Imagine that you thought the world was rapidly heading for ecological catastrophe and social breakdown. Imagine that, realising this, you wanted to develop and then execute a plan to save the situation. Imagine you believed that the crisis was largely based in human consciousness – that most people had been trained to act in ways that damaged the health of the planet, and denied the chance to discover and practice real alternatives to this destructive way of life. Given all of this, what would you do?
As a strategic intervention, you might first look for an opportunity to create a global spectacle – a moment of planetary interconnection that would function as a launching pad for a new planetary culture. We know that music, celebrity, art and spectacle are tools that can be used to attract the attention of the multitudes – as previous events, from Woodstock to the Concert For Bangladesh and Live Earth, have proved.
Now, think about how, in scanning for the best opportunity for such a spectacle, you would want to find a date that was already lodged in the popular consciousness, where there was a great deal of expectation that something important was meant to happen. You might take note of the media feeding frenzy over the date December 21, 2012: the last day of the Long Count calendar of the classic Maya civilization of Mexico and Guatemala. Through Hollywood spectacles, History Channel shows and Britney Spears videos, people have been programmed to associate this date with armageddon and apocalypse. But could that programming be flipped, so the date becomes associated with a collective elevation of human consciousness; with the birthing of a more empathic, equitable and non-violent society?
After giving the matter some thought, you might develop a project very much like Unify Earth (unifyearth.com), a collaborative effort involving a diverse team of visionary activists to create a moment of global coherence and peaceful synchronicity.
Outside of any religious fantasy or indigenous prophecy, many statistical trends and indicators are now telling us, in the starkest possible terms, that our global civilisation needs to make a rapid change of direction within the next few years. As climate change continues (with scientists now estimating a five-degree temperature rise within the next 50 years), along with species extinction and depletion of many basic resources, we are seeing tremendous stresses placed on the environment and the financial system.
The global focus on December 21, 2012, as “the end of the world” ironically provides a unique opportunity to reframe the popular debate over the future, and provide new ideas, as well as practical tools, for humanity to move into a new maturity and a new relationship with the earth. More than a spectacle
or an event, the purpose of Unify Earth is to provide a platform and a global foundation for
this new realisation to reach critical mass.
Previous efforts to utilise a global spectacle to convey a message of transformation have not been ultimately successful. Yet in some crucial ways, this is a different time. The power of the internet – social technologies, such as Facebook and Twitter – to influence world events has been demonstrated in the Middle East and elsewhere. A social network designed for resource-sharing and collaboration could become a critically valuable tool in a time of accelerating change and instability. Many extraordinary practical solutions for the problems we face today are already available. We require a new mass-cultural impetus for these initiatives – in areas such as alternative energy, bio-remediation, agriculture, non-violent communication, techniques for removing excess carbon from the atmosphere, etcetera – to be scaled up rapidly, to meet the considerable threats we face.
Consider the short period of time when “Beatlemania” went global, with its fuzzy insistence on universal love and melodic empathy. Imagine that there was a social network built at that time that allowed the idealism of late-60s rock to be made instantly tangible – a way for people to plug-in and build the new society that the pop songs evoked: to shift from exchanging money to sharing trust, from getting stuck in dull jobs to being inspired by a life mission. We have that technology available now, if we can figure out how to use it.
The goal of Unify Earth is to use a planetary spectacle to build and distribute a comprehensive upgrade in our society’s operating system, to mesh sustainable practices aimed at restoration of the environment with technological innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit. It is possible, as many cynics say, that it is too late to change the world before disaster strikes. The alternative to surrendering to bleak fate is to create a new vision of what our world can become, and then collaborate to bring it into being. That is why our motto for Unify Earth is: “What you can imagine, you can create.”
Daniel Pinchbeck is the author of Breaking Open the Head, 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, and the just-published Notes from the Edge Times. He edits realitysandwich.com and is featured in the documentary, 2012: Time for Change