trends, which act as obstacles to life-enhancing development. These include overpopulation, dwindling reserves of oil, the destruction of rainforests, soil erosion, decreasing agricultural productivity, nuclear weapons and radioactive waste: (Iodine-129 has a half-life of more than 15 million years; Plutonium - 239 has a half-life of 24,000 years, but decays into Uranium - 235, which has a half-life of more than 2 million years and Neptunium 237 with a half-life of more than 2 million years).
If we remain pitted against nature, divided against ourselves (or allow politicians to divide us), the future looks bleak.
The wealthy and powerful may shield themselves temporarily, but not permanently. Eventually the privileged minority will be forced to face the fact that we cannot continue our current ways of living and still hope to have a habitable planet.
At the same time, we face two opposing meta-paradigms related to power. Riane Eisler has named these "power-over" (domination of humans and nature) and "power-with," also known as The Partnership Way.
Power-over is essentially oppositional because gaining it involves taking it away from others. In a power-over social system - to rise up, either as an individual or as a group, you need to push others down; to get power, you need to push others out. As those pushed down and out are left with resentment, those in power then need to keep tabs on the opposition and stop them from becoming powerful enough to present a threat. Fear is intrinsic to this model of power.
The reality is that elites have held the upper hand for thousands of years. In the struggle to stay on top, ruthlessness and dishonesty have become so common that the link between power and corruption often seems inevitable. We are once again in a situation in which those committed to domination remain focused on holding on to their privileged positions and keeping others - who seek shared power, information, and resources - at the periphery, if not in large part destroyed.
We are entering a time in which both the overreach of the elites and ecological overshoot will become even more extreme. This situation will push the limits of tolerance of an increasingly knowledgeable humanity. One example: military adventures, such as the "war on terror":
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