Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Infinite promise

Supporting a cause, regardless of what that cause is, can be exhausting. Have you ever been convinced of something that was a little off the beaten path? Have you ever had a gut feeling that something was true? Have you ever seen a light at the end of a tunnel while others were facing the other way?

Want to sympathize? Pick something that you believe in, something you really, truly believe in, convince yourself it is utterly possible and then go out into the world and proclaim it for all to hear. Easy huh? Now, brace for the nit-pickers, the nay-sayers and the negative Nancys; watch out for the anonymous posters and the e-geniuses, the everything-readers and the blog watchers, the column writers and the editorialists; keep your guns drawn because here come the former execs, the MBAs, the at-home engineers, the politicians, the lobbyists and the team of experts.

How do you deal with this army of detractors? You have to be on point, stay informed, skim off the thick layer of bullcrap and stay flexible. Boil down the information to the bare facts, the real numbers, the straight dope. You have to read broadly about your cause but even more broadly about its obstacles. Stand firm but don't be blind; the moment you lose sight of the fact that no solution is 100% (even yours) is the moment you need to back up and reconsider everything. Don't let yourself be fooled by bad math, poor data collection or useless comparisons. Don't be dazzled by contrarians with grand metaphors, biting sarcasm and an eloquent vocabulary. Stick to what you believe in because you actually believe in it, not because you've got nothing else going in this world.

Having something to live for, having a cause to believe in, working towards a better community and environment and planet for everyone gives you a reason to live on. Your legacy might be continued by your kids but simply creating people contributes far more to the problem than the solution. Truly making your mark on the world means being just a small building block towards something better. It means educating those around you, it means teaching your kids and everyone's kids by setting an example. It means being proud of your choices not simply because you made the hard choice but you made the right one... for everyone.

This grand change starts on the inside, it starts small with changing a light bulb or taking a field trip to the dump to recycle or slowing down a bit on the freeway. It starts with reconsidering what you THINK you need and making what seemed like a comprise in the beginning feel more like a triumph. It means taking the blinders off and seeing what is possible, seeing what has already been done, seeing the depth of human ingenuity.

Close your eyes and imagine how you want the world to be. Now go live your life like that's how it is out there. Don't worry about everyone else; they'll get it eventually.

If this sounds hokey or cliche, that's fine by me. A little cheese goes a long way towards making the most sour of wines enjoyable.

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