I started working on a farm when I was in the sixth grade. The farmers taught me many skills: driving all kinds of vehicles, maintaining equipment, pulling weeds, and how to take on a big job one hour at a time. I can drive a tractor, run a back hoe (not well!), operate a combine, and I can drive a semi-truck.
We also had to learn to fix broken machines. Most of what we fixed we had never fixed before. So we had to figure out what was broken, what tools and parts we needed, and then find a strategy to fix it. For the bigger challenges, the farmers would get everyone around the broken machine and ask (not in so many words), “What do we need to know, how do we fix this, and what help do we need?”
Often, each of us would add something important from our own experience.
A year ago I started drafting what would become our new program, Let’s Go Together. I had conversations with our board and staff. I talked to leaders of many wisdom traditions about the collective challenges we are facing. I realized we were doing the same thing we did on the farm. “What do we need to know, how do we fix this, and what help do we need?”
Of course, responding to the challenges of a historical moment like this is more complicated than repairing a machine.
We can’t “fix” it. But we can make a difference if our insight into the challenge is clear enough and if our understanding of human beings is deep enough.
Before we act, we need to gather wisdom from many perspectives. Most of our wisdom traditions arose in a time of change that was as disruptive as the time we are in today. These world views and ethical codes for living together helped people to see a path through the crisis of their time.
As we begin to create the curriculum for Let’s Go Together courses and activities in the next couple months, we will be talking to more than thirty leaders from more than ten different traditions. We are going to ask them
- What are the core challenges we are facing as a human community?
- How are these challenges leveraging human vulnerabilities we all hold in common?
- How can we activate human capacities to deal with our core challenges?
- What are some powerful, simple, and replicable strategies that can make a key difference?
Myself and Hannah Hochkeppel from our partner organization Kids 4 Peace will be holding one-to-one meetings with each of these leaders. We will then ask them to fill out a survey to gather written wisdom. Once we accomplish this, Hannah and I will write a paper to synthesize what we heard. Next, we will gather all these leaders in groups of youth, adults, and elders to discuss the paper and what needs to be clarified, added, or removed. We will use this paper to guide the development of our Let’s Go Together strategy, the online courses and in-person engagements, and the public leadership we will create.
This is a time to gather people around a society that is under great stress, some might say: broken, and to learn from one another.
We will each add something from our tradition and experience. More than that, in the very process of consulting with each other and gathering our wisdom we will already have begun our response.
Of course, creating Let’s Go Together, requires a lot of staff time. In March, we hired an assistant so help me and our fundraiser free up enough time to work on content and grant applications for the program. We need your support to help fund this new position, so that we can continue to have the staff and resources to do this essential work – hopefully for years to come and on an ever larger scale.
This is a moment to explore the very heart of all of our wisdom traditions. And, with humility, offer the best we have to one another and to our world. Thank you for being in partnership with us!