The Answer

by Mark A. Goldman                                                                 Dated 11/15/02


...AND THEN ONE DAY SOMEONE ASKS, “Well you know, you have some good ideas about what's wrong and even some good ideas about how things should be, but can you tell us… how do we get from here to there?”     


One Answer:

Well perhaps it's time to take stock. If I can't answer this question what does all the rest mean anyway. Do I have an answer? Who would have this answer? I think to myself… What do I know? What do I see? Where am I? Where am I going? Looking out into the world, I say to myself, I was once there where they are and now I'm here. How did I get here? And I review in my mind all of my experiences and where I've been and what I've done and also what I've said and written… mistakes I've made, doors I've opened and doors I've closed. And here I am. I wasn't born this way. Or maybe I was and didn't know it. Maybe they were born this way too and don't know it. I've had many teachers. Who is not my teacher? I learned but I can't go back and wouldn't go back and wouldn't send you to them. Am I what I am because of them… in spite of them…? Yes. And anyway, a true prophet does not want to be followed, except perhaps for a little while. And a true prophet does not have a religion, nor does he or she want, I don't think, to be the object of one. A true prophet says to himself, I have always changed and here I am. How do I know what I will be tomorrow? My truth — it changes every day. If someone believes my truth, will they live free and change like me, or live in the prison of what I once was? And should I lead them into a fight and have there be a war… or not fight and have them be consumed by the tyranny of an unseen, unexamined culture of fear, greed and mediocrity. It is not war or peace, but war or... degradation. What am I to do, to say? If you were where I am, you would not be where I was, and you would be standing here with me, same as I…. Not asking the question. Trying to answer it. ...Or asking it, but not asking me. What is valuable to a prophet, I think, is not what he has to say but what he is. He would like to give it away, but what is there to give? He wants you only to be you, being what you are, having what he has, for yourself. Not to be a follower or a believer, but to have what is yours when it is yours to have. Same question we started with…. How do you get from here to there? I am not a prophet. If I were a prophet wouldn't I be more than this? But everybody has something to give, and this is what I'm offering. You already know what to do. Didn't someone you've heard of already point the way? Why? I can tell you this...not to be worshipped. Not to be followed... but to give you the opportunity to know and not have to believe. The answer: truth, honor, dignity, compassion, courage, love.

 Another Answer:

The people we usually call leaders in our political culture are really followers. They lead by expressing the consciousness of the majority and when the majority identifies with that consciousness, they recognize the “leader” as one of their own, a limited bond of trust occurs, and then they follow. The problem is, the consciousness of the majority doesn't have the vision to know what is needed, and so neither does the “leader.” That is different from the kind leadership that inspires people to become more than what they thought they could be... leadership that has a vision and the ability to awaken in others the desire to learn something new, to take a chance on their highest aspirations. That kind of leadership is quite rare.

Unfortunately, we don't make it easy or pleasant for people with those kinds of skills to get far enough along in the political process to even be heard. Why? Because we don't want to see what it is they have to offer. The system is rigged in a number of ways and our culture worships the status quo; it feeds on itself. Because what they have to offer is the simple truth that to have what we say we want will require responsibility on our part. You can begin at any point and say it starts there, but it's beyond the starting point now.

But just for argument's sake, we could say it starts in how we run our schools. We are very good at teaching our children not to love others. Just take a look at our priorities as it relates to schools. In many communities, children are able to attend well-designed, well-equipped, well-staffed, well-managed schools. In other neighborhoods the schools are not well funded and the children are not given what they require to succeed. Some children are failing before they even begin. These children often learn not to respect education, not to find it inspiring. This creates a subculture that discourages its members from valuing or excelling in those very activities that could change their lives and allow them to become vital participants in society, thereby transforming their relationship with the future... and transforming society, too.

And so, we have a divided nation now and as far into the future as we can see. And this division insures its own perpetuation. This makes no sense in an enlightened society. It is antithetical to our stated values of Democracy — equal rights, and equal protection under the law. Public education ought to be uniformly good and where children are disadvantaged, an even greater effort on the part of government should be made, to bring them up to speed. But that's not how it works. If it did work that way, life as we know it could be transformed in just a few generations. And there's no good reason why it can't happen... except for the human and political forces at work that won't let it happen.

Who could advance such an idea? Who would run these schools, who would teach these children? We'd have to shift our resources from weaponry to livingry and who wants to do that? This would take the extraordinary commitment of individual citizens willing to take personal responsibility for themselves, their families, their neighborhood, their country, and their planet... but most folks don't want to do that or simply won't do that and so everyone goes about scratching their heads and wringing their hands or just tuning out. Same answer: truth, honor, dignity, compassion, courage, love.

Another Answer:

The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind...

Same answer: truth, honor, dignity, compassion, courage, love.


Another Answer:

Same answer: truth, honor, dignity, compassion, courage, love.

Six words that all mean the same thing... which is to say, none is wholly itself without the other five. Be any one — that's how to get from here to there.


Final answer: love

                Start by learning to love everyone else's children at least almost as much as you love your own.  Everything else will follow.

From The Answer, a book by Mark A. Goldman


Next:  God and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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