Sunday, October 31, 2010


“Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
Proverbs 29:18 as quoted in SEEKER AND SERVANT by Robert Greenleaf

I have been able to attend a number of conferences recently where the major topic has been the state of the world around us, particularly the natural state of the world.  If you have looked at this state lately, it is not a good one.  The consequences of a warming planet pose serious threats, our water is polluted and in many areas scarce, and the quality of our air makes it dangerous to breath at times, and our world is filling up with more and more people.

I have gone to these conferences hoping to find some good news, some hope for the future, but instead I only learn more about the details of how badly we our treating our planet.  The only hope I heard was that our technology would solve our problems -- that we could all install low flow toilets, or use energy more efficiently via such technological advances as the compact fluorescent light bulb, or that we could all drive hybrid cars.  Unfortunately, I believe it will take much more than simply buying new fangled merchandise to clean up our mess.  

What I finally realized that what was missing from these talks was a hopeful vision for our future.  There seemed to be little if any talk or description for what our world could look like if we decided to treat it with respect, instead of treating it like a limitless garbage dump. We need vision. When I mistakenly shared my disappointment with my wife about the lack of vision in the speakers, she reminded me that perhaps it was me who needed a vision.   

The dictionary defines vision in several ways: “something seen in a dream, trance, or ecstasy; and object of imagination; a manifestation to the senses of something immaterial” to name a few of the more unflattering definitions.  It might be the focus on  that fantasy quality or the un-achievability of the vision that has resulted in our being a very blind society when it comes to describing a future we would like to inhabit.   

At least that has been my experience lately as I view the world through my own cynical eyes.  So after moping around for several weeks, I came across a presentation by Donella Meadows titled ENVISIONING A SUSTAINABLE WORLD.  Her discussion on what keeps us from being a visionary and how to overcome it is a worthwhile read.  

Robert Greenleaf asks in his essay Towards a Gentle RevolutionFar too many of our institutions – and of course, far too many people – are failing to serve at a level that is reasonable and possible for them.  If the main reason for this deficiency in both people and institutions is, as I believe, that they are not inspired by a sufficient vision of greatness, then what is the remedy?

It seems our task for the short-term future is to begin work on coming up with our own vision for the future.    


  1. Yes! We also need to make sure our vision extends beyond the election cycle of the political process. This will require courage, bold leadership, and willingness to sacrifice for those who follow us.

  2. Anonymous, Thanks for the reminder. Unfortunately there is not too much vision in our politics, mostly only enough to find out how to get elected, and then the vision goes away. That's why we all need to use our powers of vision to come up with a future we can all works towards achieving. Thanks for the comment. Tom

  3. May be this is where religion, ecology, politics, spirituality, and service all come together....

    We will either have a "second coming" by finding the Jesus in all of us to live together in a physical and spiritual way that that is in harmony with Mary Mother Earth or we all parish in "hell" by claiming to be "right" and relying on self will and selfishness.
    Joe B

  4. Hello Joe B. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. There is definately a need for the merging of our institutions to create much more holistic versions of them. I hope we don't have to wait around for a second coming, but rather grasp the first one and start living the way we always knew how, but conveniently forgot. And I think we are doing a pretty good job of continuing to create hell on earth. Again, maybe we just need to go back and recreate that harmony with the earth you mention.