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The New Story: Interbeing

By John Perkins

As seen on

I’m excited to be co-hosting the annual Love Summit organized by Dream Change this summer. Please join us! Information below.

The old story: violence to end violence. Destruction of resources to create economic growth. Profiting from separation. “They” are different; “they” are the problem.

Netanyahu clamors for war with Iran – and wins the election. ISIS terrorizes the Middle East. US civilian-killing drones wreak havoc on peace negotiations. Moscow and Washington face off across the Ukraine.

The Question:

What will it take for us to live together on this fragile space station, Earth?

Policies and profits have created this world of stark contrasts that is unsustainable if we want a future in which our children and grandchildren can enjoy peace, spiritual prosperity, and basic human rights.

Far from wanting to lead the world into peace, many in the US make themselves rich off the violent clashes in other countries. The problem isn’t just that violence doesn’t stop violence, but that there are people and organizations who see dollar signs by creating and exacerbating violence and war.

A recent study by IHS Inc., cited at Common Dreams demonstrates that nations and multinational corporations compete for money and power at each other’s expense – and at the expense of innocent lives. This trend is predicted to continue to rise as the potential for profits increases.

The “defense trade” is a booming business that depends on war, violence, and bloodshed – or the mere threat of these – and the ravaging of the Earth’s resources. It is time to turn this Death Economy into a Peace or Life Economy (based on businesses that clean up pollution and benefit from peace and Earth stewardship).

When we live in fear of each other and are focused on our differences instead of our similarities, we miss the joy that comes from collaboration and the solutions that will create a better future.

The Answer:

A new story. The story of Interconnectedness, or (to use Charles Eisenstein’s word) Interbeing.

By flexing our power in the marketplace and with our letters and calls to our elected officials, we can change the way businesses work. When we reward companies that are committed to people and nature instead of just maximizing profits and when we boycott companies that exploit war and the environment, we create a new system.

Dream Change, a non-profit I founded more than 25 years ago, is committed to the New Story and is sponsoring an annual Love Summit, dedicated to bringing compassion into business and establishing a global Life Economy. Businesses clearly have a powerful impact on the world; they can be either creative and sustainable or destructive. By teaching executives that “compassion – love – is good business,” we can shift the story in meaningful ways.

The Love Summit is a big step in that direction. It is a recognition that “business as usual” is not working – even for those who profit financially from the Old Story – and that those businesses that transform themselves will be the success stories of the future.

It is time to stop thinking about separation, about differences, and about the things that keep us apart. Let’s change the story of separation that has dominated human philosophies for far too long into a story of solidarity. Let’s turn the Death Economy into a Life Economy — the War Mentality into a Peace Mentality, the Hate Reaction into a Love Reaction.


June 13th, 2015: The Love Summit
Date: Saturday, June 13, 2015
Location: Portland, OR at the Wieden+Kennedy advertising agency
Registration: Early Bird Tickets on sale until April 15:



Aruba: Future World

Aruba is an island nation without freshwater or native fossil fuels. It has a population of slightly over 100,000 and more than 1 million tourist visitors every year who come for the sun, Caribbean waters, and exceptional white sand beaches. They expect potable water and electricity, amenities that most of us take completely for granted.

This attention from tourists from around the world has required the small island member of the Netherlands group to develop creative ways to face its lack of water and standard sources of energy. In doing so it now finds itself with the opportunity to set an example for the entire world.

My time there was extremely full, exciting, and inspirational. I met with the Prime Minister, the Governor (who represents the King of the Netherlands) and members of the cabinet, administrative staff members in various offices of government, bankers, investment bankers, faculty, students and administrators at the University of Aruba, gave a couple of major speeches and was interviewed by the media. I found the people of Aruba to be exceedingly intelligent, openhearted, and willing to listen to ideas that might frighten those in countries like my own, the United States.

I spent an afternoon with the managers and workers being shown around a state of the art reverse osmosis water purification plant that is five times more fuel-efficient than the previous one which, when it was built, was also state of the art. I sat in the control room of the nation’s electricity producing company and saw that 30% of the capacity was being produced by wind machines, which is impressive.

During meetings with the various people mentioned above, we discussed the way Aruba can take these innovative approaches for water purification and energy production to new levels. This country has the opportunity to send its experts out to the world and help others deal with the incredible challenges that face the entire planet.

Turn on any faucet in Aruba and out flows the Champagne of water, the purest best-tasting water I’ve ever had. I tell the Arubans that they need to take their expertise to Miami, New York, Chicago, LA, Paris, London, and just about every other major city where the water insults the taste buds. In addition to taste, of course there is a huge need throughout countries like China and India and those in Latin America and Africa where there are horrible droughts, unhealthy water sources, and the collapsing glaciers are causing major rivers to dry up.

A Dream for Aruba

One night I presented a speech to the people of this country, and in that speech I described a dream I have for Aruba:

The streets, parking lots and rooftops are painted white which saves a great deal of energy, as compared to ones that are black. The cars are electric. The water purification plant and electric facilities include beautiful parks for children (as well as adults) who come to play and learn about the technologies involved – a sort of modern, practical version of Epcot. Aruba’s experts are traveling the world to help others solve the problems associated with declining water and fossil fuel resources – fuels that are also destroying our atmosphere.

This is a dream that can become reality quickly. It only requires a mindset from people who are already open-minded and receptive to innovative approaches to solving their problems. I take great hope in what I see in Aruba. I have witnessed similar innovative approaches to solving a variety of problems in many other smaller countries – Iceland, Ecuador, Panama, Romania, and Croatia, to name a few.

The big countries, like the United States, Russia, China, and the European Union nations have failed us. Their approach to global economics has resulted in disaster for most of the world. It is time for change! It is time to move from the Death to a Life Economy, as I’ve said so many times in my writings and speeches.

Aruba is an example of a country that is taking a leadership role down the path of the Life Economy. My hat is off to the people of Aruba.



Breaking Bad Habits: Cuba, Afghanistan, and Iran

Weekend workshop near Philadelphia: “Shapeshifting the Story” with John Perkins and Charles Eisenstein is coming soon! Details below.

Being in Guatemala now, a month ago in Peru, and looking at spending a good portion of 2015 traveling again – in Latin America and the Caribbean, then on to Europe and Asia (My Schedule) – and with all the recent tragedies involving terrorists, I’m focused once again on the US’s role in global economics and politics.

I’ve talked often in these pages about this era of change and revolution that we’ve entered. I see many examples of this, and lately one of the more important is in the evolution of our relationships with nations that have been our enemies or at least where we have interacted violently. Significantly, Cuba, Afghanistan, and Iran will view us differently in the future, though in what way depends on each step that we take now. President Obama pointed out that to continue with a policy that hasn’t worked for 50 years and expect it to work in the future is not the path of wisdom. I agree.


President Obama recently announced that our relationship with Cuba will finally change after half a century; exactly what “normal” will look like in the future is not yet determined, but if we want to create a peaceful, prosperous future we need to become good neighbors instead of acting like bullies. We need to empower other nations instead of threatening their autonomy and hurting their economies. Cuba has long been a nation at odds with us, but by opening our doors to its people we can help them move forward in peace. We can create an ally instead of maintaining an enemy.

Hopefully we will carry the lessons we’ve learned in Cuba to the other side of the Atlantic. Our policy in the Middle East reflects one that we tried in Vietnam to no avail. Why do we expect it to work in one place when it didn’t work in others? Have we learned nothing from our history and past actions?


Officially, the US military is preparing to withdraw from the campaign in Afghanistan that began October, 2001. But is that what is really happening? Questions are being raised on all sides. The thousands of US troops who are still on the ground there are nominally serving as support for the Afghan military as that military assumes more responsibility.

However, Washington continues to send in mercenaries known euphemistically as “private contractors.” And at the same time we oppose the UN decision to offer increasing legitimacy to Palestine. When will we learn that violence begets violence and solutions lie in helping desperate people improve their lives? As we wake up, we must encourage our leaders to wake up, also. The answers we give for these questions will help guide the whole world into the future; we must take responsibility for that.


Iran and the US have not been aligned diplomatically for three decades. In the wake of nuclear peace talks with Iranian officials, President Obama has said that re-opening the US embassy in Tehran is not on the agenda, but is also not impossible in the future. The suggestion, however vague, of renewed good relations with a nation in the Middle East is in line with the changing face of US foreign policy that I support – if it can be kept free from the corruption of the corporatocracy.

Breaking Habits

Being the world’s police has not won the US any affection among the nations we’ve invaded (“protected.”) The only people these foreign policies favor are those who are already powerful: the wealthy elite of the US and other nations, as well as giant multi-national corporations. Furthermore, it is one of the reasons that increasing numbers of nations are turning to China for technical and financial assistance instead of to the World Bank and its affiliates. It is time we recognized that we need to apply democratic principles to our own policies, rather than enforcing draconian military methods. Let’s take care of our own dysfunctions before daring to correct other nations.

Western colonialism and corporate greed over the years have contributed heavily to the turmoil in the Middle East and elsewhere. However, instead of acknowledging the facts, the West has a habit of using military and financial power to get its way. It is time for the US to break these habits and to lead other nations by example instead of by might. Through my travels around the world, I have seen the people waking up to this realization and taking power back into their hands, where it should have been all along.

Terrorism and violence in all forms are cancers that must be healed. It is important to recognize that our past and recent acts of retribution and attempted persuasion through military might have done the opposite of healing. Although it is tempting to feel discouraged as we enter 2015, there are many signs that We the People are determined to change. Let us focus on reducing tensions, stopping the tendency to respond with hatred and violence, and instead taking the positive actions of helping desperate people around this planet live better lives.

Coming Up:

February 20-22, 2015: Shapeshifting the Story with Charles Eisenstein
Date: Friday-Sunday, Feb. 20-22, 2015
Topic: “Shapeshifting the Story”
Location: Pendle Hill – Philadelphia
Sponsor: DreamChange
Information and Tickets:


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