Civilization Building Part 2





Forum Foundation Seattle 2002




Citizens – cities – civilization builders and teachers: awake! Our book is dedicated to you – the present and future citizens of the USA, of all nations, of the world. It is a call to you, a call to wise vision. Where there is no vision, the people perish. (Proverbs 29:18, KJV)

This book is a manual for creative civilization builders. It is also a textbook. A leader’s/teacher’s guide will be issued to support it.

Our purpose is to equip civilization builders. In this book we give a vision of cost-effective civilization building to builders of civilization, such as political, business, educational, and religious leaders. We provide an introduction to the tools – conceptual and social – to do that building.

Our aim is to help leaders and their constituents to ‘talk’ symbolically together on the improvement of organizations, institutions, and society as a whole.

Our theme is that a better civilization is not only desirable, but also attainable. We believe this is not only true ethically and spiritually, but also as a civic, economic, educational, and political project.

We have many readers in mind. Some of our intended audiences are: governors, political leaders, public officials, political scientists; students and teachers of civilization and sociology; students, teachers, and practitioners of management and administration; religious and moral leaders, all churches, and religious communities and laity; and parents.

We plan that our text will be read wherever ‘civics’ and/or futures issues are studied – in school from grade school through graduate school and in business, law, and ministry schools everywhere.

We intend that our text will be read by professionals in politics and government, whether officials – such as governors, county executives, mayors, legislators and congresspersons and their aides; or teachers of political science/philosophy, civics – and their students.

Our book offers solutions (theories), not just diagnoses of problems.

We describe and prescribe a civilized future – thus we offset the gloom and pessimism of future-trend books.

We offer skills, vision, and strategies to citizens, not just governors. We encourage people to make trends, not just observe them as some authors do.

A major purpose of the book is to inspire the use of Fast Forum and symbolic dialogue program models or applications in governments, organizations, schools, the community, and churches.

Students of administration and civilization in business schools, public planning, education, and seminaries can read it as a textbook to help clarify their own emerging theories of organizational dynamics and leadership.

The book aims to give people a sense of being in control of their own future. We desire to help citizens in all lands grow into being the creators of their own civic destiny. Thus we hope that this is an empowering book, for it is a book about civic power. It aims to offer civic inspiration.

We hope to enable these new social processes of communication to mature and become embedded in public policy. Our current civic necessity is what we call building working social models of Many-to-Many communication. These practical technologies such as the Citizen Councilor Network and Psycho-Social Education are vital civic experiments for the citizens of the 21st century. They will enable every interested person, every citizen who wishes to do so, to contribute to civilization building. They will mobilize his or her opinions and energies toward the vision of the highest good for society. This is what we call the Zeitgeist (“Spirit-of-the-Time”). For it is this which is the “Supreme Governor” of society.


Introduction to Civilization Building

Major themes of this book

Welcome to the world of deliberate civilization building! The leadership of civilization building is an inspired act to which we invite citizens everywhere. In this introduction we take you through some of the key ideas in the book that follows. We invite you to think of it as like warming up your muscles before a workout or a sports game.

A great achievement

Civilization, and its constituent culture, is one of the great achievements of humanity. It is a high achievement which comes out of barbarism and advances to the life of homo sapiens. The story of civilization is a tale with a past, present, and future. This is a story of the journey of the human race. It starts from the simplest hunter-gatherer societies; it advances to the deliberate pursuit of maximally civilized nations and associations.

A textbook for 21st century citizenship

We call the process guiding this journey’s latest stage Civilization Building. Our books offer a manual, a handbook, and a curriculum for those who take a leadership role in the building of the civilization of the near and far future. Thus we present in the following pages a textbook for 21st Century citizenship.

Leaders are everywhere

This does not mean “Leaders” with a capital “L” but all those who want to help the task of Civilization Building. These leaders of Civilization Building might be regular workers and citizens. They could be movie stars, elected politicians, innovative thinkers, and Five-Star Generals. And they might be students, teens, and senior citizens, the unemployed, prison inmates, and the chronically ill, as well as celebrities. Citizen Skills for the 21st Century are for all human beings.

An epic story

All of us who are alive today, were alive in all our yesterdays, and will be in all of our tomorrows are part of this epic story of the journey of the human race.

The journey towards civilization started, perhaps in a cave; it may end among the stars. Around a million years ago the human neo-cortex formed over evolutionary eons. Pre-historic man and woman together squinted up at the stars and wondered. These wisps of thought must have been distilled from eons of earlier wonder. They finally coalesced in a swirl of consciousness and burst into history’s most violent storm. It is a storm that still rages today: a storm in the human mind. It is like a persistent, tempestuous search. It continues to ask the most searching questions for those who live, as we all must, in an interdependent society. Examples are: Who am I? Where did I come from? Where do I fit in? What is my role in life? What are we doing here? What’s it all about? Where am I going? What should we, what can we, what must we do?

Are we alone in an impersonal universe?

These are spiritual questions, which reach beyond the known into the unknown, beyond the personal into the transpersonal.

What are we doing here; Where are we going?

Indeed, these questions of an individual’s “identity” and a group’s calling may be among the most important religious questions of the age. From the earliest cave dwelling, with man and woman working together, people first organized themselves into the basic and most enduring of all human leadership institutions: the family. Instinctively, they knew that together, through their “organization,” they could achieve more than either could ever do alone, because “organizations” are synergistic and can amplify human effort. It was then that humankind asked not only “Where am I going? but also “Where do I want to go? and “How can I get there?” The appearance of the human family as a natural social unit also led to the “I” questions being resolvable only in “we” questions. In other words, the meaning of life is social.

The search for civilization: an end to pain?

So began the search for civilization. The human quest to discover and actualise the archetype of civilization was not only a search for beauty and love. It was also an anguished search for an end to chronic, apparently meaningless suffering. Thus was philosophy born. This was the search for the way out from the prison of pain, loneliness, and war.

The birth of society was followed by the birth of the study of society. Later this became sociology, social science, and social innovation. Civilization building occurs as civilization builders apply social innovation to social problems and as the builders awaken the genius of society and societies. Civilization building occurs as an answer to the organizational and social quest of people working together to improve their future and that of the human race.

The administrative process

People create organizations and institutions to collaborate toward, and indeed to accomplish their objectives together. Accordingly, every organization is involved in the administrative process.

Humankind has learned much about the dynamics of administration in the last few decades, just as it has learned much in psychology, sociology, education, and the physical sciences. Unfortunately most managers of organizations and institutions today, public and private, are still using management theories that are both erroneous and outdated. Leaders often create as many “human” problems through their inadequate management styles as they solve in their preoccupation with physical, social, economic, political, and other problems.

The ultimate source of power and authority

One major problem we have identified standing in the way of building better organizations, institutions, and, ultimately, civilization, is inadequate understanding of the nature of the administrative process of leading and governing. Another is a misunderstanding, or a forgotten understanding, of the ultimate source of power and authority.

This ultimate source of power to govern is vested in the people being governed. Thus, it is no accident that the preambles of both the Constitution of the United States and the United Nations Charter begin with the same powerful phrase, “We the people.”

Great civic values

The preambles to these historic documents are history’s clue to the ultimate source of power and authority. We believe this to be true of all organizations and institutions, public and private, everywhere in the world. Great civic values are operating here; they have engendered such civic ideals as the principles of freedom, equality, democracy, and justice. They are embodied in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. They enable the American people, working together as a people, “one nation under God, indivisible,” to enhance their various communities. They also allow Americans to participate, simultaneously, in the larger integrating activity of civilization building in other parts of the world. They point to a way of life in which members of the human race can work together as “global” citizens.

Communicate their vision of the common good

What is the responsibility of all citizens in their schools, churches, neighborhoods, cities, counties, states, and governments, and in their private organizations and work-places today? It is to discover and communicate their vision of the common good! This is an inalienable right and equally a responsibility! When people communicate their vision coherently and with growing consensus, then the vision itself begins to steer society toward that objective – naturally. This is how our conceptions of “civilization” grow and improve.

Many-To-Many (MTM) Communication

Today, we’re all familiar with “one-to-one,” and “one-to-many” communication (one person mails a letter to another, or sends e-mail to one or many persons simultaneously). The world, though, is moving rapidly toward a need for what we call Many-to-Many (MTM) Communication. (This will be developed in Section Two.) Here, the “many” must be able to communicate to each other and respond to the ideas of their leaders and others symbolically (i.e., not physically) in order to understand the values of themselves, their leaders, and others. This is all done in a process that increases everyone’s self-awareness about the world around them.

The question for all of us, leaders and constituents alike, is:

How can citizens and constituents be enabled to communicate with each other and with their leaders constructively? How can we enable and inspire “the people” to be involved in their own governance and their own “pursuit of happiness” in ways that result in significant increase in the authority and legitimacy of their political, economic, and cultural organizations and institutions in the world?

We believe that a solution to this problem will be found in “Many-To-Many Communication” technology in the context of civilization building.

Here at Seattle’s Forum Foundation the essence of 30 years of research in pure and applied social science (other than the 10 administrative and three civilization theories, which follow), brings the following realization.

Big meetings – the Achilles’ Heel of the democratic process

Big meetings at often-remote distances for people are the Achilles’ Heel of the democratic process in a society, public and private.

People no longer have the time and energy to go to big meetings – especially at remote distances. Or, if they do attend, the logistics at such meetings are such that only a few people can talk and most people can only listen. This causes frustration, giving rise o the emotions and exhaustion that come from cumbersome efforts to gain consensus. For example, efforts to pass controversial resolutions using Robert’s Rules of Order are often highly frustrating experiences. As a result, people drop out of such meetings, prompting remarks such as, “Look at the apathy among the people; they are not coming to our important meetings.”

In fact, a popular complaint among leaders nearly everywhere today is, “People are apathetic!”

Our own analysis indicates otherwise; people simply get exhausted from their previous efforts to be responsible. They remember their frustration and exhaustion trying to get their ideas across in their organizations and institutions, and finally say to themselves, “These meetings are just not worth my time.” So, they drop out. Well, that’s not apathy.


How to get the attention of the leaders

Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to petition, and the right peaceably to assemble are all hollow rights if people cannot be heard. And today citizens believe that organizational, institutional, and governmental processes are such that they cannot be heard. Indeed, good and dedicated people give indications of this every day. For example, they do this when they choose to march in the street or otherwise demonstrate. This is how they attract attention to a perceived injustice or worthy cause. They too often feel obliged to choose this method rather than use the normal institutional representative process. There is a grave danger in the use of such dramatic, confrontational, and “show biz” techniques to access the public agenda – if carried to extremes. A backlash and public cry for “law and order” may result in a call for even greater authoritarianism than currently exists. This could lead to dictatorship – the most depraved corruption of governance.

Universal administrative theories

Up to now, we believe no one has provided a comprehensive set of universal administrative theories. Such theories should be able to conceptualise the realities of administering human affairs. They should theoretically apply in most if not all contexts. They should be tools to help as we navigate, individually and simultaneously collectively and corporately, through life.

Maximum contribution to world society

Thus we introduce here the set of general administrative theories presented in Section One. We believe they are applicable in all human organizations. As practitioners and scholars, we have tried to craft them with the best values and knowledge of social science. We invite our readers to put them to work now for civilization building. You too can lift them up to help create new organizational and social contexts, to train creative leaders of society. You can help leaders and their constituents achieve their maximum contribution to world society.

The art of successful governance

 Perhaps governance will always remain an art and not a science. But we should at least try to identify those principles and dynamics that can be understood and applied by every leader. Every individual can also understand these principles. We need only first, to be interested, and second, to make the effort to understand!

We hope, too, that our collective works will help inform the enigmatic question of human purpose and destiny. For we, the human family, are on the move. We are heading from barbarian atrocities and wars of the past and present, to a future “civilization.” This is the highest purpose of our textbook. For it is a text for the builders of “Civilization of Tomorrow.”

How to collaborate! The key to civilization building

Civilization building succeeds – we repeat – as humankind learns how to collaborate. Collaboration is the way to grow. Collaboration is the way to enable the exercise of individual, societal, economic, religious, and political responsibilities. Collaboration is the means to achieve organizational and institutional objectives in local, regional, state, national and international arenas, both public and private, governmental and non-governmental. Collaboration is the vehicle for building civilization so as to make it finer, more widespread, more enduring, more profound.

The definition of civilization building

Religious leaders know that in every human heart there lies the hope of finding, or contributing to, true civilization. Yet few people, even academic social scientists and politicians, have tried to define or study civilization. As we enter the Third Millennium, there is a great need for leaders – indeed for all citizens – to understand civilization well enough to know its history, and to share in its ongoing creating and improvement. Our definition of civilization building is: the dynamic, historical processes of human innovation and social evolution that improve the survivability of the human race and the success of the human species through its enlightened organizations and institutions.

We believe that a person’s civic identity is one of the deepest components of human nature. It is nothing less than the link between who we are and the civilization we build for ourselves.

Inspired citizens of the world in pursuit of happiness

This book, the fruit of social science research sponsored by Seattle’s Forum Foundation since 1970, presents a set of theories, challenges, and techniques for the administrators and citizens of the future that we hope will provide vital energy for the 21st Century citizenship and governance in the world. Inspired citizens of the world in pursuit of happiness!

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