200-year present

The “200 year present” is a term coined by peace research pioneer & sociologist Elise Boulding. It describes a way thinking of the fleeting present moment with full awareness of the effects of past actions and of our present actions on the future. If one considers the life spans of the oldest and the youngest individual alive at any given time one gets a period across the “past,” “present,” and “future,” of approximately 200 years. This perspective encourages a long-term commitment to all of life in which we acknowledge that the past is still with us in its effects and that all aspects of the present moment — all our thoughts and actions — will determine the future.

When Martin Luther King, Jr. admonished us to “rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented culture to a person-oriented culture,” he hit upon the essence of the 200 year present, which demands that we shift from a materialist view of human beings to a consciousness-based view that embraces the unity of life across time.