Mark Morey: Cultural Capital (Part 1)

Mark Morey returns to the podcast this week, for a deep dive into Cultural Capital, one of the more intangible and less understood (though no less important!) of the 8 Forms Of Capital. readers may remember Mark from his front-line reporting for us of the situation in Standing Rock as the confrontation there with the government first escalated.

Cultural capital is rooted in society's values and traditions. Sadly, over the past few generations in the West, we have departed from the time-honored (and honed) customs and rituals of our ancestors, and adopted a much more "it's all about me" approach to life. 

The result, argues Morey, is a populace left isolated an unfulfilled. Those age-old traditions and rites of passage developed for a reason. They gave our lives meaning, as well as instructed us on how to live. 

Is there a way to recover some of that lost wisdom and sense of "fit" in life? Yes, Morey believes. And there's much the world's indigenous cultures can teach us:

People feel a lot of isolation. In the past culture used to take care of this for us -- having to greet everybody in the room, having to show up for ceremonies, having to show up to pick food with each other.

And so now there are all these creative programs out there which, I believe, are a substitute for what culture used to do for us. That's important to look at, so yeah go take some programs. Go hang out with people. Go find the folks teaching things there and creating connections. But know that what you want to do is to take that experience and move the lessons learned into your life, outsie of the program. That’s the ultimate goal.

But, sometimes people get stuck a loop of going from program to program to program because they love how it feels. But then they go through the cycle of despair on Monday morning wondering Where are all those people? They were my tribe.

One simple way of looking at it is you have yourself to work with. And then the next ring out would be maybe your  family or whoever is most close to you. And then the next ring out from that might be your geographic community.

If you think about those three things as nested within each other, then if you’re doing some kind of personal connection where bring your closest family into it with you, then that group can do something in the local area to bring the connection to the community. You should look at connection in general: So how can I connect with myself? What’s my purpose? What are my specialties? What are my gifts that I came into the world with?

You might have some parts of yourself that are buried. that you don’t like. That’s actually a really important form of connection that can bring you into more wholeness. Like maybe what had that joy get put aside, you know there might be some grief there. So, connecting with sadness is a powerful thing to do that brings you into more wholeness. I think it also helps you relate to other people better. So, much of our needed inner work should center around connection

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with Mark Morey (51m:34s).

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Great conversation. Two comments:
Culture takes several generations, living in a largely static environment, in order to build. Our environment is changing too rapidly for cultural changes/progress to form.
The lifestyle, family structure, education systems, and technology are changing too fast. You talk about connecting with nature, which works because it’s static.
You need economic/lifestyle/family stasis or stability before you can expect stronger cultural bonds to form.

It’s been an intense ride since I accidentally watched GrannywGrit’s video post about Fukushima last week. Each journey into my reactions has been more ferocious in its grief and more sober in its assessments. Because we have close to 500 nuclear power plants now existing within our biosphere, it matters to me to keep at this until I can be present with the knowledge, not numbed out or hysterical. The grieving is real work, but denial is yielding to a willingness to know. So what does any of that have to do with Chris and Marks’ conversation?
Well, a most persistent theme in my exploration is the emergence of appreciation as a coping tool. If I’m going to look at how threatened this biosphere is, and acknowledge that there isn’t an obvious way to keep it safe, then I need some very sturdy inner tools.
I had that blessed happenstance - a childhood joyfully melded with the land. The Earth was my beloved constant, and there is no better. But now I contemplate dangers that will end her, barring miracles. I don’t bar miracles. I beg for them. No pride. But I can’t predict or count on them. The constancy of the Earth cannot be my strong place.
But appreciation can be. Gratitude is a very full and grounded state of consciousness. From there we can see what we are given: an entire, beloved planet every day to be at home on. What we love: everything, every moment. How the elements of Earth life - water and stone, warm mammal bodies and fantastic brains, breath and movement, language and color - sing to our innermost selves. There is no limit to any of this joy. It is what we have within for what we find ourselves part of. When grief arises, it must be released but it does not limit. It makes our appreciation even more accessible.
So when Mark speaks of “the words before all else” I pay attention. Yes. Appreciation helps to shift consciousness. I propose the decision to appreciate life on Earth as a cornerstone value of the new narrative. Like it has been for indigenous peoples, it could be a way of orienting our human awareness and choices.
Sorry if this is a lecture. It’s hard to know what’s just my experience and what’s more universal and hard to figure out what to say about it too.

The book “In the Absence of the Sacred” by Jerry Mander covers a lot of this same material and deals with the changes in society brought by television and the shift to suburbia, particularly from the Native American perspective. It should be available through local libraries. It’s old enough that its cheap through used book sites.
Chris, according to Wikipedia he’s still alive (80). You should have him on as a guest. He’s most famous for his book “Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television”. Wikipedia also says “Mander served as the executive director of the International Forum on Globalization, which he founded in 1994, until 2009 and continues on its staff as a Distinguished Fellow. He is also the program director for Megatechnology and Globalization at the Foundation for Deep Ecology.”

most famous for his book "Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television".
That book changed how we raised our children. Count me as another one who'd love to see Jerry Mander interviewed!

The story of Eva is awsome. A story I will never forget. Thank you.