However, history contains many cases of broadly accepted cultural practices that eventually became obsolete and were finally eradicated. Examples of these are slavery, restricted suffrage, and denial of basic human rights to certain segments of a population. At a time when divisionistic mental models were more or less prevalent, these practices seemed natural and inevitable. However, now virtually all countries of the world accept a set of basic rights that are applicable to all persons.
Furthermore, as archaic visions of society begin to change, new patterns, structures and institutions are established that support these new understandings and further deepen their roots. Looking for signs of this in contemporary society, we will find that initiatives based on mutualism and reciprocity are growing in both breadth and number. Examples include worldwide movements to protect the environment, defend human rights, fight corruption, mitigate disease, and eradicate poverty. These movements reflect the first glimmers of a new vision of society that seeks wellbeing for all, and are coherent with a new conceptual framework of human beings that emphasizes our potential nobility and capability.
A conceptual framework with clearly identified elements is a powerful tool for changing obsolete mental models while supporting a new understanding of the nature of man and society. Essential steps in our own process of transformation include identifying elements to include in our conceptual framework, reflecting on and taking ownership of them, and developing the capabilities needed to make them part of our lives. This exploration of the failings of prevalent mental models about the nature of man and society has given us some ideas regarding elements to include in our conceptual framework.
It will be necessary to recognize a double human nature clearly. Although we are able to act in an aggressive, selfish, hedonistic way, we also have the potential to develop higher qualities such as gentleness, unity, cooperation, solidarity and justice. It will also be necessary to transform ‘power against’ to ‘power with’, thereby promoting the development of all and achieving higher levels of social progress. Throughout history, it is these qualities that have driven the advancement of society and that can now promote our transition towards a just, united, peaceful world civilization.