Nobody likes to be pegged, or to be defined outsiders. I think we all have a desire to explore ourselves and we don't want imposed definitions put on us that may limit who we can become. However, I recently read something that completely had me pegged and instead of cringing, I found myself celebrating!
In a book I've been reading with a great friend called A Woman's Book of Life, the author talks about Cultural Creatives, a term coined by sociologists Paul Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson in 1996 to explain a new social movement in America that he describes as "a new and distinctive social force" making up 24 percent of America's population. As I read about Cultural Creatives, I felt as if I were reading a description of myself, and rather than feeling confined, I felt a sense of freedom and pride in belonging to this category! I thought of my many friends who are also Cultural Creatives and I want to lift my electronic glass with them to celebrate this beautiful movement with which we are engaging!
Paul Ray says Cultural Creatives value relationality and interdependence, which he says can create a new world culture to respond to the needs of all people, not just those from wealthy and powerful countries. We are interested in alternative health care, spiritual growth, and the importance of the inner life, but rather than being self-centered, "CCs" spend their a lot of time in service projects to help rebuild communities. We love to focus on interdependence more than independence and our happiness partly comes from improving the collective well-being.
From the desire for interdependence stems our values of and interests in:
- Psychology, the spiritual life, and self-actualization
- Authenticity - living out what we say and believe
- Ecological sustainability, going beyond environmentalism to an appreciation of nature as sacred
- Women's issues and connected concerns about violence in society and in the home
- Global problems of population and pollution
- Simpler lifestyles with an emphasis on fostering caring relationships and a concern for family
- Rebuilding neighborhoods and communities
- Appreciating "whole stories" about consumer products (where something came from, how and by whom it was made, and where it will go when we're done with it. This helps us decide whether a product is good for the planet as a whole.)
- The foreign and exotic. We are xenophiles!
- Optimistic hope. We can see beyond the left, the right, and fundamentalist thinking.
Our lifestyle preferences include:
- Reading more than watching TV
- Reading labels and being well-informed shoppers
- Enjoying health and gourmet food, which we like to experiment with in the kitchen
- Buying products made out of "real" materials like leather rather than vinyl, and wood rather than plastic
- Decorating our spaces with traditional items that have a story behind them
- Choosing homes hidden from the road with access to nature rather than "showy" houses meant to advertise their square footage
- Engaging in politics and social issues
This new culture, says Ray, will be faced with balancing ecology and economy; fostering better global communication; reconnecting with nature; and synthesizing a diversity of world beliefs, religions, and traditions with respect. He calls us leading-edge thinkers and creators and celebrates the fact that we base our actions "on the premise that all life is sacred, interdependent, and worthy of respect and preservation."
Here's to the Cultural Creatives of the world! May we continue the quest.
To read more about Cultural Creatives, check out the book by Paul Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson - The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People are Changing the World or pick up A Woman's Book of Life by Joan Borysenko. You won't regret it!
Here's a short Wikipedia article, too!