In my opinion meaning-making has been given a bad name and gets a lot of bad press. We love the “good guys” in movies but tend to hold that behavior as naive and dreamy in real life. We have no shortage of real-life cultural heroines and heroes in our own families, amongst our friends and colleagues. And beyond that people like: bev hooks, Kofi Annan, Winona LaDuke, Arvol Looking Horse, Mathatma Ghandi, Nelson Mandela…and many, many others.
But what about the regular gal or guy who thinks about their life? The regular Josephine or Joe who asks, “Why” or “Why not?” and isn’t satisfied by the answer, “Because that’s the way things are.” She or he believes in the value and importance of deciding what one’s life is about, and deciding to promote values and ethics that make the world a more just and humane place. I feel the same way. The affect one person has in a family, a school or a community is as important as the impact of the leader of a nation. We are all world leaders, we all lead a nation.
There is nothing in the world we can’t make improve on if we work together. You matter. Your contribution mattes. Your contribution is unique and powerful. Did you think you were here for no reason at all? For a moment let’s play “what if.” What if …meaning-making became as popular as make-up, soccer, football or Hollywood. What would that look like? What if …the money spent happily on stadiums and water for golf courses was spent to pay for children and youth to go to meaning-making summer camp. What would that look like? What if …we always listened to elders, veterans and children. What would that look like? What if… we passed laws that every law-maker had to defend how a law would affect the children seven generations into the future. What would that look like? What if …describe your own visionary questions. There’s nothing wrong at all with soccer or make-up or Hollywood; the problem is that we choose not to give equal value or energy to other important issues and activities. But I think we must find the love, courage and audacity to think about complex issues confronting our children in the future. You can name those issues without me doing that here.
I believe most folks are afraid of the complexity of our own majesty as human beings. I know that I am, it’s a fearsome responsibility and one we’d mostly prefer not to think about. My most recent touchstone for courage was, by happenstance, finding
. When you have a moment read about this inspiring and extraordinary foundation and, more importantly, the people they find around the world who “exercise their own creative instincts for the benefit of human society.” There are others organizations like it, this is just one.
Another touchstone for meaning-making is Reconciliation Australia. This program for racial and cultural reconciliation is more than a decade old and still going strong. It’s a model for any country. A whole nation committed itself and its citizens to reconciliation, apology and restoration to begin to atone for the atrocities committed as a conquering nation imposed itself on native people, decimating their family and community structure, their freedom, their self-determination. Reconciliation Australia seeks to built a partnership for the future generations beyond color, ethnicity and genocide. Howa! (http://www.reconciliation.org.au/) No, it’s not perfect but it sure is a staggering goal, isn’t it? “Building relationships for change between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.” Nothing mousey about that goal! And just as audacious is the title of the Reconcile website: “Reconcile – It’s all our story – Sorry.” This is an attempt at nation humility. Is everyone agreed? No. Is everybody happy about Reconciliation Australia? No. Is it perfect? No. Is making a nationwide attempt at peace, restitution and reconciliation a worthy goal and powerful modeling for youth? A thousand times yes.
When I was last in Australia a few years back I learned about Reconciliation Australia because every bus stop and billboard had a poster asking each citizen of Australia to write, call or email their feelings about the shared history of their nation as Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, its present and its future. There have been specific outcomes, for examples, just one is Reconciliation Australia’s dedication to closing the unacceptable 17-year life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children.
The deep meaning in both examples, The MacArthur Foundation and Reconciliation Australia, is to be reminded that we are surrounded by people who are dreaming audacious dreams for the good of humankind and for the good of civilization.
So, dream big. Be good. Set an example. Speak up. Help out. Be naive. Don’t be dissuaded by nay-sayers and the already heart-broken who cannot support your dreams.
Well, until next time, keep your dreams alive and know that you are here for a reason. Whatever you are here to do nobody else can do. We are each unique and sacred.
Peace and balance!