A new superpower is emerging on the Earth. This new superpower is arising from the combined voice and conscience of the world's citizens mobilized through the global communications revolution. Although often chaotic, fragmented and confusing, the emergence of social movements such as the Arab Spring and the Occupy movement demonstrates to ordinary citizens that their collective voice can have a powerful impact, particularly when expressed with the maturity and dignity of non-violence.
When the people of the Earth are not simply on the receiving end of media as a collective witness to climate disruption, intense poverty, genocide, etc., but also capable of offering a collective voice for change, then a new and powerful force for creative transformation will be unleashed in the world. As the people of the Earth learn how to use the new media tools to come together as a global community and express their collective voice, a new era in human development is being born.
What kind of communication is required to give the citizens of the world an authentic collective "voice"? Critically important, it must be nearly instantaneous and global in scope. A genuine "Earth Voice" must reach the vast majority of the people of the Earth, and it must reach them virtually all at the same time! Seven billion or more people need to be able to offer their feedback about critical concerns if they are to feel part of an Earth Voice conversation. This level of functioning of our "global nervous system" would have been completely unthinkable prior to the emergence of a new capacity for computing and networking that places information in "virtual clouds" rather than on individual computers.
As "cloud computing" accelerates, by the decade of the 2020s, the world will have the technologies with which to acquire real-time feedback and knowledge of humanity's sentiments and views -- and humanity will move into a new phase of collective transparency, self-reflection and self-discovery. With communication capacities that are intensely interactive, highly intelligent and virtually instantaneous, the citizens of the Earth will have the power to communicate together and express common solidarity, for sustainable prosperity, freedom and justice.
An emerging Earth Voice movement -- we might also call it a "World Voice" or "Gaian Voice" movement -- is bringing all humans together in a shared process, all at the same time, enabling citizens to voice their hopes and concerns. For the first time in human history, we are acquiring a way to listen to and talk with one another as members of one family. In awakening to ourselves as a planetary species and seeing ourselves whole for the first time, we see that we have the potential for an evolutionary leap forward. However, having the technical ability to communicate with ourselves as a species does not mean we will automatically do so. The question remains open as to whether we will have the collective maturity to consciously seize this precious opportunity.
Building the Foundation: Local "Community Voice" Movements
It is important that an Earth Voice process be grounded, and it can find that grounding at the local level in independent "Community Voice" organizations. As metropolitan scale networks of citizen communication are established, there will be a robust and resilient basis for supporting diverse Earth Voice initiatives. Within the coming decade, independent, trans-partisan and nonprofit Community Voice organizations will likely emerge to represent the rights and needs of citizens in metropolitan areas and produce regular "Electronic Town Meetings" with local to global impact.
This is not a fanciful or new idea. With the understanding that citizens legally own the airwaves at the community level, in 1987 in San Francisco, our nonprofit and trans-partisan organization, Bay Voice, co-produced an Electronic Town Meeting with the local ABC-TV station that was seen by more than 300,000 people locally. Importantly, it also involved six votes from a pre-selected scientific sample of citizen-viewers during the course of the hour-long, televised gathering. Within an hour, the sentiments of the Bay Area public were vividly clear.
With our trans-partisan approach, a Community Voice organization has two key roles: first, to listen to the concerns of the community and second, to present those concerns for dialogue before the community in the form of Electronic Town Meetings. The Community Voice organization itself is neutral and does no advocacy; rather, it serves as a vehicle for giving the community a voice in its own affairs and future.
If communities around the country were to form independent, trans-partisan Community Voice organizations to launch local Electronic Town Meetings, it would immediately revolutionize the conversation of democracy. The leadership of one community could inspire and catalyze other communities to create their own Community Voice organizations, and an entirely new layer of sustained and meaningful dialogue could sweep the country. Citizens could voice their views and help break through the gridlock now seen at the state, national, and international levels.
An "Earth Voice" Movement
An Earth Voice movement based upon trans-partisan inclusiveness and the power of non-violent global communication could emerge rapidly from the initiative of local Community Voice organizations. However, rather than emerging in a controlled or contained fashion, it seems more likely that an Earth Voice movement will coalesce out of the unique events and grass-roots circumstances of life in different communities. Being uncontained and relatively spontaneous, it seems likely that many groups will seek in parallel to catalyze global conversations. This could develop into crowd-sourced global conversations with flash mobs of hundreds of millions -- or even billions -- of people joining in the dialogue. In this way, the collective intelligence of our global nervous system could take on a life of its own in a process that transcends artificial boundaries.
What will the human community want to talk about? Certainly there are global crises that we all recognize that require urgent and concerted action: climate disruption, energy transition, resource depletion, species extinction and many more. Do the people of the Earth want more concerted and decisive action from their leaders? An Earth Voice movement with its synchronized and coherent communication could ensure that this message is delivered.
We are witnessing the awakening of the collective consciousness of the species as the Internet, television, cell phones and other social media converge into an intelligent cloud of knowledge and communication. This intelligent cloud can support a truly global conversation for a promising future -- an Earth Voice movement. The next great superpower will not be a nation or even a collection of nations; rather, it will be the billions of ordinary citizens who encircle the Earth and who are increasingly calling, with one voice, for unprecedented cooperation and creative action to bring practical vision and hope to our endangered planet.
Duane Elgin is an internationally recognized author, speaker, and trans-partisan media activist. He is the director of the Great Transition Stories project. Previous blogs include, "Occupy the Airwaves," "Take Back the Airwaves," and "The Last Taboo on Television." His website is: http://www.DuaneElgin.com/