Last night someone I know asked for leaping suggestions.
Here are a few…they’re not my own. They come from others.
Since this is primary season, and we’re all reacting to last night’s news from the Arizona and Michigan Republican primaries, how about this advice from Otto von Bismarck?
“A statesman…must wait until he hears the steps of God sounding through events, then leap up and grasp the hem of His garment.”
Our statesmen this season have heard steps sounding through our current economic doldrums, our health care policies, our foreign policy and the conflicts of the Middle East. Judging from their rhetoric we can only surmise that God must have been walking on tiptoe through a succession of tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters; the BP oil spill and other pollution episodes; and emerging shortfalls in worldwide supplies of food, water, and other vital resources.
But now…don’t you leave this to the statesmen today…this is not a spectator sport…ask yourself…what steps of God do you hear sounding through events? Hear them? If you don’t leap and grasp the hem of His garment…that opportunity is lost to all of humankind. Because it was only you who heard it. The rest of us? We heard something else.
Back to those political leaders. They’re free to choose their platforms…and those platforms usually reflect our concerns as a nation. But as we listen to them, we might do well to remember this admonition from Kevin Brady:
“There is a difficult leap between talking about balancing the budget and actually doing it.”
So maybe we should be asking ourselves…which of our leaders have made the leap?
Barbara Sher generalized this to :“Doing is a quantum leap from imagining.”
Let’s be honest. It’s not just the politicians…you and I are doing a lot more imagining than doing. What better day than today to turn that around? If you’re reading this early in the morning, pick an action you’ve been putting off, big or small. Resolve to do it! Today! [Imagine yourself completing that action, then giving yourself a pat on the back. Do that too – don’t just imagine that thrill of accomplishment – enjoy it fully when it comes around.]
Is yours a big dream? Do you have to surmount major hurdles, whether external, or in your own mind? Then step up from Barbara Sher’s advice to this bolder encouragement from Les Brown:
“I advise you to say your dream is possible and then overcome all inconveniences, ignore all the hassles and take a running leap through the hoop, even if it is in flames.”
But those individual leaps, however grand…are only the lowest level of life’s game. The bigger leaps, the ones that truly matter, especially for those of us living on the real world, are the ones we take together. Remember this quote?
“This is one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” – Neil Armstrong.
He had it right, didn’t he? Think of the vision, the planning, the innovation, the teamwork, the determination, the cooperation for over a decade that made possible that last step onto the surface of the moon. We can recapture that spirit. We can address those food and water resource problems, by working together. We can protect the environment, and protect ourselves from the environment, by working together.
Jeremy Rifkin thinks we are up to the job: “What I’m suggesting to you is that this could be a renaissance. We may be on the cusp of a future which could provide a tremendous leap forward for humanity. “
But forging a sustainable 21st century won’t be easy, and we’ll get only so far on logic and thought and planning. Eventually…in fact repeatedly…we’ll have to take risks.
Henry David Thoreau understood this: “We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal, and then leap in the dark to our success.”
And you and I most often think of Yo-Yo Ma as a gifted cello soloist, but he thinks in terms of the group: “Things can fall apart, or threaten to, for many reasons, and then there’s got to be a leap of faith. Ultimately, when you’re at the edge, you have to go forward or backward; if you go forward, you have to jump together.”
But before we can jump together, we have to realize that we’re all truly in it together. We shouldn’t blind ourselves to our differences, whether those differences are differences of language or color or gender or religious or political belief – or even differences in the way we view climate change and variability. But we should stop seeing those differences as making each other enemies. And…you guessed it…as Stanley Crouch observed,
“Getting to the point where the other is not the enemy is a big leap.”
So…all together now…leap!
[with a tip of the hat to Brainy Quote.]