Do you fit into a labelled box or do you resent it when people try to stuff you into a category like New Age?
Maybe you have never considered yourself a New Ager, but prefer to think of yourself as a Free Spirit who does not run after every guru or enlightenment fad packaged under a new label.
Maybe you are down-to-earth, inquisitive, open, and you’ve simply had your fill of plastic shamans and others who have discovered the ultimate truth-of-the-year, revealed only through them and they will gladly share it with you for a price.
If you are like at least 50 million adults in the U.S., you find you don’t quite fit neatly into the pollsters demographics. Take New Agers, for example. Some people might put you into that box if you have a private spiritual practice which respects the earth, but just aren’t into crystals. Or maybe you do “tune in” to crystal and gemstone energies but don’t get your wisdom from “channelled” beings from another plan or another planet.
Remember when the New Age was actually new? Individuals and small self-forming groups, influenced by modern physics or the ecology movement and/or the civil rights and womens rights movements pushed beyond the boundaries of cultural and racial stereo-types to ask some important questions. If there is a God, can we really limit his, or more revolutionarily, HER, to a single name, culture or book of wisdom? Exploration was the norm, but somehow, the marketing engine started to run the show, and it all became about putting on a new label and selling to the “New Age” market.
So why amd I talking about a new label anyway?
When I first heard of this new label “Cultural Creatives” being coined by a book of the same name, I was skeptical. It sounded like yet another guru gimick, but I was intrigued by the description of this new group on the website about the book:
“The Cultural Creatives care deeply about ecology and saving the planet, about relationships, peace, social justice, and about self actualization, spirituality and self-expression. Surprisingly, they are both inner-directed and socially concerned, they’re activists, volunteers and contributors to good causes more than other Americans. However, because they’ve been so invisible in American life, Cultural Creatives themselves are astonished to find out how many share both their values and their way of life. Once they realize their numbers, their impact on American life promises to be enormous, shaping a new agenda for the twenty-first century.”
I was even more intriqued when I found out there is something more behind the book than a feeling or opinion or, even worse, the “communications of an extraterrestrial” that we are on the brink of something wonderful and “because I am reading this” I am one of the chosen few who understand this. Some of us aren’t looking for an all-powerful force to decend and fix everything for us. We are looking around us to see what we can do.
If you’ve checked out the website, you might notice that the term is trade-marked. That might be because one of the authors, Paul Ray, worked for several years in market research. That’s right, he’s one of the folks who has worked with the labels. But he spotted a trend that I’d been noticing, as well.
As an owner of a Metaphysical Store (sometimes called a “New Age” store), we see a cross-section of a unique group people every day who don’t fit into the familiar labels, but are ready for the next step. Some people will just try a new path, but at some point, any “seeker” or spiritual person wants to do something to bring about change in something other than themselves. They are comfortable in their philosophy or spiritual practice, but something is missing. They want community, they hunger to make a difference and to be connected with others who want to make a difference.
Sometimes whole communities see this. Different groups seek to dialogue with others not in their group or circle or coven and want to work toward opening doors for the next generation. But they don’t know how to take this next step, and they think they are the only ones.
Oddly enough, people with academic training have spotted the same trend. Again, a quote from the website:
“In this landmark book, sociologist Paul H. Ray and psychologist Sherry Ruth Anderson draw upon 13 years of survey research studies on over 100,000 Americans, plus over 100 focus groups and dozens of depth interviews. They tell who the Cultural Creatives are, and the fascinating story of their emergence over the last generation, using vivid examples and engaging personal stories to describe the values and lifestyles that make this subculture distinctive.”
On Becoming a Cultural Creative
Okay, the truth is, you don’t have to do anything to become one. Without being too newagey about it, I”ll say that chances are, if you’ve read this far, you probably are a cultural creative. Some other labels might fit as well. But the real question is, what are you going to do about it?
If it’s true, that as of 2000 there were over 50 million cultural creatives with the same values, what can we do? The authors are trying to fascilitate the conversation. But you don’t have to join a “cultural creative club” to reach beyond your cultural boundaries to work on a project and have the conversation.
It’s time to reach beyond the new age grew up to make a difference for the next age, however it might be defined. Heck, if Bill Gates can go from small-company carnivore to the ultimate philanthropist, anything is possible.
For more info check out the book’s website at:http://www.culturalcreatives.org/
A cool site for people interested in invoking change is http://www.zaadz.com/
article copyright © 2006, Jane Hansen, all rights reserved.