At the 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Toronto, David Korten, Jeremy Lent, Matthew Fox, and John B. Cobb, Jr., presented a series of four sessions focused on transitioning to an Ecological Civilization. Links to the transcripts of the first three sessions are provided below; this page will be updated when the transcript of Session 4 becomes available.
In 1993, the Parliament issued a “Declaration Toward a Global Ethic” affirming “a common set of core values…found in the teachings of the religions” of the world. The Declaration is a prophetic call to action in a world in deepening economic, ecological, and political crisis with “too little sense for the commonweal….Too many old answers to new challenges.”
The Declaration condemns “the dominance of greed for power, prestige, money, and consumption.” It calls for recognition of the interdependence of life and our individual dependence on “the well-being of the whole.” It ends with a pledge to advance a “transformation in individual and collective consciousness.”
The Parliament’s 2015 Climate Change Declaration embraces a “new ecological civilization” characterized as “a world of peace, justice and sustainability, with the flourishing of the diversity of life” in which we live as “one human family within the greater Earth community.” It advises the world’s governments and other guiding institutions on specific steps to achieve this future.
In these four sessions, with the Parliament’s epic goals and commitments in mind, we investigate the cultural and institutional underpinnings of the ecological civilization the Parliament embraces and engage participants in an exploration of the deep historical intellectual, spiritual, cultural, and institutional roots of the social and environmental crisis addressed by these defining Parliament documents. These sessions address the implications for action on the path to a just, sustainable, and peaceful world of material sufficiency and spiritual abundance for all.
These sessions also examine the cognitive roots of humanity’s spiritual crisis. We discuss the intellectual frame of the Scientific Revolution and the related 18th century Enlightenment that formed the core values of our modern world. Focusing on order and mechanism, the Enlightenment unleashed technological advances previously beyond human imagination. Its simultaneous denial of nature’s sentience, however, stripped life of meaning and humanity of responsibility for self and Earth care, preparing the way for what Pope Francis calls the idolatry of money.
With this as background, these sessions focus on the ideas underpinning a new ecological civilization and the possibilities ahead. The discussion is grounded in a synthesis of many sources of human wisdom including indigenous peoples, great religious teachers and philosophers, science, and the experience of daily living. The emerging synthesis reveals the wonder and creativity of a self-organizing universe unfolding toward every greater complexity, beauty, awareness, and possibility. This new understanding gives profound meaning to life and purpose to humanity. And it carries monumental implications for how we organize as a global species.
Session 1 of 4: To Choose Our Common Future
with Jeremy Lent and David Korten
Shared stories are foundational to our species’ ability to organize as families, tribes, and nations. A blessing if we get our story right; a curse if we get it wrong. A fatally flawed story now drives humanity toward moral and ecological catastrophe. We are called to craft and embrace a new story grounded in the insights of an emerging new enlightenment that draws insights from the many sources of human wisdom to guide our path to an ecological civilization of justice, sustainability, and peace for all.
Read the transcript of Session 1 HERE…
Session 2 of 4: Life or Money: Competing Stories, Divergent Paths
with Matthew Fox and David Korten
Modern society confronts an epic choice between two competing sacred stories. Creation Spirituality, a new enlightenment story with a deep intellectual lineage, affirms we are living beings who find health and happiness in the service of life. While pointing the way to an ecological civilization of justice, peace, and environmental health, it competes with the reigning story of neoliberal economics, an idolatrous religion posing as a science, in which humans are financial beings who prosper in the pursuit of money through the exploitation of people and nature.
Read the transcript of Session 2 HERE…
Session 3 of 4: Imperatives for Institutional Transformation
with John B. Cobb, Jr., and David Korten
The imperative to transition to an ecological civilization of justice, peace, and environmental health has profound implications for the institutions to which we look for spiritual and intellectual guidance—the institutions of religion and education. Future human viability requires that these foundational institutions adjust their intellectual frameworks to reflect an expanded new enlightenment understanding of life’s interconnections and capacity for intelligent self-organization. The implications for economic theory and practice are particularly dramatic as we transition from maximizing financial profits to prioritizing the health and well-being of life.
Read the transcript of Session 3 HERE…
Session 4 of 4: Takeaway Reflections and Plans for Future Action
with Jeremy Lent, Matthew Fox, John B. Cobb, Jr., and David Korten
The Parliament’s 1993 “Declaration Toward a Global Ethic” and its 2015 Climate Change Declaration set a transformational agenda for humanity’s step to an Ecological Civilization. This has sweeping implications for individual, community, and institutional action. Many conference sessions address this challenge. Facilitated by Fran Korten, this final session in the Ecological Civilization series will open with a conversation among the four presenters sharing their reflections and insights from the conference followed by open sharing among participants of takeaways and plans for future action.
Stay tuned for the transcript of this session.