If you glanced at my résumé you might assume that the high point of my life was at age thirty-three, being appointed as the president of Oberlin College. But something more significant than anything on my résumé happened a few years after I’d left that job. My awakening, in a shabby Greenwich Village phone booth, marked the beginning of a quest that would culminate, decades later.
I was awaiting a call from a foundation executive with whom I’d done business while at Oberlin. Despite my changed circumstances—no institutional tie, no office, no title, no secretary, not even a phone—as a former insider I knew how easy it is for someone with the right connections to score a grant for almost anything.
As the end of the business day approached and the phone did not ring, my hope faded, it hit me: I had become a nobody—exiled and invisible. It was not that the executive owed me a yes; it was that he’d broken his promise to call. In that moment, I knew that my dignity would never be secure and that so long as anyone’s dignity is at risk, everyone’s is.
Early on I learned that whether playing football or marketing a business the message was the same. “This is war. It’s a zero sum game that you not only need to win, but increase your portion of the pie by squeezing your opponents down to nothing.”
I got pretty darn good at setting my sights and plunging into battle. I knew that advertising was a self-centered, one-way message, and it lied. Although I became as successful in business as I had been on the gridiron there lurked an emptiness in my gut. Something was missing.
When I began inhaling books that described businesses that operated with more than one bottom line, I got hooked.
Community is typically thought of as a group of people living in the same locality or regularly gathering together such as in a work, social or on-line community. But, for many of us, just being in the same neighborhood, home or in cyberspace is not satisfying. My hunger for community is not met just by being together.
The heart of a community is meaningful connections. That’s what feeds my intellect, emotions, physical body, spirituality and creativity and nourishes my soul. Heart talk involves being emotionally touched with important personal learning, and feeling seen, heard and appreciated. With an intention to make heart connections an important and integral part of the community, any activity is an opportunity to be meaningfully together.
Peace Dove by Lee Shapiro
“Imagine” is one of the most popular songs of all time because it speaks to the heart of one of our most basic desires. When you allow John Lennon’s words and music to fill your heart, what does your heart tell you about your desire for peace? Not just living in a peaceful world but peace in all your communities, including your home, workplace and/or school?
Take a few minutes to READ or LISTEN TO “Imagine.”
Real peace is not what masquerades between nations or in families as a time between wars. It is living with a perpetual sense of serenity and security. Conventional thinking will never bring about that kind of peace. For real peace to become a possible dream a radical paradigm shift is required.