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From an email that my friend Bob Stilger sent. Bob gives much of his attention to Japan. He has been doing so for many years.

This piece below shares some of the story that he is sharing with friends and colleague there as they respond and grow from the impact of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear power disasters. He references Kufunda, a Zimbabwe learning village that we visited about 10 years ago together.

I’m posting these five points as another example of messages of clarity. As it was in my previous post, I appreciate the simple clarity here of grounding principles, beliefs, and practices.

What is clear to many is that this isn’t just about the Tohoku Region.  The earth shook, the tsunami came, the nuclear reactors spewed their terrible waste in Tohoku — but it is all of Japan and all of the world that needs to change.

Where to start?  I tell them stories about Marianne Knuth and Pioneers of Change (www.pioneersofchange.net) and Kufunda Learning Village (www.kufunda.org).  The five core principles of Pioneers of Change are as pertinent now as they were when they were developed over a decade ago:

  1. Be yourself.  It is up to each of us, as moral beings, to decide how to act and to freely form our contribution to the whole. We must think this reality through, and not hide from it. This means looking inside oneself and asking “What are the basic principles which help me decide what is good?”, being able to listen to one’s intuition, even when it contradicts the social structures around us. We are all a part of life, and we all have a unique contribution to make. What is it?
  2. Do what matters.  The world needs us more than ever. It needs pioneers to be treating problems at the root causes, not just the symptoms, to be making change at a systemic level. Doing what matters requires a capacity to diagnose the problems we face, to understand the underlying patterns, to remove barriers, to find the leverage points and make the change there. It requires us to be conscious of the consequences of our actions, and to choose to do good, not harm, according to the deeper values and the higher ideals we each hold.
  3. Start now.  The future is created by how we live now. It is not necessary to compromise who we are in the present, or to wait to take off the lid that is keeping us from allowing our creative expression to be put to use in areas that matter to us and the world. We don’t focus on all the reasons why it might not work – if the platform and tools do not exist to make our dream possible, we get going in creating them. Learning comes with action.
  4. Engage with Others.  Connect with something bigger than yourself. Search for those who are working on similar or related things, share ideas with them, ask them for help and work with them where useful. Be willing to offer them help when they need it as well. Engaging with others is about engaging with those who share your visions, but also about engaging with those who think differently from you and are doing something that may seem completely different and unrelated. Engage across diversity, for that is how we learn.
  5. Never Stop Asking Questions.  Understanding is constantly evolving, and there is always the possibility of future discovery. While committing to our current intentions, we have to continue to question our own views as we continue to question others and listen to their answers. As we start to view the world from the perspective of life, more and more practices around us simply do not make sense. We are surrounded by paradoxes in a phase when established systems no longer meet our needs. We need to perceive and question these paradoxes, daring to appear naive, while developing the capacity to transcend them. As Einstein said, no problem is solved from the same consciousness that created it.
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