Conversare – a bigger picture

June 28, 2013 |  by  |  Uncategorized

The recent announcement by President Obama and the item about Australia’s Angry Summer add urgency to the need for effective action to reduce the rate of global warming and its projected impact on life on our little planet, 3rd from the sun.

I have a particular ‘take’ on one component of the action required. This is that we humans turn to one another in a spirit of ‘We are in this together and to treat each other well.’ And that there are many everyday contexts in which this can happen.

I wonder if you sense an inkling of the validity of this perspective?

Where did this notion come from? Likely many and diverse sources, some embedded in ancient wisdom. Two sources of such an idea came to my mind from meetings with two remarkable people during travels on the east coast of the USA in mid 2010.

The first was with Pete Seeger, well known and long admired social and environment activist. Pete had made a statement when he was aged 89 – he recently turned 94:

 “Participation is the key to the future of the human race. Participation in family life and in politics. Participation will save us – if we are saved.”

Having been much inspired by his many accomplishments and by this I wrote to him to say that I would be passing through his home town in upstate New York and was there a possibility that we could meet. To my delight he responded, hand written, to say “I am interested to meet you Alan. Let me know what time your train arrives and I will collect you at the station.” Which he did! See here  for an account of this wondrous visit.

Pete Seeger pointing to his earlier log cabin home at Beacon, USA. 31 July 2010

My question to Pete was: “How do you manage to have your audiences participate in singing along with you?” To which he responded (my paraphrase) “My combining serious intent with a fun approach encourages everybody to join in.”

It is this spirit which I have attempted to underpin the Conversare enterprise.

My second meeting was with Paul Raskin, director of the Great Transition Initiative (GTI)  (of which I am a longstanding participant) with whom I met at his office in Boston a few days later.

Paul published a seminal paper entitled ‘The Great Transition Today: A Report from the Future.  Dateline: Mandela City, 2084. Well worth reading, in my opinion.

In this Paul made the comment:

‘Massive participation in healing the planet becoming a great source of pride for the global citizenry is the only hope for the future of our species, and the ecosystems of which we are a part.’
Slightly paraphrased by me.

Paul Raskin and Alan Stewart. At Tellus Institute. Boston. August 2010

As alluded to above, there are many day-to-day contexts in which people can participate with the conscious intention of engaging respectfully with all present. Of  asking thoughtful questions which express being interested in each other, of listening carefully. Contexts in which everyone is assured by a host and by others that ‘Whoever is here are the right people’ and ‘Whenever we treat each other well good things happen.’

I wonder if you see that social gatherings among people who do not know each other, to begin with, are a way of fostering such a spirit?

And that these kind of gatherings are a ‘preamble’ to participation by people of every background in actions in accord with our mutual wholesome future?  

 Looking forward

Alan Stewart


Whenever we treat each other well good things happen.

See my new e-booklet Time to converse – at the heart of human warmth






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