New Methods Are Needed
In times of change, the learners inherit the world, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.
- Eric Hoffer
The following text is taken from Paul Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson, The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World (New York, NY: Three Rivers Press, 2000), pages 333-334, with their kind permission:
…the trend to a convergence of business and consciousness makes a lot of people unhappy. It offends those on the left who believe that business must be greedy and cynical, and those on the right who hate the new paradigms and want "all those counterculture people" kept in their place. It upsets the meditation, yoga, and health practitioners who didn't want to run a business, and it upsets actual counterculture hippies who only wanted a natural food cooperative. Here they were having to do yucky things like advertising and promotion and keeping books and hiring and firing people. But when we innovate, as in nearly all aspects of human culture, we unreflectively carry a lot of old practices forward as "the way it's done."
Traditionally, monastery walls separated spiritual seekers from the hurly-burly of the marketplace, but today most of our walls have been torn down. In our present landscape of materialism and consciousness, an aching wish for renewal of body and soul can be most bewildering.
Consider, for example, the daily mail. Many Cultural Creatives return from their mailboxes every day with catalogs promising deep satisfaction from natural-fiber clothing and accessories, and gifts made in the third world, right alongside brochures promising to reveal the deep truths of the world's spiritual traditions if you will only purchase a dozen tapes or sign up for a weekend seminar (the bonus gifts are "yours FREE without obligation"). How different are these spiritual and psychological offers, really, from the dozens of mainstream clothing and gift catalogs that also come every month? They even use the same slick graphics and pitches. Madison Avenue calls it "aspirational advertising." The trap here is letting modern materialism do the business of the soul. This is the shadow to the success of the business of consciousness.
Another problem is also poisoning the well of community. When successful Cultural Creatives authors or speakers aim for national recognition and a chance to rally people, they turn to "experts" in direct mail marketing, or public relations, or advertising. They may even get an infomercial made to broadcast on cable TV. Why? Because they feel helpless. Because as children of Modernism, they turn things over to experts, who say, "This is how it's done. You want to reach a lot of people? Then do it this way." At that moment, the automatism of modern culture takes over. The process is a form of unconsciousness, running on rails and following standard procedures.
How does this affect Cultural Creatives who receive the direct mail? The same way they've been affected since the 1970s, when national good cause sent them direct mail soliciting contributions. Too many direct mail pieces from good causes produce a vague sense of betrayal. Whatever initial connection or interest they felt slowly diminishes, along with the hope that what they care about will be addressed honestly. The genuine connection, the sense of being recognized as a member of a shared community, is lost.