We know from quantum physics, chaos theory, and modern psychology that perception governs human behavior. What we refer to as ‘mindfulness’ shares with shamanism the ability to be fully present in ways that allow us to use perceptions of reality to transform objective reality and bring us inner peace and true prosperity. — From draft of John Perkins’ new book
I’m in Russia, just finished speaking about the need to transform a Death Economy into a Life Economy at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, and listening to three days of amazing talks and discussions. I found the spirit of cooperation among people from many countries to be deeply inspiring.
I was especially impressed by President Putin’s speech and his emphasis on the need to build bridges between countries in order to deal with the crises around climate change, nuclear weapons, terrorism, and internet crimes. On the other hand, Megyn Kelly, who moderated a roundtable discussion that included Putin and later broadcasted an interview with him over NBC, went on the attack. She sounded like an old-fashioned Cold Warrior as she tried unsuccessfully to get Putin to admit to rigging the US elections.
Although I respect Kelly’s rights as a journalist to dig for the truth, she undermined that shortly after her session with him by her statements on an NBC broadcast that Putin had been “aggressive” and “defiant”. Yes, he was defensive when she attacked him, but he was not aggressive. Rather, he – like so many other business and government leaders at this forum – conveyed a perception of hope and cooperation, a perception that can facilitate a new reality in this world where divisiveness and rancor have pervaded for far too long.
Does Russia spy on the United States? Absolutely. Am I defending Putin as a guy who wears a halo? Absolutely not. Does the United States spy on Russia? Of course; we even spy on our allies as we admitted when we were caught bugging Germany’s Chancellor Merkel and others – long before Trump even announced his candidacy. Do both countries hack other countries’ internets? What a silly question. All those actions are remnants of an old system, what I refer to as the Death Economy, a system that goes beyond economics, into politics and social structures.
President Putin himself referred to the need to move from the old system to something much better when he discussed President Trump’s recent call for increased investment in NATO. Putin pointed out that NATO had been created as a counterbalance to the threats posed by the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. “There is no more Soviet Union, no more Warsaw Pact,” he said. “Why the need to increase NATO?”
It is time to dump a system that results in constant strife, wars, terrorism, climate change, and outrageous inequality and injustice on every continent. What is needed today is a new system; in order to create such a new system, it is essential that we develop new perceptions of what it means to be human on this very fragile space station we call our home.
Corporate executives and other economists and writers I talked to at this forum admitted that they find it challenging to be Americans at a time when the US president seems determined to increase the perception of a world divided, of an “us versus them” philosophy. And when major US media outlets like NBC hark back to attitudes that characterized the Cold War. At the same time, many were encouraged to hear President Putin, UN Secretary General Guterres, and many other business and government leaders try to reverse this perception by expressing hope that President Trump will come around in the next couple of crucial years, that he will change his mind about climate change and other issues – as he has done so many times before.
Throughout this forum, I was struck by the role that perception plays in molding political, environmental, social, and economic realities. Much of my writing and speaking these days focuses on this very subject, including my upcoming webinar, How to Write a Bestseller (In Times of Crises) – Using the Power of Story to Accelerate Change and my Omega workshop, Prosperity through Creativity: Shapeshifting into a Mindful Future.
I look forward to my next stop, another major economic summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, where I will speak and advocate the need to transform a Death into a Life Economy during a roundtable discussion with President Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan.What role will perceptions play?