It was the end of the school year. We were pre par ing to take The Learn ing
Com mu nity fi nal ex ami na tion. It was un like any fi nal I had ever taken. We
were asked to find a pri vate place to sit some where in the class room. Some
stu dents sprawled out on pil lows on the floor; oth ers sat against the wall,
feet stretched out in front of them; some chose the couch or soft chairs
around the class room. Two richly me lodic, yet omi nous, com po si tions
from Van gelis's L'A poca lypse Des Ani maux
set the mood. Gary had just
guided us through a visu ali za tion in which we were to imag ine our selves in
the fu ture; we imag ined liv ing in a world that was an ex trapo la tion of our
known world. Fifty years had passed and a criti cal mass of peo ple had not
taken ac tion to stop hu man kind from its path of so cial and en vi ron mental
deg ra da tion. We were asked to imag ine our selves tak ing our grand chil dren
for a hike on a moun tain over look ing our com mu nity. As I emerged from
this closed- eye pro cess, I be gan to write while “L'ours Mu si cien” and “Crea -
tion Du Monde” played played in the back ground.
My hands are old, I re al ize as I look down at my grand daugh ter's sup plehand nes tled in my leath ered palm, our fin gers of dif fer ent sizes in ter -twined. I sup pose the rest of me is old as well. The whole world feels oldin fact. The peo ple seem just to set tle for the status quo and to lack en -ergy or pas sion to try to change things. And a lot needs to change.
As I hike up this moun tain, child at my side, I think back to the Sat ur -days I spent plant ing and car ing for the oak trees in these foot hills whenI was young. On a clear day I could see the en tire val ley and the build
ings in down town San Fran cisco in the dis tance. Smog that once hov -ered only over San Jose and the Sili con Val ley has be come dense andnow en gulfs all of the Bay Area. It is as if some one has poured a thick,brown layer of spoiled milk into this val ley up to the tips of the sur round -ing hills and moun tains. Oh, and the smell. The whiff of ex haust emis -sion that I oc ca sion ally caught when stuck be hind an old car or die seltruck is now the typi cal smell of a hot day.
Hu man im pact on the land as tounds me once again. As if there are nolim its, we have crowded the hills and moun tains with our many pos ses -
Pas sage Nine: Cre at ing Our Fu ture
sions and houses, cre at ing a sub ur ban sprawl that en com passes the val -ley. This val ley, which my grand fa ther re mem bered as more crowdedwith plum and ap ri cot or chards than peo ple, now ex plodes with peo pleand their cars. Thick, dirty air parches my throat as my grand daugh terand I gasp for breath.
Tears be gin to cloud my eyes and I bite my lip, hop ing my grand daugh ter will not sense my de spair on this spe cial oc ca sion. This is not the world Iwould like to live in. Where did we go wrong, I ask my self. How could we have let the world come to this?
A gen tle breeze raises the wisps of my grand daugh ter's dark hair off hershoul ders and re minds me that it is spring time. I for get eas ily be causethere are no flow ers around us. I al most over look the ab sence of na tiveplants be cause it has been so long since I have seen the pur ple lu pineand soap plant. They dis ap peared af ter a long bat tle with non- nativegrasses in tro duced by the Span ish. The Span ish first brought cat tle tothis area over 200 years ago, ini ti at ing a pro cess of soil deg ra da tion andmin eral de ple tion lead ing to loss of the beau ti ful Cali for nia Oak. Manyspe cies no longer ex ist and I know that my grand daugh ter will knowabout them only through the memo ries I share with her. At home we nolonger have squir rels or birds; the only ani mals around are stray scav en
ger dogs. Most chil dren grow up so dis tant from na ture and ani mals thattheir con cept of the world in cludes only peo ple and the ar ti facts thatpeo ple have cre ated.
I en vi sion my self among the peo ple and build ings in the land scape be -low. I of ten move deftly among them, pre oc cu pied with a sense of lone li -ness and fear. I rarely in ter act with strang ers dur ing the day; com put ershave re duced hu man in ter ac tion and the world seems in creas ingly im -per sonal. Some times I feel like a consumer- pawn of the cor po rate andpo liti cal “pow ers that be.” Ad ver tise ments bom bard me daily and I be -gin to doubt whether my ex is tence mat ters at all be sides my worth as acon sumer. Each day the news pa pers glo rify the lat est fad or re port po -liti cal de mise. I search for mean ing ful ex pe ri ences and mo ments in thisex ter nal world, but eve ry thing seems re duced to sim plic ity. It is so much
eas ier to hide than to face this des per ate world we have cre ated. I lookinto my grand daugh ter's deep brown eyes and won der how she can sur -vive in this world that de sen si tizes us more each day. I hope that my love will help make her strong enough to see be yond. But what about eve ry
We gaze out at all the peo ple liv ing in our area and I won der what pricewe will have to pay for ex ceed ing the carrying- capacity of the re gion.
The con cen tra tion of wealth for the few still makes this coun try therich est coun try in the world; yet our needs and ma te rial de sires de pendon the ex ploi ta tion of re sources from far- away places. And the ma jor ityin our coun try is mis er able. We are, in du bi ta bly, pay ing the price. As aso ci ety, as well as in di vidu ally, we suf fer more now than ever bef ore.
Peo ple seem to be driven by an ar ti fi cial de sire to achieve ma te rialwealth as they have been for years, but wealth is far more un at tain ablethan bef ore be cause we live in a regi mented so ci ety with a class sys temde ter mined by birth, race, and gen der. Per sonal free dom is tre men -dously re stricted. When I walk through the city, I see troops sta tioned in an at tempt to curb vio lence—vio lence that has fes tered be cause so ci ety has failed to pro vide sup port and healthy stimu la tion for its dis il lu -sioned youth.
Pov erty, which was so long ig nored in Amer ica, now af fects eve ry one.
Thou sands live in per pet ual pov erty and eve ry one seems faced with los -ing eve ry thing in an age of such eco nomic in sta bil ity. Com pa nies mergeand down size daily re sult ing in fewer jobs. Slums, like the fave las thatsur rounded Rio de Jan erio, Bra zil, seventy- five years ago and that wenever thought would ex ist in Amer ica, now en com pass al most everyma jor city. These slums con sist of peo ple liv ing in over crowded shackscon structed des per ately out of card board and scrap tin. Rats and dis ease are eve ry where. Peo ple col lect pa per and scraps to make enough moneyto feed their fami lies.
I look down at my hands, feel ing lucky that, af ter striv ing for a good edu -ca tion, I found a good job and man aged to live in a small house. But Icould not es cape all pain. As I run the fin gers of my right hand over the
Pas sage Nine: Cre at ing Our Fu ture
back of my left hand, I wince at the open pus tules and cracked skin, skincan cer caused by ul tra vio let rays more in tense than ever. Can cer seemsto af flict eve ry one, analo gous, I sup pose, to the can cer we have in flictedupon the earth.
The only good thing, if one took a very global po si tion, is that the popu -la tion is de creas ing. The death rate ex ceeds the birth rate due to ram -pant dis ease—a phe nom ena that baf fled sci en tists fifty years ago whenthey dis cov ered that Rus sians were dy ing younger than in any other in -dus tri al ized na tion and that each year their life spans were de creas ingeven more for no known rea son. Our own gov ern ment ig nored the de -crease in global popu la tion when it af flicted the rest of the world fear ingthat it might cause wide- spread panic.
Glob ally we face a food short age ow ing to the loss of com mer cial foodcrops to chemi cally re sis tant bac te ria and in sects. The lack of bio di ver -sity in ag ri cul ture has also wiped out the huge meat- producing ranchesupon which in dus tri al ized na tions had be come de pend ent. The econo -mies of many in dus tri al ized na tions have be come less sta ble than theyonce were be cause of their heavy de pend ence on im ported re sourcesand fos sil fu els.
Bio logi cally, mi cro or gan isms are threat en ing the hu man race. Bac te ria,which can re pro duce and al ter ge neti cally thou sands of times fasterthan hu mans, have ren dered al most all an ti bi ot ics and vac ci na tionsuse less. How ever, merely to say that the popu la tion de clines, turns suf -fer ing into a sta tis tic. Dis ease spreads like wild fire. I hear of fami lies thatare torn apart as dis tricts im pose quar an tines in at tempt to iso late dis -eases. Some of my fam ily mem bers and friends have died sud denly of“un known causes.” Even the il lu sion of cer tainty and se cu rity no longerex ists.
And as I look out at a val ley of fes ter ing filth, I feel it in my self. Fac ets oflife seem dis con nected, and within I feel de tached, dis traught, de spair -ing. My ad dic tions have mani fested in ar eas of work ing and run ning,things which can be healthy when done in a con scious man ner. But
these ac tivi ties have be come crutches for me to sur vive at a speedy paceof life. In pub li c in ter ac tions I feel a numb ness—a loss of hope and ca -ma ra de rie. Like oth ers, I carry fear and have learned to avoid eye con -tact and ex changes of genu ine com pas sion. When I walk the streets, Ifeel alone. De spite our com mon suf fer ing, I no longer feel a com monbond with hu man ity.
As my grand daugh ter and I gaze out at the world, my fear mounts. I feelthe pain of all life as my own. As I feel my grand daugh ter's hand rest ingtrust fully in mine, I ex pe ri ence to tal re ali za tion of my own ac tions andof the ac tions of those around me and the fear ine bri ates my en tire body. I am fully ac count able for this dearth and ut ter de te rio ra tion of all life.
Sud denly the child at my side breaks the si lence with one of those di rect, pene trat ing ques tions chil dren are prone to ask adults that shake ourworld of ob fus ca tion and de lu sion. “Why is it so ugly?” she in quires.
Her ques tion strikes the nerve of acute pain I try to pro tect. I won derhow I can ex plain that my peers and I were sim ply too short- sighted toleave her any thing bet ter. How can I ex plain that fifty years ago, at theend of the mil len nium, when we needed a criti cal mass of peo ple tocom mit to mak ing the world a bet ter place, that a criti cal mass failed toemerge. And how can I ex plain that, al though I felt that I cared, my ac -tions re sulted in this world be cause I also re mained pas sive.
Sud denly I am brought back into the class room as Gary guides us out of themedi ta tion and asks us to re group and share our worst- possible fu ture sce -nar ios. Thank fully, I do not need to ex plain my visu ali za tion to my grand -daugh ter or to the rest of hu man ity. This pow er ful im age is a re minder; aproph ecy of our fu ture if we do not al ter the course right now. I leave thatworld, which seems all too real, and turn to fa mil iar faces, faces that give mehope, for they too have learned by see ing into the hor rors.
Af ter writ ing our re flec tions on our ex pe ri ences with our grand child, Garyasked us to close our eyes and re lax, get into a com fort able po si tion, and pre -
Pas sage Nine: Cre at ing Our Fu ture
pare for an other guided visu ali za tion. We were asked to imag ine that wehad just re turned home from our hike on the moun tain. We had taken ourgrand child home, re turned to our home, and found a spe cial let ter ad -dressed to us con tain ing a sum mons which said:
As a re spected citi zen of planet Earth in the year 2050, you are sum -moned by the presi dent of the League of Global Citi zens to an emer -gency meet ing of the Global Coun cil of Twenty- Five. It has beende ter mined that the vi tal tri an gle of life—physi cal health, so cial wellbe ing, and en vi ron mental har mony—has be come dra mati cally threat -ened and is in acute dan ger of fal ling into ir repa ra ble de struc tion. It isfeared that these cir cum stances may re sult in a se ri ous deg ra da tion oflife or even the ex tinc tion of hu man life on the planet.
You have been cho sen to be a mem ber of the Coun cil be cause of yourcom mit ment to the well- being of all life forms on the planet, and be -cause you have main tained a thor ough and con tinu ing knowl edge ofplane tary is sues over the past fifty years.
Gary asked us to imag ine our selves pack ing our bags, be ing trans ported tothe air port, and be gin ning our flight to Ge neva, Swit zer land. On the planeride, we were to con sid er what global so lu tion we might have to share withother peo ple of the world. We were also to think about the per sonalstrengths that we had cul ti vated over our life times to pre pare our selves edu -ca tion ally and pro fes sion ally for this call ing. The mu sic of Van gelis—"LeSinge Bleu" and “La Mort Du Loup”—per me ated my thoughts as I imag -ined what I might have ac com plished over the past fifty years.
In spite of the gen eral apa thy in the so ci ety, I de voted much of my en -ergy build ing bridges be tween dis pa rate groups and bring ing peo ple to -gether to solve so cial and en vi ron mental prob lems. My edu ca tion andex pe ri ence as an ac tiv ist helped me gain com mu ni ca tion skills for me di -at ing con flicts and striv ing for so lu tions that worked for eve ry one rather than de ci sions that cre ated win ners and los ers. I be came in volved inpol icy build ing re gard ing en vi ron mental is sues from log ging to im pli ca -
tions of the En dan gered Spe cies Act on pri vate prop erty. I also workedwith neigh bor hood com mu ni ties to re struc ture edu ca tion to bet termeet the needs of stu dents and the chang ing world, some times help ingto build ex cit ing part ner ships be tween cor po ra tions and class rooms.
Of ten, I felt dis cour aged be cause the gen eral popu la tion was too en -grossed in ma te rial things and pleas ure seek ing to no tice that some thing needed to be done to pro tect so ci ety. As so cie tal con di tions wors ened,peo ple be came even more greedy and self- serving.
Af ter tak ing time to re flect on what our per sonal lives may have been, wecon tin ued our guided visu ali za tion:
Imag ine that you have ar rived at your des ti na tion. An of fi cial of TheLeague of Global Citi zens meets you at the air port. As you drive through the streets of Ge neva, you re call your visit to the city as a youth ful trav -eler dur ing col lege. Every as pect of the city shows the ef fects of fiftyyears of so cie tal ne glect. Now you are the hope of the fu ture.
Then we opened our eyes and be gan a simu la tion of the Coun cil of Twenty-
. Gary read the wel com ing in tro duc tion:
The Coun cil of Twenty- Five will con vene shortly. Af ter you have in tro -duced your selves to other mem bers of the Coun cil, you are to de fine to -gether the prob lems fac ing our planet. You are to iden tify, de scribe, andpri ori tize these prob lems by de grees of se ver ity. Then you are to cre ate acom pre hen sive global so lu tion to five of the prob lems you have sin gledout as the most se ri ous.
In ad di tion, each mem ber of the Coun cil will com mit to a set of spe cificac tions in his/her life that will make a dif fer ence in the world. The spe -cific ac tions should in clude both changes in the mem ber's per sonal life -style and pro fes sional con tri bu tions.
The pro cess be came more per sonal as each of us imag ined what our livesmight be come in the next fifty years. These imag ined out comes took form
Pas sage Nine: Cre at ing Our Fu ture
as we in ter acted as if we had just met for the first time in the Coun cil ofTwenty- five. The roles gave each of us a credi ble po si tion of ex per tise on theCoun cil. As ex perts with a wealth of ex pe ri ence and a global per spec tive, wehad been sum moned to as sess ar eas of world cri sis and pro pose so lu tions tothe prob lems we iden ti fied. Our roles re flected our unique in ter ests and tal -ents.
Ta mika, the civil rights law yer, had de voted her life to chal leng ing in di -vidu als and cor po ra tions that breached or im pinged upon the rights ofoth ers. She had set up a non- profit foun da tion that pro vided homes and edu ca tional al ter na tives for in ner city kids.
Jer emy had used his in flu ence as a suc cess ful cor po rate CEO to writeand pro mote an Ethi cal Prac tices Pledge which sev eral ma jor cor po ra -tions had agreed upon. The Pledge pro vided that cor po ra tions wouldpur sue more healthy, hu mane, and eco logi cal prac tices in bring ing their prod uct to mar ket.
Greg had be come known as the Zen Mas ter Har le quin and trav eled allover the world giv ing per form ances. He had an ar ray of masks thathelped him por tray ways of be ing in the world. His per form ances wereen gag ing and hu mor ous, but, more than that, they helped trans form the aware ness of the audi ence.
Shawn, the truck driver who had got ten skin can cer from ex po sure tothe en vi ron ment, had turned his solar- powered truck ing com pany intoan ad ver tise ment on wheels. From coast to coast, peo ple could readpost ers on his big- rig trucks that warned of en vi ron mental health risksand sup ported po liti cal so lu tions. His en ter prise hauled only prod uctsthat were en vi ron men tally safe.
Jenny had gradu ated from the uni ver sity in In ter na tional Re la tions. She had helped de velop a non- governmentally sus tained or gani za tion thatsup port landless peo ple in Cen tral Amer ica. She gained fi nan cial sup -
port for her proj ects by writ ing books, giv ing pub li c lec tures, ap peal ingto peo ple's al tru ism.
Kris tie worked as a wild life bi olo gist in the north ern Rockies. She wasan ad vo cate for Natu ral Habi tat Zones. These were re gions in whichpeo ple us ing only pas sive forms of en ergy and prac tic ing sound en vi ron -mental prin ci ples could live in for ested wa ter shed pre serves.
An gel had used her song writ ing tal ent and her voice to gain sup port forin ter faith con fer ences. At tendees shared in one an other's spiri tual cele -bra tions, per formed in spi ra tional mu sic, and funded grass- roots so cialac tion pro pos als.
Janna had helped es tab lish a set of char ter schools across the coun trythat were gov erned demo crati cally by their stu dents, staff, and par ents.
Gradu ates of her schools were known for their com pas sion and ac tiv -ism. Some of her gradu ates were car ry ing on the tra di tion of es tab lish ing ac tiv ist schools.
Each of the other stu dents in the class cre ated a role for him or her self. An -drea had helped en cour age a re gional in ter est in grow ing nu tri tional andheal ing herbs in hy dro ponic gar dens. Wendy had be come a so cial workerwho pio neered sys tems for end ing the need for wel fare. Joe had set up ur ban home stead ing proj ects af ter study ing ef fec tive prac tices around the world.
Ju lie had set up in ter na tional con flict reso lu tion teams to serve re gions ofthe world which were in tur moil. Each stu dent linked his or her core in ter est to some need in the world, then ex trapo lated a life of serv ice around that in -ter est. As ex perts with a wealth of ex pe ri ence and global per spec tive aboutthe state of the world, we talked.
Each of us shared our con cerns about the world and of fered ma jor is sues tobe con sid ered by the group. Some stu dents ad dressed health is sues: wa terpol lu tion, lack of good nu tri tion, the fail ure of in fec tious dis ease con trol,and de pend ency on al co hol, drugs, and to bacco. Some stu dents ad dressedso cial is sues: teen age sui cide and al iena tion; so cial is sues such as abor tion,
page one hundred and seventy-three
Pas sage Nine: Cre at ing Our Fu ture
crime pre ven tion, re ha bili ta tion, and the death pen alty; rape, geni tal mu ti -la tion, and other crimes against women; ra cial preju dice and in clu sion; po
liti cal op pres sion and treat ment of po liti cal pris on ers; the ef fects ofim pe ri al ism and war on in dige nous peo ple; and the fair dis tri bu tion of theworld's re sources. Other stu dents ad dressed en vi ron mental is sues: ef fects of pes ti cides on the ecol ogy; ozone de ple tion and global warm ing; pro tec tionof en dan gered spe cies; threat of nu clear en ergy and weap ons. One is sueseemed to fit in all three cate go ries: the ef fects of over- population.
In our roles we faced many of the strug gles that dip lo mats face try ing to for -mu late and ap ply in ter na tional pol icy. Some times the group pro cess be -came frus trat ing. We felt that it was ab so lutely es sen tial that eve ry one takethe ini tia tive to speak and that the group re spect every idea. Our pro cess ofshar ing our ca reer paths and our ma jor is sues was ex cit ing and in fused highlevel en ergy into our group. How ever, when we at tempted to sort out, topri ori tize, and to find so lu tions to the is sues, we fell into con fu sion and dis -unity. I wanted things to work out. I wanted our year to end in great har -mony and be per fect, but our ex pe ri ence showed me just how thin theve neer of ci vil ity can be.
We fi nally agreed on a fairly uni ver sal ap proach to the prob lems that facedus. The so lu tions were broad and long- term. We saw the value of pub li cedu ca tion pro grams which em pha sized the arts in com mu ni cat ing globalmes sages. We saw the value of community- based part ner ships whichbrought citi zens, in dus try, and gov ern ment to gether to solve prob lems. We agreed on the value of en cour ag ing in di vid ual choices in se lect ing prod uctsand food and in us ing re sources and elimi nat ing waste. We re al ized thatgov ern ments could pro vide laws and regu la tions but that peo ple had to becom mit ted to out comes in or der for real change to oc cur.
Then we jumped out of our roles as citi zens of the year 2050. For some itwas the first time for en vi sion ing the fu ture, pic tur ing one self in the grandscheme, and com mit ting to a so lu tion. We made life style com mit ments af -fect ing our cur rent lives. Shawn agreed to re cy cle at home, at school, and inthe com mu nity. Brenda agreed to vol un teer to help in a com mu nity health
abuse pro gram. Andy agreed to work in lo cal en vi ron mental clean- up proj -ects. Per son ally, I felt that, in the pro cess, I re af firmed my re spon si bil ity totake a posi tive role in the evo lu tion of the planet.
Some times the group strayed from the fo cus and de bated triv ial de tails.
When An drea pro posed ways she would change her ac tions she said shewould stop us ing the clothes dryer and the mi cro wave. We dis cussed the po -ten tial en ergy con ser va tion bene fits and dan gers, and, un able to come to ade ci sion about mi cro waves, we con cluded that it is im pera tive that peo plebe edu cated so they can make con scious de ci sions about their ac tions.
My level of per sonal op ti mism ebbed and flowed. Some times I doubted thesin cer ity of our group's com mit ment. I won dered if peo ple felt ob li gated tosay some thing or if they were say ing things that sounded nice. I do not givemuch credit to words or prom ises, per haps be cause I don't trust my ownwords. In my life, I need to see ac tion and I need to live my val ues. As I satthere lis ten ing to my peers speak, I won dered why I felt such dis trust in myown words. I thought about my child hood:
I was an ex tremely quiet child and my mother used to won der why I didnot play with the other kids at the play ground. My mother de cided thatI should be ex posed to more adults when I was young so that I would notbe come de pend ent on her and she would not be an over bear ing force inmy life. So, early on she went off to work and I was shipped off to day care cen ters. I think that leav ing so abruptly proba bly af fected me a lot andcre ated a dis trust. In a sense it sev ered our bond. For tu nately, I endedup at a nur tur ing school—Pen in sula—where I had met Kris tie, andgradu ally en gaged in play with the other chil dren and be came more as -ser tive. But again my se cu rity was shat tered when my par ents sent me to pub li c school at the end of the fifth grade. They wanted me to be aca
demi cally pre pared for pub li c high school. I re mem ber the day they toldme I was chang ing schools. I was to leave my ex tended fam ily. The lit tlegirl in me was so dev as tated. At the new school peo ple did n't care abouteach other in the way that I had grown ac cus tomed. To make mat ters
Pas sage Nine: Cre at ing Our Fu ture
worse, I was con fronted with an em pha sis on right and wrong, ratherthan on learn ing.
Then Jenny spoke and I re di rected my at ten tion back to the group. Jenny al
ways spoke con sciously, and I knew that I could trust her. Our group pro -
cess con tin ued and we even tu ally ar rived at con sen sus on cer tain goals.
Then we con cluded our four- hour fi nal with an other guided visu ali za tion
ac com pa nied by mu sic. I as sumed a com fort able po si tion on the floor,
closed my eyes and re laxed. Gary asked us to re peat the walk up the moun -
tain with our grand chil dren. This time we were to view a world in which a
criti cal mass of peo ple had taken
re spon si bil ity for the vi tal tri an gle of life.
We had learned the les sons of bal anc ing per sonal power with re spon si bil ity,
bal anc ing group ac tion with har mony, and bal anc ing our use of the planet
with care for the en vi ron ment.
As the mu sic of Van gelis's “La Mer Re com mencee” blended with mythoughts, I imag ined smell ing the fresh ness of the air, see ing the beauty ofthe flow ers, and hear ing the songs of the birds as we as cended the moun tain. This time, I could point out to my grand child all the things that I had helped to cre ate in the world over my life time. Now I could talk about the health ofthe peo ple, the co op era tive spirit of the citi zenry, the vi tal ity of the land, theplants, and the ani mals. I be gan to en vi sion the world as it could be if a criti -cal mass had emerged and em pow ered them selves to make a dif fer ence.
My grand daugh ter holds my hand in hers as we move up the moun tainin si lence, mind ful of each foot step and aware of our sur round ings. Shemoves with natu ral grace, com mu ni cat ing a sort of old fa mili ar ity withthe out doors and re spect for the sa cred ness as she care fully ex am inesthe life we are among. Some times we just stop to ob serve and ex pe ri -ence the move ment of a crea ture or the still ness of a tree. We are gen tlewith one an other in our touch and with our words. We have trav eledthis moun tain many times—some times alone, some times guided byoth ers, some times as cend ing in har mony guided by a com mon vi sionand lov ing one an other.
The air is clear and a zephyr rus tles the leaves on the trees. When westop to gaze out at the val ley I feel con nected to the move ment be low. Iknow that be neath us peo ple have come to gether in a com mon ven tureto im prove life and the en vi ron ment. Peo ple have learned, for the mostpart, to iden tify with a global com mu nity and see the need to work to -gether rather than com pete. At some point in many peo ple's lives, theircare mani fested into ac tion and like a drop in a pool the ac tive en ergy ofthis change rip pled out and af fected a change within the hearts of oth -ers.
More and more in di vidu als be came mind ful of the way they con sumedboth natu ral re sources and the en ergy around them and di rected theiren ergy in unique ways to cre ate a health ier com mu nity. Rec og niz ingthat in di vidu als shape and are shaped by the in sti tu tions we cre ate,some com mit ted to mak ing in sti tu tions such as schools, gov ern ment,and busi ness more hu mane.
Small changes in liv ing brought about dra matic change in the en vi ron -ment. Hav ing long been aware of pes ti cide con tami na tion of wa ter andpo ten tial health dan gers, peo ple truly com mit ted to buy ing lo cal, or -ganic pro duce and cre ated gar dens in the cit ies and sub urbs. Manyfound ways to live more sim ply and to do their own house hold tasks re -duc ing the class di vi sion ex ac er bated by the sort of do mes tic ser vi tudecom mon in some sub urbs. Peo ple chose to live closer to gether, cre at ingdense pock ets of popu la tion and strong com mu ni ties and pre serv ingopen space. Liv ing in close quar ters, peo ple natu rally joined to gether for com mu nity events, shared or traded their re sources, and chose to bi cy -cle or use mass tran sit.
I re mem ber the point at which I re al ized that every one of my ac tionsand every mo ment of my life must be di rected to ward cre at ing a bet terworld. My life was trans formed. Sud denly the way that I got to my des ti -na tion and my ex pe ri ence along the way be came as im por tant and in -vigo rat ing as the rest of my life. Get ting some where in a hurry orspend ing the jour ney dis tracted by my rac ing thoughts or the ra dio nolonger felt sat is fy ing. I re nounced my car for the fresh air of a bike ride or
page one hundred and seventy-seven
Pas sage Nine: Cre at ing Our Fu ture
walk to work or the smile and con ver sa tion with a stranger on the train.
I be came even more scru pu lous about what I con sumed, both in ter nallyand ex ter nally.
I re moved my self from situa tions that were not in ac cor dance with myvi sion and I di rected my en ergy to wards ac tions that would open me and those around me to wards free dom. I strove to live every mo ment withopen ness, with ex hila ra tion as if it were my first and ex al ta tion as if itwere my last. With each ac tion I tried to con sid er if I would like to live in a world in which eve ry one was act ing as I was in that mo ment. Gradu -ally I learned that I could act mind fully, with out im pos ing rules and re -stric tions on my self. As I be gan to medi tate and find in ner peace, mychoices were guided by a wise in ner voice that felt natu ral and joy ful.
Then we took time to share our visu ali za tions. Ta mika shared a com monfrus tra tion: it was eas ier to imag ine and write about the most nega tive of fu -tures; it was harder to imag ine and write about a posi tive fu ture. As weshared our visu ali za tions, I re al ized that we shared a com mon fear. Wefeared that we might live in a world where peo ple did not care about one an -other, about the en vi ron ment, or about hu man ity as a whole. I felt dis cour -aged: here we had spent the year to gether, found trust and love in our selvesand one an other, and learned to see the world in a larger con text and care for it, and yet we did not see it in our fu ture that peo ple would care.
Frus tra tion swelled within me as I forced my self to step back and re flect fur -ther. I re laxed as I in ferred that it did not ap pear that we had lost faith in hu -man ity. We did not view hu mans as ma li cious or vin dic tive. In stead ween vi sioned a pas sive fate. We saw peo ple caught up in ma te ri al ism and be -com ing numb to an in nate sense of one ness with the world. Per haps wefeared this most be cause we saw it in our selves. We were in our vi sions of the world at its worst and we were cul pa ble merely by be ing pas sive.
Through out my life my par ents had high stan dards for my be hav ior. Whenthey saw me mak ing de ci sions that took me away from my stud ies and to -ward my friends, they threat ened to take away things that I cher ished—
page one hundred and seventy-eight
even The Learn ing Com mu nity. They wanted me to do well in col lege andfeared that I would not be pre pared. My par ents took note of how mis er ableI was and re al ized the deli cate bal ance in her ent in my so cial and aca demicde vel op ment. Still, I was fright ened and con fused. I be came in se cure, feel -ing that eve ry thing is tran sient and noth ing is mine be cause things andprivi leges were con stantly be ing taken away. I sup pose I fig ured out early on that if I could n't trust the peo ple around me, I could n't trust my self. As Igrap pled with my frus tra tions I re al ized that some of my child hood scarshad fol lowed me here.
Then Gary asked that we close by writ ing a re flec tion of our day. As Van -gelis played “La Pe tite Fille De La mar,” I could n't help but to re flect on myen tire year. I looked around the cir cle and I saw in di vid ual faces. I lookedinto the eyes of peo ple who had com mit ted to the group—who had com -mit ted to me. We had shared an in credi ble year. These peo ple had not let me down. When it mat tered the most we had been here for each other. We were a group, a unit, a fam ily. I thought about the in stances in which peo ple hademerged as war ri ors—Ta mika in her strug gle with the sad ness and traumaof her child hood, Greg in bring ing us back to the heart of an is sue and backto our own hearts, show ing us gen tly and by ex am ple how to care for eachother, Wendy in stand ing up to Shawn and Jer emy with such hon est pas -sion.
And as I saw each per son again, I saw the in di vid ual strengths that hademerged over the year through love and sup port. Kris tie had really rec og -nized her in tel lec tual po ten tial and be come more as ser tive. An gel had comeout of her own world, joined the cir cle in stead of dis rupt ing it, and, as shecom mit ted her en ergy to the group, con trib uted in credi ble in sight.
I looked around the cir cle again. This group had sup ported me fully when Ihad been weak and strug gled against my own in hi bi tions and when I hadbeen strong and taken risks emerg ing as a leader in the group. And I re mem -bered how each of these beau ti ful peo ple had touched me so deeply in lifeout side the group: Kris tie be ing so hon est and open; Wendy be ing with meone af ter noon and just hold ing me when things had been so hard at home;
Pas sage Nine: Cre at ing Our Fu ture
and Steve magi cally bring ing out my laugh ter and love and help ing me todance. We were a group, a unit; this was my fam ily away from home.
As I looked at eve ry one I re al ized that I had a spe cial re la tion ship with eachper son in the group. I felt their love, and in that mo ment, trust ing thegroup, I trusted my self. I thought of a Tao ist story that Gary had sharedwith us about a farmer who, in his de sire to help his plants grow, went intohis fields each day gen tly pull ing on each seed ling; and how the farmer in ad -ver tently killed his plants by rush ing their growth pro cess. We can love andnur ture each other while we each de velop and learn in our in her ently natu ral way.
I re al ized that noth ing in an in di vid ual's edu ca tion could be more im por tant and rele vant than the pro cess we were en gaged in: rec og niz ing our po ten -tial, lib er at ing our selves to be come the learn ers we wanted to be come withthe sup port of a group, and be com ing in spired to take an ac tive part in thecon scious evo lu tion of the planet.
Yes, I thought, edu ca tion is step ping out side one self and con nect ing withhu man ity through lit era ture and his tory; it is learn ing by ex peri ment -ing—the pro cess of sci ence and math; it is be ing in na ture and feel ing thecon nec tion be tween one self and all of life; it is in ter act ing with oth ers andlearn ing to share and to love; and it is the vi tal step in which all of this cul mi -nates into ac tion. It is rec og niz ing that the state of hu man ity and our en vi
ron ment de pends on how we act and in ter act right now. And it is thispro cess over and over again within the in di vid ual and within a group. As Imade my per sonal com mit ment to work ac tively to im prove my com mu nity and the en vi ron ment, I let go and al lowed my self to trust the group and indo ing so I lib er ated my self.
Our learn ing com mu nity started out as a group of di verse per son ali ties. Wewere sepa rate as boys and girls and we were made even more sepa rate by be -ing re garded as fresh men, sopho mores, jun iors, and sen iors. We ex pe ri -enced, in ter acted, be came aware, and agreed to seek the higher in tel lec tualground in ar gu ments. We re- directed our fo cus from self- indulgence and
the con fron ta tion that pro duces win ners and los ers; we trans formed “mycon cerns” to “our con cerns” to “global con cerns.”
As the year ends, we take the aware ness that we had worked so hard to trans -form and pre pare our selves for the next step: to walk alone once again intothe world and face the chal lenges that our lives pre sented. We are ready tocre ate our fu ture. We need more edu ca tion and more ex pe ri ence, and weneed to cre ate op por tu ni ties in which to be come in volved and bring ournew con scious ness into ac tion.
I carry all these thoughts with me as I be gin my new jour ney alone. The pro -cess makes me both ex cited and afraid. I am left with ques tions: Will I beable to live up to the chal lenge? Will I find oth ers who will join me in set tingtheir dif fer ences aside and com mit to com mon causes? Will we be able tomake a dif fer ence? I don't know the an swers; some times I feel over whelmed by the ques tions.
I know that at times I will be filled with lone li ness and doubt. And I knowthat at other times I will be ex cited and up lifted by the op ti mis tic spirit andthe ca ma ra de rie that I will share with oth ers. I know that when I open my -self to my great est vi sion of the fu ture, I am en er gized and feel to tally alive. Ihave con trol over my will ing ness to help cre ate a bet ter world and I in tendto ex er cise that con trol. It is the only cer tainty that I have.
A Father's Love Keeps Shining Through Pain BYLINE: By SELENA ROBERTS . SECTION: Section D; Column 1; Sports Desk; SPORTS OF THE TIMES; Pg. 1 LENGTH: 906 words DATELINE: MONTREAL The moment of silence was startling. Usually, you hear a beeper or a restless child or a vendor's footsteps or a tipsy But not a sound echoed at the Bell Center on Tuesday night, not the click of a ho
LUST UND LIEBE Überall wird von Sex geredet. Wie wichtig der ist, wie toll der ist. Darüber wird oft ganzvergessen, dass wilder heißer Sex einem nicht einfach zufliegt, sondern dass man auch etwasdafür machen muss. Zum einen muss man immer wieder die Partnerschaft pflegen. Und zumanderen darf man auf gar keinen Fall sexuelle Probleme einfach unter den Tisch kehren, in derHoffnung, dass