Same Planet, Different Worlds - Page 3

Author // Lisa Reagan

Article Index
Same Planet, Different Worlds
Page 2
Page 3
All Pages

Lisa: You have written that Cultural Creatives are an “emerging wisdom culture,” and their purpose is to bring forth practical wisdom into our world. How do we do this? Bring forward practical wisdom?

Paul: In 2008 I did a survey of 2,000 people looking to see if a wise-values consensus was emerging. I found 12 different measurements that show an emerging wisevalues consensus in the United States. Cultural Creatives are the opinion leaders on every last one of these issues. What this shows is a major shift in American culture, led by the Cultural Creatives. This is major, as it is based on practical wisdom: perceiving what is necessary for the world, and what is effective to do. People who are engaging and acting from practical wisdom are taking a larger, more whole-systems, perspective on the world—a bigger, wider viewpoint. They are willing to look at the world in a longer timeline. Businessmen are only interested in next year or next quarter. Cultural Creatives often have a generations-long worldview, both looking back in time and looking forward in time.

Taking a 25- to 50-year time horizon and asking, “What is going to happen to me and my children, to my grandchildren?” The longer-term time horizon, the wider planetary concern—taking the big picture into account and then taking personal development into account in order to make a contribution in life. These are qualities that have been marked as practical wisdom from philosophers from Aristotle to Socrates on up to the present.

: How does this practical wisdom appear to us? How can we recognize it?

Paul: One way of thinking about wisdom is that in between wisdom and folly (or stupidity) is conventionality. The conventional worldview is basically the worldview of the Moderns—getting and spending—and the media, the guardians of how things are without any change.

If you think of culture as a bell curve, most people are in the middle, but there is a leading edge, and it is a wise leading edge. And there is a foolish trailing edge in the culture. Leading from the edge means using many ways of knowing. Cultural Creatives use many ways of knowing that are objective and fact-based, but also ways of knowing that are body- or heart-knowing, and not just from the individual view, but having an intuitive notion of what is going on for the world.

Having all of these kinds of input means you have a better understanding of reality—not just the specialist way, or the fundamentalist way. Because Cultural Creatives are good at synthesizing, they are good at cutting through to the heart of a matter. They are also frequently perceptive, subtle observers.

Practical wisdom is all of this. Having the ability to see the greatest good, and then having a heart that wills the common good. The test is:

  • Are you committed to a love of the truth?

  • What is transparent and authentic and trustworthy?

  • Do you have discriminating judgment about what is good and humane?

  • Do you have a big repertoire of values, or only one or two things that you spend your time on?

  • Do you ever use higher levels of consciousness in developing insight?

  • Do you practice letting things alone and unfold in their own way?

What Social Science Research Shows About Cultural Creatives

By Paul H. Ray, Ph.D.

Cultural Creatives cover a very wide range of social class positions, from working class to the elite. They may be middle class on average, but the range is so wide that it is almost meaningless to describe them in terms of occupation, education or income. The key identifiers are values, worldview and lifestyle, not demographics. People with identical values can be of very different social classes, and people of the same social class can live in totally different cultural worlds.

Over the past few years, in the United States and across Western Europe and Japan, a set of independent surveys by different research teams, has found that Cultural Creatives are 33–37 percent of adults, averaging 35 percent. What goes with that research finding is a parallel realization: This is an emerging planetary culture. The values and worldviews of Cultural Creatives all around the planet are much more similar to each other than they are to other people of their own particular countries. The emerging planetary values and worldviews are converging across nations to create a “trans-modern” culture. That is, it can cut across the rancorous conflicts and divisions among peoples and religions to integrate modern and traditional values with something new that’s still in process, still emerging. It’s a wiser culture, one that supports the people more than elites. It’s a surprising new basis for planetary integration, and for creating a sustainable world.

We are getting a surprising picture of convergence that cuts right across the nationalisms that we grew up with, and which still dominate the news, and international confrontations of today. But this picture is how a leading edge of the people see matters, not how the dominant culture of Modernity pictures them, for those governments, businesses and non-governmental organizations often reflect a dying era. The new picture is based on the robust rhetoric of numbers based on data, not the hollow rhetoric of obsolete political philosophies and self-serving ideologies.

New numbers placed into a better picture help make better rhetoric than we’ve been getting lately. For completely contrary to what the mainstream media says, these numbers establish that most Americans are catching up to the Europeans and Japanese, and losing their myopia at the same time that they face up to bigger issues. A large majority of Americans already “get” the problem of climate catastrophe, even if conservative politicians and business leaders don’t (or refuse to acknowledge it). And they are emotionally ready to take up the issue of a larger planetary perspective. The data doesn’t say they have practical ideas on what to do yet, but rather that it is okay to put such things on the national agenda—and to have a planetary agenda.

It’s also important to notice that our survey also showed that 71 percent of Americans now see themselves as citizens of planet Earth as well as Americans. There is movement in the collective consciousness toward planetary awareness, planetary concerns, and not just globalization of an economic kind, but planetary integration, at precisely the same moment in history when the whole planet is threatened by climate crisis.

Are You a Cultural Creative?

By Paul H. Ray, Ph.D.

As with any burgeoning movement, there are probably more Cultural Creatives out there than we realize…or who even recognize it themselves. If you’re wondering if you’re one, this list of statements can give you an indication.* In the list below, count the number of statements you agree with. If you agree with 10 or more, you’re probably a Cultural Creative. Higher scores increase the likelihood.

You are likely to be a Cultural Creative if you...

  1. …love nature and are deeply concerned about its destruction.

  2. …are strongly aware of the problems of the whole planet (global warming, destruction of rainforests, overpopulation, lack of ecological sustainability, exploitation of people in poorer countries) and want to see more action on them, such as limiting economic growth.

  3. …would pay more taxes or pay more for consumer goods if you could know the money would go to clean up the environment and to stop global warming.

  4. …place a great deal of importance on developing and maintaining your relationships.

  5. …place a lot of value on helping other people and bringing out their unique gifts.

  6. …volunteer for one or more good causes.

  7. …care intensely about both psychological and spiritual development.

  8. …see spirituality or religion as important in your life, but are concerned about the role of the Religious Right in politics.

  9. …want more equality for women at work, and more women leaders in business and politics.

  10. …are concerned about violence and the abuse of women and children around the world.

  11. …want our politics and government spending to put more emphasis on children’s education and well-being, on rebuilding our neighborhoods and communities, and on creating an ecologically sustainable future.

  12. …are unhappy with both the Left and the Right in politics, and want to find a new way that is not in the mushy middle.

  13. …tend to be somewhat optimistic about our future, and distrust the cynical and pessimistic view that the media promulgates.

  14. …want to be involved in creating a new and better way of life in our country.

  15. …are concerned about what the big corporations are doing in the name of making more profits: downsizing, creating environmental problems, and exploiting poorer countries.

  16. …have your finances and spending under control, and are not concerned about overspending.

  17. …dislike all the emphasis in modern culture on success and “making it,” on getting and spending, and on wealth and luxury goods.

  18. …like people and places that are exotic and foreign, and enjoy experiencing and learning about other ways of life.

*Note: This is not a research questionnaire. Rather it is a handy way of showing some research results to people who may not be good at statistics. These statements are drawn from items that reliably correlated with being a Cultural Creative in a number of surveys. A statistical analysis of the research findings provides an idea of how many yeses it takes to give a reliable probability that you are a Cultural Creative: If you agree with 10 items, there’s a 60 percent chance that you are one; agreeing with all 18 items means the odds are over 90 percent.

“Practical wisdom is what ensures the taking of proper means to the proper ends desired by moral virtue."
—Aristotle , Nicomachian Ethics

“Aristotle’s man of practical wisdom, the phronimos, employs his intelligence to discover what is good for the individual and the community, what ‘conduces to the good (eudaimonic) life as a whole.’ But the phronimos goes beyond recognizing the components of a good life; he is disposed to achieve them. That is to say, the exercise of phronesis [practical wisdom] is not solely a theoretical venture. Unlike the other intellectual virtues, practical wisdom has an explicitly moral character. Phronesis is not simply knowledge; it is the capacity for knowledge in action. Practical wisdom is ‘imperative,’ Aristotle states: ‘it gives orders.’ The phronimos practices rather than simply understands the virtuous life, while securing rather than simply identifying its worldly components.”
—Thiele , The Heart of Judgment

Pathways Issue 37 CoverThis article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #38.

View Article References

To purchase this issue, Order Here.