On this Father’s Day, it feels appropriate to share people whose books have changed my life. The first was Alvin Toffler in 1970 with his book, “Future Shock,” which opened my eyes to the impact of change in all our lives and what we must do to keep from becoming overwhelmed.
The second was Herb Goldberg in his 1976 book, “The Hazards of Being Male,” which helped me understand the downside as well as the upside to masculine privilege and helped launch my men’s group that is still going strong after 40 years.
The third was Daniel Quinn in 1992 with his book, “Ishmael,” which opened my eyes to the two world-views of Takers and Leavers that determine whether humans will survive or become extinct.
The fourth has arrived with Terry Patten’s 2018 book, “A New Republic of the Heart,” which challenges all of us to find our tribe and engage our future.
A number of colleagues who I know and respect offer these words about Terry and his book:
Jean Houston, Ph.D., author of “A Passion for the Possible” says:
“What we have here is possibly the finest example of the making of the possible human, and with this, the development of the possible world.”
Ken Wilber, author of “The Integral Vision”:
“Superb, exciting, sane, and enlightening–a social activism that is also personal, emotional, spiritual, ecological, relational, and that points toward the very leading edge of evolution itself.”
Terry Patten asks, “Are we at a time of boom or doom?” We face two powerful narratives in our world today. “The first is optimistic,” says Patten. “It is a narrative of continual survival, adaptation, transcendence, and progression. Our increasing collisions with planetary limits, and the unfolding catastrophic consequences of our unsustainable behaviors, though very real, will finally sober us and force us to change our collective habits.”
The second is pessimistic. Patten recognizes that humans have a “compulsive drive for survival, dominance, adventure, acquisition, conquest, consumption, and control. In this narrative, humankind’s unbridled drives will inexorably lead to a dystopian, nearly uninhabitable planet and perhaps the end of the human race.”
My own view is both optimistic and pessimistic. In my 75 years of life, I’ve seen many seemingly hopeless situations turn around when it looked like the end was near. The spirit of life is strong and I feel hopeful for our collective future. But I’ve also seen countless acts of cruelty, violence, and our human inability to change course, even as we plunge over cliffs of avarice and stupidity.
Just as none of us know when we’re going to die, but we all must eventually face that fact, we don’t know how the human experiment on planet Earth will turn out. We may become another short-lived experiment and our civilization will be another one that bloomed and then collapsed. Or we may find a way through the narrows of this difficult time in human consciousness and find our way to “the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible,” as Charles Eisenstein so poetically posits.
Our job, I believe, is simple, though not easy. We can sit back and do nothing and hope for the best, or at least “eat, drink, and be merry” until the end. Or we can engage, what I believe is the most exciting opportunity of our times. It is no accident that we are alive at this critical moment in human history where everything is on the line and the lives of our children, grandchildren, and future generations hang in the balance. This is the time we’ve been called upon to live in.
We have an opportunity to save humanity and there are opportunities galore to become involved. In order to do that we have to hold the two possibilities of love and grief. We must love what we have and grieve what is being lost. We have to learn to live with paradox.
Not only does Terry’s book offer his own life experience to guide us, but he introduces us to the most enlightened leaders who can also help us find our own path to the future, and guide us in finding our own tribe we can join so that we feel loved, supported, and engaged as we work together to create the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.
For nearly 50 years now, I have been on own my own healing journey. In 1993, I participated in a sweat lodge ceremony at the 4th Annual Men’s Leaders’ Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, sponsored by Wingspan Magazine. During the 4th round of the sweat lodge ceremony, I had a vision where I witnessed the sinking of the old ship of Industrial Civilization and the emergence of life-boats for the future.
Over the last 25 years, I have been sharing my own vision of the challenges we face as the old paradigm of infinite growth on a finite planet comes to an end, and a new paradigm of sustainability and earth consciousness emerges. I invite you to join me if this resonates with you.
I will be emailing periodic “Diamond Short Takes (DST).” If you’d like to receive them, send me an email at [email protected] and put DST in the subject line. Say something like “I’m in. Subscribe me” and share anything you’d like with me. You can stop anytime if you no longer wish to receive them.
Happy Father’s Day to you and the father-figures in your life.
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