We didn’t need the financial crisis to tell us that something was wrong. We didn’t need the environmental crisis to tell us something was wrong. Social injustices coupled with ignorance and poverty has been with us for a long time. There is no justification or excuse for the fact that more than half the population of the world, that’s more than 3,500,000,000 human beings, are unable to lead dignified lives; where fathers and mothers can’t bring home enough food for the family to eat a healthy meal, where hygienic conditions instead of reducing, are a major cause of widespread disease, where education is not available to help human beings develop as human beings, unburdened by the prejudices of local cultures, religions, and politics.
So let’s face it; the financial crisis and the environmental crisis are just wake-up calls on the crisis of humanity, and it’s our third strike.
Recently I was in London, where our oldest daughter Christiana had organized an event to introduce Open Word Foundation, the Café, and the “Replanting a Rainforest” project. It was a wonderfully arranged evening in a beautiful setting in the best neighborhood, just around the corner from Princess Diana’s Kensington Palace. Some 30 people honoured us with their participation, all already involved in one way or another in work and projects to raise awareness about these urgent social, environmental and economical issues. I was genuinely impressed. I said so. I was humbled, and I said so. The energy and dedication of these and many other individuals like them is impressive. I wondered what could I possibly contribute to all the brilliance I was privileged to witness? I mean, they were already doing much more than I would have either the energy or the brains to accomplish!
And then slowly I began to think about it. Maybe, just maybe. Maybe my background, my experiences, all of them, maybe there was something I could do, a contribution of sorts. Maybe I could help by making people Stop, Reflect, and Listen . . . just a little bit more.
A few days before the event I had been taking a walk along the Thames River; it was a glorious beautiful day, and special in that it was a bicycling day and no cars were to be seen, or heard, just families laughing and the birds. It was also low tide and as I walked I saw a man walking along the riverside studying the objects exposed by the tide. I eventually found a staircase and joined him, discovering several pieces of broken porcelain and ceramics in the sand and among the tumbled riverbed stones. There were pieces of blue porcelain, red porcelain, pieces of glass bottles worn soft by the current, I found a handle off some cup or small pitcher and I thought of all the stories these objects had been a part of, if only they could tell.
And that, I think, is what it’s really all about; our stories, the stories we are told, and tell ourselves, the stories worn down slowly through the ages, the stories we carry with us and tell us how things should be, what we should expect, or not. We carry these stories regardless of whether they serve us well or burden us, unaware of these stories that are shaping our reality today based on what was yesterday.
So how do we create something new, if all we have are our old stories, even the worn down stories of ages ago?
There is a science to this (several sciences actually), which is all very interesting, and can be studied, but it’s also very simple; we have to make choices (just about the only thing we “have” to do); what stories can help us and which are holding us back? What are the obstacles keeping me from being the best I am, not could be, being the best I am? Because I am, we are, together, all those wonderful, inspiring, fun things, just waiting to break through all the stories; to shine through and lighten up our lives.
All we really have to do is Stop, Reflect, and Listen . . .
And then the real adventure begins.