June 1, 2004
In this issue:
1. Newsbriefs: Is Someone Watching You?
2. June Editorial: The Question of the Millennium: Do We Have the Courage to Live Together?
3. More Newsbriefs: Good News for Academe
Global Futures Forum Publishes Interview with John
4. Next Month: Being Real, Being Human
5. Quote of the Month
Just when we had given up finding out who “Harold Thurman Whitman” was, the person to whom that marvelous quote was so widely attributed, John discovered it was actually authored by civil rights pioneer and theologian Howard Thurman (1900-1981), who also founded The Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples which is located only six blocks from John’s home in San Francisco. It is said that Thurman was a huge inspiration to Martin Luther King, Jr. who always carried one of his books with him. So, again, the quote: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do that. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive.”
Given that the civilized world possesses all the information that is needed to conduct civil discourse and engage in meaningful dialogue, as well as the capability to fulfill everyone’s basic needs, why do we human beings continue living in a condition of insufficiency and conflict? While we know that we have enough food to feed everyone on the Earth, why don’t we take the actions necessary to distribute this sustenance so people stop starving to death in such huge numbers? While we know how to resolve conflicts so that war becomes the least desired option, and even have models for how this can be done, why do we insist on resorting to armed conflict and ignoring proven models for peaceful resolution?
I suggest that it is a question of will and courage. It certainly isn’t a question of capability anymore. Telling one another that we don’t know how to get along or assure that everyone is amply fed and sheltered is pure bull. It is time we called an end to this game of “Let’s Pretend.”
As we move along in these early years of the new millennium, let us address the question that we’ve been avoiding for some time: Do we have the courage to live together?
We are well rehearsed in ways to perpetuate war and inequities among peoples in the world. Up until the last century, the rationale that we didn’t know how to feed everyone might have been valid. It was valid that we did not possess the technology to produce and distribute enough food and other life-assuring basics for everyone. But both of these previously valid reasons for sustaining the conditions of war and starvation are now invalid. They are bogus!
If we don’t lack the know-how or the resources, why do we allow these conditions to continue? If a student possesses all the aptitude and IQ to be getting great grades in school, but is constantly failing his or her classes, wouldn’t we ask why? Wouldn’t we attempt to find out why they weren’t working at their potential? This is the question I suggest we ask ourselves at this time in history.
Are we willing to look at our dark side, that “shadow” part of us all that avoids these kinds of questions? Are we willing to admit to those hypocritical or dysfunctional parts of ourselves? Can we handle the truth?
Civilized society claims to want peace, according to all the lip service of our politics, our religions and our diplomatic exchanges. But is there true will behind all that rhetoric? If so, then it must be an issue of courage.
Going to war, taking a shot at someone, triggering a bomb, tossing stockpiles of food into the garbage instead of getting it to the people who really need it are all familiar options. That’s probably why we resort to them. We’re used to doing this; it is familiar and old hat. But these choices take little chutzpah given this is the way we’ve behaved for so long. Changing this pattern so that we stop repeating these inhuman, uncharitable and unthinking behaviors requires the courage to do something different, to demand something new of ourselves.
But courage rarely shows up unless the objective is really compelling, like the man who jumped into the river to save the woman passenger floundering in the frozen Potomac River after a plane crash some years back, or the New York firemen who put their lives on the line on September 11, or the mother who lifts the car off her child who is trapped underneath.
Do we care enough about having a better world? Do we care enough to live together rather than continuing to live in conflict, fear and growing separation? Do we possess the will? Do we possess the courage? These feel like the big questions for us to be engaging right now, far more important than what SUV to purchase, or how the economy is doing, or who should be president. Once we choose that we do want to live together, the answers to all the more trivial questions will reveal themselves.
Next Month’s Editorial: “Being Real, Being Human: First Step in Becoming a Conscious Leader”
Good News for Academe
Excellent news for the potential of a paradigm shift in mainstream business practices: Bill George, former chair of Medtronic, Inc., is teaching a new required course as a member of the Harvard Business School faculty, Leadership and Corporate Accountability.
Global Futures Forum Publishes Interview with John
The Global Futures Forum (GFF), an Internet-based, international body of futurists initially envisaged by UNISYS, has published an interview of John headed “Challenge of Our Times” in which he addresses the question of whether or not humanity has the will to live together, a topic related to this month’s editorial (above).
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
“Vision without action is a daydream, action without a vision is a nightmare.” – Japanese proverb
About John Renesch
Better Future NEWS is prepared monthly by John Renesch, a San Francisco writer, business futurist, and mentor.
His latest book is Getting to the Better Future: A Matter of Conscious Choosing. For a list of all the SERVICES John offers, go to Services.