I wish I had a partner as interesting and entertaining and as passionate as Greg Palast, a treasure of an undercover investigative reporter who has the back stories on major political scandals of our day. He’s too good at unearthing them not to draw the antagonism of the conservative, reactionary world — so much so that for a stretch he couldn’t get work here and lived in England where the BBC and the Guardian cared about what he had to say. And I care. He is a dogged truthteller, as you’ll hear listening to our podcast, and how refreshing that is in our age of posturing and worse. The truth shall set you free and Greg is perhaps the most outstanding truth teller of our day. He might be instrumental in moving our endangered species into the freedom from want and fear that should predominate. I’d have him even chair the Wisdom Council that’s on my to-do list as what I’d create if I ran the world, and you’ll hear us talk about that as you get at least a taste of the incendiary territory he operates in.
Dearest Greta – I think about you a lot. How perfect you are for these times. The first minute I saw you I was sold. Here’s a blog post I did in 2019: Greta Thunberg is a force of nature!
Before you were talked about, I thought how awesome it would be if Time Magazine picked you. At a time when we have no leaders with their lights on, hopefully you will go down in history like Joan of Arc but with a better outcome.
While you’ve gotten serious attention to the problem, we could use a comparable champion for what to do. I ask thought-shapers on my podcast what they would do if they ruled the world, and even from them there isn’t much that comes forth. That’s the missing link. After your Time cover, I pictured being the other half of the equation: you stir them up to act and I get them to make an action plan. My wild fantasy in the year after you were the youngest on that cover was what a great bookend it would make if I was the oldest one.
I’m contacting you to inquire about enrolling you in this idea. How about using your cache to help me to help the world?
Here’s something I wrote when statements were invited, “Imagining If.”
I preoccupy myself imagining if. First, it’s imagining being in a paradise on Earth where we care about each other as much as we care about ourselves. Then, it’s imagining getting there. It wouldn’t require a big leap. We are on the cusp of a shift of worldview, and, if we bend in the right direction, evolution’s proclivity to evolve toward higher states of consciousness will do the rest.
With heaven’s wind in our sails, maybe a little trimtab action that mortals could get behind would steer our course toward sensing humanity as one entity. I imagine having the pulpit. Like Greta riveting people to how dire our situation is, I get everyone focused on coming up with what to do.
To get us over the danger we’re in, where the extinction of humanity is a real prospect, imagine if we gave everyone on Earth food, shelter, education, and health care. Then, with survival handled, so humanity could work together on how to be in the world, imagine a worldwide campaign that encourages kindness: school programs for little kids, billboards, Saturday Night Live sketches, reminders everywhere to make the whole world a sweeter place.
“When we start seeing ourselves as one united human species, there’s no telling where we will go.” I got that somewhere recently. Yes! I can imagine us creating the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible and all it would take would be for us to come to our senses! I am devoted to doing what I can to help that occur.
So it’s too late to get that Time cover the year after yours, but I can wait. In the meantime, can we put our heads together to try to bring that about?
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In my podcast, I talk to people who could make major differences. It’s not that they are fixing this or that but they look to what would create a system-change where all our challenges would be more easily addressed in the cooperative world we need to become. With threats now to the very survival of humanity, it can’t be pie in the sky to think big. Hyepin Im is a perfect person to speak to major transformation, where her advocacy is for happiness and she has concrete tips for how to live a happy life!
I think of her as some girl-next-door enlightened sage. With her connections to the White House, to CNN and NPR, to The NY Times and the Washington Post, as a speaker and a writer and a board member of many organizations, which all came about after she left the money-handling she did in the corporate world and created her powerful nonprofit, FACE, I hope we’ve tuned listeners into the awesomely intelligent perspective she has.
After reading George Packer’s The Four Americas, it occurred to me that this alternative analysis of mine might be something for The Atlantic:
WHERE TO FROM HERE?
We need something new. God bless all the eloquent analyzing of what got us to where we are and the compelling pleas about how we should be, but it’s all rehash. It’s different ways to say the same thing. However, something that’s not being talked about needs to rise to the ascendency. In a burning house you wouldn’t sit around writing a treatise. How to escape the fire? That’s all that would matter. Well, not all, but the first thing to do. And humanity is threatened with going up in flames. Get our escape to the next level of consciousness right and we’ll have moved into a new house where everything will be fresh material to work with to create a new home base.
One thing to talk about that I don’t see us being honest about and would be vital to have in our awareness is how evil we have been. Really evil. No USA as the great shining beacon but as slaughterers of Indians, as owners of human beings who we didn’t recognize as human, as minimizers of women compared to men, as passive people who let Jews be exterminated, as jailers of Japanese Americans we interred, and what most personally affected me in the Christian country I live in was that in my childhood if the ad for a hotel said “churches nearby,” that was code for Jews not being allowed to come. We have been barbaric. We don’t admit that. It’s not even “admit” that we should do, as if it’s a secret we’ve been caught out on, but it’s that we should acknowledge prior states of consciousness that gripped us that we have been working our way out of. That is the truth. We could cite parallel tracks outside of the US, but this graphic map of where the USA has come from is what is firsthand to me. We can be ashamed and sorry, but that’s not the point. The point is to let it be that we were savages because we were. One quintessential glimpse is Jefferson, a great statesman with great wisdom who didn’t know that Africans were human. Unbelievable when you reflect on it, but true true true. He wasn’t a monster. He was a southerner. We as humanity were only as far along as we were. This gives us an understanding about what’s up-to-the-minute today. How could there have been a presidency like the one we just experienced, that was beyond unspeakable and yet was well-supported? It’s because a lot of humanity hasn’t caught up with the frontrunners. They will. It’s happening. In my lifetime, I went from being Mrs. Him to being Ms. Me. I am different now. Massive change can happen virtually overnight.
Here’s one of my favorite songs (the one that automatically comes next is worth sticking around for).
OK, so here’s my up-to-date story. I do heed the alarm that we don’t have time to wait for evolution to work things out because humanity has taken over and humans could blow up the game. That’s true and a spur to me to think radical thoughts. But in addition to thinking things would work out in the natural evolutionary process, and happy as I am, for the sake of eternity, at that prospect, there’s something else driving me. This little heart wants to beat to a different rhythm now, with humanity coming through in my lifetime as a winning team. THAT is what needs something very very new. What have we not thought of that would capture the fancy of so many people that it would get us to where we care about each other as much as we care about ourselves? Then, we’d be a beautiful species on a blessed planet working together to make life wonderful for all. What could that new thing, that changes everything, be?
Fifteen years ago. I was hiking solo in the high desert at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains near Taos, New Mexico, when I was overwhelmed by a sudden realization that the universe is utterly indifferent to me, and at the same time, profoundly forgiving and compassionate toward me. I remember stopping and just standing in that knowledge for a long time. I had a simple and quiet sense of, Oh, I get it. I see who I am, where I am, and how I fit into things. I felt joy and lightness, as if my burdens had been taken from me. Talking about it almost distorts it. There are experiences that go far beyond words, and this was one of them.
I can’t say that this experience changed my life, but it gave me an important lens through which I’ve looked at my journey ever since. A few years ago I was reading a journal by Thomas Merton in which he reports his great revelation that “everything is emptiness and everything is compassion.” And I thought, That’s it! That’s the same experience I had!
Of course, this experience is paradoxical—how can indifference and compassion coexist? I’m reminded of a Hasidic tale where the rabbi says to his disciple, “Everyone needs a coat with two pockets. In one pocket, carry dust to indicate that you are nothing. In the other pocket, carry gold to indicate that you are precious.” We shrug off the burden of the self-obsessed ego by realizing that we are nothing, and we transcend self-denigration by realizing that there is something of ultimate value about each of us.
When I feel connected to spirit, there’s a great sense of aliveness and energy. Though it’s peaceful, there’s nothing passive about it—it’s a call to deeper engagement with life. Genuine spiritual experience inevitably leads us back into the world, I think—back into works of love and mercy and justice—with new freedom, new clarity, and new power.