A New National Narrative: The Transformative Worldview

For the first time in human evolution, the individual life is long enough, and the cultural transformation swift enough, that the individual mind is now a constituent player in the global transformation of human culture. … – William Irwin Thompson

In the last two blogs of 2017, I outlined the unsettling times we are currently experiencing in the United States and much of Europe. There is a populist attack on the Liberalism (not associated with the Democratic Party) that has been entrenched in the psyche of the American citizenry. Liberalism pulls from the traditions of the European Enlightenment, which includes the principles of an open society, democracy, freedom of speech and religion, individual rights and dignity, fairness and justice, checks and balances on governments’ authority, scientific reasoning, and a free-market economy. Populism is displacing Liberalism as a guiding narrative of the American story. But as I have outlined in the last two blogs, populism is fraught with problems.

I suggested that we need a new national narrative. I will describe my vision of a new national narrative in the next several blogs. I call this new narrative a transformative worldview.

An Introduction to the Transformative Worldview

At this point in time, millions of diverse people around the world are actively calling for a different worldview. Some say a different story is urgently needed to assure the continuation of our human species and life as we know it on Earth. Some people in diverse fields—educators, religious leaders, business entrepreneurs, international political leaders, indigenous farmers, political activists, politicians, environmentalists, entertainers, scientists, working people, artists, writers, small business owners, academics, economists, concerned citizens, and many others—are contributing to the creation of what I call a transformative worldview. 01 Our Earth

Those who adhere to a transformative worldview, at least in part, imagine that diverse paths are possible and attainable, and a globalized worldview or other visions of the future are not an inevitable scenario of how the future will or should play out. They are promoting alternative ideas and diverse options for a different worldview and voicing their convictions in a forceful, yet usually peaceful, fashion.

Elements in the formation of a transformative worldview come from diverse sources; some are positive aspects of the four other worldviews (see Five Worldviews). For example, highly regarded from the indigenous worldview is the wisdom of indigenous people who call upon the wise council of their elders, respect and connect with nature, draw on the support of extended family, and value the strong relationship with territorial place. 02 Wise elders, !Kung woman, Africa photo Izla BardavidFrom the modern worldview are gleaned the ideal of liberal democracy, the advancement of scientific inquiry, medical improvements, beneficial technological innovations, public-supported mass education, and progress in the expansion of human rights to include women and people of color. All are noteworthy accomplishments. From the fundamentalist worldview come the close connection to family and community and the recognition of a greater power than individualism alone. The stunning technological developments from the globalized worldview, especially high-speed, integrated computer networks, and reasonably-priced global transportation have provided instantaneous communication, linking diverse people around the globe. Even some indigenous people in remote villages are linked to the internet and use appropriate scientific knowledge for enhancing their own goal of self-sufficiency in food consumption. And some would say that the globalized worldview’s vision of “opening up” the world to unfettered trade has benefited many people with a more materially comfortable standard of living than ever before experienced. 03 Computer technology in Rwanda, Africa

All of these worldviews have some positive contributions in creating a different worldview, but those advancing a transformative worldview believe that there needs to be selectivity and mindfulness in fitting the values of the four other worldviews into a new framework. Therefore, a different worldview needs to continue its evolution and offer alternatives to prevailing notions of cultural uniformity, rigid fundamentalism, corporate dominance, consumer-driven values, selfish individualism, oligarchic concentration of wealth and power, political stalemate, and environmental destruction. Even though those who embrace a transformative worldview have a diverse array of thoughts, beliefs, ideas, theories, lifestyles, choices, and actions that defy rigid categorization, they do share common principles and ideals that I have placed under the umbrella of a transformative worldview.

The transformative worldview is still a minority view, but it is a worldwide movement in which millions of people are reassessing the values of the other worldviews in order to find a more compassionate, equal, sustainable, and community-focused value system. I have organized 10 characteristics that briefly describe the emerging transformative worldview in the U.S. and across the world.

The Transformative Worldview: 10 Characteristics

1. Interdependent Ideals are emerging that focus on interdependence, cooperation, community, connections, support, and altruism rather than greed, aggression, independence, and segmentation. Other descriptors of the transformative worldview include simultaneity, uncertainty, relationships, networks, webs, integration, and diversity. 04

2. Community-Focused Social Values draw upon the wisdom of our elders and their experiential insights. Intense individualism is a learned, aggressive behavior, historically created and promoted by Western society, especially the U.S. A shift to a worldview emphasizing greater cooperative, supportive, and life-enhancing attributes is a viable alternative.

3. Natural Capitalism places priority on the well-being and sustainability of the Earth. It includes socially responsible investing, social entrepreneurship, micro-credit banking, community development, local businesses, self-managed worker-run enterprises, cooperatives, nonprofit organizations, and other forms of management in which individuals have a vested interest in profitability and outcomes. 05 Organic greenhouse farming

4. Ecological Awareness has awakened our insight into the interdependence of everything in nature, where every event has an effect on everything else. Humans are part of the mystery of the Universe and not isolated, separate, and superior entities.

5. Renewable Energy in the form of wind, solar, water, steam, and others is important in countering the dire effects of climate change and stimulating economic development. The devastation caused by a fossil fuel-dependent lifestyle has galvanized world citizens to start shifting from oil and coal dependence to sustainable energy.

6. Peace and Justice Movements connect millions of people instantly with worldwide communication networks. These vigorous movements include democratic reforms, peace efforts, nuclear disarmament, population control, human rights, animal rights, LGBTQ rights, environmental issues, educational reforms, equality, rights for indigenous people, women’s and children’s rights, and others.

7. Sustainable Agriculture is a shift from industrial agricultural that is no longer able to meet the world’s food needs to local and organic farming. 06 Sustainable agriculture, Mexico photo Denise Ames

8. Holistic Health offers alternatives to Western medicine, which is often dominated by a for-profit pharmaceutical industry and invasive medical procedures. It encourages health, well-being, a mostly plant-based diet, and a holistic way to cure diseases ranging from cancer to heart disease.

9. Spirituality includes alternative practices that differ from traditional religious practices. Many traditional religions have accommodated the desire expressed by many people for more connected and personal spiritual experiences, rather than rote adherence to prescribed creeds and rituals. 07 no caption

10. Holistic Education is the key to ushering in alternative changes. Holistic educational practices for adults and youths encourage multi-culturalism, open-mindedness and diversity, inquiry-based learning, multiple intelligences, a global perspective, and a holistic world history!

The transformative worldview is further explained through six patterns—cultural, political, social, economic, technological, and ecological—that I will describe in blog two of this four-part series.


Dr. Denise R. Ames is a long-time educator and president of the nonprofit Center for Global Awareness. The Center for Global Awareness develops books and materials with a holistic, global focus for adult learners and educators. In January 2018, the CGA will launch the Global Awareness Adult Conversation and Study Program, or Gather. In this unique program, adult learners form small study groups to launch conversations about pressing global issues, seeing different perspectives, transcending deep political and cultural divides, and engaging with others to create positive change. Please email info@global-awareness.org or visit www.global-awareness.org for more information.

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