EXCERPTS from Chapter Seven in “SEVEN DECADES: A LEARNING MEMOIR”. (River House Press. 2013)
“When people in the next decade are trying to convey a picture of the most recent decade, they will use a self-portrait shot from a digital camera or cell phone held by one hand extended away from the subject. We look out at our own hand, perhaps squeezing another friend into the frame, composing our face in a smile or a laugh. We are shooting each other and, more recently, ourselves as well, as we learn of shootings on a weekly basis. An average of eighteen people per day have been shot since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012, and gun sales have increased significantly since then.” (Recent shootings, 2013-2018, have reached epidemic proportions)
“I watched the visual presentation of the self accelerate in this most recent decade. We see ourselves most often in mirrors. But mirrors to not show us what others see – they show us a mirror image with right and left reversed. The difference is subtle and real, and symbolic of a deeper reality. Now most twenty-year-olds have seen thousands of images of themselves as others see them. They simply hold up their cell phone and click. In this recent decade, people have learned to shape and groom their image for public consumption. Body modification, augmentation, reduction, smoothing, straightening, whitening and tanning, not to mention tattooing and piercing, have become normative. The closing years of the decade gave us the word “manscaping,” which refers to male shaving, waxing, and smoothing to the point of unreality. That says a lot.
“I observed another shift in business. In this decade (2000-2010) one of the greatest challenges facing leaders such as CEO’s of corporate and non-profit entities, was managing complexity. Heretofore, the challenge was designing, implementing and managing change. And change is still very present as a chief concern. However, we were now dealing with multiple, complex systems that required enormous investments of human capital to stay either on top or ahead of what was coming down the road.
“One prime example is within the field of medicine, where there are at least sixteen thousand things that can go wrong with the human body. There are over six thousand drugs that can be prescribed to deal with these issues and over four thousand surgical procedures. To get it exactly right, at the right time, with a correct diagnosis and the precise and most appropriate treatment and accurate prognosis, is nothing short of miraculous and amazing. It’s remarkable that it works as well as it does and as often as it does. That requires an immense amount of intelligence, understanding, and application of procedures all working together for the benefit of the patient. Similar concerns exist within other disciplines and fields as well, including my own field of education, although I believe we are woefully lacking in significant measures of reform and updating our methods and practices.
“……what I have learned is that life is about becoming; we are always in the process of becoming more like human beings, not human doings. What I do is about who I am. That means developing and growing our humanity, our human spirits, and being in touch and in tune with the natural world such that we not only know who we are and what we’re about but that we place the highest premium on the sacredness of each human being, starting with ourselves. That yields tremendous results.”
“If we are to succeed…we must learn how to build collaborative energy, listen carefully to what is and what is not being said, ask questions that are penetrating and honest, discern the real from the superficial, and help a group move forward with a purposeful, shared vision……Hopefully you are following your passion and purpose beyond yourself. That is what has worked for me. I commend it to you for your careful consideration as you continue on your own journey of lifelong learning.”