If the fundamental systems of our societies need to be transformed, and if only We the People working together can bring about the needed changes, then we must – each of us – take responsibility for getting on with the project. And if our dysfunctional systems are taking us rapidly toward the precipice, we cannot afford to put this responsibility off until later.
In accepting this responsibility, we are in fact beginning the process of our own personal transformation. Werner Erhard, in his est-training days, talked about being at cause, rather than at effect. By at cause he meant something deeper than simply exercising initiative. He was talking about a fundamental change in your perception of yourself. To be at effect is to see yourself as one who responds to circumstances; to be at cause is to see yourself as one who creates circumstances. In both cases your efforts may be limited by your talents and skills, but by being at cause, you vastly expand the scope of your personal potential.
In the context of est, learning to be at cause is a central part of a program of personal transformation and empowerment. In the context of transforming society, learning to be at cause is precisely what happens to us when we accept our share of the responsibility for our own – and humanity’s – salvation. By taking this first step toward social transformation – the acceptance of responsibility – we are also taking a big step toward personal transformation and empowerment.
Just as the est term at cause has a deeper meaning than the mere words imply, so does accepting responsibility, in our context, have a deeper meaning than the mere words imply. Permit me to articulate this deeper meaning in the form of a credo. As I see it, taking responsibility – in the context of social transformation by We the People – is equivalent to subscribing to a personal credo more or less like this one:
In this formulation, I’m trying to capture the essential elements of our discussion in a way that may help inform our attempts to ‘get on with the project.’ The credo reminds us that whomever we are with is a potential – and eventually necessary – partner (in Riane Eisler’s sense) in changing the world, not just those who agree with our beliefs and agendas. It reminds us that wherever we are is the right place to begin creating a culture of harmonization, and our every interaction is the right time to practice respectful listening. It helps us see the reciprocity that is inherent in democratic empowerment: just as we seek to be at cause, so do we encourage, and expect, others to be at cause; even those we don’t agree with. It reminds us that our mission is not to sell some agenda or idea, but rather to learn how to hear and respect the concerns of those around us, and to learn how to speak from our hearts when we express our own concerns.
In the last half of this book I’ve outlined what I believe to be a viable scenario for a transformational movement. I’ve convinced myself, if not anyone else, that the basic features of that scenario are a necessary and inevitable part of the path that we will follow in our creation of transformation. But I could be wrong.
When paradigm shifts happen, those who anticipated the shift tend nonetheless to be surprised by the actual outcomes. Thomas Edison was a primary visionary behind the shift to electrical power, but his concept of generator plants in every community failed to anticipate new technologies, i.e. alternating current and efficient long-distance transmission of power. The credo, above, is an open invitation for creative initiatives. Personally, I still recommend community empowerment as a focus, but I’m not asking anyone to be at effect with that suggestion. As one who subscribes to the credo, I offer my scenario as a heartfelt contribution to our collective dialog, and what I most hope for in response are the at cause initiatives of those who are ready to accept responsibility.
I invite you to join me in accepting responsibility for creating our future world, and I hope to see you there some sunny day.