We know that we have entered an era in human history when we must re-perceive our relationship as a species to the space station that is our home, Earth. Many organizations advocate a perceptual change from one of exploitation to one of love. A nonprofit named Dream Change is taking a bold giant step in exactly that direction. Through its Love Summit business conferences, it is helping companies and governments move from a global Death Economy to a global Life (Love) Economy. The next Love Summit business conference is coming up on October 12 and 13 at LPK brand design agency’s global headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, and I am honored to be speaking there alongside an extraordinary lineup of business, government and thought leaders paving the road to a more just and sustainable future.
An important theme in the talks I give at events like the Love Summit and other business and government conferences, is that there are two types of reality: objective and perceived reality. The computer I’m typing on is objective reality. Most of the words that I type deal with perceived reality. Human activity is determined largely by perceived reality. Religions, culture, legal and economic systems, corporations, and even countries are created and maintained by perceived reality; when enough people accept a perception or when it is codified into law, that perception changes objective reality. The way to change economic and other systems is through crossing a Perception Bridge from old ways of thinking into new ones.
From a global perspective, Objective Reality 1 is that the world has many natural and human resources. The current Perceived Reality is that we can exploit these ruthlessly, focusing on maximizing short term gains, rather than on the long run viability of human existence on this planet. This Perceived Reality has resulted in Objective Reality 2 – a failed global economic system that is on the path to consuming itself into extinction. Although referred to as an economic system, it also includes political and social systems. It has produced a predatory form of capitalism and what we might define as a Death Economy since it depends heavily on investments in militarization and in processes that ravage the earth and its ecosystems.
The Death Economy has meant that economic activity in general is measured in terms of short-term profit maximization (for a few wealthy people). Individuals strive to maximize their returns on investments. Corporations endeavor to maximize market share, as well as profits. Countries judge themselves and their leaders by their effectiveness at maximizing growth in GDP, a measurement of the value of resources consumed and goods and services produced that does not account for what are known as externalities (e.g. the costs of environmental destruction, human suffering, etc.). At the same time, anything that appears to obstruct monetized maximization, such as taxes, is disparaged. Instead of looking at these as investments (e.g. redefining taxes as investments in infrastructure, education, health care etc.) they are vilified as impediments to maximization of personal and corporate income.
An irony of this current system is that wars – or the mere threat of wars – contribute to economic growth by earning profits for the firms that produce war materiel and spin-offs that include those that provide food, clothing, health care, insurance, banking and other services to the war industries. After a country has been devastated by war, the process of rebuilding its infrastructure provides more opportunities to maximize profits through reconstruction activities. The same is true for reconstruction after natural disasters, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and tidal waves.
The Death Economy has led to severe and unacceptable increases in environmental degradation, social inequality, political instability, and the threat that humans will destroy the world as we know it, that we will drive ourselves and many other species into a period of extinction like no other this planet has experienced since the end of the dinosaur age.
A Life Economy – one that loves the Earth and enhances life upon it – rewards governments and businesses that clean up pollution, that regenerate devastated environments, that recycle instead of ravaging the planet, and that develop new technologies for energy, transportation, communications, trade, banking, and most everything else. In this Life Economy, the responsibility of government and business is to serve the public interest while earning decent rates of return for investors. The money from these investors is dedicated to building a system that is itself a renewable resource. Long-term economic activity takes precedent over short-term maximization. Individuals focus on investments that create better life-styles for them and their prodigy. Statistical yardsticks like GDP include externalities and assign high values to goods and services that contribute to long term sustainability. Taxes are considered as investments made for the benefit of the general population – both current and future.
The transformation from a failed economic system to one that offers an environmentally sustainable and socially just world occurs by changing perceptions, crossing the Perception Bridge. In both the Death and the Life Economies the objective reality is the same: the world has many natural and human resources. The Death Economy manifests when “success” is perceived as maximizing short term gains regardless of the social and environmental costs. This leads to the crises we now face. A Life Economy manifests when “success” is perceived as serving the public interest – long term as well as short term.
The nonprofit I mentioned earlier is one of the organizations that is leading the way across this Perception Bridge. The name Dream Change comes from the idea that we must change our dream – our perception – in order to change the world. Dream Change’s Love Summits focus on how a heart-centered approach to politics and business will rapidly drive society toward a more socially, environmentally and economically sound way of living on planet earth.
I need to disclose a certain bias. I founded Dream Change more than 30 years ago. Although I continue to serve on the board, I have turned management over to a dynamic team of people much younger than me. Led by Executive Director (and creator of the Love Summit) Samantha Thomas, she and other young people have much to gain by bringing love into the world of business and government – and a great deal to lose if we stay on the current course. I am extremely proud of Dream Change’s work and the model it is successfully presenting to the world.
Focused on the intersection of smart business and compassionate leadership, the Love Summit aims to raise awareness and inspire new, sustainable methods for solving social and economic issues. I will be speaking at the 2017 Love Summit on October 12th and 13th at LPK brand design agency’s global headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio. I can’t wait to share the stage with the summit’s outstanding speaker lineup of 20+ business, government and thought leaders who are eager to share the most pragmatic methods and effective tools for creating the more sustainable, just and compassionate world that we all dream of. I hope you’ll join us.