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Our World in Upheaval

How can we participate creatively and responsibly in shaping our world?

Did You Know?

In the middle of the last century, some ordinary people woke up to the amazing and disturbing shifts happening in our world.

Determined to pioneer  ways of being effectively responsible in the world we live in, we banded together to create a “Research, Demonstration and Training Group Concerned with the Human Factor in World Development” Our efforts led to the establishment of what is now called The Institute of Cultural Affairs, The Ecumenical Institute and the ToP (Technology of Participation) Network.

“To talk of going down fighting like heroes in the face of certain defeat is not really heroic at all, but merely a refusal to face the future. The ultimate question for a responsible man to ask is not how he is to extricate himself heroically from the affair, but how the coming generation is to live! It is only from this question, with the responsibility towards history, that fruitful solutions can come, even if for the time being they are very humiliating.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “After Ten Years” in Letters & Papers From Prison7.

Story Telling Time!

Want more? Dig deeper . . .

  1.  For over a century, prophetic voices have cried out to describe the depth of the changes happening around us and within us.  Kenneth Boulding, in his book, The Meaning of the Twentieth Century described a “Great Transition” and offered a strategy for navigating it.  His voice was one of many that woke up and inspired this strange body.
  2. This sense of upheaval traces to the early decades of the 20th Century.  Listen to the Director of the Christian Faith and Life Community in Austin Texas orienting new participants.
  3. Billy Joel sang about this upheaval
  4. Today high schoolers are singing!
  5. A World of Hope

And Now . . .Look at these contemporary examples

Seven Revolutions Shaping This Century
David Brooks commented recently in Aspen, CO
Listen to Greta Thunberg

What  great changes are you seeing, both externally and internally?

JOIN US in responding. Contact . . .

The Institute of Cultural Affairs International
The Institute of Cultural Affairs in the USA
The ToP (Technology of Participation) Network

It began as such things always begin–in the ooze of unnoticed swamps, in the darkness of eclipsed moons. It began with a strangled gasping for air.

The pond was a place of reek and corruption, of fetid smells and oxygen-starved fish breathing through laboring gills. At times the slowly contracting circle of the water left little windrows of minnows who skittered desperately to escape the sun, but who died, nevertheless, in the fat, warm mud. It was a place of low life. In it the human brain began.

There were strange snouts in those waters, strange barbels nuzzling the bottom ooze, and there was time–three hundred million years of it–but mostly, I think, it was the ooze. By day the temperature in the world outside the pond rose to a frightful intensity; at night the sun went down in smoking red. Dust storms marched in incessant progression across a wilderness whose plants were the plants of long ago. Leafless and weird and stiff they lingered by the water, while over vast areas of grassless uplands the winds blew until red stones took on the polish of reflecting mirrors. There was nothing to hold the land in place. Winds howled, dust clouds rolled, and brief erratic torrents choked with silt ran down to the sea. It was a time of dizzying contrasts, a time of change.

On the oily surface of the pond, from time to time a snout thrust upward, took in air with a queer grunting inspiration, and swirled back to the bottom. The pond was doomed, the water was foul, and the oxygen almost gone, but the creature would not die. It could breathe air direct through a little accessory lung, and it could walk. In all that weird and lifeless landscape, it was the only thing that could. It walked rarely and under protest, but that was not surprising. The creature was a fish.

In the passage of days, the pond became a puddle, but the Snout survived. There was dew one dark night and a coolness in the empty stream bed. When the sun rose next morning the pond was an empty place of cracked mud, but the Snout did not lie there. He had gone. Down stream there were other ponds. He breathed air for a few hours and hobbled slowly along on the stumps of heavy fins.

It was an uncanny business if there had been anyone there to see. It was a journey best not observed in daylight, it was something that needed swamps and shadows and the touch of the night dew. It was a monstrous penetration of a forbidden element, and the Snout kept his face from the light. It was just as well, though the face should not be mocked. In three hundred million years it would be our own.  Loren Eiseley, The Immense Journey.

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