I heard Lance Armstrong, the famous cyclist and cancer survivor, speak last night at the Omniture 2008 Summit. Through sharing his story of surviving cancer, his multiple Tour de France wins, and his hugely successful LiveStrong movement (already sold nearly 70 million of those yellow bands) – his main point was to encourage everyone in the audience to do more to bridge the gap in society between what we know and where we actually are.
Funniest part: when he described the doctor who was trying to explain how simple his cancer surgery would be. The doctor enlisted the metaphor of Halloween – and had Lance envision taking a pumpkin, cutting the top off, carving out everything that was inside, and then just putting the top back on. Lance had testicular cancer! So it is understandable when he said he has never seen Halloween quite the same since then, and prefers if his kids ask his wife to help with the pumpkin carving.
Main Summary: He invoked the notion of active citizenship – or all of us being more involved in our community. He said that we know we need to because we are falling short, in schools, hospitals, homes, – we need to somehow shrink the gap between what we know and where we are at. “That is the gap between what we know how to do vs what we actually do – and everything in the middle is a moral and ethical failure in
Speaking of the 70 million who have bought the yellow LiveStrong wristbands, he said it is nice to have an army of people who believe in change and want to do something about it. He emphasized that it was not just with cancer, but with so many things. He encouraged everyone to find the issue that they were most concerned about and then do something (even if not with money, then with time).
“We need your time, your energy, and most importantly your passion.”
Personal Reflection and Question: I think one of my key “issues” is intercultural (and interfaith) communication, collaboration, and innovation. It fascinates me and I think there is so much good that can be done through it for everyone involved. I think, however, that is part of my larger issue/passion – which is finding anything that helps people to see and reach more of their potential.
What is one of your issues?
For whoever reads this, pause for a moment and post something, anything. I am really interested to know what it is that you care about?
Please post something, the first thing that comes to your mind – I am really very curious.
Energy problems, with high prices for oil and the pollution that comes from burning fossil fuels. There is so much intelligence in this country that, given the right incentive, could develop new technologies for propelling vehicles with zero emissions. Yet instead of real change, what do we see…the president tells the auto industry that they have to raise fuel efficiency on new vehicles by 5 mpg over the next 10 years. What? Let’s have emissions-free cars in 10 years.
Hmm… Well the first thing that came to mind was radical acceptance. A lot of people have a hard time giving acceptance to that which is different. I don’t know that this is a what you were looking for though.
The Second thing that I thought of was all the junk out there that people eat and the epidemic of obesity. This could be directly related to the fact that I have close friends who deal with obesity or just the fact that I watch people everyday eating the most unbelievable things. I think there is a definite need to respect our bodies more.
Thanks for posting your thoughts Rob and Toffer! I am a big believer in the idea that one person can make a big difference when they focus their energy, and I find it fascinating what is interesting to different people. I also am a bit embarrassed by how little I sometimes know about what truly matters those around me. Thanks for sharing.
my friend – i think you know most of my big issues – but i’ll restate one of them… this idea of – if you say you believe something – don’t just say it – act from it.
e.g. this current uproar about the rumour that barack obama is muslim. who cares what his religion is – after all – wasn’t this country founded on freedom of religion? don’t those who say that we’re in iraq say that we’re bringing them freedom include freedom of religion as one of those freedoms? well those same people (and others, e.g. the obama camp itself) are the ones who seem to hold the idea of a muslim (or mormon for that matter) president in judgment.
i know – we’re all just trying to do the best in each moment – but i think we all – including me – need to spend more time looking inward (okay – i don’t need to think as much as i do sometimes) at how our actions reflect our words. if – in fact – we don’t truly believe something we profess to – then we should cop to it and either practice radical self acceptance and accept ourselves as we are or practice radical self acceptance and work on walking the path we profess.
My key issue is definitely that of health–emotional and physical. Similar to the post above mine, I can’t believe the stuff we put into our bodies so much of the time, from artificial colors and sweeteners to anything genetically modified to whatever else is unnatural. I’m big on eating food in the way they grow, and eating more greens. But even more than nutrition, I’m fascinated by the different modalities out there that helps us get rid of mental and emotional blockages and become healthy individuals. With all the “issues” that we deal with as a society, abuse, neglect, anger, etc., we need to help heal ourselves so we can heal the whole.
My own pursuit of “truth” (ie moral character, integrity, the metaphysical,ideals etc). I think it seems this is a topic in my life that no matter how many times I feel far away from, I am always drawn back to, and I repeatedly try to find.
On another level this topic has led me to the way I treat those who are different from me. Again a topic I can find myself one moment vigorously defending from one perspective and then the next moment violating that which I have just advocated. Its funny how the things I get most fired up about I myself am still constantly working out. I doubt I am alone in this.
Today is a big-picture day. Today, the first thing that came to mind was “enabling global conversation” –expanding the almost laughably one-sided dialog of “the West” with “the World”– and honestly, I couldn’t get it out of my head all day.
Some days it’s curriculum development for gifted, at-risk 6th graders in Baltimore and it’s been simmering somewhere in the back of my mind for months.
Some days it’s the fact that 1.6 million people die of TB every year…still…and someone just brought it up over lunch.
The exercise of first-blush responding revealed a new facet of my thought process, however. And I wonder if this is common; It seems there are at least three ways to think about these “issues.” We can think in terms of the problems we see in the world. We can think in terms of the possible solutions. And we can think in terms of the desired outcomes. Take my first example; Sometimes my thoughts center on the barriers to that conversation: from geographic isolation to far more divisive ethnocentrism. Sometimes the focus is on a specific way to help empower a specific people: participatory evaluation of self-sustaining schools in Paraguay or working through the tribal council to design student assessments in Mali. And sometimes the thoughts that keep me going are visions of what could change if we succeed: Students in China exchanging essays with those 6th graders in Baltimore and offering critique. A second grade teacher running story time like a Bhaman griot…and not in an effort at “multiculturalism.” People understanding each other, feeling a part of the world, enacting and celebrating change.
Perhaps the kind of ‘active citizenship’ you’re talking about requires a fluid dialog among all three; understanding the problem without becoming paralyzed by the enormity of it, mobilizing concrete solutions, and never losing sight of the potential in yourself and the world.
Wow. Lots of things come to mind. One major challenge that confronts me and others I see is “delayed utility”. People often know what kind of people they want to be and they know how that kind of person behaves, but they struggle to bring their own behavior in line with that of the person they want to become. We betray our future selves for the sake of the present. Then the present passes and the brief benefit is gone, leaving us with a long term cost. The primary question to me is, how does one work toward the “mighty change of heart” that gives one the desire to do good (when one might only have the desire to desire to do good). How do we help ourselves and others be the type of people we want to be.
Oddly enough, another one of my issues was with excessive tolerance. Or misdirected tolerance. While it is certainly true that “different is not the same thing as bad”, it does not follow that “different is good”. Tolerance is sometimes used as a rallying cry behind a twisted cause that is potentially very harmful to society in a the long term. Modern culture posits that we have a duty to “tolerate” and accept whatever choices others make (not doing so will not be tolerated in society). But some choices are wrong. The very argument that intolerance could be wrong makes room for other choices to also be wrong.
Good morning. “Whoever reads” and “really very curious”, so here goes:
Nice to find things in common with several of the posts here.
Achieving satisfaction and happiness in one’s daily life is often on my mind (as I still have several things to work on in my own case), and I like to share experiences concerning the issue with others. At the moment I make adjustments of various sizes to my behaviour on a regular basis attempting to find out what makes me most content. Doing this hopefully eventually helps others too: for example enjoyable personal relationships are a win-win situation.
On the long scale, I would like to contribute to the causes of 1) abstract understanding of the world and 2) increasing the mental and physical welfare of great amounts of people, by some means; the bigger the positive impact, the better, but I know no trivial measure for that.
Interesting thoughts. Thans Clint for “boosting” us up. Well, let’s try some automatic writing here. I have a love-hate relationship with Lance Armstrong. Just in cycling. It was incredibly impressive what he did. But he made Tour de France inconceivable boring to watch…
I was reading a post on Kubrick in Metafilter this morning [http://www.metafilter.com/69734/Stanley-Kubrick-Revealed]. I have always been fascinated by him and from time to time I read his interviews with Michel Ciment. An intriguing character. Many feared him, other loathed him and finally others loved him. A short of question floats there: “Who was Kubrick?” I don’t have the answer but there is a common feeling: he was beyond. He was more. He was deep.
Keir Dullea described him in this way: “He was like an onion — every layer you peeled off there were two new ones to be exposed.”
I want to be an onion
I love reading everyone’s comments! It makes me feel like I can be a better friend, both in knowing better what kind of resources or people I might introduce you to (as I come upon them) that are related to your interest areas, as well as in just better supporting you and the issues you are concerned with in whatever way I can.
I agree with Javier~thanks for boosting us up! It’s fascinating to see how everyone has different passions & interests at heart. I really like how Armstrong encouraged acting on whatever that important issue is to us. It doesn’t matter what it is, just that we act on it! There are lots of things posted that wouldn’t be my passion, but that I appreciate others’ interests in those things very much, because they’re important in ways that I would never make a difference, but that would change the world for the better just the same! It takes all of us with our different passions to create a well-balanced world. I love it. I’ve always been so glad there are people who want to do the things I benefit from but don’t want to spend the time learning myself. Like, making sidewalks. Or taking blood. Or making my shoes. Or filling Bavarian donuts. And other really important things.
My interests? Education of children as well as the education and health of families in poverty. My heart has always been there. A second passion (third depending on how you look at it–good things come in three, I’ve heard recently…some things better in two, though, I think. More on that later. Much, much more.): helping people think positively about their lives and find enjoyment and fulfillment in them–not just endurance. To enable people to handle the unique challenges they face through their perspectives and consequential drive to make the most of it. Someday I’ll describe that a lot better. I have to think more about it first.
The primary issue grasping my soul and consciousness is the global standardization of farm produce. Yes, everywhere you go you find the same vegetables. The tasteless tomatoes, the bland cucumbers, the perfectly shaped apples, and evenly colored oranges. Eggplants without nearly a shred of the personality they are capable of. And speaking of produce… it’s been almost 4 years since I got an egg with more than one yolk.. Is anyone else noticing what’s happening here? It’s like there is a giant cloning machine somewhere producing these things to fit into the tiny little mold which is called the american consumers preference. I know that produce producers of the world are capable of so much more. Awake. and shine forth.
i would like to follow up a little on gerald’s issue of standardization. Don’t read this wrong, I enjoy many of the fruits of western civilization and civility. Although, western civilization, largely informed by absolute tautologies of totality has some really difficult byproducts.
One of them is the way that we train the mind to think and arrange categorically. This is a great skill if you living is focused on sorting beads or profiling terrorists, but the way that this abstract niche has disseminated its way into ethical relations is troubling to me. Have you ever thought that you ability to discern between the quality of two products is connected to your prejudice?
The epistemic stance that is employed in discerning truth from error can dangerously influence our ethical relations if it is not dis-embedded. This is my issue lately.