Leadership in tough times

It’s 3:23 in the morning
And I’m awake
Because my great great grandchildren
Won’t let me sleep
My great great grandchildren
Ask me in dreams
What did you do when the planet was plundered?
What did you do when the earth was unravelling?
Surely you did something
When the seasons started failing?
As the mammals, reptiles, birds were all dying?
Did you fill the streets with protest
When democracy was stolen?
What did you do?
You Knew?

~Drew Dellinger

I always knew, as all of us know deep inside. As a child knows but later forgets: immersed as we are in busy lives, expectations and unfulfilled desires. Then I learned it again and it was painful but liberating: I finally knew that what I always felt as a facade was indeed fake. When I learned I stopped. I observed what I knew and despaired. I forgot what I knew before knowing. Then I met friends who also knew. I learned more from them. And I re-visited – with new eyes – what I have always known.

It is difficult to talk about certain things that have become taboo: that we have managed to destroy this world (our only home), that our ways have been greedy and selfish on others, including our own species and that the “dream” resulted in a nightmare for us and our children and their children.

The manicured “abundance” around some of us makes it more difficult to swallow. We don’t see what is far away, or we see it in small and confusing pieces: the floods in Alberta and the zoo animals drowning have the same coverage than the celebrity of the day’s pregnancy; unemployment and chaos in Europe are on par with the score from the last local game. We are made to forget and go on with our lives: errands and Wal-Mart, fast-food for the children because we are tired from work, forget what is essential and concern about superficialities. 1984 is here, where war is piece, freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength.

Today, sitting with friends, we discovered the analogy of being in a luxurious ship whose core is rotten. The ship is sinking, and, as happened at the Titanic 100 years ago, many are unaware of what is happening while some have decided to dance and ignore the truth.

Some “leaders” are trying to repair the ship using even more rotten wood and lying to the people: “it was just a small piece of ice, the journey will continue, have fun, eat, take on more debt, believe in us”. Some of us are trying to build boats as sturdy as possible, so we can save as many as we can. We are also trying to learn how to swim, and some of us, to teach others to swim while opening their eyes to the reality. Yet some others who know are arguing about what colour the boat should be.  Or who will lead the boat and why.

Who cares? I shout

Let’s build boats, as many as we can. Let’s show others how the waters are rising through the holes of the big ship. And with compassion let’s learn all to swim and navigate. Let’s make the boats sturdy first, and let’s take turns to bring as many as we can to the nearest shore.

And there is a shore…far and difficult to reach, but it is there, waiting for us.

Our Earth is like a small boat.
Compared with the rest of the cosmos,
it is a very small boat,
and it is in danger of sinking.
We need a person to inspire us
with calm confidence,
To tell us what to do.
Who is that person?
The Mahayana Buddhist Sutras
tell us that You are that person.
If you are yourself, if you are
at your best, then you are that
Only with such a person –
calm, lucid, aware- will our
situation improve.
I wish you good luck.
Please be yourself.
Please be that person”.

~ Thich Nhat Hann

 “And the day came when the
risk to remain tight
inside a bud was more painful
than the risk it took to blossom

~ Anais Nin

I discover today that there are doors that once opened cannot be closed: let’s go inside (or outside?) and enjoy the ride! Let’s build that boat and share the wheel, I am learning how to swim, and it is fun.

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