Saturday, April 30, 2016

Captain America and the Planetary Era

The upcoming Captain America movie has reminded me of a thing I wrote up about Winter Soldier back when it came out but never got around to posting, about the way Planetary Era themes popped up in that seemingly unlikely place.

If you're not familiar with the Planetary Era concept, I highly recommend watching my father's talk: What Time Is It? The basic idea is that various global trends are moving us into a new societal state that is fundamentally different than the empire-driven societies of the last few millennia. Due to our now globally interconnected nature we need to start thinking and working together as one planetary family, with all of the opportunities and challenges that entails. As with any major shift, some folks are already way ahead on this front, while others lag behind.

So anyway, here are my thoughts. If you haven't already seen Winter Soldier, you need to re-examine your priorities, but also be warned spoilers lie below:

So I saw Captain America: Winter Soldier, and I was struck by a couple of Planetary Era themes. I know, you'd think a movie featuring a hero named after a country would be all about Empire Era thinking, and there was plenty that too, but you could see the Planetary Era peeking through.

One thing that really stuck out for me was the way in which the conflict was repeatedly framed as one between order and chaos. That's not unusual in movies of this sort, but what is unusual is that it was pretty clearly stated that order was the side of the villains, not the good guys. Now, of course any healthy society has a balance between order and chaos, but balance isn't a static thing; it's always moving to match the needs of the time. While the Planetary Era may in fact be more orderly in some ways, I'd say it's pretty clear that the Planetary Era themes of diversity, self-organization, and even our increasingly small-world connectivity will certainly look and feel more chaotic to many observers. Rather than clinging to the illusion of order the Empire Era thinking provided, we will be better served by stepping into the apparent chaos of a vibrant interconnected world.

The other thing that struck me was how one of the key aspects of the good guys winning was the public sharing of all of SHIELD's secrets. This too seems more in tune with the Planetary Era's themes of connectivity and self-organization than the Empire Era's rigid hierarchies and us-versus-them thinking.

Perhaps it's a bit much to say that Captain America is leading the charge into the Planetary Era, but it's good to see that even in this unlikely place, ideas that resonate with the new era are taking hold. I'm looking forward to the upcoming movieā€¦ We'll see if it continues the trend, or if Winter Soldier was just a comic book outlier.

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