If you are reading this blog, you are probably are among the fast-growing number of people with a paradigm-shifting world view—one that is changing major developments world-wide, and at an accelerated rate.
- understand the urgent need for social change and are actively involved in a meaningful way
- care deeply about ecology, interpersonal relationships, peace, and social justice
- have a need for authenticity, self-actualization, spirituality, and self-expression
- have a dogged optimism about the future
- have felt invisible, unaware of how many others share your values and way of life
The term “cultural creative” (CC) was coined in 2000 by researchers Paul Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson, and documented in their book, The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People are Changing the World. In it, they describe the incremental rise of a values-driven subculture within America. (They named the other two subcultures Traditionalists and Modernists.)
The term is not a label, it’s a way of life, with values and worldviews that grew out of involvement in social movements: civil rights, the women’s movement, social justice, environmental, concerns for hunger and people in the developing world, new spiritualities and psychotherapies, bio foods, and finally ecology and the growing climate crisis of the planet.
The emergence of CCs can be traced back to the 1950s, when CCs gradually split from Moderns, those we have generally thought of as mainstream Americans. Moderns tend to be logical, reasonable, analytical, are curious about how things work and who want things to make sense to them. They are not, however, idealistic or self-actualizing. Moderns tend to see the world through a filter of personal success and financial gain. They’re fine with big cities, big organizations, the latest technologies, mass media, and life that is rewarded by material consumption.
Meanwhile, Traditionals, regardless of their age, are conservative in their politics and religious beliefs. They believe the world is a competitive, dangerous place. Mostly white, they reject change, wishing we all could go back to the “good old days”—a Father Knows Best/Mayberry RFD mythic image of America that never existed in the first place. Both the Traditionals and Moderns tend to think that their way as the only right way to see the world.
Before the 1950s Traditionals and Moderns ruled. The increase in CCs wasn’t possible until the postwar move into the current information age. Technology has been speeding up our lives, and our evolutionary shift. And each shift is happening in shorter and shorter intervals of time.
Another reason for the increase of CCs is that Moderns have become converts. Many Moderns had not been fulfilled by their prosperity and were already searching for meaning. In the 1970s yoga and meditation were considered woo-woo; now they are totally incorporated in by Modernists. The environmental destruction caused by climate change-related extreme weather has become too widespread to ignore. Watching George Floyd murdered in real time also had a galvanizing affect. Now Moderns are part of the paradigm shift as they join marches to change laws and American culture.
Back in 2000, CC’s totaled 26% of the American population. They were not yet aware of themselves as a group. They were ignored as hippies who rejected mainstream culture. Then dismissed as nerds and slackers. They didn’t recognize how powerful their voices would be.” Not anymore. By 2020 CCs represented over half of the U.S. population. There are so many of you that “creatives” has come into the language as a generic shorthand for the wide range of your interests, efforts, and directions. As a CC, you understand both what is necessary for the world and what is effective to do. What the research calls a wise-values, consensus-based “practical wisdom.” What I call “interpersonal creativity.”
Yet you probably have felt isolated. Until recently you have not often seen your face in the media or hear talk about your concerns. That’s because the news media is run by Moderns. As gatekeepers they haven’t let ideas through that their advertisers might consider bad for business. But Modernists are now becoming willing converts to CC values, as they are increasingly affected by hurricanes, forest fires, floods, and toxic environments. Resistance now comes from those powerful Traditionalists who have the most to lose. That’s because we’re asserting more humane, inclusive values into the forefront of American culture.
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you,
then they fight you, then you win.
Your CC values motivate you. They affect your interactions with others, especially with those with different values. Yet to support the paradigm shift you’ll also need people who don’t join or support your cause because of differences in ideology, social class, culture, religion, or race. By becoming aware of, and exploring, those different worldviews you will have more tools to communicate, contribute, and function more effectively. In Cahoots will help you draw your circle big enough to include them.
As a CC with more past than future days, I appreciate and encourage your ongoing efforts toward a more humane, sustainable world. Keep infusing your values into your amazing innovations. You are our future.