Based on 30 years of research, this book is relevant to anyone seeking to make sense out of and navigate the rapids of change that are swirling around us-in globalization, telecommunications, gender relations, climate change, a new spirituality, and much more. To make sense out of the new world, author Duane Elgin begins by asking readers to answer the following question: “How grown up do you think humanity is? When you look at human behavior around the world and then imagine our species as one individual, how old would that person be? A toddler? A teenager? A young adult? An elder?”
Elgin has asked this question around the world with a startling result: Without hesitation, at least two-thirds or more will vote that the human family is in its its teenage years, citing examples such as living recklessly in how we consume resources, placing a high value on external appearances and possessions, and clustering ourselves into “in versus out” groupings based on ethnicity, race, gender, etc.
Elgin argues that its good news to find humanity is in its teenage years because it suggests we are on the verge of growing up and reaching our early adulthood where our concerns will shift naturally toward settling down, looking to the future, building a family, and finding meaningful work. This shift to a more mature perspective could bring a radically different and positive future.
What will be the conditions under which we grow up? Elgin writes that just as many adolescents go through a rite of passage or time of initiation before achieving adulthood, so too is the human family beginning to move through a collective rite of passage. Two powerful sets of trends are converging in the next several decades-adversity trends (such as overpopulation, resource depletion, and climate change), and opportunity trends (such as the communications revolution, a shift toward more sustainable lifestyles, and growing efforts at reconciliation in the world).
The outcome from the intersection of adversity and opportunity trends is uncertain. The future could hold either: 1) an evolutionary crash where we pull apart and compete for resources, veering off into a new dark age; or 2) an evolutionary bounce where we pull together and cooperate for the well-being of all, keeping our journey on track toward a higher level of maturity and opportunity.
Promise Ahead concludes with a call for social reflection where these pivotal times become a matter for serious and sustained dialogue at every level of society—from the local level (in dining rooms, classrooms, and boardrooms), to the national and global level in electronic town meetings via the mass media and Internet.
Promise Ahead is a book for the twenty-first century with a clear message: a sustainable planet is not an unreachable goal. Elgin articulates an operating manual of possibility and hope.
– Elizabeth Dowdeswell, former director, United Nations Environment Program
Promise Ahead is essential reading for people flooded with information yet filled with confusion. Never before have humans had to function responsibly and gracefully as citizens of the whole earth. Thankfully, Duane Elgin has the courage and the credentials to provide us with a visionary and plausible road map into the deep future.
– Vicki Robin, coauthor with Joe Dominguez of Your Money or Your Life
Promise Ahead is a corrective to the negative messages about the state of our world that are prevalent today. Elgin provides a compelling blueprint for the future that is both hopeful and doable. This book deserves the attention of our entire society.
– Larry Dossey, M.D., author of Reinventing Medicine and Healing Words
Duane Elgin already lives the future he writes about. Elgin writes with personality, passion, and persistence. The result is a well-reasoned and plausible promise that includes some mighty big challenges. Duane Elgin is calling us on a hero’s journey where we can all be heroes.
– Robert Johansen, president, Institute for the Future
Promise Ahead is a powerful message for our time, a seminal contribution to the new story, and essential reading for those dedicated to creating a world that works for all.
– David C. Korten, author of The Post-corporate World and When Corporations Rule the World
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter 1. Is Humanity Growing Up?
Chapter 2. Adversity Trends: Hitting and Evolutionary Wall
Chapter 3. A New Perceptual Paradigm: We Live in a Living Universe
Chapter 4. Choosing a new Lifeway: Voluntary Simplicity
Chapter 5. Communicating Our Way into a Promising Future
Chapter 6. Reconciliation and the Transformation of Human Relations
Chapter 7. Evolutionary Crash or Evolutionary Bounce: Adversity Meets Opportunity
Chapter 8. Humanity’s Central Project: Becoming Doubly Wise Humans
Chapter 9. Engaged Reflection in the Turning Zone