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Cultural Creatives

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Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World by Dr. Paul Ray documents a social movement among 200 million people worldwide whom he calls "Cultural Creatives". This powerful and growing force now includes 80 million Americans.

This group emerged in the 1970s and has grown rapidly. They are interested in learning the wisdom of cultures other than their own, and are concerned with psychological growth and spirituality. These cutting-edge thinkers and trend-setters are activists who care about real change.

Ray also writes about "Moderns" whose roots go back 500 years to the end of the Renaissance and have values centered on economics, military strength, technology, and intellectual growth. Ray believes that both groups have something good to offer under the leadership of Cultural Creatives.

The Cultural Creatives site​ points out:

"If humanity is to survive this period of planetary crises, we need a collective positive image of a future that works for all, allowing us to work as a whole to form goals and strategies that build a positive future—not stupidly falling into resource wars, ecological collapse, plagues, famines, and population collapse. So we need to work with the positive trends of our era to create a future that is not only sustainable but wise and beautiful.


The Emerging Planetary Wisdom Culture is actually appearing now as a new layer beyond national and ethnic cultures. As our modern materialistic way of life falls apart, it opens space for a new civilization to emerge. As we track the trends, we see a powerful movement toward a clean, green economy and the restoration of nature. As a wave of change moves through the culture, large populations now agree that a wise culture means taking care of all the children, not just the privileged."

Click the graphic below to watch the trailer for the Cultural Creatives movie.
The full film is an informative, inspirational must-see!

The trailer says that most Cultural Creatives think they are alone in the world, but the site points out:

"This is the first documentary film to look with scientific thoroughness at the world of Cultural Creatives. It shows that a great mass of people think differently from the way propagated by the media and promoted by the establishment. By the end of the film, it becomes evident that this huge mass, were it to become aware of its power, could change the world. Because Cultural Creatives are unstoppable and their number is continuously rising, the values they champion could soon become core values for human civilization generally.


Cultural Creatives are emerging without anybody organizing their presence, without anyone seeking to create political power from their existence, and without any group having any interest in them. They are emerging simply because in real historical development, the growth of human consciousness can not be stopped, no matter how much today's establishments and intellectual elites try to ignore and even hide their appearance.

So, they are all here, among and around us: 80 million Cultural Creatives in the United States and 120 million in Europe, all with a similar mindset – the citizens of a new world. They are the ones who are really preparing the future and its new social structures for us, and are doing so right now. They are the ones who anticipate the future as an astonishing opportunity never before available to mankind throughout the whole course of its history here on earth. Their message: The time is ripe to take the shaping of social life into our own hands."

In the video and the article below, Dr. Ray discusses the values of Cultural Creatives.​ He points out that Cultural Creatives are difficult to identify by race, economic status, or creed. Yet, they stand out in their desire to reshape how we live together in community. They care deeply about relationships, about ecology and saving the planet, about self-actualization, self-expression, and spirituality. As documented in Dr. Ray's book, research shows that the 26% of the U.S. population who fall into this emerging subculture set themselves apart from the dominant “Modern” subculture and the declining “Traditional” subculture by the values they share (shown below).


Dr. Ray says that people who held the values of the Cultural Creatives in the 1960s were too few to measure. When he started doing the surveys, Cultural Creatives were about 20 percent, and in 13 years since then, at the time of the article, they they had grown to 26 percent of the American population — 50 million adults. Dr. Ray says he expects that as the Cultural Creatives become more aware of each other, that number may double in the next 10 years -- and half the U.S. population could be Cultural Creatives!

Dr. Ray adds in the 2000 article interview below:

"Today, what we’re looking at is a slow transfer of people from the Traditionals to the Moderns. The children of the Traditionals are not staying there. The Traditionals were probably half the U.S. population in the 1950s. Today, they are a quarter of the population, a little less than the Cultural Creatives. Meanwhile, the children of the Moderns are going over to the Cultural Creatives, and the children of the Cultural Creatives are staying Cultural Creatives.

That is slow evolutionary process. But in addition to that, there’s also about 20 percent of Americans who are Moderns who are very much oriented to personal growth and/or oriented to ecology issues, but they don’t have the whole package of values and lifestyles that the rest of the Cultural Creatives do. So, I have been fairly conservative and not included them in that figure, but you could today add on another 40 million people who are marginal to the Cultural Creatives within the Moderns. If those Moderns thought that it would be successful, they would leap on that bandwagon.

People have not been talking about this cultural shift yet. It has been a largely unconscious process. People one-by-one are changing their minds with just a little support from a few of their friends.

Values of Cultural Creatives

In the article linked to below, Dr. Ray talks about the impact on the Cultural Creatives (and the society) of their being ignored by the corporate media:

"There is nothing in the media that shows them their own face and tells them they are there. Nothing shows them their values, says it’s important. In fact, all they’re going to get in the media is how weird and strange they are, that it must be that they are all New Agers. That’s not the case.

The New Age is just a little postage stamp in the corner of this great big envelope, maybe 5-10 million Americans maximum, and they are mostly beginners in spirituality. The people who have been at it for 15-20 years are more like the heartwood of the tree, and the New Agers are the green growing edge out there. Most people only stay as New Agers for 3-5 years, and then they go to something else or just give up on all that.

The thing about not seeing your own face in the media is that’s kind of a form of suffering, because you don’t really see your own concerns as real. You tend to pull back…When we went out on the road giving talks about the book, people would say, '50 million Americans! That’s more than who voted for Clinton in the last election! We could win!' and the room brightens up.

I would say that in a lot of the companies I’ve been consulting with over the last 13 years, probably one-third of the executives are Cultural Creatives. And every time, if I go in and talk about those values, somebody comes up to me and goes, 'Shhhh, don’t tell anybody but I’m one of ‘em, but I know I’m all alone here in the workplace.' I tell them, 'You know, you could go shopping for allies and put together a coalition and probably pass some initiatives here in your company'."​

Dr. Ray discusses the changes that will likely occur as Cultural Creatives become more aware of each other:

"My sense is that what we’re going to be looking at is building a lot of new institutions. You look at the election process and you see a system that is broken. You look at the schools and you see another system that’s broken. You look at the churches, the unions, almost any institution or area of American life, and we’re looking at the breakdown of a very large number of institutions.

Cultural Creatives are already trying out lots of social inventions, but once they know that they are growing in huge numbers, they will start getting together and saying, '
What can we do?' That’s their habit. These are folks who tend to get involved at the local level to try out things and be experimental....

We’ve had a cultural war going on for 100 years between the Traditionals and the Moderns. Cultural Creatives are kind of like children of a bad marriage. They’re not going to identify with either side. On the other hand, they always say that they are bridge builders. People will say over and over, '
I’m a bridge builder, and I want to heal those wounds, the rifts that are happening'....

What we’re much more likely to see is picking and choosing some of the better aspects of the Traditionals and the better aspects of universal justice kind of concerns from the Moderns and the Cultural Creatives adding their own planetary concerns, their own concerns for spirituality and inner experience. So, we’re going to be looking at a whole different pattern of doing things

Dr. Ray adds: "Incidentally, the huge chasm that you normally find between men and women in American life is just not there with the Cultural Creatives. The men and the women see things much the same way."

He points out the importance of supporting the Cultural Creatives:

"Making it up as they go is something people will do reluctantly. I think everybody wants a story of what they are doing. We’re at a time when we’re between stories. The old story isn’t working for us anymore, as Thomas Barry said, and the new story hasn’t been invented yet — and it’s really true.

Jean Houston calls it being people of the parenthesis. As we say in the book, we’re in the Between Time.…but I have to say that those people who are getting images of the new story and have a sense that this is a huge right-of-passage, the path is more reassuring to them.

There’s a real tendency among them, especially the spiritually oriented Cultural Creatives, that they don’t fit….Part of the reason we wrote the book was to give people the map and the territory and the map of where they have been.…They are trying to do it all by themselves with not much institutional support."

Dr. Ray points out:

"A lot of people will see new ideas working, and they will join the Cultural Creatives from the existing subcultures....I think what we’ll see is a lot of practical people who know how to be good managers and entrepreneurs joining up with the movements, because they will see it as successful....And that expertise is going to be organized by new values and a new worldview – and a real new sense of purpose as to where we ought to be going — and that’s going to come from the general population. That’s what’s forming right now...

What we’ve been seeing over the last 13 years is a real huge movement in the culture just below the surface of American life. What we’re saying is that it’s just about to breakthrough into public visibility. As it becomes perceived as a winner in its own right, you’ll see vast numbers of very practical people flocking to it and saying, 'Yes, that’s what I care about. Let’s do it differently, I’m really fed up with what doesn’t work today.'"

Ray says that the Cultural Creatives phenomenon is global. In ancient societies (like Japan), it involves a reaching back to traditional wisdom -- as can be done in the Americas with Native American cultures.

Dr. Ray concludes:

"I don’t think Americans are even in the lead in this at all. Probably a third of the people in Europe are Cultural Creatives — around 80-90 million Europeans. Since we finished the book this past year...I’ve met people who have come over from Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, and India who have said to me when I talked about the Cultural Creatives, 'Oh, you know, we have a lot of people like that back in my country, but we do it a little differently than Americans.'

They are reaching way back to old symbols and myths prior to their contact with the West, and they’re putting that together with planetary concerns and spiritual concerns and ecology and women’s concerns, making it their own new synthesis. A woman from Japan sums it up really well. She said, 'You know, we have these Western generals and business men and politicians come over here and we never talk about this aspect of our society, because we are certain they would pour scorn on what is going on here. That’s a part we don’t think Westerners would understand, so I’m really heartened to hear that there are so many Westerners, so many Americans, who get how the world is really going to go.' Isn’t that fascinating?"

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