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Shouting the Truth from a High Place - nhpeacenik
Shouting the Truth from a High Place
Yesterday, I had the great privilege of hearing the 29-year-old Chinese-American mayor of Fitchburg Massachusetts, Lisa Wong, talk about her vision for the future of her old financially-strapped mill city. In her nine months as mayor, she has already had considerable success, reversing the municipal deficit and attracting a Canadian bookstore tot he downtown area. Her vision includes making Fitchburg a destination for extreme sports such as whitewater kayaking and bicycle racing, integrating the state college into the fabric of the city and reviving the city's squares to  resemble the vibrant squares of Cambridge and Boston. One thing she did when she was preparing her vision was to go to the top of the tallest building in town and make a mental inventory of what she saw, without preconceptions. I hope to speak more about the details of her vision later, and there may be a video of the presentation at a later time, but today, I need to speak of the dream I had last night.

I was considering the image of the mayor looking down at her city and seeing its potential along with the remarkable events of the day in Washington DC, where lawmakers summoned the strength to reject an ill-conceived bailout plan and people of vision, such as Dennis Kucinich and Michael Moore were able to articulate their vision of a genuine rescue plan for the economy, one that would benefit all of us and open up a future worth having.

Last night, I dreamed I was in a town which was my home. A speaker was standing on the common saying what must have been inspiring words,, but I couldn't make them out. Then Bob Hillegass, a Quaker who had been a great friend and teacher to me before his death several years ago, walked over to a nearby telephone pole, carrying a long ladder. He poised the ladder against the pole and slowly climbed to the top and begain proclaiming profound truths from the top of the ladder. His voice reached everybody in town. The ladder then slipped to the side and he fell, but I thought I heard him say "It's OK, I'm already dead."

During the latter part of his life, when I knew him, Bob always emphasized the connection between political action, civil disobedience, pacifism and Earth-care. He introduced me to the work of Brian Swimme and he loved to quote Wendell Barry. I couldn't save the content of his speech in my waking mind, but I know that he was making the point that the present financial crisis was a great opportunity to do the right thing for Gaia, Mother Earth and all of us who live on/in her.

Instead of Bob's or Lisa's words, when I woke up I heard a voice singing the old Danish hymn "That Cause Can Neither be Lost nor Stayed", which affirms that individual death is not an ending and that crises cause spurts of growth and creative energy to be released.
Each noble service that we have wrought
Was first conceived as a fruitful thought
Each worthy cause with a future glorious
By Quietly growing becomes victorious.

There by itself like a tree it shows
That high it reaches as deep it grows
And when the storms are its branches shaking
It deeper root in the soil is taking

Be then no more by a storm dismayed
For by it the full-grown seeds are laid
And though the tree by its might it shatters
What then, if thousands of seeds it scatters!

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2 comments or Leave a comment
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 1st, 2008 03:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you nhpeacenik. I am guessing you are the one who told me that you used to commute all the way to Boston via bike. It was great to meet you and I wish you all the best. Regards, Lisa Wong
nhpeacenik From: nhpeacenik Date: October 1st, 2008 03:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Actually, I was just riding the bike to the Fitchburg station and taking the train to Boston :)
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