Tuesday, April 8, 2008

New Ideas, Fresh Start

An old Chinese fairy tale tells of a giant above the clouds and a jesting dwarf. The giant is described as standing with his head above the clouds, while the dwarf ridicules the giant for not seeing the earthly world. But, the giant endures all derision saying, "If I so desire, I could crawl upon the earth, but thou wilt never be able to peer above the clouds."

Thus, let us be giants in spirit! If we so desire the entire greater good, there will be room for everyone. Besides, a kinship with giants will help one look beyond the clouds. #528, Heart, M. Morya.

Looking above the clouds is what TIME magazine advocated in its March 24th issue, "10 Ideas That Are Changing the World." Expectantly, the subtitle went on to say: "Revolutions are happening all around us. Here's what you need to know about the future of: The Environment, The Economy, Technology and Religion." So, I thought with hope, we are not the only one's who've noticed a revolution is occurring in our midst.

Well, that was the hope. The reality turned out a bit differently. Unfortunately, nine out of the ten ideas struck me as rather ho-hum examples of revolutionary change, particularly in a future where the very existence of mankind is in question. The Number 2 idea of the end of customer service as we know it or the Number 3 idea of a post movie star era were far from significant world-cleaving issues. Even the religious entry Number 10 to Re-Judaizing Jesus fell flat as to universal significance.

Number 7 called "Synthetic Authenticity" touted new kinds of fabrics, Number 5 "Kitchen Chemistry" provided advice about cooking while Number 9 "Mandatory Health" explaining a new employer/employee relationship regarding health were all complete yawns. Not worth reading, trust me. These ideas could be quietly buried with no requiem required.

To a rescue of sorts was Number 8's ending line on the coming "New Austerity" which provided a miserly chuckle: "Maybe a whole generation will wake up and realize that collecting points on your Discover card doesn't make you rich." Despite my transient mirth, austerity based on American's current credit problems isn't exactly new. Just ask our Depression era grandparents.

But the one that reached the heights did so with gusto. Dr. Jeffrey Sachs' Number 1 entry called "Common Wealth, Our Survival Requires Global Solutions" was an outstanding example of clear thinking and was taken from enlightened ideas put forth in his forthcoming book entitled Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet.

This giant in spirit believes that the concept with the greatest potential to change the world involves an understanding that we are literally all in this together:
"By overcoming cynicism, ending our misguided view of the world a an enduring struggle of 'us' vs. 'them' and instead seeking global solutions, we actually have the power to save the world for all, today and in the future. Whether we end up fighting one another or whether we work together to confront the common threats--our fate, our common wealth is in our hands."
Dr. Sachs went on to elaborate four earth-changing trends that taken together are unprecedented in history: the world on average is getting richer with the future "center of economic gravity" in Asia; the world's population will continue to rise; an environmental crises will ensue because of the first two; and the bottom poor who make less than $1 day are not moving from that spot.

To counter these seismic trends, Dr. Sachs suggests four thoughtful solutions: the growth of sustainable systems of energy, land and resources; stabilization of the world's population through reduction infertility rates; the end of extreme poverty by 2025; and maybe the most important idea, "a new approach to global problem solving based on cooperation among nations and the dynamism and creativity of the nongovernmental sector."

One thing about Dr. Sachs, he has his ducks in order. Ever since his first widely read book The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities of Our Time was published in 2005, he has continued in a slow, steady unrelenting way to get out his heraldic message and its nonjudgmental corollary: that humanity shares a common fate on a crowded planet, and no one nation or group of people is to blame for the current problems. Finger pointing is not allowed. That is refreshing. What's more refreshing, this visionary sees a future in which the current seemingly entrenched problems have been solved for a better tomorrow.

An accompanying non-conformist idea about terrorism is worth mentioning because it is central to Sachs' message: "What we call violent fundamentalism should be seen for what it really is: poverty, hunger, water scarcity and despair."
That terrorism is a result of economic, psychological and environmental problems obviously run counter to the conventional political wisdom that sees Islamic ideology as the problem. This original thinker said in his monthly column in Scientific American magazine:
"The U.S. should rethink its overemphasis on military approaches, and Europe should honor its unmet commitments of aid to Africa, but other nations--including the wealthy countries of the Middle East and new donors such as India and China--can also help turn the tide" (2-08.)
As I read these enlightening articles, it struck me that without the cooperative acceptance by governments that we are all in this together, Dr. Sachs' other solutions might be non-starters. This could give new meaning to the United Nations. Or should I say, return meaning to the United Nations, for isn't this their purported mission? Non-corrupt leadership in that institution would go a long way in beginning the journey suggested by Dr. Sachs. And with his unrelenting rallying cry, that day may be soon approaching.

Of note: Dr. Jeffrey Sachs is an outstanding example of a world server who stepped outside his comfort zone to herald a sustainable future based on a vision of a united world. He is currently the Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and travels extensively in order to spread his message worldwide. Movers and shakers know his name and that could be said of all giants. To learn more, and you will for sure, go to www.earth.columbia.edu.
These mighty clouds are brought to you by Marie who knows how to catch them at their grandest!

Today's Weather Report: In the low thirties and dreary beyond words. The pressure in the air almost made writing this blog impossible today. But Dr. Sachs is always a picker-upper! Plus, he's cute for a middle-aged guy.

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