Transformation 101

By transformation, I mean “positive change” or “change for the better.”

Read a novel such as The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2006) or watch a film such as The Road (2009), and we know that there is such a thing as potential for negative change or for change for the worse.

We want to go forward; we want to progress. We don’t want to go backwards.

How do we create positive change or change for the better? How do we create transformation?

What if all colleges offered a course on “Transformation 101”? Better yet, what if all high schools offered a course on “Introduction to Transformation”? What if there were courses on “Transformation” in all Colleges of Continuing Education? Here’s the best scenario: what if curriculums everywhere stressed transformation as a basic element of instruction?

OK, here are some principles for Transformation 101:

~ Everything in the human-built environment began as an idea.

This is a key thing for us to remember, always. The computer I am sitting at, writing this. The computer you are sitting at, reading and commenting on what you read here. The walls around you if you’re inside. If you are using a wifi ‘hotspot’ with your laptop, it also began as an idea. The plane overhead. These things began as ideas.

~ We cannot only hope for “transformation” – we must live it and bring it into being.

“You must be the change you seek in the world.” ~ Mohandas K. Gandhi (“The Mahatma” or Great Soul)

~ Hope is a fine thing as it underlies action in making a better future for all of us and all creatures. Formula: hope + action = transformation.

~ It only takes one person to provide a vision, to be that change, to show us the way forward into transformation.

Think of Peace Pilgrim and her uncompromising vision in starting to walk in a pilgrimage for peace. With nothing on her back but a shirt stating “Peace Pilgrim” she accepted food to eat and places to sleep only when these were offered. Otherwise she walked and fasted. What a powerful example of “walking the talk!”

“One little person, giving all of her time to peace, makes news. Many people, giving some of their time, can make history.” – Peace Pilgrim [quoted in The Little Book of Peace, edited by Patricia J. Chui (2001)]. Little person? Peace Pilgrim was a giant!

~ One person can begin something; others can work with that person and build on her idea or his idea and many people can wield huge leverage.

~ “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” ~ Barack H. Obama

YOU can work for transformation – for yourself, for organizations, for societies, and for our planet.

~ There are no limits on what we can work on and accomplish.

~ “There is nothing we cannot do.” ~ Barack H. Obama

Do you want a text on Transformation 101?

OK, read Creating Your Future: Five Steps to the Life of Your Dreams, by Dave Ellis (1998). Paul Hawken (author of The Ecology of Commerce and The Next Economy along with other books) endorsed the book, and wrote “If you change the title pronoun from ‘your’ to ‘our,’ [this] book is a means to transform every institution in the world.”

Note: stock up on index cards and writing instruments! Here’s my blog post on “Creating Your Future / Creating Our Future.”

Creating Your Future is truly a transformational text.

How ’bout two texts? Here’s another text on Transformation 101: Pronoia is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings, by Rob Brezsny (2005).

Now, there is such a thing as negative change or change for the worse. I believe we must acknowledge this potential. However, I refuse to believe that “The Human Project” is over and that we must curtail our hopes, retrench, cut back, and hunker down.

I assure you that “The Human Project” is not drawing to a close. If anything, these difficult times for many of us will likely  lead to even greater innovation and creative problem solving. Additionally, difficult economic times for Americans may lead us to see that billions of humans living on $2 to $4 (American)  a day is not acceptable.

What would I like to see?

I would like to see an end to the massive expenditures on weapons and war making capabilities. 

~ “War comes at the end of the twentieth century as absolute failure of imagination, scientific and political. ~ Adrienne Rich [Rich was writing in 1991; however, the quotation still rings true and perhaps more so in this still new century].

I would like to see national service become the law of the land in the United States. National service has prominent advocates. I would like to see young people serve 2 to 3 years in any number of capacities on behalf of the United States around the world. I would like to see military service as a (very) small component of all available options. All available options could be a wide range of opportunities on a state, regional, national, or international level including the Peace Corps, AmeriCares, VISTA, development projects around the world, United States Institute for Peace (USIP) internships, and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s).

The program should be flexible and lead to quantifiable benefits (e.g., college credit, a “Citizen Bill” [a variation on the G.I. Bill for servicemen and servicewomen], etc.) for young Americans. Young Americans should have a window of time available to fulfill this responsibility; let me propose years 18 to 25.

We have been building a global society in fits and starts over decades. If anything, this process has been speeding up – despite wars, famines, natural disasters, and plagues. I would like to see this process of building a truly global society accelerate and go viral.

How do we measure results?

It is critical to see that we are building for all.

“Great ideas, it has been said, come into the world as gently as doves. Perhaps then, if we listen attentively, we shall hear amid the uproar of empires and nations, a faint flutter of wings, a gentle stirring of life and hope. Some will say that this hope lies in a nation, others in a person. I believe rather that it is awakened, revived, nourished by millions of solitary individuals whose deeds and works every day negate frontiers and the crudest implications of history. As a result, there shines forth fleetingly the ever-threatened truth that each and every person, on the foundation of his or her own sufferings and joys, builds for all.” – Albert Camus [my italics]

We may not see results of our actions. In a way, our actions are actions of hope and faith.

“We must work for a world which we will never see.” – Bertrand Russell

In Creating Your Future, Dave Ellis writes about imagining the future long after our deaths and how we can still affect the future positively.

5 Responses to Transformation 101

  1. Pingback: Updates to “Transformation 101″ Page | Andrew Shattuck McBride Blogs

  2. One of my earliest posts here was on transformation. Read it here:

    Blessings to all, Andy

  3. Pingback: The Quotidian, December 4, 2010 ~ The Present Moment | Andrew Shattuck McBride, Writer's Blog

  4. J.R. Bergstrom says:

    These are fascinating ideas–especially your comments about national service. So many people would benefit from national service.
    Thanks for sharing. You are a deep thinker.
    J.R. Bergstrom

    • Hi J.R.

      Wow, thank you so much for your kind comments.

      We wouldn’t need to create a huge new bureaucracy to administer national service. I remain very interested in instituting national service for our young people.

      Thanks again, and warm regards, Andy

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