Steps for the Activity
- Become familiar with the three myths:
Myth: It's someone else's problem
History is created by the inspired few who come along and change everything — be they in government, business or civil society (like Greenpeace). The role for the rest of us is to be followers and cheerleaders.
New myth: Working together as citizens, we will solve our problems.
We live in a world where good ideas can cross the globe in seconds. Our actions can be noticed by anyone, anywhere. And while our leaders will need to be part of the solution, it has become clear that we will lead and they will follow. Evidence that the new story is already taking hold: The rise of “local.” Exodus from disconnected suburbs and return to dense, interconnected urban centers. Global South rejecting old models of aid in favor of local solutions. Twitter toppling tyranny. Hackers inventing faster than corporations.
Myth: Money makes the world go round.
Everyone, and everything, has its price. The value of natural resources, human happiness and fulfillment, future security, and a clean environment are without meaning unless they can be expressed in monetary terms.
New myth: Wealth means healthy people and a healthy planet.
Our economy exists to serve people, not the other way around. Real wealth derives not from numbers on a stock ticker but on the health of the planet on which we all depend. Progress is defined by how many are lifted out of poverty and by shrinking inequality. People created the old measures of economic health — so people can create new ones. Evidence that the new story is already taking hold: Growing distrust in unbridled capitalism as evidenced by broad public opinion polls. Near consensus about the threat of climate change. New measures of economic well-being taking hold. The widely predicted slowing of global growth within the next two decades based on demographic and resource trends
Myth: Humans are bad.
It’s an idea that’s been spread since the Bible’s story of The Garden of Eden. Humans have stepped outside of nature’s order and now exist apart from it. We are perverse and mean, incapable of sustained cooperation and altruism. Now that we’ve attained mastery over the Earth, any hope that we will leave behind greed and violence in time are fantasies of the naive.
New myth: We are evolving just in time.
Yes, we’ve shown our capacity for selfishness and short-sightedness. But humans have also been capable of enormous courage, altruism and evolution. Just as our problems accelerate, so too has our ability to understand each other, to collaborate on solutions and to influence the power structures that have limited us. These are scaling exponentially. Fatalism about the future shows a very limited view of human potential. Evidence that the new story is already taking hold: Young people are increasingly rejecting homophobia, sexism, racism and nationalism. Social media culture that routinely makes altruism and pro-social behavior go viral. “Likes,” “Shares,” “Friends,” are the common parlance of a new communications culture.
Our three statements that introduce our myths.
- There is always someone else who can affect change faster than I can. ('someone else’s problem’ myth)
- Money makes the world go round.
- True altruism doesn't exist. (humans are bad myth)
Place post its with the numbers one to ten written on them in a line on the floor or wall. Leave enough space for people to separate along the line.
Explain the activity to the participants: You will read a statement and if they completely agree with that statement, they should stand near the number 10. If they completely disagree, they should stand near the number 1. Those whom somewhat agree would stand at number 5. Tell the participants that they can change their minds based on what other participants say.
Read the first statement and once participants have divided themselves along the line, ask someone why they are standing where they are standing. Use the activity to begin a discussion and debate on the essential themes of the day.