In the preface to an article entitled A National Strategic Narrative, Anne-Marie Slaughter of Princeton says we need a narrative that confronts some of the following questions, “Where is the United States going in the world? How can we get there? What are the guiding stars that will illuminate the path along the way? We need a story with a beginning, middle, and projected happy ending that will transcend our political divisions, orient us as a nation, and give us both a common direction and the confidence and commitment to get to our destination.” She also writes, “In one sentence, the strategic narrative of the United States in the 21st century is that we want to become the strongest competitor and most influential player in a deeply inter-connected global system, which requires that we invest less in defense and more in sustainable prosperity and the tools of effective global engagement.”
Over time, the best way to shape the force of the future is to invest in the science, technology, education, and training that will equip our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines to adapt to an increasingly complex and dynamic environment. The hardware and software we buy and build are secondary to the gray matter we must cultivate now.
When I hear that someone high up in the military is talking seriously about sustainability, I take notice.
This radio show aims to offer “pieces of the puzzle of a world that just might work.” I hope that if you listen a few times, you begin to imagine a future of revolutionary and evolutionary success.
My hope is rooted in this vision: Reality is not dead, mechanical, or separate; in fact, it is alive, evolving, and composed of interdependent systems.
I believe this worldview has been shared by indigenous peoples for millennia, revealed by science since early in the 20th century, and obvious every time we walk outside or look into the eyes of another living creature.
This vision inspires the annual Bioneers conference that takes place each fall (this year October 19-21) in San Rafael, just north of San Francisco. I’ll be talking with Bioneers founder and co-director, KEN AUSUBEL, and one of this year’s speakers, ELLEN BROWN, President of the Public Banking Institute and author of WEB OF DEBT.
Human creativity focused on problem solving can explode the narrative of despair. For the most part the solutions to our problems already exist. Bioneers focuses on strategies to help us realize these solutions by restoring community, justice and democracy.
Other speakers this year include BILL McKIBBEN, PAUL HAWKEN, ETHAN NADELMANN, GABOR MATE, and LA’s own JODIE EVANS and ANDY LIPKIS.
We tell ourselves stories — as a year ends and the next begins
We look back. Have we been naughty or nice? What were the Ten Best…? Did I fulfill my goals? How much older do I look? How much older do I feel? What did I learn? What did I accomplish? What did I screw up?
What did I lose?
All stories, narratives: This is what happened and this is what it meant. This is what happened and this is what we learned.
Reflections. In the mirror and in the past.
We do it as individuals, we do it as a society, and we do it everywhere in between. As a company, any organization or team, a family, a relationship.
Though calendars vary, the death and birth of the year occurs at the end of the last of twelve cycles rooted in the movement of heavenly bodies, and in the days, nights, and seasons of nature.
We look forward. We set goals. We make up lists. We even write them down and talk about them. When else do we make resolutions? We develop plans and budgets. We go on diets. We join clubs.
Narratives again: This is what I predict will happen, this is what I hope will happen, this is what I fear will happen. And this is why, and what it might mean. Stories that haven’t happened yet.
We dream. We imagine the future at the start of the year more than at any other time.
Chris Mooney is senior correspondent for The American Prospect magazine, and author of The Republican War on Science; Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle Over Global Warming; and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored with Sheril Kirshenbaum, with whom he also writes "The Intersection" blog. You can find the intersection blog at discovermagazine.com. In 2005 Chris was named one of Wired magazine's ten "sexiest geeks."
ROBIN WRIGHT has reported from more than 140 countries on 6 continents for numerous news organizations, including The Sunday Times in London, CBS News ,The Washington Post ,The Christian Science Monitor ,The New York Times ,The New Yorker ,The Atlantic Monthly, Foreign Policy and the International Herald Tribune.
She has covered nine wars and several revolutions, and won the Overseas Press Club Award for "best reporting in any medium requiring exceptional courage and initiative" for her work during the Angolan war. Wright was one of the first journalists to write about the emergence of Mideast terrorism and Islamic extremism, which she has covered since the 1970s.
Currently a fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, she won the 1989 National Magazine Award for her reporting from Iran for The New Yorker. Her last book was DREAMS AND SHADOWS: The Future of the Middle East and her next is ROCK THE CASBAH: How Street Vendors, Sheiks, Rappers, and Women are Shattering the Old Order.