On November 11th and 12th, 2017, over 300 people gathered in San Francisco for the first annual Purpose Summit. One of the main themes explored was our purpose as a global society to create conditions for human flourishing. Inevitably, the discussion of democracy was woven throughout the event, for, as Ervin Laszlo stated recently, “The survival of the human species, and of the societies created by human beings, depend on respecting, and abiding by, the principles of democracy.”
We are grateful for the Fetzer Institute’s contribution as the premier sponsor of the Purpose Summit and their commitment to healing the heart of democracy, which pioneered deep discussion throughout the weekend. Read on to learn more about the Fetzer Institute’s work and the illuminating discussions that transpired at the Summit.
About the Fetzer Institute:
The Fetzer Institute is building the spiritual foundation for a loving world. They envision a world where everyone understands we are all part of one human family, and feels a sacred sense of connection to ourselves, each other, and our planet. In the world they seek, everyone is committed to courageous compassion. By boldly loving, we can be a powerful force for good in the face of fear, anger, division, and despair.
The Fetzer Institute is a growing community of people who see we’re part of something more. They believe the connection between the inner life of spirit and outer life of service and action holds the key to lasting change. They aim to inspire and serve a global movement grounded in connection that transforms the world into a more loving home for all.
The Fetzer Institute’s Work to Heal Democracy:
Our country is in crisis. The toxicity and polarization that have been building over the past several decades threaten our democracy and the American dream. And in spite of this, we are finding hope. In conversations in our hallways, in our communities, beyond our physical walls and national borders, there is energy for working for a common good and re-imagining the American dream. The Fetzer Institute believes democracy can flourish by committing to and activating civic virtues that transcend ideology, race, and class. If we are to heal American democracy, we must work together to create a shared moral and spiritual vision of what America should be. This vision must be deeper and more powerful than anything that divides us. Working with various sectors–voluntary, religious and spiritual, business, and higher education, among others—to shape this work, Fetzer is currently formulating a multi-year initiative to catalyze and support a powerful movement to heal the heart of American democracy. Learn more at fetzer.org.
Democracy at the Purpose Summit:
The importance of healing democracy came through strongly and repeatedly during the Purpose Summit. Here are a few notable moments:
Purpose Rising: Emanuel Kuntzelman, one of the visionaries behind the Purpose Summit, opened the gathering on Saturday morning by saying that on a planetary scale, living our highest purpose means a re-affirmation of human rights and civil liberties within democratic traditions. Only this can ensure a peaceful, equitable, and inclusive society that will be the foundational premise for the greatest transformation in human history. He discussed how through democracy, purpose summons itself to actualize a flourishing future for Earth and its inhabitants.
Barbara Marx Hubbard: Later on Saturday afternoon, Barbara Marx Hubbard spoke beautifully about synergistic democracy. She shared that spirituality is intrinsic to democracy and that it is carrying us to the next stage of democracy itself, which she calls synergistic democracy. She went on to say that the purpose of synergistic democracy is to free people to do their life purpose, and to connect with the partners they need to fulfill their life purpose in such a way that the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. Now democracy for our new species will be to help us join together to create rather than win-lose over each other.
Xiaoan Li: Xiaoan Li of the Fetzer Institute spoke on Saturday afternoon about the Fetzer Institute’s mission of building the spiritual foundation for a loving world. He shared their current work that is exploring the relationship between democracy and spirituality as well as the roles of inner life and leadership.
The Spiritual Rebirth of Democracy Panel Discussion: On Sunday, democracy was the central topic with a panel discussion featuring Drew Dellinger, Cassandra Vieten, and Lawrence Ellis. These three diverse leaders engaged in lively discussion to explore the need to reaffirm the highest values and spiritual underpinnings of a truly democratic society. They discussed crucial questions like how to re-evaluate democracy in terms of the twenty-first century, how to ensure a radically inclusive process that works in service to the good of the whole, and how to put our collective purpose to work in order to evolve a robust democratic system that will give us leadership imbued with altruism and vision for the future stability of humanity and planet earth. The panel wrapped up with a few thoughtful questions from the audience, which launched a discussion that could have lasted all day.
Daniel Pinchbeck: Daniel Pinchbeck wrapped up the Summit on Sunday evening by sharing multiple real-world examples of how we can manifest the principles of spiritual democracy into action. He spoke about his vision for rapidly reinventing and redesigning our technical and social infrastructure to help humanity transition from a destructive virus on the Earth to a planetary immune system. We were left with a vibrant vision of the possibility of an interconnected global humanity caring for the health and diversity of the biosphere as we enhance the lives of everyone on Earth with the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Next Steps and Inspiring Quotes:
The deep democracy discussions that the Fetzer Institute inspired at the Purpose Summit were truly cutting edge, and we are now exploring how to manifest these inspirational ideas into reality. For now, we leave you with a few powerful quotes by global leaders to inspire you to find your purpose in the healing of democracy:
Ervin Laszlo: “Demos, the people, means humanity, for every human being is born with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and there is no system other than the democratic that can ensure this right. We are born equal, and we must live equal. Not the same, not uniform, but equal before the law, equal before God, and equal in the chance of fulfilling ourself.”
Barbara Marx Hubbard: “(As a humanity) we took a huge step with Democracy, where all people are born equal enough so that everyone has this inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That’s a profoundly spiritually realization because if you look at the evolution of life itself, from the origin of creation all the way on up to us, you find an internal process leading to higher consciousness, leading to more freedom of the individual, leading to more complex or synergistic order. So democracy is not only just spiritual, it’s evolutionary spirituality, by empowering the individual to make this choice.”
Ella Baker: “In order for us as poor and oppressed people to become part of a society that is meaningful, the system under which we now exist has to be radically changed… It means facing a system that does not lend itself to your needs and devising means by which you change that system.”
Rigoberta Menchu: “Peace cannot exist without justice, justice cannot exist without fairness, fairness cannot exist without development, development cannot exist without democracy, democracy cannot exist without respect for the identity and worth of cultures and peoples.”
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: “There is no greater force for change, for peace, for justice and democracy, for inclusive economic growth than a world of empowered women.”
Mahatma Gandhi: “The science of nonviolence alone can lead one to pure democracy. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent than power derived from fear of punishment…. My notion of democracy is that under it the weak shall have the same opportunities as the strongest… Western democracy, as it functions today, is diluted fascism… True democracy cannot be worked by twenty men sitting at the center. It has to be worked from below, by the people of every village.”
Learn more about The Purpose Summit at thepurposesummit.org.
Learn about the Fetzer Institute’s work to heal democracy at fetzer.org.