Part of the wisdom of being a man is to recognize when you are no longer being effective in making your dreams a reality. Part of the courage of being a man is to change course when you have this realization. This is a part of life that is available at all times to all people and a part of life that is seldom recognized and even less so, acted upon.
If you are one who things the world is in trouble, tending towards destruction I offer that it is not the world but the people who are in trouble.
There are truths today that are self – evident, irrefutable no matter party line, religion, nationality, color, wealth: We are killing each other. Babies and mothers die at the hands of people daily. On this we can agree? Yes?…Good, agreement is good and rare these days and needed so lets start with agreement and leave the why for those that wish to be distracted. We are killing each other and have been doing so for all of my life.
It requires neither intelligence nor education to feel the pain of this self-imposed destruction. All that is required is a belief in your self. If anywhere you have a belief in whom or what you are as a human you have access to this pain and to the truth of how we are conducting ourselves and our humanity on this planet. And if you have access to that pain you have two choices; you may either choose to believe in what it is you feel and you may choose to deny it, nothing else.
I choose to believe in the pain and it’s from that pain that this letter comes. I am trying hard to live in a world that continually shows me things that are in violent opposition to who it is I am and who it is I want to be and my response, so far, has been mostly to hide in plain sight. To hide away behind obligation and expectation, behind societies doctrines, behind the fear I feel at what may be necessary if I truly want to stand up and recognize myself and my values. It is not the world that I fear will be destroyed, it is not the pollution of the planet or the destruction of the forests and the air that is the problem. It is the pollution and destruction of humanity. We are destroying ourselves, the condition of our home is only a reflection. I am afraid of destroying myself.
And so when I think of what can be done, of what I can do, I only think of myself. I think of how my choice to accept or deny the pain affects my life and the lives of those around me. And when I think of solutions it is not clear to me, the answers. It is more like a path than an answer but there seem to be so many paths to choose, which path is the right path? The right path is my path, the right path is the path that takes me closer to what I want to see in the world, the right path for me is a path of life, there is no murder or pollution on my path, there are no toxic chemicals pouring into dead waters, there are no scarred mountainsides and belching smokestacks, there is no poverty and children are not hungry on my path.
Is my path so different from yours? Then why does our world look the way it does? Who’s path are we following and how long will we continue to follow?
There is a consistent and most powerful truth that rings clear through the smoke and haze, it is the bell of our existence: We are all still here. I am here to write this letter and you are here to read it. The evidence of our existence is a most powerful reminder of our spirit and the truth of our humanity. The solutions of today, the quest for a new world, for peace and joy are not dependent on the amount of blame or indignation about the past. We are simply here, alive today as we were thousands, ten’s of thousands, millions? of years ago. Is there a crisis? I don’t know about a world crisis but I do know there is a crisis in my soul, a crisis that worsens every time I hear of another child dying, murdered by bombs of machine or indifference.
And in the back of my mind, the question keeps up, anxiously flickering like a half dead neon sign…what do I do, what do I do, what do I do? And I think about my path, the one I envision, what I want to see in the world and it doesn’t seem so clear how I can make the jump from the path I am on now to my path, except for one thing, one thing rings true, like the bell chime…one thing…When a person knows he isn’t following the right path the choice is simple, he can remain on the path or he can get off the path. In getting off the path it may seem at first that he is lost but how can that be true? How can it be true that once you decide that the current path is not right and you make the choice to search for another that you are lost; no, at the point you decide to venture in another direction you are found and soon after other paths will become clear. Either way the choice, again, is absolute, you are either walking towards or away from a path that exemplifies who you are and who you want to be.
What does all of this have to do with Vermont? With you? With the world? Here’s my question: Do you think the path we are on is the right path? When you look back in time for wisdom and look forward in hope, does this path serve the best in you? Does our current system, our way of living together serve the best in you or is it just a hope that things will get no worse? Are huge billion dollar government budgets the way to go? Are politicians who build war chests for re-election the best that we can hope for? Is war in the name of peace what we want to teach our children? What path are we really on? Are you living your best or just hoping for the best?
In Vermont we could send a message if we chose, but the message would only be an effect of our actions. The real beauty about Vermont is that we are small enough, our demographics are still amenable, to try a new path as a community. My god what an opportunity we have for ourselves and our children right here in the Green Mountains. What an opportunity to get off the path! What an opportunity to explore and cut new paths based on wisdom, humanity and technology. There has never been another time in all of human history that has been better suited for explorations into humanity and reflections on the best and the worst of us and there has never been a more necessary time for this to take place. But I fear what I see in Vermont. I fear the old, the tradition, the institutional, the big, the distance…there are very few using new and different words today, everything we hear is cut from the same cloth, like mocking birds with different tones, recycled ideas and rhetoric all. Unless we have the courage to look at what scares us most we will not rise to the time and need that now calls on us. Unless we can simplify what we’ve made complicated and identify what is most important to us we will be doomed to stay on the same path. Vermont is small enough, close enough, local enough so that all 600,000 of us could do it together. I refuse that we could not. We have all the tools we need and all the technology to allow us to truly revolutionize the way we live together. We can do it but everyone must be involved and everyone must be indignant to the status quo, we must not talk of taxes and institutions and restriction, we must talk about humanity, and children and beauty and life and justice. And that is what I call for now from you, speak up! Speak up in defense of your path, of what is best for you, not what is safest…safest and best are not the same.
If we want to, Vermont, if we want to we can change, we can start with ourselves and our children but it won’t be done with taxes and it won’t be done with regulations and it won’t be done with subsidies and it won’t be done with others making decisions for us and most of all it won’t be done without the wisdom to see that we need a new path and the courage to take action to find it.