Contagious, Courageous Conversations

“When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.”

Billy Graham

I am scheduled to present my book, Humanity’s Journey Home, to a group of lifelong learners. But I’m frightened.

I’m glad I wrote the book…I really am. However, there are days I wish I hadn’t. It’s not a book that proposes ways to avoid our species’ coming struggles. I don’t believe there is such a path forward. This work suggests Homo sapiens must traverse the oft terrifying netherworlds to gain access to the wisdom we need to receive an invitation from Pachamama—the goddess revered by indigenous tribes—into the future. If we refuse to acknowledge our current selfish, egocentric, and wasteful ways, and learn deep love, generosity, and compassion for even the most minute particle of the biosphere, we do not deserve a place at the coming banquet. The book may be hopeful in the long term, but it is less so in the short term. How do I present it in a way that leaves participants optimistic and hopeful rather than sad, frightened and discouraged?

Recently, as I contemplated my fears, I walked into a local coffee shop knowing I would find Jerry at his computer. He is there most mornings, contemplating words to populate his daily blog. I hated to interrupt his spiritual, emotional journey, but, as I sat down, he closed his laptop, insisted he was finished, at least for that morning, and gave me his full attention. I found the courage to talk with him about my trepidations. That’s when he suggested that what we need is not comfort, security and contentment, but contagious, courageous conversations. The moment I heard that phrase, it resonated intensely. But what might it mean?

I know what it means to have courageous conversations. Courage derives for the Latin word cor, which means heart. We need to engage in heartful and heart-felt conversations, especially those that are difficult and frightening. And I understand when another’s enthusiasm and joy in this moment are contagious. But how do difficult, frightening conversations become contagious? How do I make my enthusiasm and joy contagious when they are animated, not by the here and now, but by some distance time and far-off place?

Perhaps I will take comfort in the words of Billy Graham. I will try my best to bravely take a stand and hope the spines of others are stiffened. If they are, then perhaps the conversation could become contagious.

But even as I write, I remain frightened.

1 thought on “Contagious, Courageous Conversations”

  1. Yes, your book is a compendium of views that ought to cause any reader to feel dread. Are we in the beginning throes of a Malthusian catastrophe? It seems that the circumstances are more dire than Malthus calculated, exponential population growth compared to food supply/resources that increase in a linear fashion… Clearly we are over-running and interfering with the cyclical renewal of Nature due to our use of carbon based fuels, adding to the co2 load, causing a warming planet and oceans. The overall warming and weather effects are increasing at a rate exceeding our predictions. Heat/drought, wide spread flooding, melting glaciers, disappearance of the ice caps are certain to be durable features of life for any “future” which we can conceive. How long is unknown….

    I value relationships and conversations that help me to face these realities head on, without flinching. Are we not a Odysseus of the 21st century? For the sake of those we hold dear, including the community which sustains us we are obligated to survive, to muster the maximum of intellectual courage, greater inner courage — to conceive a radically modified capitalism, to preserve a functioning liberal democracy where everyone has a voice,… Above all our sacred duty is to imagine an earth-conserving-lifestyle that we are morally obligated to support and yes, to celebrate in art and ritual.

    How could such conversations not be contagious and courageous?

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