Please Remain Seated – Waiting to Die

August 2008

In this issue:
1. Readers’ Comments
2. Newsbits
3. August Editorial: “Please Remain Seated”
4. Preview: Next Month’s Editorial
5. Quote of the Month – Swami Muktananda
6. Hot Link of the Month
7. Want to Blog?
8. Click and Play of the Month


Thanks to the kind tenth-anniversary notes from subscribers Lucie Newcomb, Cheryl Whitesitt, Dan Weigold, Daryl Alford, Karen Reddering and Dorothea Kraemer in Germany. Here’s one note from Minnesota:

Hello John, Thank you for your article, “Thinking Responsibly.” Amen!…. Critical thinking skills are surely important but they only serve us well when they are based on the solid foundation that only God can give.
Cheryl Whitesitt, Executive Director
MN Future Problem Solving Program


Journal of Human Values Article

The Journal for Human Values has published my article “Humanizing Capitalism: Vision of Hope; Challenge for Transcendence” in the current issue.

August Blog on Overcoming Spiritual Relapses

In my monthly blog at the Global Dialogue Center, I’m focusing on an unusual topic – “Dealing With Spiritual Relapses: Overcoming the Recidivism of Our Egos.” Check it out and post your comments

Subscribers from 36 Countries!

Not all email addresses reveal the countries of origin but some do. Based upon those that are apparent, I was pleasantly surprised to discover this newsletter goes to people in at least 36 countries suggesting there are most likely more since so many people around the world use Google and Yahoo accounts. Here’s the list.


In late 2007, interviewed the preeminent scientist James Lovelock about his rather gloomy prediction of the future of the human race. Near the end of the interview Lovelock warns that despite all our technological advancement: “we are still tribal animals, largely incapable of acting for the greater good or making long-term decisions for our own welfare.” Then, to illustrate his point, he tells the story of an airliner tragedy in Great Britain where a plane’s fuel tank caught fire during takeoff.

Likening the accident to the way people remain passive while major disruptions are going on without human countermeasures, Lovelock explains, “There was plenty of time for everybody to get out, but many of the passengers wouldn’t move. They just stayed there in their seats as they were told to, and the people who escaped had to climb over them to get out. It was perfectly obvious how to get out, but they wouldn’t move. They died from the smoke or burned to death. And an awful lot of people, I’m sad to say, are like that. And that’s what will happen this time, except on a much vaster scale.” By blindly obeying the instructions of the flight crew many people died.

Lovelock then tells his interviewer unflinchingly, “Some people will sit in their seats and do nothing, frozen in panic. Others will move. They’ll see what’s about to happen, and they’ll take action, and they’ll survive. They’re the carriers of the civilization ahead.”

Today, the vast majority of people in developed countries are obeying the “instructions” from the status quo and “remaining seated” while the smoke and flames of incivility, fear, environmental degradation, separation and specialness consume us. People in developing countries are mostly doing all they can to provide for themselves and their families while some others, in stark contrast, are emulating the way the industrialized countries consume, pollute and exploit others. The main difference between Lovelock’s metaphor of the airline fire and the global situation is people on the plane who acted quickly and didn’t follow the instructions were able to escape the danger and save their own lives. Here on Spaceship Earth, however, we have to eliminate the dangers because there’s nowhere to escape.

The question for the time: Are our existing lifestyles and existences the epitome of human evolution? Is the world working as well as it can? Is the world as we know it as good as it can get?

If your answers are “yes” to all three questions, you can stop reading now since there’s no better world for us to explore. If your answers are “no” then how do we move onward, toward that which we sense as possible – some higher possibility? How do we re-create ourselves as a more evolved species? How do we create a new civilization, say “Civilization 2.0” or the next Age of Enlightenment? What will it take for us to become “carriers of the civilization ahead”?

It seems obvious: the first thing to do is “get out of our seats” – to awaken from our entrancement and start waking up others who are still entranced. This won’t take coercion or argument; they simply need to be invited into a conversation. After all, if someone who doesn’t see any problem wants to argue with you, why waste your time trying to win an unwinnable argument? Better to explore possibilities with others who, while perhaps asleep, are more open-minded when they wake up.

I am often asked “where do I start?” by people who seem sincere in wanting to do something but don’t know where to begin. My usual answer: “Wherever you are planted.” Talk to people in your circles and networks. Invite them to explore possibilities for major transformation in the way people relate to one another and to our home, planet Earth. If everyone around you agrees there’s work to be done, move into action and do something. Keep inviting conversations wherever you are, avoid confrontation and talk with those who are open and share that sense of unseen possibilities for the human race. I challenge you to start noticing where you have those opportunities each day and how often you pass them up. If you are like most people, you pass up most of them, choosing the comfort of your window/aisle seat to the effort it may take to act constructively.

When you do engage others, make sure the conversations generate action, not merely rhetoric. There’s too much opinionism out there already (in my opinion). The airwaves are full of talk and opinion. It is as if there is some solace in merely talking and having opinions. Opinions are impotent by themselves (unless you are a talk show host or an op-ed journalist and you have a market for them). What is lacking is constructive action, usually because people get into arguing about what action to take.

I choose to put my conversations and actions into a sacred context, inviting help and guidance in all I do and say. You may not. Judging people who disagree with me and labeling them “wrong” doesn’t feel very spiritual to me. If they don’t see the enormous possibility before us to consciously evolve, it isn’t a matter of who’s right and who’s wrong; it is more akin to who wants to play versus who wants to watch. I can’t think of a better game to play than doing what I can to see us all reach beyond the conditions and circumstances of today and be all that we can be – together.


“It Isn’t a Question of Intention; It Is Who is Doing the Intending.”


“If there is a conflict between your duty to yourself and your duty to others, that means you have become involved in some sort of self deception.” – Swami Muktananda
The Shaping Tomorrow Foresight Network helps members to help each other anticipate change, explore best practice and co-create the future through this public site and our main site; members include leading future thinkers, strategists, and change agents from commercial, not-for-profit and governmental organizations around the world as well as many directors and executives. John is a member.


My blog – “Exploring the Better Future” – is located at the Global Dialogues Center; a new topic every month; take a look and post your comments. I’d love to hear from some of you subscribers!

8. “CLICK & PLAY” OF THE MONTH: (see Audio and Videos)

John on You Tube: a short excerpt from “In Search of the Future” movie (1:13)


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John Renesch

John is a seasoned businessman-turned-futurist who has published 14 books and hundreds of articles on social and organizational transformation.

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