Friday, March 11, 2011

If They Asked you to "Come Change the World" would you RSVP?

How many times do we receive an offer to change the world? To make it a better place? To reach the hearts and hands of people across the globe? If that moment comes, the question is first of all, do we recognize this opportunity for what it is? Or do we spin around and look behind us to see whom "they" are talking to? Who me?

If and when that moment arrives what would you do? Laugh? Grin sheepishly? Stammer? Put your nose back in your book? Pick that fuzz from your navel?

It's not widely believed that one person can change the world. Such a giant idea is hard to wrap one's head around, no? Because we expect a full marching band with the arrival of that kind of announcement or invitation, maybe we miss it when it is whispered in ordinary company or flickers by in a fleeting moment. Would you know it if it arrived in your life? And would you RSVP?

Revolutions are begun by one person showing up for life and engaging their passion. For example, a friend of mine who is a teacher showed up at the Madison, Wisconsin capitol building with her shaman's drum and a sign about democracy. She began beating her drum in the rotunda. As she beat and played and talked with people, more and more drummers came, more people joined her until a few weeks later, there were an estimated 100,000 people on the Saturday I joined the rally marching and chanting to 'take democracy back.'

In Egypt a few people rallied and a movement spread across a nation, and then a continent. From Wisconsin to the Middle East and North Africa, people are fed up with corruption and the archetypal human shadow and are standing up, speaking out and giving voice to clamor for a better way. Some know what they want and some don't. Some suspect a major change is needed but they don't know what. Some feel the winds of change at their back and they stagger for a bit, then ultimately finding their balance. And they walk forward even when the way isn't clear, even when the goal isn't in sight, and even when they walk alone.

They change the world. They make it a better place. They push the race forward. They grab us by the neck and force us to join the human race. They are my heroes. One such group of heroes lives at Voices Education Project- a global humanitarian organization, peacemaking institution and pedagogical institute. Their fingers are courageous, their reach is global.

Voices is a noisy symphony in a world buzzing with discord.

Here's how the conversation went:

Marilyn: (Director of Voices Education Project) "I think this is important work in the world."

Me: "I agree; this is all about changing the narrative on the planet; about creating a more humane world."

"I think this article is a beginning. This feels like an important peacemaking mission."

"I believe that too. In fact, I think this kind of work needs to be available in every school in the country. It should be in a curriculum, Marilyn, available to students everwhere."

"So let's write it."

Oh that would be amazing if Voices would do that curriculum."

"No, no, not Voices. I mean we will write it-- together; you and Voices. Would you consider spearheading a project like that?"

So there you have it-- that one shimmering moment arrives, hangs in the air quivering like the invisible wings of a butterfly. What do you say in that moment?

Well, you say "yes," of course. Knees trembling, hands shaking, heart pounding, you say... "yes."

And the breath that is exhaled in that one hovering moment, breathes life into an idea and life takes it from there.

And it's available and free for download.

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A few Thoughts...

When I think about it, my own life is no less rich and the living no less inspiring than my pioneering ancestors and I come from a long line of Indians and outlaws so don't ever turn your back on me!

Life is, after all, a slice of human consciousness lived from its place in human evolution. "From here to eternity" as it were-- from earth to the stars, from personal space to cyberspace, from a small local footprint to the world reduced to the size of a notebook and sitting on your lap!

As a child I lived with the perpetual and immenent threat of annihilation. That's child abuse! It wasn't a kid-friendly world and I couldn't understand why the grown-ups who were in charge weren't doing something?

So at age seven with my face in the window eyes turned up into the night sky and staring at the stars I made a vow: "When I am a grown-up, I will do something."

My writing is that something and I write to "simply change the world." If that sounds like a lack of humility it isn't because I know that one person absolutely can change the world and I've met some who have.

Kay Kennedy put together an anthology that puts the reader in the midst of history to view it from the inside out.

When I was in high school and even college, history classes were stale and boring featuring memorization and regurgitation of dates that coincided with events that had no human face, certainly no magic, and no life!

Anthologies are great fun and stores are rich remembrances. History books chronicle; stories are little narrative slices of living. History comes alive through story. I often think of my grandmother and her story, her life-- the history she lived. In her lifetime she saw humankind evolve from horse and buggy to man on the moon.

I was a sixties kid and for the youth of the sixties, turmoil, disillusionment, and revolution were everyday 'business as usual'. Like a radio perpetually on low volume, fear and death dronned on in the background. The superpowers threatened to extinguish all life on the planet, the Vietnam War was escalating and peers were being escorted home under American Flag blankets. The civil rights and equal rights movements were testing human civility, and faster than one could recover from one shock another real life hero would fall to yet another assassin. Despair was commonplace. Contrast that with a man on the moon... we could conquer space travel but couldn't make nukes or war obsolete! It was a time when youth needed hope because hope was scarce. When it was finally resurrected, it came in the form of idealism and a philosophy of brotherly and universal love. Perfect principles; imperfect execution.

For others who contributed to "Looking Back," the history is different for each because the "times" were different as well as the perspective of the individuals. The stories of human societal evolution are enlightening, heartwarming, poignant and spellbinding. They put a human face on the past.

And there are people now who are putting a face on the future...