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A Book Pulled the Trigger for Me

Juanita and I were married in 1996. Two years later, at age 58, I took early retirement, having pastored in three Presbyterian congregations in Nebraska and Illinois over the previous 32 years. I was eager to leave ecclesiastical structures that for me had become too corporatized. The previous year, Juanita had chosen early retirement from Amoco Corporation, unable to continue in what she considered a toxic environment. We moved from the suburbs into Chicago and continued in relationships and meetings that nurtured our evolving commitment to live more justly in the world.

Gloria Kinsler, who had been the leader of Juanita’s delegation to Latin America, re-entered our lives a few years later through a book she co-authored with her husband, Ross. Their book responded to the grim economic struggles they witnessed during their many years of living and teaching in Guatemala and Costa Rica. In 1998, two members of the group that Juanita and I were part of, came with a draft copy of that book, explaining that their friends, Ross and Gloria Kinsler, were asking for feedback prior to sending it to the publisher. We willingly accepted the challenge.

Their book, The Biblical Jubilee and the Struggle for Lifehad an immediate impact on us. After discussing it, some of us decided to form an organization we called Jubilee Economics. But when we tried to incorporate, the Secretary of State office in Illinois said we needed to add a word like “ministries” in order to make it sound more like the kind of nonprofit we described. So we did. Jubilee Economics Ministries (JEM) formed in 1999. Ever since, I’ve joined in with others seeking through JEM to answer the question, “What does an economy look like that requires only the resources of one planet and how do we practice it?”

How would you answer that question?


America's UnAmerican Activities Flip My Paradigm at Midlife

At midlife my eyes began to open to what I could not see before. In my fifties, what had been orthodox in the morning of life sometimes turned into heresy, and many previous heresies were becoming my truth. By my mid-fifties, I had connected with a lot of people who had been deeply converted politically, economically, and religiously by their experiences in Latin America. All had come to believe that the U.S. and Multi Earth impacts in these countries were mostly wrong, sometimes desperately so. Those relationships offered a safe and sacred place for my own deep changes. When I moved from Lincoln, Nebraska, to the Chicago area, I found other people for whom experiences in Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, or other Latin American countries had similarly been a turning point. One of them was Juanita, a member of the congregation I pastored. She was deeply impacted when she participated in a two week delegation to Nicaragua and Guatemala, seeing and feeling firsthand the injustices of U.S. interventions in those countries and the consequent suffering inflicted on the lives of already struggling people.

The domination of Latin America by the U.S. has consistently including forcing Multi Earth ways onto Indigenous Peoples. The resistance of Indigenous Peoples consistently sprouts from their One Earth worldview. It is encouraging that in the past decade many Latin American countries are reshaping sectors of their economy using models closer to One Earth abundance and enough for all.

If you have had a paradigm flipping experience, please tell the One Earth Project by leaving your comment following this blog.


How Subtly the Multi Earth Paradigm Forms in Us

When I was born in 1940 in an Iowa farmhouse, I was born into a rural family in the early stages of recovery from the Great Depression. As we rented land to farm and lived simply, we had just enough. But I was also born into a country vigorously committed to Multi Earth ways. At age five or six I was playing with sugar rationing stamps leftover from World War II, unaware that my country was asserting itself into world dominance at that time. Soon, the Cold War was underway. In that conflict, two Multi Earth systems, the U.S. and the Soviet Union, faced off in several decades of geopolitical chess.

In school, when I studied “world history,” it was, truthfully speaking, not the history of the world at all. It was the history of Western Civilization. We ignored the history of much of the Far East and also the southern hemisphere. We studied those large regions only in so far as Europe and the U.S. were interested in them. Intentional or not, that view of “world history” built in me the consciousness that the West mattered most and that my country was the leader of the West. Unconscious of it at the time, that schooling nonetheless gave shape to my worldview.

Though neither my parents nor many others in my extended family had gone to high school, my sisters and I did. I continued on and went to college and graduate school, following the path of education that led me into middle class America. In the process, I came to accept that capitalism was superior to socialism, that my country generally was the more moral among global powers, and that America did democracy like my civics book said. It never occurred to me that my path had also taken me into the epitome of Multi Earth living.

What subtilties galvanized the Multi Earth paradigm in you?


A Multi Earth Paradigm? Might as well Believe the Sun Revolves around the Earth

None of us uses the paradigm of the sun revolving around our planet anymore. We know that such a paradigm has been used in the past, but we’ve discarded it. It’s way too inaccurate. And that’s where I am with the Multi Earth paradigm.

Along with many communities of people, I am discarding the Multi Earth worldview as too inaccurate. Many people, of course, are not there and continue their commitment to Multi Earth living.

By learning about how worldviews and paradigms function, I am better able to understand the tight grip and great influence the Multi Earth arrangements have on our species. After all the hard work of arriving at a paradigm, shifting to a different one feels uncertain. Risky. We can even fear that doing so is life threatening. Furthermore, when I recognize that meaningful paradigm shift isn’t just individual but community-wide or even global, I wilt in the hot sun of that seeming impossibility.

Yet, as I’ve been told more than once, “The future is too uncertain to predict that enormous change cannot happen.” Oddly, hope thrives in such uncertainty. With a better understanding of paradigms, I recognize that shifting out of the Multi Earth paradigm comes only through the tense death struggles of the previously held paradigm and the labor pains of the new. I believe the One Earth paradigm more accurately includes the big picture information Earth is giving us about how to live. But the death and birth of getting there as a living community of our species, not just as an individual, dramatizes why Multi Earthers hold onto their paradigm as long as possible — and that’s without even mentioning that most Multi Earthers get their livelihoods inside their paradigm. It’s hard to turn from the source of our income.

If you have examples of how you’re discarding the Multi Earth paradigm, please leave them in a comment below.


Pair 'o Dimes? No, I Said Paradigms!

A paradigm, Thomas Kuhn said, in his extraordinary book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutionsis “an entire constellation of beliefs, values and techniques, and so on, shared by the members of a given community.” He understood that paradigms are strongly built arrangements in our minds based on how we perceive the world. Plus, they are held not just by me as an individual, but reinforced by a community of like-minded people.

For example, in the community of physicists, Isaac Newton (1642-1727) so brilliantly described the law of gravitation and laws of motion that for the next three centuries Newtonian physics was the paradigm by which the scientific community understood the universe. During those centuries, bits of data that did not fit with the Newtonian paradigm were ignored or rejected. But then came Albert Einstein (1879-1955) who showed how those bits of information helped us understand the universe even better. Thus was born the paradigm of quantum physics

Like polaroid lenses, paradigms let some light in and keep some out. Like all of us, my mind works hard to give me an arrangement of information (paradigm) that helps me make sense of what I experience. Everyone else in the communities of people with whom I share does the same thing. Among us evolves a broad consensus of approximately the same paradigm. We trust it and arrange our lives around it.

But learning about paradigms has also taught me that the paradigm in my mind screens my experiences so that only the information that fits the paradigm is taken in. What doesn’t fit — oh well, it must be wrong or irrelevant. Whatever paradigm the community I’m in uses, we do so because it helps us understand the world. Our temptation is to revere it so highly that we believe it’s superior to all others. But, in fact, it is only a paradigm, and it’s best to hold it with humility because no paradigm, no matter how useful it is, ever gives a complete and precise picture of reality. It gives me only the best picture that it can at the moment. New information, if I’m open to it, will likely demand that my paradigm be tweaked or replaced entirely. Because Multi Earth thinking is a paradigm, it grips our minds powerfully, despite the obvious failure of the thinking that we have several planets available for our use.


What's Your Vote? eBook or Bound Copy?

Here’s a campaign for your vote. Unlike the political campaigns of 2012, we’re not spending any money on this one. Just asking for your vote on whether you’d like to see One Earth Project’s first book published as an eBook or a bound copy?

The manuscript has been edited. An earlier version had a proposal from an e-publisher, but we weren’t quite ready then. Now we are. We’ve solicited some friends, asking whether they have connections with a particular publisher. We’ve drafted a query letter and are about to send it along. So your vote is timely.

By the way, do your read eBooks? only bound copies? both?

We want a publisher that will go both directions. That’s our latest thought unless you can sway us to go a different direction. Go ahead. Influence us. Leave your comment.


Bigger than Republican or Democrat, Liberal or Conservative

Despite my ecological footprint, I am not a Multi Earther in my worldview. I believe that the map of reality taught and followed by Multi Earthers does not sustain life on the planet, but threatens it. For me, the Multi Earth worldview produces a recipe for conquest and domination. Filled with egocentric thinking, Multi Earth ways live outside of nature, rather than within nature’s rich democracy of life. Despite my Multi Earth footprint, when it comes to worldview, I am a One Earther.

An important discovery for me happened when I came to see that a worldview is much larger than whether I am a Republican or a Democrat, an American or Mexican, a Jew or a Hindu, a socialist or a capitalist, a liberal or a conservative, a developer or an environmentalist, a friend or an enemy. These groupings of people, while sometimes useful in daily life, do not distinguish Multi Earthers from One Earthers. Most such groupings can have both Multi Earthers and One Earthers within them. My quest involves getting to a worldview that includes these groupings in a greater whole, even if they think of themselves as polar opposites. Just as our one planet includes the southern and northern hemispheres, and the South and North Poles, so a One Earth worldview holds within its bigger, deeper view all the smaller views of groups. To this end, the word “paradigm” has become an important word for me. I’ll go further into paradigm-land in the next blog.