14 Septemeber 2017
We know from quantum physics, chaos theory, and modern psychology that perception governs human behavior. What we refer to as ‘mindfulness’ shares with shamanism the ability to be fully present in ways that allow us to use perceptions of reality to transform objective reality and bring us inner peace and true prosperity. — From draft of John Perkins’ new book
I’m in Russia, just finished speaking about the need to transform a Death Economy into a Life Economy at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, and listening to three days of amazing talks and discussions. I found the spirit of cooperation among people from many countries to be deeply inspiring.
I was especially impressed by President Putin’s speech and his emphasis on the need to build bridges between countries in order to deal with the crises around climate change, nuclear weapons, terrorism, and internet crimes. On the other hand, Megyn Kelly, who moderated a roundtable discussion that included Putin and later broadcasted an interview with him over NBC, went on the attack. She sounded like an old-fashioned Cold Warrior as she tried unsuccessfully to get Putin to admit to rigging the US elections. Although I respect Kelly’s rights as a journalist to dig for the truth, she undermined that shortly after her session with him by her statements on an NBC broadcast that Putin had been “aggressive” and “defiant”. Yes, he was defensive when she attacked him, but he was not aggressive. Rather, he – like so many other business and government leaders at this forum – conveyed a perception of hope and cooperation, a perception that can facilitate a new reality in this world where divisiveness and rancor have pervaded for far too long.
Does Russia spy on the United States? Absolutely. Am I defending Putin as a guy who wears a halo? Absolutely not. Does the United States spy on Russia? Of course; we even spy on our allies as we admitted when we were caught bugging Germany’s Chancellor Merkel and others – long before Trump even announced his candidacy. Do both countries hack other countries’ internets? What a silly question. All those actions are remnants of an old system, what I refer to as the Death Economy, a system that goes beyond economics, into politics and social structures.
President Putin himself referred to the need to move from the old system to something much better when he discussed President Trump’s recent call for increased investment in NATO. Putin pointed out that NATO had been created as a counterbalance to the threats posed by the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. “There is no more Soviet Union, no more Warsaw Pact,” he said. “Why the need to increase NATO?”
It is time to dump a system that results in constant strife, wars, terrorism, climate change, and outrageous inequality and injustice on every continent. What is needed today is a new system; in order to create such a new system, it is essential that we develop new perceptions of what it means to be human on this very fragile space station we call our home.
Corporate executives and other economists and writers I talked to at this forum admitted that they find it challenging to be Americans at a time when the US president seems determined to increase the perception of a world divided, of an “us versus them” philosophy. And when major US media outlets like NBC hark back to attitudes that characterized the Cold War. At the same time, many were encouraged to hear President Putin, UN Secretary General Guterres, and many other business and government leaders try to reverse this perception by expressing hope that President Trump will come around in the next couple of crucial years, that he will change his mind about climate change and other issues – as he has done so many times before.
Throughout this forum, I was struck by the role that perception plays in molding political, environmental, social, and economic realities. Much of my writing and speaking these days focuses on this very subject, including my upcoming webinar, How to Write a Bestseller (In Times of Crises) – Using the Power of Story to Accelerate Change and my Omega workshop, Prosperity through Creativity: Shapeshifting into a Mindful Future.
I look forward to my next stop, another major economic summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, where I will speak and advocate the need to transform a Death into a Life Economy during a roundtable discussion with President Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan.What role will perceptions play?
From Astana To The Vatican: Molding Reality 2
I just left the Astana (Kazakhstan) Economic Forum. I had the opportunity to continue the discussions begun in St Petersburg at the conference there that included Russian President Vladimir Putin and UN Secretary General António Guterres on the need to end old, exploitative, unsustainable systems and replace them with ones that are just beginning to evolve.
In Astana, I shared the stage with some of the world’s most forward looking government, business and thought leaders. I sat on panels and in roundtable discussions with President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstn, Prime Minister Bakhytzhan Sagintayev of Kazakhstan, Prime Minister Francois Fillon of France (2007-2012), Prime Minister Marek Belka of Poland (2004-2005), Prime Minister Djoomart Otorbaev of Kyrgyzstan (2014-2015) Nobel Prize laureates Sviatoslav Timashev and Raekwon Chung, and President Putin’s Economic Adviser Sergey Glazyev.
And I received a few scathing emails and Facebook comments questioning why I would refer to some of these people as “thought leaders.” I was told that they are infamous for terrible human rights abuses. Yet, to most of the world what my country does in places like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yemen are terrible human rights abuses – although they are not listed as such since they are not perpetrated within our borders.
One of the Chinese speakers pointed out that while his country is criticized for all the pollution it causes, many of the goods that produce that pollution are bought in the US and America. “Yes,” he said, “we need to focus on nonpolluting technologies, and you who buy from us need to take some responsibility – be willing to pay more to help us make the transition.”
Although many in the US have a very poor impression of the leaders in China and the former-USSR countries, I found them to be extremely concerned about the course our fragile space station — Earth — is taking. Their countries are moving rapidly into the digital, renewable resource age. One after another, they described the failures of current systems and called for reforms that will result in radical and positive changes. Many condemned yardsticks like GDP and advocated for alternatives, such as GGDP (Green GDP). During receptions and at less formal discussions, we spent many hours exchanging ideas on ways to transform business and government.
This trip has pointed out to me the importance – indeed the necessity – of coming together in the recognition that we are one species living on a fragile planet. It is time to stop blaming “them” – the Russians, Chinese, terrorists, the Republicans, Democrats, the Conservatives, Liberals or whatever. We simply must end that divisive way of looking at the world.
It is time to realize that blaming “the other” is part of a bygone era. Perhaps such combative and competitive attitudes served humanity in the past. Perhaps they helped us achieve miracles in medicine, engineering, computer technology, communications, transportation, the arts, and so on. Perhaps military research led to better radios, planes, computers, and more.
But enough. The painfully obvious fact is that we are in the process of causing irreversible damage to our home, our space station, our Earth. To ourselves and all other life-forms.
People around the world are waking up to the knowledge that this Death Economy has resulted in 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.
Throughout these two forums, I was struck by the role that perception plays in molding political, environmental, social, and economic realities. Much of my writing and speaking these days focusses on this very subject, including my upcoming webinar, How to Write a Bestseller (In Times of Crises) – Using the Power of Story to Accelerate Change and my Omega workshop, Prosperity through Creativity: Shapeshifting into a Mindful Future.
When we perceive “them” as the problem, our solution is to change them. Now is the time to awaken to the fact that “we” are the problem and we are the solution. We must work together.
I flew from Astana to Rome. Here I am reminded that all great empires come to an end. The essential question is: What do we learn from that process? My hope is that we learn that there must be no more empires, that we need to come together as one species. We can speak many languages, honor many cultures, and yet at the same time dedicate ourselves to guiding this space station into a sustainable, peaceful future.
Early one evening I snapped a photo of the Vatican. I did not realize until the next morning that there was a lone figure sitting there. That person appears to be either meditating or begging. It strikes me as symbolic. While the sun is setting over a Vatican occupied by a new Pope, perhaps that lone figure symbolizes all of us and our need to meditate on and beg for a new way of perceiving, and thus changing, reality.