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#3564 - Monday, June 15, 2009 - Editor: Gloria Lee

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  • Gloria Lee
    #3564 - Monday, June 15, 2009 - Editor: Gloria Lee Nonduality Highlights - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NDhighlights To me, oneness means inter-connection and
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 15, 2009
       
      #3564 - Monday, June 15, 2009 - Editor: Gloria Lee
      Nonduality Highlights -
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NDhighlights

      To me, oneness means inter-connection and non-separation, and there is
      no better example than Nature itself, this whole living universe.
      May we all graduate to this realization of our connection with all of life.
      So welcome to commencement!
       
       
      University of Portland, May 3, 2009 
       
      Commencement Address by Paul Hawken 
       
      Healing or Stealing
       
      When I was invited to give this speech, I was asked if I could give a
      simple short talk that was “direct, naked, taut, honest, passionate,
      lean, shivering, startling, and graceful.” Boy, no pressure there. But
      let’s begin with the startling part. Hey, Class of 2009: you are going
      to have to figure out what it means to be a human being on earth at a
      time when every living system is declining, and the rate of decline is
      accelerating. Kind of a mind-boggling situation… but not one
      peer-reviewed paper published in the last thirty years can refute
      that statement. Basically, the earth needs a new operating system,
      you are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades. 
       
      This planet came with a set of operating instructions, but we seem
      to have misplaced them. Important rules like don’t poison the water,
      soil, or air, and don’t let the earth get overcrowded, and don’t touch
      the thermostat have been broken. Buckminster Fuller said that
      spaceship earth was so ingeniously designed that no one has a clue
      that we are on one, flying through the universe at a million miles per
      hour, with no need for seatbelts, lots of room in coach, and really
      good food, but all that is changing. 
       
      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 any 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 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. 
       
      You join a multitude of caring people. No one knows how many
      groups and organizations are working on the most salient issues of
      our day: climate change, poverty, deforestation, peace, water,
      hunger, conservation, human rights, and more. This is the largest
      movement the world has ever seen. Rather than control, it seeks
      connection. Rather than dominance, it strives to disperse
      concentrations of power. Like Mercy Corps, it works behind the
      scenes and gets the job done. Large as it is, no one knows the true
      size of this movement. It provides hope, support, and meaning to
      billions of people in the world. Its clout resides in idea, not in
      force. It is made up of teachers, children, peasants, business people,
      rappers, organic farmers, nuns, artists, government workers,
      fisherfolk, engineers, students, incorrigible writers, weeping
      Muslims, concerned mothers, poets, doctors without borders,
      grieving Christians, street musicians, the President of the United
      States of America, and as the writer David B. James Duncan would
      say, the Creator, the One who loves us all in such a huge way. 
       
      There is a rabbinical teaching that says if the world is ending and
      the Messiah arrives, first plant a tree, and then see if the story is
      true. Inspiration is not garnered from the litanies of what may
      befall us; it resides in humanity’s willingness to restore, redress,
      reform, rebuild, recover, re-imagine, and reconsider. “One day you
      finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around
      you kept shouting their bad advice,” is Mary Oliver’s description of
      moving away from the profane toward a deep sense of connectedness
      to the living world. 
       
      Millions of people are working on behalf of strangers, even if the
      evening news is usually about the death of strangers. This kindness
      of strangers has religious, even mythic origins, and very specific
      eighteenth-century roots. Abolitionists were the first people to
      create a national and global movement to defend the rights of those
      they did not know. Until that time, no group had filed a grievance
      except on behalf of itself. The founders of this movement were
      largely unknown, Granville Clark, Thomas Clarkson, Josiah
      Wedgwood and their goal was ridiculous on the face of it: at that
      time three out of four people in the world were enslaved. Enslaving
      each other was what human beings had done for ages. And the
      abolitionist movement was greeted with incredulity. Conservative
      spokesmen ridiculed the abolitionists as liberals, progressives,
      do-gooders, meddlers, and activists. They were told they would ruin
      the economy and drive England into poverty. 
       
      But for the first time in history a group of people organized
      themselves to help people they would never know, from whom they
      would never receive direct or indirect benefit.. And today tens of
      millions of people do this every day. It is called the world of
      non-profits, civil society, schools, social entrepreneurship, and
      non-governmental organizations, of companies who place social and
      environmental justice at the top of their strategic goals. The scope
      and scale of this effort is unparalleled in history. 
       
      The living world is not “out there” somewhere, but in your heart.
      What do we know about life? In the words of biologist Janine
      Benyus, life creates the conditions that are conducive to life. I can
      think of no better motto for a future economy. We have tens of
      thousands of abandoned homes without people and tens of thousands
      of abandoned people without homes. We have failed bankers
      advising failed regulators on how to save failed assets. Think about
      this: we are the only species on this planet without full employment.
      Brilliant. We have an economy that tells us that it is cheaper to
      destroy earth in real time than to renew, restore, and sustain it. You
      can print money to bail out a bank but you can’t print life to bail
      out a planet. At present we are stealing the future, selling it in the
      present, and calling it gross domestic product. We can just as easily
      have an economy that is based on healing the future instead of
      stealing it. We can either create assets for the future or take the
      assets of the future. One is called restoration and the other
      exploitation. And whenever we exploit the earth we exploit people
      and cause untold suffering. Working for the earth is not a way to
      get rich, it is a way to be rich. 
       
      The first living cell came into being nearly 40 million centuries ago,
      and its direct descendants are in all of our bloodstreams. Literally
      you are breathing molecules this very second that were inhaled by
      Moses, Mother Teresa, and Bono. We are vastly interconnected. Our
      fates are inseparable. We are here because the dream of every cell
      is to become two cells. In each of you are one quadrillion cells, 90
      percent of which are not human cells. Your body is a community, and
      without those other microorganisms you would perish in hours. Each
      human cell has 400 billion molecules conducting millions of processes
      between trillions of atoms. The total cellular activity in one human
      body is staggering: one septillion actions at any one moment, a one
      with twenty-four zeros after it. In a millisecond, our body has
      undergone ten times more processes than there are stars in the
      universe exactly what Charles Darwin foretold when he said science
      would discover that each living creature was a “little universe,
      formed of a host of self-propagating organisms, inconceivably
      minute and as numerous as the stars of heaven.” 
       
      So I have two questions for you all: First, can you feel your body?
      Stop for a moment. Feel your body. One septillion activities going
      on simultaneously, and your body does this so well you are free to
      ignore it, and wonder instead when this speech will end. Second
      question: who is in charge of your body? Who is managing those
      molecules? Hopefully not a political party. Life is creating the
      conditions that are conducive to life inside you, just as in all of
      nature. What I want you to imagine is that collectively humanity is
      evincing a deep innate wisdom in coming together to heal the wounds
      and insults of the past. Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we
      would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No
      one would sleep that night, of course. The world would become
      religious overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous
      by the glory of God. Instead the stars come out every night, and we
      watch television. This extraordinary time when we are globally
      aware of each other and the multiple dangers that threaten
      civilization has never happened, not in a thousand years, not in ten
      thousand years. Each of us is as complex and beautiful as all the
      stars in the universe. We have done great things and we have gone
      way off course in terms of honoring creation. You are graduating to
      the most amazing and stupefying challenge ever bequested to any
      generation. The generations before you failed. They didn’t stay up
      all night. They got distracted and lost sight of the fact that life is a
      miracle every moment of your existence. Nature beckons you to be
      on her side. You couldn’t ask for a better boss. The most unrealistic
      person in the world is the cynic, not the dreamer. Hopefulness only
      makes sense when it doesn’t make sense to be hopeful. This is your
      century. Take it and run as if your life depends on it. 
       
       
       
       
      Paul Hawken is an environmentalist, entrepreneur, journalist, and
      author. Starting at age 20, he dedicated his life to sustainability
      and changing the relationship between business and the environment.
      His practice has included starting and running ecological businesses,
      writing and teaching about the impact of commerce on living
      systems, and consulting with governments and corporations on
      economic development, industrial ecology, and environmental policy.
      He is also the author of many books, most recently Blessed Unrest:
      How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why
      No One Saw It Coming.
      Ed Note: Yes, he is the Hawken of the famed Smith and Hawken
      Garden Store. Thanks to Susan Lucey for contributing this speech.
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