Friday September 22nd 2017

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To Dire to Inspire?

“The American Dream – The World’s Nightmare” is a presentation I that conduct at high schools, colleges, universities, churches and at just about any venue where people are willing to come to hear me speak.  (If you would like to have me come speak before your group, or want to learn more about this presentation email me at [email protected] )
Before one presentation was about to begin someone asked me if the talk was going to be all “doom and gloom.”  I understand the question.   I get it.  Really.  There is already so much bad news in the world why would someone want to hear my presentation or read these missives?
Many of the postings on this blog, especially in the early days and weeks, may seem to fall into this category.  Lot’s of dire predictions and depressing facts.  Doesn’t seem like a recipe for success does it? (or in this case, wide readership).
And of course, if you speak to anyone who knows anything about teaching, or about social change, or about behavior modification, they will tell you that the way to get someone to take action or change a behavior in their life is to inspire them.  Create a vision of a reality that will pull them in that direction.  Fear rarely works as a motivation force.
Martin Luther King inspired a generation with his “I Have A Dream” speech.  He helped change a nation by enabling people to imagine what America could look like; by pushing the young and old alike to envision what the country could achieve; and by helping people of all walks of life to grasp how America could fulfill its founding essence and promise if it truly enfranchised people of color as equal citizens.   He helped people understand how acknowledging and codifying the rights of African Americans would, in fact, enable us all to be more truly human.
Martin Luther could leap right into the dream part because blacks in America were already living the nightmare — everyday they lived the reality of being a second class citizen.  No need to flesh that part out.
My challenge is quite different.  We are all living the dream while few seem to grasp the full horror of the nightmare that awaits us once awakened.  If I leap into the dream part now, and offer a cascade of “radical” ideas and “solutions” before you buy into the fact there is a problem, before you really begin to grasp the depth of the problem before us, you will simply find this to be the ravings of a mad man.  You will not find the courage to consider the changes we need unless you fully begin to grasp the nightmare head.
I need some time to paint the landscape, to draw the connections and peel away the façade.  Time to explore the facts, figures, and predictions that rarely see the light of day.  But for me it is not about doom and gloom.
Just the opposite, actually.
These insights are essential to allow the birth of a sustainable dream.  They hold the potential for the first step along a path with no ending.  We can only begin to create a new path by first understanding the folly, the insanity, the wretched horror of what awaits us at the end of our current path.
Then, THEN, my friends, we can delve into the nuts and bolts, the wild visions and bold proclamations.  There are solutions for every problem, issue, or predicament that I will present.  There are glorious opportunities for human prosperity, and for creating a world where we can thrive in ways only pondered in our wildest dreams.
Stay tuned, the best is yet to come….if we can just wake up in time.

Note:  This posting was inspired by a much shorter, but not dissimilar discussion found in James Gustave Speth’s book “The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability.”

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