Changing the World
A Vision of a Circleway Village
What are we going to do? Nobody likes the world as it is: violence, drugs, alienation, oppression, poverty, hunger, injustice, corruption, broken families and communities, pollution, environmental degradation – I could go on, but, you know.
So what are we going to do?
A lot of people say, “Nothing. It’s hopeless. The ordinary person is powerless. So I’m just looking out for me and mine. Get what I can, live as well as I can, and don’t worry too much about what happens to the rest of the world.”
Then there are the activists. The ones that take on one or more pieces of what’s wrong and try to affect change by opposition, demonstrations, marches, civil disobedience, confrontation for peace, the environment, civil and economic justice. Sometimes it’s effective and things shift a little, and there’s a comradeship of solidarity that feels good.
Others prefer to work within the system. By infiltrating and spreading human values in government, business, education, medicine, and so on, making friendly connections, one can make small changes where one lives and works.
These changes all seem so small and scattered in the vast complex of what’s wrong. But very few people still think that revolution would fix anything. Two centuries of revolutionary responses have not helped, and sometimes made things worse.
The fact is no one could construct a theory that would work for every person in every society now and into the future. I don’t have the answer to the world’s problems. But we do. There’s a saying, “None of us is as smart as all of us.” Broad studies of human societies show us that they are most human, most considerate and beneficial to all, when they are egalitarian, when deliberation and decision-making are distributed most equally. When power becomes concentrated in an individual or a special group oppression and injustice appear and grow.
As Lord Acton observed, power corrupts, and only the true equality of small groups, where there is time and care for each person to be heard, can protect our communities from that corruption. From the beginning civilized societies were corrupt, for instance, by the exclusion of the female half of the population, power resting only in the male, further narrowed to the warrior and the wealthy. The system of what is called checks and balances has failed to address this unequal distribution of power to the wealthy.
True democracy does not exist in any of the nations of the world, because of size and the influence of wealth. But it has existed in those tribal societies where each person has an equal voice, where communities are small enough for people to know and hear each one.
Is it possible for a planet of more than six billion people to have economic, political, cultural and spiritual organization based on units small enough to secure such a true democracy, maintaining equality and the common values of each community, yet cooperating in larger projects and organization for a greater good globally?
As a tribal person who has experienced living in a variety of tribal communities and who has studied the evolution of human society, I have come to the conclusion that it is possible for humanity to achieve a society that is truly egalitarian and enhances the creativity, contentment, closeness and love of every member. I see indications of that in all the work I have done with circles and communities for the past forty years.
What follows is my own personal conception and vision of how that might be achieved. I offer it as part of our common search to make our lives, the lives of the coming generations, and that of the Earth and our fellow creature species, better, healthier, safer and happier.
I have chosen to present this vision in a compact version, as a visit to a village of the future. It is a see I hope may find fertile ground in our heart and mind to grow into your own vision, to share and deep us moving forward together.
I intend to begin to nurture this seed with others as soon as we may find a spot to begin our first Circle Way Village. It will not develop just like this vision, because it will be the product of all the different people who build it. But I believe the basic human principles behind it are ones to which most will find agreement.