Saturday, November 18, 2006

Who will change the world?

If you're hopeful about the world's prospects, are you a positivist? Or naive? If you're negative, are you a cynic? Or does that perspective come from the wisdom of experience? I've been asking myself these questions, because I'm not a spring chicken, but still tend to see the world in terms of what can happen, what can be achieved, what things could be like. I tend to see the rest of humanity as having wants and desires and, in many ways, similar values to mine. We want safety, opportunity, good health, basic resources and a fair bit of freedom. We'll make some sacrifices in some areas in exchange for gains in other areas. We would like our children to have good lives, better than ours if possible, but certainly not worse.

Well, I'm lucky to have most of the things I want. The future, where my children will live, is harder to assess, of course, and there are certainly causes for concern. I would like to improve their prospects, if I can. And then there's the 5.5 billion or so folks whose situations are much worse than mine, and whose children are in desperate need. I would like to do something to make their lives better as well. I've wanted that at some level for years, but haven't done much about it. More recently, I've become a little more active. The tricky bit is that, coming from an engineering background, I have a strong bias toward the real world. And yet, it's often very hard to see any clear, quantitative benefit from the efforts I make. Have I gone off the deep end? Am I now a hopelessly hopeful idealist?

Well, I had to think about this. Here's the thing: If you've got a positive attitude, does that make you unrealistic? Are you a realist if you think we're doomed? If that's the case, then maybe we are doomed!

So I thought about those that had a positive impact on the world. I'm talking about people in the blog logo in the upper right. Lincoln, King, Gandhi. Toss in JFK and Roosevelt and maybe Mother Teresa and Albert Schweizer. Even Jesus and Buddha. Where do they fall in the spectrum?

After chewing on this for, well, weeks actually, at some point it clicked for me that there are two dimensions involved: outlook and experience. Most of us start out with a positive outlook and no experience. We're optimistic and idealistic, though someone in our lives may step in to save us from being too gullible. As we grow in experience, we tend to become less positive, even pessimistic, jaded, or cynical over time. It's sad, but some of us actually start out negative and doubtful, and that's definitely a bummer, because I don't think experience will tend to make most people a lot more positive. But let's go back to who makes a difference.

So, going back to the worldchangers: I see them all as positive. But not in a weak way. Instead, I see these folks as being faithful. They had or have faith in humanity's ability to overcome our own weaknesses. And we have people like that still. We have Jimmy Carter, Paul Farmer and Jeffrey Sachs. And hundreds more who are savvy, experience, been through the trenches and yet continue to advocate for positive change. They fit into the upper right of the chart I included. That's where you've got to be if you expect to make positive change!

There are also numerous celebreties, like Bono, Madonna, Angenlina Jolie, etc, who advocate for change, but who may not have the pedigree of experience and who therefore tend to be dismissed as idealists. Funny, isn't it, how a weathered and tested soul can express an opinion and be respected and lauded, but when a young and idealistic person expresses a similar view, they're naive and idealistic? I'm in a similar boat: Older than Angelina, but about the same age as Madonna and Bono, I don't really have much experience in a third world life style, though my mother raised 5 kids solo with the help of AFDC checks. So, if I have positive thoughts about where the world can go, am I a space cadet? Or a visionary?

Who are you?

I believe that each of us can change the world. After all, hundreds of millions of us have changed the world in a small way called "global climate change", so I know that we can have an impact. But who are we?

If you ask me, I say we're visionaries! To hell with the naysayers. Let's work together and, slowly perhaps, change the world for the better. It's our choice, and I'm making mine.

Drop a note. I bet if you've read this far that you've been working on something. Tell us what it's about!

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Anonymous Celine said...

Yes, I think we are the visionaries very much so. Our work is a cog in the wheel just like the efforts of Bono and Angelina Jolie, etc. I feel that a big change is coming around the corner which will turn the tide for the better. Last week I literally felt as if I was in no-space or no-place. I struggled to stay grounded in 3-D. It was like the clash of the Titans, the Titans in the case being my idea of a better world for all and the reality that I seemingly face. I was in limbo torn between which vision I believed in, especially on 14th November. Now, that has passed and I feel sane again. I also feel stronger with regard to spiritual help or support I am receiving, in terms of my higher knowing and spirit guides. I believe that with our yearning for a peaceful and just resolution and our upholding of the vision for all and not just for a select few - that we are the leaders of the peace.

6:03 AM  
Blogger Joobie said...

My vote is for space cadet. ;)

No, I think it's interesting to consider one's perspective as a combination of experience and outlook. I think if we all considered ourselves visionaries, our shared perspective could be even more powerful and world-changing.

4:03 PM  

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