“This is what you do while the world churns, you just hold the light of hope.” -Robin Goff, describing the candlelight vigil outside the UN Climate Change Summit in Durban, South Africa, last December.
We had a meeting last night at the Light Center with Robin, Kent (the video producer) and Martin and I. Thinking and planning for the long term–where is LoveLight going? What are the long-term plans for the organization? How do we grow? What are the ways that the work that is being done over there impact the greater world? We went deep and had some great insights and great conversation. I love being in the presence of visionaries. Not being one myself, I can really appreciate when they get going. They amaze me with their brilliance.
During this meeting, Robin made a great analogy: Imagine you’re on a spaceship. You’re traveling through space with a whole lot of other people. You have a pretty comfortable life on the spaceship, and life is pretty good. But around you, people are beginning to notice that the spaceship is breaking down. Things are not operating as well as they used to. It’s harder to control the temperatures–food production is beginning to be a problem, as is water. But it doesn’t really affect you and you are able to go on with your life pretty much worry free. Sometimes you do wonder what happens if systems start to fail, but you usually quickly brush aside such thoughts. It is too frightening to contemplate for long, and maybe those people are just being alarmists. Maybe there’s really nothing wrong at all.
Then, you hear about some people who have gone exploring in the remote parts of the ship. They were looking for answers to the problems that the ship is having, but what they found were people–Others who they’d never seen before. They were different in many ways: spoke differently, had different ideas about ways to live. Many of them were very sick. Many of them were living in poor conditions with little food.
So some of the people, maybe even you, decide to travel to the remote parts of the ship to go help. Different people have different ideas of what will help. Some will go to teach the Others about reverent knowledge that will give them a better next life. Some will go to help feed the hungry, nurse the sick, comfort the motherless. Some will go to meet new people and have new experiences. And some will go to learn from the Others about what they know about living.
What if what the Others know about living offers solutions to the problems that the spaceship is having? What if the Others know things about being human, about living in ways that we have forgotten in our resource-rich environment?
Obviously, the spaceship in the analogy is Planet Earth. We’re beginning to have problems–the climate is changing, we have more people now to feed than have ever been here before. Clean water is becoming an issue in more and more places.
Our way of living in this country is unsustainable. We will not have oil forever. We may have to learn new ways of living on less as the population strains the available resources.
What if Africa has things to teach us? Historically, we’ve always thought that Africa needed to be taught. They needed development; needed aid; needed saving. What if we need what they know? What if we need to learn how to live on few resources? What if we need to learn how to live so closely with others in harmony? What if we need to learn how to be happy and joyful and at peace? What if we need to learn how to live without all the materialism and commercialism?
Maybe the missionaries go both ways. Maybe Africa has something to teach us, if we are willing to be humble and learn.
I am so looking forward to what we are going to learn.