Don’t get me wrong—I can whine and complain with the best of them.
If I get my knickers in a twist, as they’ve been lately, I can even rant and rave that we’re probably all going to hell in a high dollar handbasket, no matter what we do.
But I really try not to end up there at all if I can help it. And for the most part, I manage to go quite a long ways without pitching too much of a fit. Partly because I’d probably just end up under the bed and never come out once I got there.
You see, I consider myself to be an odd amalgam of idealist and pragmatist.
It seems to be in my genes to be a die-hard optimist—to think the best of my fellow human beings and to believe in my bones that anything is possible if we put our minds to it. Truth be told, I’m all for dreaming big and thinking positive and shooting for the moon.
And…I’d go absolutely bonkers just sitting around all day simply wishing and hoping and talking about how wonderful the world could be…I need to see things getting done. Big time. And, yesterday.
So, I’m all about figuring out what it’s going to take to leverage real change—and focusing on that. Sure, let’s envision the ideal future and aim there, but let’s also do something practical, in the real world, right now, to make it happen and get a few steps closer. If we have to sacrifice a few fairy tales and a little perfection to get there—I’m all in.
us against them
One of the big barriers I see getting in the way of us solving some of the massive global problems we all face (e.g. climate change) is our unwillingness (not inability) to cooperate with each other. It’s easy to collaborate with people who you think are like you, or who you believe think like you. But what if your neighbor is “different”? Can you or I put that aside for a higher purpose and our shared common good? Wouldn’t you think we’d want to?
If there was a suffering child on our doorstep that we could help if we simply collaborated with our neighbor (who we’re convinced had a horrible political affiliation or wacky religious beliefs or terrible taste in beer or weird ideas about who should win American Idol or was just downright “wrong” about that one thing or another years ago) could we just get over our opinions and judgments long enough to shake hands, join forces, and offer our service to that young soul?
Of course we’d let it go, right? For the child’s sake…
Well, here we are. The children of the future are absolutely and literally sitting on our doorsteps right now, wondering if we’re going to help them. Hello? Anyone? Yoohoo?!
They’re watching us bickering and drawing lines in the sand in our very own communities over issues that aren’t really a matter of life or death. As the train carrying the vast social and environmental problems of our time bears down upon their innocent lives, we’re holding onto resentments that we could, if we chose to, let go.
I’m worried. I really am. If we can’t get along with each other in a place where we share the same geography and culture, how are we ever going to get along with people on the other side of the globe whose traditions and beliefs we find so foreign? The future can’t afford for us to NOT get along with each other.
We are on the edge of an amazing prospect. We have the opportunity to get beyond both our petty and vital arguments and begin to reinvent our communities and infuse the next few decades with hope and promise.
That may sound naïve to some of you, and honestly, if we keep being pessimistic of ideals and critical of each other you’re right, we haven’t got a chance. We’re screwed.
And I’ll see you all under the bed.
But who are we talking about? Who are these “people” that we are convinced won’t change or forgive or cooperate or take action? The one’s who make that brighter vision so impossible? It’s you and me.
So the question is…will you change? Are you willing? Am I? Can we move beyond our discomfort, give up the need to be right, and transform ourselves?
We don’t have to let go of all of our opinions and agree on everything. We don’t even really need to like each other (though, that might be nice.) We just need to respect each other enough to see that a liveable future is essential to all of us, no matter what we might still be arguing about when we get there. But—let’s get there, together.
Some say “people” will never forgive each other.
Well, will you forgive someone? You’re “people”. So am I.
If we let go of resentment, let our guard down, and get to know the person we’ve labeled as “them,” and then a few more of us do the same, who’s to say we can’t change the world for the better?
Perhaps you’ve heard the proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
In this country we’re all about independence, and everyone for themselves, and fast cars, and get the hell out of my way, and no you’re not merging in front of me on the highway. We’ve sure maximized our speed in this last century and we don’t show too many signs of slowing down. But that strategy has also gotten us into many of the big dilemmas we’re facing right now.
Global wellbeing, resilience, and sustainability, on the other hand, are all about going far, and it’s a HUGE undertaking, and we really do need each other to get there safely.
We all have a choice
We can continue to believe none of that great stuff we’ve been secretly envisioning is actually possible, do nothing, and launch that particular self-fulfilling prophecy.
Or we can decide, right now, to dig deep to find what we have in common with our neighbor so we can TOGETHER find a way to balance preservation with progress. Once we get there, all of us, then we can pick up the bickering and arguing and yelling over the fence at one another—but let’s set that aside to make sure there’s still something left to argue about.
I dare you. Think positive. And, then get up and do something.
Take action in this community. Your community. Our community.
Dream big. Have an impact on the world. Work together with those you like, and those you don’t. And, save that child (and all of them) before it’s too late.
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cc: Adj Goldstein