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Last call for courage (11/01/2009)
By Janet Lewis Burns
Deserted proclamations on brittle, discolored paper will surface again. Through the tried and true, wisdom forever awaits discovery.

Scare tactics! Deceit! Greed! Slander! Racism! Politics! Global Warning! These are buzzwords for the guts of current news. I gather page after page I find noteworthy…but are they rife with deception? Is each offering a crucial piece of the overall picture? Are there self-serving motives behind the well-chosen words?

An old quote from Winston Churchill is profound: “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”

Everyone has opinions concerning solutions and tactics to deal with today’s complex issues. Though contradictions and coined words may be confusing, they are also constructive food for thought. Psychotherapist Michael Ostrolenk challenges us “to recognize that people legitimately have different worldviews, and that there might be a way to make these worldviews fit together to create forward motion.”

The next time you drive or walk along a city sidewalk, look beyond the blur to see the humanity. Ostrolenk urges all of us to read everything and anything and to be willing to listen, with an open mind, to what others are saying. “You’ll get a feel for how other people think.” Who cares?

He goes on, “There’s always a possibility that you might discover that your worldview is based on incorrect assumptions or unverifiable facts.” Opinion is not necessarily truth. Are you concerned enough to abandon and/or transform your convictions?

James Howard Kunstler, author of ten novels, presents another slant on seeking solutions to world problems.

His best-known work, “The Long Emergency” refers to his prediction of a long term crisis brought on primarily by declining oil supplies. He’s stated, “…the collapse of the financial system is more a result of peak oil than of overzealous mortgage lending, which is only part of the picture.”

“People who think they can just build these giant wind turbines and get free energy are to some extent hoping that you can get something for nothing. You need an oil-and-gas industry to support that kind of endeavor.” “If we want to keep the lights on after 2020, we may have to resort to nuclear power.” Chilling!

“While our leaders in government and finance debate which strategy will bring us to ‘full recovery,’ Kunstler maintains that our efforts to return to our former way of life are nothing but an expensive and futile attempt to ‘sustain the unsustainable.’” This statement was taken from the October SUN interview with James Kunstler, by Leslee Goodman, entitled “The Decline & Fall Of The Suburban Empire.”

The idea that Kunstler stresses is that a global economy will eventually fall apart as developed nations are going to be forced to become independent and to reconstruct their local economies.

National retail chains are destined to fail as transportation costs mount. With the downscaling of American life, consumers are going to be purchasing far less. Wal-Mart could very well be replaced by renewed and rebuilt hometown Main Streets all over the country.

As people from all races, cultures and political orientations put their global heads together there seems to be more controversy than progress wrought. Ostrolenk, the “center-right,” conservative psychotherapist, optimistically expresses his hope that “it might be possible for people on all points of the political spectrum to search for solutions and to find common ground, or at least learn to cross partisan lines without feeling the need to flash party colors.”

Kunstler, however, proclaims to be suspicious of the word “solutions.” He emphasizes, “When people complain to me, ‘you don’t offer any solutions,’ I assume they are referring to a means by which we can keep living exactly the way we’ve been living, which isn’t going to happen.”

Can freedom ring true anywhere as long as political bias and racism smolder? While there are nations of people starving and living in squalor? As long as world leaders wage war? With rampant greed and dishonesty dictating human behavior?

When people in the majority, along with their stereotyped brothers and sisters, break down the barriers that hinder personal relationships…only then can a just and conservative universe be realized, by being courageous enough to know one another.

Open minds are needed to save the earth…an open heart is personal salvation.

Janet Burns lives in Lewiston. She can be reached at patandjanburns@embarqmail.com.



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