Building a Global Family that looks after people and the Earth

To my friends and family:

I’ve just written this as a ‘Farewell Essay” for my last meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Transition Network, but I would like to send it to a much wider audience too. You can download it below.

What do you think of it? Is the vision clear? Do you agree with it? Any serious reservations?

The  ‘global family’ metaphor is relatively new to me. It was enthusiastically adopted at the Transition National Hubs meeting (that is, people representing different countries around the world) at the Transition Network conference in 2012. It featured strongly in the 2013 National Hubs meeting, and is now well embedded in the Transition community. In this essay, I put it together with my visions of a co-operative local and global economy from my book eGaia, where I used a ‘global nervous system’ metaphor in much the same way.

Here’s the first real section as a taster.

Essence of the vision

We are a global movement of people who are coming to see ourselves as part of ‘the family of humankind’, who are learning to collaborate to look after each other and the natural world. Moreover, it is only now that this is becoming possible, as we have the communications technology, the ideas and the need.

This is in contrast to mainstream views, where the market is king, where we are all against each other in every way: nations and firms competing economically, national, religious and ethnic groups opposing each other politically.

For me, this is the key innovation of the Transition Movement and like-minded people although it is rarely the ‘one sentence summary’ of what we are doing. (From here on, when I refer to the Transition Movement, I will use it as a shorthand for the vast number of groups and projects with an overlapping world view and purpose.)

Often, when I meet people at Transition or like-minded events I feel this immediately. These people are my ‘family’ in a new sense.  We are those who care about  the Earth and all its peoples. It is a change in our sense of who we are, such that those who join this see themselves firstly as ‘people of the Earth’, with our nationalities, ethnic backgrounds, sense of sexual or gender identity, as important but secondary.  This is truly a practical, non-mystical ‘change of consciousness’.

This is essentially a positive image as in the title of Charles Eisenstein’s  new book,  “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible”. I will sketch my version of it below and there is much more detail in my book eGaia, Growing a peaceful, sustainable Earth through communications,

This vision is not a defensive or frightened reaction to climate change, peak oil, or possible economic collapse. It isn’t just that we must change because we are destroying the world or that our current ways of living can’t continue much longer (although that is true). It really is that we are building a world that will work much better and make all of us happier, that actually would be much better even for those who are now ‘privileged’ and ‘wealthy’ although they might not see it that way at present. So, yes, we can criticise the current economic system for its destruction of the environment and for what it is doing to people, but we are also developing and presenting an alternative that is better on its own terms.

My hope and dream is that this could be the ‘killer meme’, that once this vision is established to some critical level it could catch the imagination of humanity, and take the Transition Movement to the next level and beyond.

…[later sections describe my best guess at how a cooperative economy might work, and some big next steps towards it.]

What do you think? Could this be the killer meme?

Download as 8 page pdf:   GlobalFamilyEssay.pdf  or as ePub format for an ebook reader: GlobalFamilyEssay.epub

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1 Response to Building a Global Family that looks after people and the Earth

  1. gcrcrisis says:

    Hello Gary,

    Thanks for sharing this.

    In this ‘family’-based future, I envisage people dealing with relatively small enterprises which they patronise regularly so that there is a personal and two-way relationship of care.

    I go into a supermarket and buy stuff. They want my money and custom: I want their quality and cheapness. I always feel that the benefit to me of using them is weighted towards cheapness and utilitarian convenience; the negative is that I feel that social quality of the interaction is impaired. I’d rather be elsewhere.

    If I choose to go to a small shop instead then the balance of expectation changes. It has shifted more towards personal interaction. However I may feel cheated and annoyed if I don’t get that with them, or if they are more than (for example) 20% more expensive than a supermarket; then I’d much rather be in the supermarket.

    How do other people choose where to shop and what to buy? I choose based on quality (e.g. no milk products; no factory farming if poss), cheapness, location and free parking availability. I’m a hunter-gatherer always out scavenging when I go shopping. Sometimes finding something I need at a price I can afford feels like a little triumph to bring back home in a sack on my back and tell the tribe about. Only, when I get home there isn’t anyone to share this with. However, buying ‘something I need at a price I can afford’ builds loyalty and repeat behaviour. I have a network of favoured places in my head. I remember there’s a freshwater spring near a certain boulder; I know that deer often go there to drink; I know where the best flints are found. I don’t care whether they are in Mere Street or Morrisons.

    Your vision of ‘global family’ is good – great, even. I think it will take a long time to realise, but it has a chance in our globalised world, as more people travel, meet each other, share food, learn other languages. The opposite is tribal factionalism, the UKIP tendency. So we have a dialectic between openness and closure; inclusiveness and exclusiveness; sharing resources or reserving them. Looking at resource depletion, growing populations and environmental stresses, if we push people too far or too fast they’ll readily fall back into tribal factionalism. I fear that only an extra-human threat would persuade humans to sink their differences and work for the common good..

    Each time I notice the person behind the till or say hello at the checkout I am personalising my world and theirs, I am blowing on a few embers of relationship. We only have the interface between ourselves and the people & places around us to build community with. I build a tiny link with Latvia each time I buy some Latvian biscuits in Labas. Too bad the person behind the counter thinks I’m a freak: I’m certainly not part of her family world.

    Lebenswelten = Lifeworlds. Each person has a lifeworld and is one.

    Best wishes,


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