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The Words of the Lesson
Margaret J. Wheatley © 2002
As the world grows ever darker, I've been forcing myself to think about hope. I watch as the world and the people near me experience increased grief and suffering. As aggression and violence move into all relationships, personal and global. As decisions are made from insecurity and fear. How is it possible to feel hopeful, to look forward to a more positive future? The Biblical Psalmist wrote that, "without vision the people perish." Am I perishing?
I don't ask this question calmly. I am struggling to understand how I might contribute to reversing this descent into fear and sorrow, what I might do to help restore hope to the future. In the past, it was easier to believe in my own effectiveness. If I worked hard, with good colleagues and good ideas, we could make a difference. But now, I sincerely doubt that. Yet without hope that my labor will produce results, how can I keep going? If I have no belief that my visions can become real, where will I find the strength to persevere?
To answer these questions, I've consulted some who have endured dark times. They have led me on a journey into new questions, one that has taken me from hope to hopelessness.
My journey began with a little booklet entitled "The Web of Hope." It lists the signs of despair and hope for Earth's most pressing problems. Foremost among these is the ecological destruction humans have created. Yet the only thing the booklet lists as hopeful is that the earth works to create and maintain the conditions that support life. As the species of destruction, humans will be kicked off if we don't soon change our ways. E.O.Wilson, the well-known biologist, comments that humans are the only major species that, were we to disappear, every other species would benefit (except pets and houseplants.) The Dalai Lama has been saying the same thing in many recent teachings.
This didn't make me feel hopeful.
What are the perennial Wisdoms? What are the roots beyond our cultural imprinting or family conditioning? What is the glue? What are the global "10 commandments"--the Universal Values?
Among the Basque people and among the majority of Native People of this land there is what is called the "Four-Fold Way," and they say that life will be very simple if you just follow these four guidelines:
1. Show Up.
2. Pay Attention.
3. Tell the Truth, without blame or judgment.
4. Don't be Attached to outcome, but open to outcome.
Often times, watching the nightly news and reading mainstream newspapers it's hard to remember the presence of good in the world. And yet it is constantly around us. The world is full of everyday heroes and true stories of transformation. They have helped sustain life down the ages in a multitude of ways, small, simple and profound. DailyGood aims to shine a light on these stories and in doing so to change the nature of our conversations. If it can spread a few smiles along the way it's purpose is served.
ATTENTION: All you rule-breakers, you misfits and troublemakers - all you free spirits and pioneers - all you visionaries and non-conformists. Everything that the establishment has told you is wrong with you - is actually what's right with you.
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Resources in the United States.