Posted by: MC | July 10, 2012

An Hour of What’s Right with the World

Ben Merens (host of WPR’s At Issue) was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin when we talked last week.  I was on my friend’s landline; the landline a necessity for hooking into the WPR technology if you’re too far away to be sitting across the table from Ben.  She lives a few blocks away and was out of town visiting family in New York, but said “Yes.  Use the phone.  That will be great!”  So I connected with Steve, her roommate, and we concocted a plan having to do with the super secret hidden key.

I got to the back door 10 minutes before we were supposed to go on the air.  Found the key, turned it in the lock and the door didn’t open.  The dead bolt.  I went to the front door with the magic key.  No fit.  I contemplated freaking out, but called Steve.  He was working just blocks away (providence!) and made it to the back door so that within (no exaggeration) 30 seconds of being on the air, the producer tagged me in.  Whew.

Then came the real magic – a full hour of call in radio focused on what’s working, on what’s right.  I wrote about this notion (odd that it’s even a little exceptional) in a blog in May [Turn Around – Another Take on 99%, May 18, 2012], but what an amazing thing to speak about on call-in radio.

You can hear the whole show if you’d like – the way Ben and I and 15 callers/email writers made meaning together of the ground we stand on – of what is working in our world to sustain the stage across which all the trauma and drama projected in Technicolor-surround-sound can occur (go to the on-line archives and scroll down to Friday 7/6/12 3:00 p.m.  Click there and you’ve got it).

Meanwhile, click the ‘More’ on this page for a few inspiring highlights from the people who called and wrote in.  Most everyone was from Wisconsin, but we got a few people from Minnesota and one from Washington, DC.  All speaking of what’s going right and, quite often, of gratitude.

Mark from LaCrosse mentioned savings accounts and his sense that more people are saving.  He said he sees this only as a good thing, “a trend to get out of debt and live within our means.”

David from Hurley called to speak for the importance and related positive impact of science.  His comment was especially timely given CERN’s announcement of having finally discovered the Higgs Boson particle.

Linda in River Falls called in from the middle of another day of three digit temperatures with gratitude to Mr. Carrier for his idea putting air conditioning into homes after it was developed and in use for keeping foods frozen.  Linda then mentioned what for her has been the life changing experience of consciously paying attention to what she is grateful for.  “When you do that, everything turns much more positive.”

Again from LaCrosse, Barbara spoke of driving down the highway the hot afternoon before.  She came around the corner and was delighted by the unanticipated appearance of a Polish grocery stand selling fresh cheese curds. “I’ve had happy squeaky mouth ever since.”  The point, Barbara emphasized, is that surprises or unanticipated changes can be good.  Not all surprises, she explained, are sensational tragedies and things going differently than planned or expected can sometimes, even often, be great.

Lisa in Milwaukee called with gratitude for the Alcoholics Anonymous program and commentary on how those gatherings of everyday people to support one another have been having powerful results since 1955.

Barb in Oshkosh spoke of daily checking global news and repeatedly coming away with gratitude for her freedom to speak her mind without fearing torture or loss of other rights.

Jackie from Mt Horeb, WI left a message on facebook in big appreciation of the Public Library system’s continuing to provide public access to books and internet, “for free!”

Kim in Rhinelander called to comment on the National Park system and the way, since Teddy Roosevelt was President, the National Parks have protected natural beauty from being spoiled by what we can do to it.

Heidi in Milwaukee dialed in to say something she said she was surprised to be saying.  “Democracy works.”  She said she’s been skeptical about democracy often in recent years, but is coming to see how the voices of the people can influence government and feels hopeful about those voices growing in number and strength.

Suzy – State capital building, families

Mark in Whitewater called to remind listeners to watch for leaders who show their integrity by living their lives and making decisions consistent with their values.  What works is when people go beyond belief in loving their neighbor as themselves to acting consistently on that belief.

Then Elizabeth wrote email from Washington, DC speaking of how the recent widespread loss of electricity and cable in the DC area made her both grateful for those resources and for the opportunity to questions our dependence on them.  She said her goal is to, “Live in the challenging now and breathe.”

A last email came in celebrating wine, and Ben and I went from there to gratitude for water.  That led to Ben telling a story of his daughter, Hope, who at 6 responded to her first grade teacher’s request for examples of good community citizens with, “Trees.”  Ben said the teacher asked Hope to say more and Hope responded, “Trees are good citizens because give us oxygen to breathe.”

That reminded me of a quote from the 100 Voices – Americans Talk about Change.  Calvin Hecocta (Paiute/Modoc, voice #011) spoke of his childhood instruction by a wise person he calls The Old Man.

I remember standing on a mountainside looking down on the valley with the Old Man.  The Old
Man told me I would be a spokesman for my people.  For a short time I thought he was meaning the people in my tribe – my clan.  My grandfather eventually explained the Old Man was meaning the people that have no voice:  The trees and the people that live there – the swimmers and the flyers that have not voice – the children.  I was told that by the Holy Man.  Every day I live with respect for that responsibility. 

And that’s how the hour ended.

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