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To Have Hope

Temperature predictions from some climate mode...
Image via Wikipedia

Climate change is happening. We can attempt to deny it. We can go along with the conflict among politicians and in the newspapers. We can close our eyes to it. We can say “weather is weather” when we look at a balmy January day when it should be 20 below. Climate change — global warming — is happening. No matter what we say to console ourselves doesn’t change the trend that 98% of the scientific community accepts as fact. Our world is warming and places are already being affected. Recently, the Oregonian published a map put out by the USDA. The USDA is redrawing their garden zoning maps to more accurately reflect current temperatures. The caption lightly explains warming, but also attributes the change to better mapping software! So, I put a flippant comment on my Facebook page that got its own attention from my friends. One didn’t realize I was being sarcastic. Another responded with his own, appropriately, flippant remark. Finally, a family member expressed her own frustration with how we glaze over this very serious problem. As a follow-up, I posted a link to a three-year old Scientific American article that showcased ten places that in 2008 that were clearly affected by climate change. Some of the listed places include:

Darfur

Until the rains failed in Darfur, the region’s pastoralists lived amicably with the settled farmers. The nomadic herders grazed their camels on the rocky hillsides between the fertile plots and fed their animals on the leavings from the harvest….[More]

The Gulf Coast

Climate scientists may still be debating to what extent climate change is going to translate into stronger and more frequent hurricanes, but insurance companies aren’t waiting for the final answer….[More]

Northern Europe

The warming of the globe has so far generally been good for the world’s wine. It has allowed the fruit to come off the vine richer and riper. A study led by Gregory Jones, a climatologist at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Ore., and the son of a winegrower, tracked the impact of rising temperatures between 1950 and 1999, using as a measure of quality the values by the auction house Sotheby’s, which rates wines on a 100-point scale….[More]

Great Barrier Reef

Not all the carbon dioxide we emit contributes to atmospheric warming. More than a third of what we have produced since the industrial revolution has been absorbed by the oceans, where it reacts with seawater to form carbonic acid….[More]

In recent years, no less than four Alaskan communities have been forced to relocate (Shishmaref, Kivalina, Shaktoolik and Newtok) due to climate change. Waters are rising. Temperatures are rising. Plants and animals are migrating, and now people are migrating too. These communities are the canaries in the coal mine. They are the ones screaming to the rest of the world, “LISTEN! Climate change is happening! It’s happening to us! Now!”

But now we’re not listening. Collectively. We are stuck in group think, not embracing our group wisdom. Collectively, what can we do? That was the question that was posed to me. So, here’s a short list.

  1. Don’t lose hope. But realize that people will only change when they want to. So, while not losing hope, stay the steady course.
  2. Lead by example. Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Then do it all over again, and better.
  3. Be mindful of your own consumption and aware of how this culture of things is perpetuating the problem.
  4. Realize hope in that 60% or so of Americans do recognize that there is a problem, so while the media isn’t up on what Americans really are thinking, there is a paradigm shift around us.
  5. Educate yourself, and then, educate others. Do it with compassion, and when they stop listening do it with your actions. Show people how the local organic food you create with is better than the tasteless, flavorless, nutritionless food found in the average grocer.

To have hope can be hard, but I think it’s imperative we stay the steady course. We can find solace in the Romanesque period in history where buildings became strong again when the world didn’t end in 1000 AD. We can find solace in realizing we have found lost technologies, like concrete, to make our world more solid. We can find solace in remembering that no matter how stubborn, we are one of the most adaptable creatures, and adapt we will. We can find solace in our relationships that we forge, foster, and create. Because, then, we know that we will have a network to turn to who supports our ideals of local, homegrown, homefunded communities.

To have hope, in my mind, is the only way to live. And, to have hope, is the only bottom line that will drive us when madness surrounds.

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Rousseau & the First Discourse

This was a paper written for Professor Curtis Stokes at Michigan State University for my MC 370 class (taken for the 2nd time).

Note: Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the First Discourse: on whether the restoration of the Sciences and Arts has contributed to the purification of morals.

In Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s First Discourse, the blame he puts on the Arts and Sciences for contributing to the lack of morals and virtues in his modern society is very relevant today. Just look in the morning paper to see the variety of morals that are diminishing. We have people killing other people to support hallucinatory habits. Corporate takeovers and monopolies controlling the market are commonplace. We constantly see the religious right and other morally right peoples try and persuade our government to correct our immorality. Wear your seat belt. Don’t do drugs. Don’t let this big mean company hurt my innocent little company. How did most of these things come about? They were by-products of the arts and sciences. All stems from education. We are taught that we must have a good education to succeed in the world. Perhaps it’s the education that is really the root of all of this evil and purging of our morals. After reading both Rousseau’s First Discourse and his Preface to “Narcissus” it becomes clear that Rousseau abuses the arts and sciences in the former and becomes a defender for them in the latter if they are taken in moderation and not idolized.

In Rousseau’s First Discourse, it is not “Science… [he] abuse(s) … it is Virtue [he] defend(s) before virtuous men (page 5).” He defends virtue in an era where education of arts and sciences is precedent to being good. Time and time again, Rousseau gives argument after argument how the sciences and arts have led to men preferring luxury over hard work and a moral living. He claims that Arts and Sciences rarely exist without luxury, and luxury cannot exist without them (16, 18). What is it that most of us want? Is that what education really teaches us? How to want expensive things? Why are we in college? We want the good life. We want the nice car, the great house on the beach, the apartment in the city. We want to do better than our parents, and our parents want us to do better than them. We want to support our children better than our parents supported us. We want to have more toys and gadgets to make our lives easier and more pleasurable. Our parents want to spoil our grandchildren, as good grandparents do. All of these things are luxurious. Do we really need the nice car, the house on the beach, the apartment in the city, and the fun toys and electronic gadgets to make life easier? Are they necessary to a healthy life? Rousseau would argue no. Rousseau is very admirable of the vulgar or rustic man, although they wouldn’t have the ability to comprehend his writings, he loves their simplicity. Their lives aren’t complex, and they innately understand what virtue is by acting on it and not explaining it. Rousseau claims that in the modern society, people do a lot of talking about virtue, a lot of analyzing it, but they fail to understand and act on it. Only the common rustic man can really live the virtuous life, for once corrupt you are doomed to always be corrupt. The educated man is corrupt once learned from the corrupt education institutions. Rousseau states that “until the Romans had been content to practice virtue; all was lost when they began to study it (13).” It isn’t difficult to find examples of Rousseau’s arguments in our world today. As humans are innately good, we recognize hints of immorality. Therefore we despise the learned wealthy cooperate financier for his ruthlessness. We despise the all-knowing politician for his corruptness. We despise the intelligent scientist who cloned Dolly the Sheep for corrupting our morals. We despise so many people who are learned because they degrade our morals in society today. What good has our education done but to make us want more of what we don’t really need? Do we really need the $300,000 dollar a year job to support our futuristic families and ourselves? Can’t we get by on $40,000 or maybe even $10,000? If there’s a will there’s a way, right? (Unless we don’t really want to be virtuous.) Do we really need any monetary compensation? Can’t we get along in the wilds of Canada picking berries and sleeping under trees? We’d have the barest of necessities, just enough to survive on. We wouldn’t care about the newest, fastest car that has come to the market. We would only care about our survival, and the survival of our friends and families. We wouldn’t need an institutional education because we’d be surviving on instinct to survive.

Another interesting similarity between Rousseau and our modern day society, is his claim of lack of citizenship. He argues that “we have Physicists, Geometricians, Chemists, Astronomers, Poets, Musicians, Painters; we no longer have citizens; or if we still have some left, dispersed in our abandoned rural areas (24)…” What do we have today but Scientists of all sorts, physicists, chemists, and astronomers. We have Mathematicians, and musicians; we have artists who specialize in painting and poetry. How many times do we hear how awful a country is? How often is it said that people are not proud to be from their birth country? We have a lot of inhabitants that choose different paths, but despise where they come from. As far as our abandoned rural areas, what job is disappearing very quickly? Recently a town next to my hometown of Greenville held its annual Applefest. Oddly, there were no apple orchard representatives. There was one scheduled, but it could not come for it went out of business a few months earlier. Our nation’s farms are being sold for expanding cities and corporate mergers. An honest man’s wage is getting harder to come by. Rousseau would be saddened that there has been no real improvement in our morals.

In the “Preface to Narcissus” Rousseau defends himself against his critics by claiming that it wasn’t all sciences he is against, just when one pours all of his energy into defending and expanding them without a thought for the common good. He feels that Science taken abstractedly is wonderful. However, one needs to be better rounded. Do not devote all of your energy into them. Take the good and move on (97). Rousseau’s argument in the First Discourse was very strong. He put a good case against the Arts & Sciences in his defense of virtue. His attempts to save face in “Preface” are weak at best. He raises many good points and he does clarify the overall argument, however, he seems to sidestep the replies and comments to the First Discourse like a well-staged politician. Despite his meager retreat to please the critics, Rousseau still had good points about Sciences and the Arts and modern Society.

“What a strange and ruinous constitution, where having wealth invariably makes it easier to get more, and it is impossible for the man who has nothing to acquire anything (101).” Isn’t that true of our modern day society? Single mothers dependent on welfare rarely get out of this cyclical system. If, and when they do, it is usually by marriage. Sometimes that is not even enough and both parents’ end up struggling together. How wrong is it that a rich man can get richer (Bill Gates before the anti-trust suits) and by bigger gadgets and things, while the poor man must beg for food so he can live to see another day? How awful is it where our children aren’t learning and are dying malnourished (third-world countries around the globe)? Isn’t it backward to live in a society that encourages learning but fails to teach people to care? A society that proclaims freedom and equality for all while we have people sleeping on park benches because they lost their house or were abandoned by their parents. We speak the learned languages and philosophies of the Ancients, yet fail to act virtuous.

“What have we gained from all this? Much chatter, rich men and argumentative ones, that is to say enemies of virtue and common sense. In return we have lost innocence and morals. The multitude grovels in poverty; all are the slaves of vice. Uncommitted crimes dwell deep inside men’s hearts, and all that keeps them from being carried out is the assurance of impunity.” (101)

In “Preface to Narcissus”, Rousseau makes a stronger argument against corrupt men who cannot distinguish between good and bad, while he is much more favorable towards the Arts and Sciences. It’s as if the Arts and Sciences are the unwitting accomplices in the corrupt man’s plight to torture the civil and virtuous man. Rousseau does offer a small solution while acquiescing to the problem.

“It is no longer a matter of getting people to do good, but only of distracting them from doing evil, they must be kept busy with trifles to divert them from evil deeds; they must be entertained rather than sermonized.” (104)

Here, Rousseau gives an example of what today would be called your local YMCA, United Way, or any other Keep Kids Off the Street Organization. Keep people entertained at ball games, charity events, working on their gardens, or enhancing their crafts. Keep them busy with things they enjoy, and they will cease to do evil. If this pattern continues for many generations, maybe a virtuous lot will be born again.

Rousseau’s First Discourse is very relevant, no matter how emphatically he claims it was feasibly argued in his Confessions. Of everything Rousseau has to say in his First Discourse, the most important thing we should get out of it is a warning. If we continue on our paths of seeking riches instead of a form of salvation, if we continue to use the arts and sciences for evil by enhancing laziness, our society will be doomed. We should do useful things with our arts. Create things to be used usefully such as better farm equipment and building things with our hands, not things that abuse the human body and soul such as television (because it leads to apathy). Once we find the perfect harmony between the Arts and Sciences and virtuous living, this will be our hope and a virtuous man will again be born.

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Controlled Capacity

Arcade Fire
Arcade Fire

“Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” This is one of my favorite adages. I love planning. I love thinking about upcoming tasks, comparing old tasks undone, all to move towards a common goal. While studying urban planning at Portland State University, I learned to believe that planning was even more important in urban settings (rural too). If we want to create and support a vision of our place, then we need to plan to manage the growth (or decline, think Flint, Michigan) that will inevitably happen. Given this framework, I think my friend was a little surprised when I told her I had a gut level reaction against Arcade Fire.

She asked me if I’d listened to them yet. She was letting me borrow a CD. I confessed that no, I hadn’t because well… they sort of irked me.

“I heard them on Soundstage once,” I explained. I thought back to that episode where the large band was sweating over microphones and the stage, all very animated in their own right. I’ve known musician types, and there is something about their arrogant personalities… that holier than thou because I play music attitude that really just bugs me. And, it really bugs me when it sweats all over the stage.

I had never heard of Arcade Fire prior to listening to this Soundstage episode, so I looked them up like any self-respecting internet user would do. Naturally, I turned to Wikipedia, where it was kindly explained Arcade Fire caps their concerts. They don’t sell more than, say 3,000 tickets per show (I don’t remember the number and Wikipedia isn’t saying anything about this memory.)

The article further explained some restrictions the band put in place to control their grow, their numbers, and as such have become a cult classic revolving around the lead singer. I recall there was something catchy about their music but it didn’t hit to my core like say, Sinner Man or At Last. It was catchy. It was modern. It was clearly very popular.

Now, maybe it’s because I was never a popular kid. Maybe this hearkens back to some childhood jealously, but something about this just rubbed me the wrong way.

When I explained this to my friend, after she argued isn’t a good thing that they are controlling their growth and not selling out to the Man (record labels), she thought, “Oh, you mean, like they are capping their concerts with the premeditated assumption they will be popular?”

This was the closest set of words that explained the revulsion I felt.

But the group is popular. So, what’s so wrong, really, with the band exercising controlled growth, maintaining their vision, and doing what they love: playing music? Nothing really in the grand scheme of things. And, the irony is they are doing that which I actively advocate.

We have had a capped membership in my food club since we merged. Since March 2010, we have frozen our membership at about 60 families. As people shift, we make room for more, but that’s it. We can’t handle more than 60 families with our current structure, and now we like our structure. So, really, what’s so bad about capped capacity?

I think I better listen to that album (The Suburbs) now.

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There’s no such thing as work-life balance

Stuck in Traffic
Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

Her pregnancy claim was rejected, but all agree it doesn’t work. So, I hear that the conversation can’t be about discrimination but rather how we can make something work.

Family not withstanding, I have a lot of interests. Often, it feels like my brain is just going, going, going (except now, where I really need a vacation, most days I’m just surviving). So, when I’m not feeling overwhelmed, I have a lot of interests in which I take part. It started when I was staying at home and needed something to stimulate my brain. Then, I had commitments I had to follow through with once the job started. Even after some of these commitments get completed, I’m not going to stop doing other things. So, when I’m at work, emails need to be answered, problems solved, and maybe even a little research done.

While I’m at work, I’m thinking about all the work tasks and how to manage xyz event, keep on top of abc calendar, and complete the daily tasks that never make it to the list. I’m also thinking about my husband how his day is going, is he going to be hungry when he gets home, is he going to go for a longer bike ride, when did we schedule his chiropractor appointment. I”m thinking about my son hoping he’s enjoying his day at school, wonder if he had an allergic reaction, but I didn’t receive a phone call, and what thing we might have planned for the evening. I’m thinking about what to make for dinner this night and the next. I’m considering what other foodstuffs need planning. I’m thinking about the bathroom and kitchen floors that need to be scrubbed along with the laundry that needs to be folded and put away. I’m thinking about all the stuff in my house that needs to be organized thankful that my space at work is. At work, I’m thinking then about the files that miraculously aren’t that organized and how they should be but what an in-depth project it is that I don’t have time for.

When I was home, not working, I was in a rut. Sure, I helped start a food club and I volunteered and participated with my church. I sat on the board at the Community Alliance of Tenants. Work is (environmental) stewardship. Church is spirituality. Food club is food security, foodsheds, local, organic, sustainable. The Community Alliance of Tenants is housing, empowerment, education. Home, is home, is family, is life. So, all these things fit important interests, values, core to my soul. How can I give any one up?

I am finding it’s near impossible, and often, lately, they collide. They run out of balance. So, even though this article is in part about the unfairness of this woman’s claim being denied, it is something many of us face daily. And, I don’t think a law suit is how we’re going to handle it for the better paradigm shift. Not a law suit about discrimination, that is.

Instead of anti-discrimination suits, we need our laws to change to make it easier to accept this imbalance. We need better child care allowances. We need part-time weeks that allow for health care to be offered at the same rate as full. We need work place flexibility that understands life happens outside of the cube farm. I believe we all have the right to reach our potential in a supported way, but the way we organize ourselves often gives undue challenges to that cause. We want what’s best for our kids, and sometimes we need to make sure we have what’s best for us to give what’s best for them.

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The Grape Passage

a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, top slice ...
Image via Wikipedia

All Levi wants lately are peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We used our home canned jam a few weeks ago, so we had to get a supermarket supplement. For the second supplement, we chose grape jelly. Levi had an initial preschool protest, but afterwards he’s been asking for it. My husband and I will eat it, but grape jam is never our first choice. We bought it because it’s cheap. Yes, I realized, we have entered another right of passage: Grape Jelly.

I complained to my mother, “Grape again?” My husband quietly loathed the addition to his peanut butter sandwiches. There is only so long one can do cheap when it becomes over bearing and the better cost option would be simply to not purchase it.

I grew up detesting it while it was in school lunches, on the weekends, during the summer. Rarely, we’d have strawberry, a delectable treat with which to decorate our peanut butter and white bread.

Then, I found myself purchasing my own groceries on a limited budget, like when I sold books door to door. Suddenly, I was buying the awful jam myself, willingly because it was the cheapest! I had tipped the line from grumbling about what my parents put before me to grumbling about what I provided for myself.

I wonder, often, about how food affects us and how it shapes us. Whenever we visited my grandmother, there was no grape jelly. Instead, there was a wide variety of home preserves. I recall strawberry, strawberry-rhubarb, mixed berries, and cherry. Sometimes, even blueberry jam. Never, not once, do I recall Grape Jam/Jelly being offered at my grandmother’s home. The peanut butter was different too. The peanut butter, while stored in the cupboard, was often tipped upside down. And, it had the oil still in it! My mom would purchase Jiff or its economy equivalent. So, this peanut butter that required stirring was almost culture shock.

What amazes me, as an adult looking back, was this rustic way of living was what my mother grew up with, and like many of her generation, abandoned. Now, a skipped generation later, I find myself relearning the things my mother took for granted. I bake my own bread, 90% of our meals are home cooked from scratch, and I work towards preserving summer in jars for seasonal eating throughout the year. Occasionally, though, we run out of those goodies and a trip to the grocery store is in order. It seems Levi will not escape this Grape Rite of Passage.

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An Open Letter on Food Security

Milk & Honey Bread
Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

Dear Friend,

I co-coordinate a food buying club in my neighborhood. This idea arose from many things, one the example is the one set by my grandparents who always had access to local food through their garden, animal husbandry, and local grocery co-op. Mostly, though, I do this because food quality for my small family is very important. I also do this is a way to increase food security for everyone.

Nary a day goes by where we don’t hear about another food recall. These food recalls largely involve large industrial food complexes, like confined animal feed operations. I don’t buy from those operations. I buy directly from the farmer. My family eats fairly locally and seasonally. We learn how to preserve our food and make things from scratch, like bread — a lot like my grandparents learned post World War II. We develop relationships with our farmers, our distributors, our producers of the food we eat. We do this to increase our food security. We know where our food comes from. We visit the farms. We know the names of our farmers’ children. We are invested in them, and they are invested in us.

But that investment is being threatened. The City of Portland has hosted several meetings to revise the food zoning laws for our locale. Their recommendations are to increase the hurdles one has to go through to have access to local food.

This is a problem. A big problem. And, I need your help to tell them it’s a problem. 

Find out more about the city’s plans and please take the survey. Please tell the city they are going in the WRONG direction for CSAs & Buying Clubs. Tell them it matters to you because food security matters to you. Tell them having access to local food is important to you. And, most importantly, pass this message on and have your friends and family take the survey.

Thank you for your help.

In food!

Michelle Lasley
community advocate | green coach | nurturer
www.michellelasley.com

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CSTI: Western States Center

CSTI: Western States Center advocacy training.
CSTI: Western States Center advocacy training. Sitting under a tree waiting for the afternoon session to start.

I am lying on my back, on a pebbled, concrete bench. I am in the shade, under the tree. It’s near 80 in the sun and 70 in the shade. A cool breeze keeps me comfortable. I open my eyes, and through my sunglasses, I see brilliant blue flickering through the moving green leaves. This is the epitome of summer. This beautiful summer day makes memories.

I had the opportunity, for the second time, to participate in the Western States Center’s CSTI (Community Strategic Training Initiative, the name is being changed to AMP). Western States Center trains social justice groups to help make effective change in their communities. It seems groups attend that, on average, have budgets less than $500,000. They have noble goals, diverse communities, and small staffs. They face the same kind of challenges other non-profits do: board engagement, how to fundraise, what’s my message, how to engage members and volunteers? The bit I find most fun about this conference is the level of engagement among the attendees. It’s like going to a college class but you only get the A students. Everyone wants to be there. They are committed to their respective causes, and they want to learn more to spread the good intent and bring upon the social justice revolution. Here, at CSTI, I am among people who share, passionately, the vision, the ideal, of making this world a better place.

Reed College, Portland, OR

I never thought I would enjoy or see purpose in networking. Over the last few years, though, my Portland has gotten a lot smaller in part due to my involvement within groups like Western States Center. When I attend CSTI, there are always people I know or know of or have seen at other events. And, given who the training attracts, I’m always meeting new people that I want to connect with because of our shared interests.

This year, at the fundraising workshop, our ice breaker question was, “What will you be doing after the revolution?” Ari Rapkin, a co-director at my organization, the Community Alliance of Tenants, came up with this and our facilitator loved it so much she shared. What does that imply? After the Revolution? For me, it means that all the things we independently and collectively work for have been achieved. After the revolution we won’t be fighting for equality in health-care because everyone will have equal access to great care. After the revolution we won’t need tenant advocacy because there won’t be discrimination in housing and all repairs are met. After the revolution we will realign our priorities so that we all value life as most important, and not just rich, white, property owning male life. After the revolution we won’t need to discuss gender neutral bathrooms because we will finally accept people for who they are: people like us hoping for intimate connections to make our world less bleak. After the revolution we won’t be fighting for food security because eating local and organically will be the status quo. So, after the revolution we will be free to achieve our own self actualization and realize our independent dreams. We won’t have to fight for social justice causes because they all will be won.

My memory of this year’s CSTI is of dreaming. My memory of that beautiful Sunday, where I sat under the tree dreaming of food, art, philosophy, and where I will be at 70. I sat dreaming of being a docent at the Art Museum, while living in a high rise condo across the street, frequenting farmers’ markets and enjoying the fruit life brings. That is my social justice memory.

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Tree

Tree
A tree, sketched with colored pencil.

I often do this doodle sketch. I suppose it’s because it represents a sort of peace to me. A calm day with a blue sky. Sun in the early morning or mid to late afternoon. Sitting in, on, under, or near a tree with a book or a sketchbook. Thinking, refreshing, pondering, pontificating. No one demanding anything of me. Just me. Just the tree.

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Youthful Exuburence

CAT Photo by Cal
Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

Young, passionate, and full of energy. While gray areas are recognized, she views the world mostly in black and white. That is, she has a clear moral standing and ethical responsibility towards, for example, our planet. She cannot understand why the rest of the world doesn’t get off its collective rump and do something about it. This passion fuels her many interests that connect people to land, food, and each other. She’s been warned to be cautious and wary of burn out. Let’s call her Linda.

I recognize I am an ageist. I have found myself discriminating against people younger than me on many occasions. I dismiss their carelessness or thoughtlessness because of their age. Someone close to me, when she reached 25 had some very careless assumptions about the world. When I parroted this experience to someone I respected I was reminded me, “Well, she is young.” I didn’t mean to take that explanation as an excuse to stereotype and discriminate against age, but I did. In the years following, I found myself using age as an excuse for mistakes, assumptions, or misgivings. I recognized the folly in these assumptions, namely because I am not much older than those I defined as “young.” What gives me the authority to not assume the same level of experience?

But Mommy's coffee works there?
Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

So, when I met Linda, I was, first, taken aback by her responsibility. She is young, but responsible. She owns up to her mistakes, and clearly wants to do a good job at whatever task she’s been assigned. She interviewed well. Her references checked out. She has been wonderful to work with. And, for me, this is a humbling reminder of the folly of my discrimination.

On one hand, she reminds me of me a decade ago — taking jobs that suited my interests for one reason or another, finding my way, and seeing how they lined up with my passions. I am feeding off her energy, and I love it. I am reminded about the importance of cherishing youth and incorporating youthful voices. We all deserve respect because we are human and we share the same home. Youth, clearly, hasn’t been around as long, but youth see the world in a fresh light that us stodgy old folks forget about. (I say this lightly; I have experience, but I am not old.) Youth can be more innovative, willing to take risk, and simply try something new. The stodgy old folks get set in their ways and don’t often want to venture out of the house in favor of rote routines.

Moreover, this experience emphasizes the need for group wisdom. When we cherish and respect all the voices in the room… when we allow others to speak and share their thoughts with thoughtful dialogue, we all grow. We all get something out of the experience allowing our souls to evolve to that place of self actualization. The stodgy old folks can be given reprieve to innovate and the youthful babes can learn from the varied experiences of their elders. I am both humbled and energized by this reminder. Now, the lesson to learn, I believe, is to find ways to integrate, better, these intergenerational experiences so all can benefit from this diverse group wisdom. Truly, we do have the power to change our world — but first we must believe it, and then we must act on it. And, often, it’s youthful exuberance that gets that job done.

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