On April 10, 1607, three ships left England with 214 passengers who were the original settlers of Jamestown, Va. When I think about what they faced, I really wonder whether I would have had the guts to get onto my ship.
When I think about the changes that are going to be necessary soon as this world transforms from one based on the nation-state to one based on multiple competing models, I realize that it’s going to be people like those earlier settlers who are going to make the difference.
Change can be very difficult for some people, but even for those of us who embrace and enjoy change, some changes can be scary. The people leaving Europe to come to America in those days were sometimes seeking financial gain and sometimes fleeing oppression. It was a high-risk gamble, because other English groups had tried colonies and failed. Many had died.
Today, many of us are ready to seek new opportunities and escape the oppression of the state — and the risks of finding alternatives to the nation-state are going to be dangerous, too. We might not face a month-long ocean voyage to get here. We might not face conflicts with people whose land we are trying to take. But we face different challenges. We face a world where we’re told all the available land is taken. We face a world where governments collude to prevent challenges to their authority. And we face a world where many who might help us believe in the morality and necessity of the state having authority over us. Our challenges are different from those of the Jamestown settlers, but they’re very, very difficult.
Many of us — including me — have been complaining about what we face here for a long time. Most of the people around us don’t understand the things we’re concerned about. And some of those who understand why we want change don’t believe that change is possible. So very few people have started taking concrete steps to start the change. It’s time for more of us to join the few who have already been working on the societies of tomorrow. How? I’m still not sure, but I’m working on it — and I’m trying to make contact with others who are also working on it.
When the Jamestown settlers got onto their three ships for the trip to America, there were 214 of them. After two years in the New World, only 60 of those remained alive. But out of that tiny seed grew a great new civilization. We have the same opportunity to start something new today, but it’s not going to happen for those who just complain and wish things were different.
I’m honestly not sure whether I would have had the guts to get onto one of those ships in 1607, but I’m certain that I’m already on the ship for the next big transition — even thought I’m not sure where the ship is going. Sitting at home and complaining and wishing people would leave us alone is no longer enough.