David Korten: The biggest shifts of our time have been sparked by ordinary people rejecting the cultural stories that dominated them.
This is part of a series of blogs based on excerpts adapted from the 2nd edition of Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth. I wrote Agenda to spur a national conversation on economic policy issues and options that are otherwise largely ignored. This blog series is intended to contribute to that conversation. —DK
Every great social movement begins with a set of ideas validated, internalized, and then shared and amplified through media, grassroots organizations, and thousands, even millions, of conversations. A truth strikes a resonant chord, we hear it acknowledged by others, and we begin to discuss it with friends and associates.The new story spreads out in multiple ever-widening circles that begin to connect and intermingle.
A story of unrealized possibility gradually replaces the falsified story that affirmed the status quo. The prevailing culture begins to shift, and the collective behavior of the society shifts with it.
For the civil rights and women’s movements, the old story said:
Women and people of color have no soul. Less than human, they have no natural rights. They can find fulfillment only through faithful service to their white male masters.
A profound cultural shift occurred between 1950 and 1980 as the consequence of a growing rejection of these stories in favor of a new story that recognized and affirmed the full humanity and rights of all people.
It began with the civil rights movement, inspired in part by the words and writing of W. E. B. DuBois, founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). His ideas were carried forward by others such as the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Communicated through books, periodicals, and speeches, these ideas inspired and shaped countless conversations, particularly in black churches, about race and the possibilities of integration based on a full recognition of the inherent humanity of people all races. Read story