Mediators Go Green
(Mermaid and Merman by James M. Thorne)
I could talk about the energy-efficient, compact fluorescent light bulb -- the CFL -- that illuminates the desk on which I write this post or explore the (controversial) issue of carbon credits and taxes.
But I'm more interested in the paradigm shift necessary to survive the climate crisis.
Why mediators? Because WORLD 3.0 will require that we supercharge our natural cooperative and altruistic natures while dampening our competitive drive without thereby discarding our ambition.
What will it take? A shift from competition to collaboration.
Can we do it? "Yes we can," says Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth at the moment when his audience begins to move from denial to despair.
At least one way to get the global cooperation ball rolling will be to school ourselves in empathy, a necessary prerequisite to tackling the problem of collaborative solutions to worldwide problems.
We Don't Have the Luxury to Cling to "Hot Button" Issues
I was talking to a young attorney in my husband's law firm last night at a fund-raiser for Public Counsel. When I suggested Obama '08, he demurred on the ground that Barack's church-state separation position wasn't sufficiently clear and it was one of his "hot button" issues.
I said, "we can't afford any hot button issues in the coming election. There's too much at stake." I didn't need to say more.
Denial and Despair: The Parade of Horribles
Catastrophic species extinction, mass relocation of populations dispossessed by rising oceans, vast increases in wars fought over diminishing natural resources, and continued destruciton and dispossession caused by increasingly severe weather conditions.
There's more, but that should be enough for denial and despair to set in.
Hope: What Mediators Can Do
Last week, I had the great pleasure of shaking Barack Obama's hand and asking him what an ordinary citizen like myself could do to help his campaign.
"Talk," he said. "Talk to your freinds and your family. Talk to those who support me and those who don't. Talk to Democrats and talk to Republicans. Talk to those who agree with you and those who don't. But first listen."
The challenge of winning a presidential election in the most technologically advanced, economically strong, militarily mighty nation in the world pales in comparison with the work we must do to survive the twenty-first century with our freedoms intact.
We cannot do it alone. We cannot continue to avoid difficult conversations with our friends, families, and those who we perceive to be the enemies to good governance and thoughtful environmental stewardship.
I am voting for Barack because he is a conciliator. I believe he has the heart to do the right thing and the intelligence to surround himself with the people necessary to accomplish it. He is not a utopian nor an ideologue. He is practical and progressive.
But my hopes are not really pinned on Barack. My hopes are pinned on the American people to awake from our long post-9/11 slumber.
My hope is that no matter who we put in charge of the White House in '08, we will begin working together, talking together, reaching consensus on those issues on which we can agree, forgiving one another for our inability to solve those we cannot; and, building coalitions of those willing to put aside their personal grievances so that we can rise to the unprecedented global challenges that face us.
What is the first step in a mediation? The creation of hope and safety. And after that? Communication, reality-testing, and problem solving conducted by locating our mutual interests and finding ways to satisfy them. Reconciliation, forgiveness. Dare I say justice.
This is not work for the weak-willed. It is not work for those with stars in their eyes. It is not work for ideologues or utopians. It is work for those, as Ken Cloke says, who are hopeful at heart and pessimistic of mind. For those who combine a fine skepticism with the courage (and humility) to reach across the aisle, cross the political divide, listen to those with whom we most violently disagree and seek solutions.
In all of this, we must realize that we are not creating a world without borders. We are simply recognizing it. We are one, united, inseparable, inter-dependent, fragile and worthwhile. Every one of us.
As James Agee wrote of our responsibilities in depression era America:
In every child who is born under no matter what circumstances and of no matter what parents, the potentiality of the human race is born again, and in him, too, once more, and each of us, our terrific responsibility toward human life: toward the utmost idea of goodness, of the horror of terrorism, and of God.
James Agee, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men