The Third Path: Our Journey to a Worthy Common Destiny

Dec 22nd, 2021 | By | Category: Environment/Sustainability

By Geoffrey Holland, writer for Transition Earth.

[Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash]

[Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash]

‘It is our collective and individual responsibility…to preserve and tend to the world in which we all live

Dalai Lama

On advice from a friend, I acquired a copy of a new book titled, Beyond Knowledge.  It’s not a big book, but it is packed with old and newfound knowledge and wisdom.

The author of this book is Willliam Halal, Professor Emeritus of  Management, Technology and Innovation  at George Washington University.

Professor Halal has given his academic life to defining the trends that shape our emerging world.  In Beyond Knowledge, he is reading the digital tea leaves and telling us what he sees.  His assessment is surprisingly hopeful. He identifies some planetary-scale mega-trends for which we all should be grateful.

Beyond Knowledge forecasts that we humans are increasingly eager for something beyond left or right political polarization; something he calls the third path. Professor Halal sees it as the correct path to solving climate change. His reassuring revolution extends to massive changes for the better in education, in consciousness and spirituality, in governance, and in business.

We are starting to do what it takes to grow up as a global human culture.  The real question is ‘Can we reform ourselves fast enough to avoid a planetary scale breakdown?’

I must mention that the friend who urged me to read Beyond Knowledge is the distinguished author of Politics in the Solar Age, Hazel Henderson. I confess I am more than a little in awe of Hazel Henderson. She has long been one of my most important teachers.

Many thanks to Hazel for the following pearl of wisdom:

The planet is now teaching humanity directly. And basically… these are all self-inflicted problems caused by our limited cognition. And we really have to expand our perception; to the point where we really understand the way the planet functions in relation to its mother star, the sun. Unless people have that basic understanding, it’s going to be very hard for our species to make it. People in decision-making situations have to understand the basic reality of our physical situation. (Hazel Henderson, Planetary Visionary)



The overriding message in William Halal ‘s Beyond Knowledge is that, in so many ways, our Earth’s diverse cultures are gravitating toward common ground.  This is seriously good news…Humanity is beginning to wake up.

The Trend Our Future Depends On

There is a single rumination in Beyond Knowledge that for me, and likely for many others, rises above all else.

I quote directly from the book:

The divide between science and religion is eternal, but attitudes are changing. Authoritative surveys show that people are leaving organized religion, but at the same time, they are also drawn to believe in some form of “Higher Power.” This critical trend highlights a move from dogma of religion toward a growing hunger for the substance of spirituality.

The author then followed with this:

It is becoming apparent some type of overarching belief system is needed to bring order to the gratuitous conflict, the self-interest and the outmoded logic of the past.

Organized religion is dogmatic and out of touch, and the scientific view posits a cold, lifeless universe, devoid of human meaning. I will suggest that all signs point to a third path.

Professor Halal tells us we are all together caught up in this struggle for survival, and we are all together beginning to move in a life-affirming, transcendent direction. These trends are global in scale. They offer hope that humanity can and will embrace our common obligation to care for the only planetary home we have.

Our cross-cultural insistence on seeing ourselves as above and superior to nature has brought us to a colossal, civilization scale reckoning. Right now, we humans are awash in dysfunction, and it is getting ever worse. Our best recourse to avert cultural collapse is to embrace worthy common purpose, and to recognize that we are destined to ‘sink or swim’ together.

Dark Swirls of Uncertainty

Right now, our global cultural inertia is mostly headed in the wrong direction.

Undeniably, the biggest threat is the explosion in our own numbers. Fifty years ago there were less than 4 billion humans on Earth. Now there are 8 billion, on the way to 10 or even 12 billion. We are currently adding 75 million more humans every passing year.

There are a whole range of other existential challenges that are greatly exacerbated by the simple fact that even now there are so many of us humans on Earth that we are already taking pretty much everything our planet has to offer for ourselves.

In so many words, here are the dark consequences of our human overreach that everyone can see…

  • Climate Change
  • Extreme Weather
  • Sea Level Rise
  • Expanding Military Threats
  • Food Insecurity
  • Deforestation
  • Fresh Water Aquifer Depletion
  • Topsoil Loss
  • Toxic Waste Accumulation
  • Biodiversity Depletion and Extinction

Clearly, despite some promising trends, humanity remains caught in a steep spiral downward.


Humanity in the twenty-first century now faces the greatest test of our collective wisdom in our million-year ascent. Whether we succeed or fail is entirely in our own hands, minds and hearts, not just as individuals or nations, but as a species.  

~ Julian Cribb, Author,  Surviving the 21st Century



[Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash]

[Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash]


Getting Past Our Entrenched Tribalism

We are immersed in an exceedingly dangerous moment in history.  If the old order prevails, life on Earth will continue to disintegrate. The evidence supports no other conclusion.

The good news is that, as reported in Beyond Knowledge, people around the world are concerned. Ever more, they recognize the threat, and they are opening their hearts to a future worth living in. Even many that until recently were assertively defending the old order are now finding their way to a new brand of common ground; the kind of life-affirming common ground we all should be hoping for.

We are obligated to do all we can to turn away from our self-inflicted, planetary-scale dysfunction.

Professor Halal is telling us the trends are in the right direction. We humans are starting to wish for a common purpose.  Imagine what that means…The entire world bound together by common purpose.

It is happening. More and more, we humans are choosing to reconcile ourselves with the natural world.

If the stone age was Humanity 1.0, and the age of agriculture was Humanity 2.0, and the Industrial Age was Humanity 3.0, then the path we are on now leads to a transcendent new brand called Humanity 4.0.

We are growing up. We are trending toward becoming a better version, a transformative version of ourselves.

That is heartening news to be sure.

But the future remains under siege by regressive forces wedded to the past. If they win, life on Earth could largely disappear.

We cannot let that happen. We need change now.

Professor Halal reassures us. He tells us change on unprecedented scale is unfolding at this moment into wonderful, reassuring trends. These trends depend on each of us who are concerned about the future to come together, to work together for a new era worthy of our planet’s most intelligent and self-aware species.


‘We are in a period of great disequilibrium as we shift rapidly now to a post-industrial society. It is a crisis and also an opportunity. It ultimately depends on human agency. We have to think in longer terms….There are no quick fixes…We need a whole new way of thinking.’

Riane Eisler, The Gender Equal Partnership Way



[Photo by Ian Stauffer on Unsplash]

[Photo by Ian Stauffer on Unsplash]

Choosing The Third Path

On a global scale, we humans are growing conscious of our common interest. We are embracing a future together, seeking to be bound by the same inclusive, life-nurturing standards. We need to get to that tipping point in awareness as soon as possible.  The trends suggest our best chance to accomplish that grand goal is get behind a common set of principles all people can believe in.

In Beyond Knowledge, Professor William Halal offers five very worthy aspirations we humans should set for ourselves. I agree entirely with his choices.

I also believe that a big problem at this moment is there is no one commonly accepted standard for planetary principles. What we have in fact are several competing manifestos.  I have looked at them all. They are all inspired and worthy of embrace. The differences between them are semantic not substantive, but what humanity needs in fact is one standard, one set of principles to live by.  Our world is not served well by confusion caused by competing messages.  We all must get behind the same lyrics and life-affirming melody.

The Third Path is the road that takes us beyond polarization. It emerges from commitment built on common interest. All of humanity must unite behind one common standard that reflects the kind of world we all should wish to live in.

One great, historical declaration…one galvanizing document… a charter worthy of embrace by all the world’s people. That’s what we need.  In the final analysis, there is one choice that stands out.


Leaders guided by the moral compass of the Earth Charter should be called “Earth leaders,” rather than world leaders, because their vision is the well-being of humanity and of the larger community of life on Earth, rather than political, economic, or corporate success. 

Fritjof Capra, Author, The Tao of Physics 



earth charter


The Earth Charter as Prescription for the Planet

The Earth Charter first emerged in 1987, and has been refined through a multi-year process that has included many of our planet’s most distinguished leaders. It went through a rigorous process with the intent to shape a statement of principles that would serve all of life on Earth.  In the year 2000, it was presented to the world by the Earth Charter Commission.

The sixteen principles of the Earth Charter reflect the third path we must embrace as our common destiny.

There is no bias in the Earth Charter, except towards compassion and responsible planetary stewardship.

The Earth Charter is the standard all of humanity must come to live by. Educators and students in schools in more and more places around our planet are choosing allegiance to the Earth Charter.

In Beyond Knowledge, Professor William Halal has identified ‘The Third Path’ as the trend that leads to a life-affirming brand of human consciousness. It is how we are shaping common purpose together.

We are the apex species on Earth. We must learn to see ourselves as a part of nature. We must become planetary stewards.  We must choose to transcend our own worst instincts. This is how we save ourselves from ourselves.

The Earth Charter is the new standard, the transcendent set of life principles that will inspire us and elevate us…allowing us to achieve our common destiny as Humanity 4.0


‘The place to begin is by becoming responsible oneself. Listen carefully to your own inner wisdom and respect the sacred qualities of nature and Mother Earth. This is your first and greatest step in helping to guide the world through the massive challenges ahead.’

William Halal, Beyond Knowledge



Geoffrey Holland is a writer/producer and the author of The Hydrogen Age. He currently coordinates the Dialogue series for the Stanford University Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere.

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