Monday, November 03, 2008
A TIME FOR CHANGE
One of the joys of the Appalachian Trail was spending six months living on mountain tops. Being that high up, for that length of time, allows hikers to escape the flatland and exist in a raised dimension. We enjoyed a perspective usually reserved for gods, and were able to experience and process and think about the world in a scale beyond what daily life affords. Getting into that philosophical mindset wasn't immediate - we had to learn to think about space and time from such a scale. It took several months to get the daily routine and physical requirements of hiking to a comfortable background state, and several more to fully cleanse the mind of long-held belief systems, influences of mass media, taught educations, and the daily distractions of normal life. I was lucky enough to share that vantage point with several other hikers who were open to thinking about our world and interested in its future. As we went along, it became clear to us that the problems now facing humanity are of a level never experienced before. I don't intend to spend time here lecturing about how we are disrupting the earth's natural systems to an extent that endangers life itself, or losing the resources that future humans will depend upon, or how so many of us are living lives without meaning while polluting our bodies and minds out of distraction or desperation. There's plenty of other places to learn about the bad news. Most of the time, we hikers didn't like to dwell on the bad things either. It should suffice to say that life as we live it, especially here in America, is simply unsustainable. The time for change is coming, but whether it will be a catastrophic change brought upon us, or a renaissance of thought and action that we create ourselves is our choice. What we hikers discovered this summer is the possibility for this renaissance. Americans have often led the way when it comes to revolutionary thinking - the AT itself is but one example of our capacity. It was fantastic to meet so many others this summer, who are already involved in this renaissance - people from every walk of life looking at improving life for others, for themselves, for the future. People who long for real community, for simplicity in living, for places and activities that support good lives, for a holistic approach to problem-solving and solutions that don't create more problems than they solve. It's a very encouraging sign that so many people like this exist, and were taking a summer to spend time thinking and discovering. Obviously, this post is timed with tomorrow's election in mind - it is one of the few times we Americans can directly influence events at a large scale. I'm not going to plug any of the candidates, but instead urge my readers to go into the booth tomorrow with wide minds, thinking about the world from the vantage of mountaintops, concerned with the global scale instead of the personal, looking for candidates who will put our future ahead of any selfish present, choosing leaders who will help us move towards a more sustainable world.