A Future with a Heart

Discontent grows around the world. Citizens are fed up with politics ruled by a very tiny, powerful elite. As corporations grow more powerful than nations, national democracies grow flaccid and citizen's voices dissipate. We cry for a new kind of democratic, nature-friendly civilization based not on wealth and consumption but on personal rights and creativity; one based on a plentiful and powerful natural resource we have yet to fully tap: people.

We need a new democracy for a post-state globalized world!
U.N. Women's Peace Prize, bronze by Tim Holmes

What does that look like?

  • A focus on dignity and authority of the individual human being.
  • A network intelligence, connecting human hearts like the internet connects computers.
  • A future controlled by humans (not machines or machine-like corporations and institutions).
  • A shared secular ethic, resisting the life-denying and favoring the greater good.
  • An instantly responsive nervous and immune system for humanity.

If you're sure the model described below could never work, you could help a lot by pointing the out weak spots!

But then how would you explain that we're already witnessing it in action?  The flowers of freedom spring up around the globe in spite of all efforts of authoritarian regimes to repress them! Once people get the idea of freedom in their heads, it can't be dislodged. We've already entered a new era for the human spirit.

The COST of human evil on earth has gone up!

The ideal of universal human cooperation is as old as the species itself. But we all know it's just a dream. 
What we don't know is that as you read this the last pieces are being put together to make what has always been an impossible dream into a concrete reality. We are witnessing the moment in history when it first becomes possible to actually achieve world cooperation! The secret is that it does not come from the top down– from experts and governments– but from the bottom up, from the people. And it doesn't come from the wars we think make history but from cell phones, citizens and connections. What's more, what the greatest global powers don't know yet is that this dream is not only possible but inevitable. The greatest armies of the world are going to have to move over to make room for an even greater force that is now being unleashed on a new scale through the democratizing means of the internet: simple human goodness!

How could such a dream possibly work in reality? The same way that democracy roots the ultimate authority of the state in the citizen: if the state doesn't respect the person, that state is, eventually, headed for the dustbin. Now, with the new tools that are giving us popular uprisings against repressive regimes in which social media and mobile phones overcome tanks and troops– we human beings can not only topple dictators but any government, supercomputer, corporation or other entity that doesn't respect basic human ideals

Democratic Globe is...

A model for a global tool to preserve the primacy of humans and to build the shared sense of right and wrong that bridges all cultures, nations and religions into a network. This cooperative model reflects a dream common to the whole human family: to increase cooperation and diminish evil everywhere for unfolding an even better future. This is a vision of HOPE.

With every new danger comes a new hope.

How can we be so sure that as nations lose influence people will prevail over despots with military might? Because this is the direction of history! No matter what you believe or what culture you come from you can't argue with the fact that history moves in the direction of greater freedoms for more people. People will prevail not because the person is bigger but because history favors freedom! (To test this, run history backwards in your head and see if there is really a more attractive time, in terms of quality of life, to be alive than right now!)

I'm Tim Holmes and I saw this for myself when my political satire quartet, the Montana Logging and Ballet Co., invited one of the great humanitarians of our time clear around the world to our small, remote American town for a performance with us. It was 1990, at the height of tensions in South Africa, where the racist apartheid regime kept 80% of the population in subjugation, including the world famous spiritual leader Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Before our show when we asked the Archbishop how– when his nation appeared to be on the brink of a monumental racial bloodbath– he could be so utterly cheerful, I shall never forget his response: “because our cause is right”. He knew what we didn't then: that it was only a matter of time. Only four years, as it turns out!

New developments in science and technology are increasingly happening without humane– even human– influence. Traditional cultural mores provided by law and religion that have served to protect humanity from truly evil inventions and intentions in the past are losing effectiveness in our globalized world as new developments generate from machines and collectives which act like machines. But there is a workable solution, available now for the first time because of the same new tools that are used create greater war and terror.

During a peaceful 2009 protest following an election in Iran, a young unarmed woman was shot by government snipers. Normally, the Islamic republic would be able to avoid wide scrutiny of such action since its leaders have a history of intolerance toward protests. What they didn't realize was that the world had changed. A protestor filmed the girl's death on a cell phone that day, posted it to the internet and it became “probably the most witnessed death in history”. The appearance of a new worldspirit would assure that forever more this kind of thoughtless act of power would become very, very much more costly. What's more, there's no way governments can defend against it. The rules for every regime on earth had changed.

Where did that new worldspirit come from? It came from ordinary people like you and me! Because of us, no powerful entity anywhere anytime, no matter how secretive, can again act so heinously without the creeping fear that their acts might be revealed. And the more reprehensible the act, the more likely it will be revealed. People are the real power.

Creating a shared ethic for global progress

People from every corner of the world– regardless of their education, cultural or religious upbringing– mature with a basic sense of right and wrong, a "common sense" that transcends all boundaries.

Democratic Globe is a model for a global secular ethic that pools this wisdom into a network intelligence. It's an incredibly powerful confluence of the institution of the family, new communication tools, and a focus on personal values(Read the basic assumptions on the How? page.)

The Imagination Gap

One way to think of the Democratic Globe model is as a global immune system that discourages life-denying behavior; a global conscience that works for civilization just like your personal conscience does for you (exactly as envisioned by psychologist Carl Rogers in 1964). This is not a "majority wins" model but one where a greater majority simply has a proportionally greater influence, but where only humans count!

A person's activity can be broken into three aspects: values (what we honor or desire), means (our behavior or actions) and ends (ideals to achieve). We can always fight over means and ideals but it's no more possible to argue over values than eye color. A jungle-dweller is very different from an arctic-dweller but their values are quite similar; most of their differences cluster around their fears, which are near-impossible to meditate. Each would probably fear the other's seemingly lethal climate, but in truth both value being comfortable, much as they can't imagine how the other solves that problem.

The Democratic Globe model is an ethic for humanity based on an aggregate of global citizen's individual values. No matter a person's upbringing this model assumes that all are equally creatures of creation or "children of God" and that everyone's wisdom is valid for themselves. As globalization "shrinks" the world it becomes increasingly crucial that we figure out how to coexist. There are those who firmly believe that the only way forward is to kill off the "bad" people. They will not like this model, (though they too are included). But this model is rather based on the assumption that we can all live together– honoring our differences– as the various members of a family can, without killing each other.

It may feel that personal values vary a great deal, but new studies prove that personal values are remarkably similar across the world in every culture. What varies is the priorities between values. By expressing yourself in terms of your values you are not negating any part of your character, rather it becomes impossible to be attacked because of who you are. We rarely look at people this way, but it might be the only way we can get along in the new globalized world. Though it may appear otherwise, hatred of another is based on their behavior, not their values. A mouse hates a cat not because of its catness but because it kills mice. If the cat could express its value of finding food and the mouse its value of safety, there can be no argument between them; all that remains is to find a solution that works for both. (This is where legitimate differences begin, which this model does not try to address. But simply getting to the place beyond prejudice presents most of the difficulty.) Anonymously and voluntarily identifying global citizens in terms of their values would not erase conflict entirely, but would reduce it greatly.

Family is Our Commonality

The Democratic Globe idea springs from the very simple skills for cooperating for the greater good that nearly every person on the planet already knows. Whether you grew up in a jungle tribe, a huge city, a fanatical religious community, an isolated yurt or a sprawling suburb, we all learned as kids how to cooperate in the same way– by growing up in a family! Even though we disagreed with our family members, we learned– with more or less success–  to get along together. Those basic universal values we learned can help us realize the long-envisioned dream of world harmony. With that vastly underused and unspeakably valuable gift– human imagination– we can transform everything we do, and more importantly, the way we think.

What's proposed here is a model that would bring the existing universal conscience out in the open so it can be used more effectively. Just how it works is explained in these pages in expanding detail.

(So how does the Democratic Globe model work? Skip ahead a bit)

WWW: the Whole World is Watching!

We are experiencing an exponential acceleration of change in our time, at once both thrilling and terrifying. But as technology develops and the effects of globalization spread to every corner of the earth, what's missing is a common guidance system, a fact increasingly recognized and causing greater trouble. In the absence of that, whatever scheme a scientist or programmer can invent (the nano-war world of microdrones, for example) whatever terror an oligarchy or mad fundamentalist can finance will become a reality that we must react to in retrospect. Dangerous developments (see "Bad News" on the Resources page) have already outpaced the capacity of our esteemed institutions– which were carefully cultivated over centuries– to evaluate or even to recognize, let alone in time enough to mitigate any threats. Though traditional institutions will continue to operate as always, our new world has no rapid evaluative oversight with a global scope.  We're a speeding car with no steering.

Civilization is crammed with powerful forces at work. Still no corporation, system, institution, or supercomputer has what is standard issue for every human being: a conscience, a built-in sense of right and wrong. (And some entities like free-market corporations, are specifically designed to resist conscience!) It is upon this simple, common principle that we can construct a deep awareness in the heart of the human family that could guide future development with patient wisdom and compassion for all. Just like a personal conscience it acts not as a force but a quiet awareness of when we are doing the right thing and when we are not. (See "Good News" on the Resources page.) Though cultures, religions and nations have never yet adopted a common ethic, that does not mean we are incapable of finding one. It is simply a lie that diverse peoples cannot agree on basics. While huge collectives like nations do not naturally know how to live and work with each other, individuals do, because we were all kids once!

Rapid change means that fundamental concepts of our reality that we take for granted have expired without our knowing. Who in 2004 would have thought that a fancy college address book could grow into a worldwide platform for launching democracy movements that could topple firmly established, well-armed dictators? Yet this is exactly what Facebook– no older than a kindergartner– has done! We don't know what the future holds but the one thing we know for sure is that if we don't imagine a greater good for all, it won't appear. As Eleanor Roosevelt has said, we will either live together or die together.

"What we need is a framework for the sort of change that fits our world– and that lays a foundation for the widespread personal involvement of millions of people that will make such change useful, durable and sustainable...that resembles nothing so much as a global immune system: always ready, capable of dealing with the unexpected, as dynamic as the world itself."

So says Joshua Cooper Ramo in his excellent book about change The Age of the Unthinkable. Presented here, then, is a malleable model conceived as just such a framework. It is a network of personal human values as expressed by people everywhere in the world. Ideally, if all human beings were to pool their personal values we would have a true kitchen table round which the entire family could gather, devoid of all imposed alliances, each speaking only for themselves. Just like the internet is a network of computers whose individuality is not compromised by their connection to all others, the model would connect human hearts in a similar way. This would give access to an instant snapshot of how human beings feel about any development.  Our beloved institutions, which helped regulate change in the past, are simply built for a world of solid boundaries, and are therefor not as responsive to a world of permeable ones.

The internet provides the tool (global network of equal individuals), the access (through any net-connected device), the means (pooled, intelligent concern), the durability (indestructible) and universal scope, to provide a new kind of entity to add wisdom to progress. The concept of a global conscience– even if this does not prove to be its ultimate embodiment– will arise on its own, powered by the hopes and dreams of billions of ordinary people all over the globe who imagine a more cooperative, sustainable and joyful future.

This model is envisioned by Tim Holmes, one skinny little artist and compassionate dreamer. The interface is intended to be edited, Wikipedia-style, by anyone anywhere with an idea to improve the model. (A sample will soon be viewable on the Interface page). I could probably build this model for free on my own– all the tools are available– but it's much more fun to build it as a community project! You are invited and encouraged to participate.

To learn more on this site:

Examples of How Democratic Globe works.

Here's a more in-depth Overview of the Democratic Globe model and the theory and research behind it.

FAQ s about the Democratic Globe model. (What would it do and not do?)

This idea stems from a search for a global universality so far unrealized. The choice to focus on Values is expanded here.

The Interface page describes the personal interaction concept with some charts and goes into some technical rubber-hits-the-road detail. (How would each person interact with it?)

Discussion of the Democratic Globe model. (What do you have to say?)

Issues Raised with the Democratic Globe model. (How could it work better? What needs to be fixed or redesigned?)

Ideas for further development and possible future directions. (What other uses do these powerful tools suggest?)

Resources include links, articles, stories, books, quotes and other similar ideas already in progress.

Contact addresses and information about the originator. (Please contact me with ideas for any kind of improvements).

There is a glossary on the Resources page to clarify terms used on this site.

Subpages (2): Overview Values