How the World Changes
|From random blog photos|
Deanna and Mason on the bus
It’s Sunday in Brisbane, and yet another warm, clear day. The quick update is this: Mason turned four-months-old yesterday, we’ve been here for a month, all of the campus orientation events are through and classes start tomorrow.
I’ve met all of the fellows, and they live up to their billing. It’s an extraordinary group of people and I can’t wait to dig into these classes together. The Class VI fellows had a little welcoming party for the Class VII fellows Friday night and I re-connected with some of them that I had met before when I visited Brisbane about a year ago.
One of the pre-requisites for the Rotary World Peace Fellowship is that we are required to have at least three years of field work before we apply, so the people I’ll be studying with have rich field experience in peace and development work before they even show up. I’m eager to know more about their histories, and I woke up this morning musing about a random conversation I had yesterday, and determined to record these stories in a more organized way.
Yesterday Deanna and I were waiting for a bus into town and we started talking with a woman who was also waiting. We were going to a museum and she was headed to a lapidary show. I naturally asked if she works with precious stones and she said that she used to, that she did much more of it when she lived in Canada. Conversation about Canada led to the talk about the gorgeous forests there, which led to her telling us about the time she spent in a maximum-security prison.
Yep. Marcel, as her name turned out to be, was imprisoned by the Canadian government in the early nineties for taking part in the largest civil disobedience in Canadian history, where, over the course of several months, about three thousand people sat on the road in front of bulldozers to protect some of the last remaining old-growth forests there. I wasn’t surprised that she did jail time, but maximum security for a non-violent protest? It seems that the judge that tried her case was a former employee of the logging company they were resisting, and she was in the first group of fifty to be arrested (with 700+ to follow), so they wanted to make an example of them.
She wasn’t bitter about it, and our conversation was pleasant and encouraging on the whole. She had some powerful stories to tell about the corruption of the court system and the governmental agencies charged with regulating logging, but she also told us about various ways in which the demonstration had been successful – exposing some of that corruption and in the end, changing some of the rules for the better. I got the impression that while the price she payed was high, it was worthwhile.
And this was a conversation at a bus stop, not related to my studies in any way.
Early in the conversation, though, Marcel said something that really struck me. She said (paraphrasing from memory), “There are so many people doing good work in the world, but there aren’t enough people telling those stories, so people tend to think they’re alone and get discouraged.”
She said those words without knowing the first thing about me or my passion for re-telling those stories, but her casual comment served to crystallize an idea I’ve been stewing on for a while. My plan is to interview people who have been out there doing the work and study the common threads among them in terms of their world views and philosophies, as well as what nourishes and sustains them. I’m embarking on a masters degree program tomorrow, of course, so I won’t make any promises about the frequency of these posts, but my hope is to share them with you fairly regularly here on this blog.
So, though I didn’t really get to interview Marcel in the way I hope to interview some others in the future, she pointed me in a new direction, or at least gave me a new sense of focus, with a casual comment at a bus stop.
And that’s how the world changes. One more bit of evidence for my contention that it’s not foolish to think you can change the world. It’s foolish to think you can be in the world and not change it.
Wish me luck and hold me in the Light as I jump in to classes tomorrow. I’m a little daunted, and joyful too.
Oh, and on a lighter topic, I’ll put up some video of Mason soon. 😉