You are Brilliant and the Earth is Hiring

American philanthropist Paul Hawken opening words in an address to the graduates of the Portland University started with the words :

“Class of 2009: you are going to have to figure out what it means to be a human being on earth at a time when every living system is declining, and the rate of decline is accelerating. Kind of a mind-boggling situation… but not one peer-reviewed paper published in the last thirty years can refute that statement. Basically, civilization needs a new operating system, you are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades.”

“Our planet came with a set of instructions, but that we seem to have misplaced them. Important rules like don’t poison the water, soil, or air, don’t let the earth get overcrowded, and don’t touch the thermostat have been broken”

“We seem to have forgotten (or never knew) that spaceship earth was so ingeniously designed that no one has a clue that we are on one, flying through the universe at a million miles per hour, with no need for seatbelts, lots of room in coach, and really good food.”

Hawken went on to say that there was “invisible writing on the back of the diploma you will receive, and in case you didn’t bring lemon juice to decode it, I can tell you what it says: You are Brilliant, and the Earth is Hiring.”……..Forget that this task of planet saving is not possible in the time required. Don’t be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done.”

When he was asked whether he was pessimistic or optimistic about the future, Hawken’s answer was always the same: “If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand the data” But he always went on to emphasise that “ if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world.”

“We live in extraordinary times when we are globally aware of each other and the multiple dangers that threaten us all have never happened before – not in a thousand years, not in ten thousand years. You are graduating to the most amazing, stupefying challenge ever bequeathed to any generation. The generations before you failed. They didn’t stay up all night. They got distracted and lost sight of the fact that life is a miracle every moment of your existence.”

“ Nature beckons you to be on her side.You couldn’t ask for a better boss. The most unrealistic person in the world is the cynic, not the dreamer. Hope only makes sense when it doesn’t make sense to be hopeful. This is your century. Take it and run as if your life depends on it.”

A lot to think about. And a lot to respond to. But surely EVERY reader of the Meaner Chronicle can find some way in joining the community of “dreamers” that Hawken, and others like him, are working hard to reach.