Wednesday, June 17, 2009

50 Years From Now

I was asked by the Lake Champlain Quadrecentennial folks to write an essay called Observations From A Day 50 Years From Now. It will be read in early July as part of a panel discussion on imagining the future.

So I wrote a piece from my 90 year old self, talking about surviving what I believe are some serious and inevitable "troubles." It's called Observations From A Day 50 Years From Now. Here's a bit for you:

As everything we’d been warned about started to happen, as the world cracked, so did our hearts. And when your heart cracks, you can either die of grief, duct tape it together and solider on, or you can let all those cracks and open spaces get filled up by love. It’s like cracks in cement. Water gets in there, and things start to grow. Life happens in those cracks. The same is true for us, and it’s an amazing thing to see.

Things could have gotten so much worse. But we finally woke up. We finally got startled and scared by the idea that we are just a bunch of critters living on one tiny, miraculous rock in space and we have absolutely nowhere else to go. We finally realized how much we love our little rock, and we finally decided that it was worth being unstintingly selfless and heroic and creative and courageous in order to save it. And ourselves.

And in that moment, we came together as one people. You could feel it in the air. You could see it in the eyes of strangers when you walked down the street. As scared as we were, there was also a kind of marvelous, miraculous determination which settled in. We really and truly changed. We grew up. We adopted, as a global people, that beautiful old Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam – repairing the world. We made it our creed, our manifesto, our purpose.

You can read the whole thing here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Paul Hawken Rocks My Soul

Paul Hawken gave a magnificently inspired commencement address at the University of Portland called You Are Brilliant and the Earth is Hiring.

Here's a nice bit:
There is invisible writing on the back of the diploma you will receive, and in case you didn’t bring lemon juice to decode it, I can tell you what it says: You are Brilliant, and the Earth is Hiring.

The earth couldn’t afford to send recruiters or limos to your school. It sent you rain, sunsets, ripe cherries, night blooming jasmine, and that unbelievably cute person you are dating. Take the hint. And here’s the deal: Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don’t be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done.

When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand the data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse.

What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world.

The poet Adrienne Rich wrote, “So much has been destroyed I have cast my lot with those who, age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world.” There could be no better description. Humanity is coalescing. It is reconstituting the world, and the action is taking place in schoolrooms, farms, jungles, villages, campuses, companies, refuge camps, deserts, fisheries, and slums.

To read the rest, go here.

The Singing Revolution

I just read in Yes Magazine about how, from 1987 and 1991, Estonians sought to free themselves from decades of Soviet occupation in a non-violent revolution. How? They sang.

Basically, once Mikhail Gorbachev came to power, and proclaimed a new era of free speech, the Estonians decided to test it by singing (frequently a highly patriotic song called "Land of My Fathers, Land That I Love") every time they wanted to protest something. It proved an effective tactic, with no violent repercussions.

They came to realize that as long as the Estonians didn't shed any blood, Gorbachev couldn't justify sending in tanks to quash demonstrations. So they developed a highly conscious tactic of non-violence, and in the end, achieved Estonian independence.

There's now a documentary film about it called The Singing Revolution. Here's the trailer. Be inspired.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Art Saves The World

An old family friend, Ruth Bolliger, just sent me the w
elcome address to parents of the incoming freshman class at Boston Conservatory, given by Karl Paulnack, pianist and director of the music division at Boston Conservatory.

A little selection:

If there is a future wave of wellness on this planet, of harmony, of peace, of an end to war, of mutual understanding, of equality, of fairness, I don't expect it will come from a government, a military force or a corporation. I no longer even expect it to come from the religions of the world, which together seem to have brought us as much war as they have peace. If there is a future of peace for humankind, if there is to be an understanding of how these invisible, internal things should fit together, I expect it will come from the artists, because that's what we do.

Thanks Karl.

You can read the whole address here.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

First Reading

At long last, the Gang and I had our big reading at their graduation ceremonies.  Special thanks to Matt Schlein and the whole team at Walden for letting us invade the proceedings.  And super-special thanks to Ben for being our last-minute, no-rehearsals puppeteer and magnificent manatee voice.

We've got another reading coming up on June 20 with adult actors.  I'm looking forward to hearing it again (without people chatting in the background).