Saturday, April 24, 2010

Vision, dreams and fantasies

Without a vision, the people perish.
--Proverbs 29:18

Elise Boulding created a process called Inventing a World without Weapons. She taught much of the peace community to envision and taught us the difference between fantasy, dreams, and visions.

A fantasy is a snapshot of a future you'd love to see. It is naive, unlikely, but fun to mull over.

A dream is a fantasy plus a vague idea that it is possible based on knowing that some other fantasies have been realized when they looked unachievable.

A vision is created and attained by first fantasizing, then dreaming, and then creating a 'future's history," which is a plan resulting from working backward from the fantasy to the present time and then getting busy on the necessary steps. By the time you work backward and create the logical conditions preceding each stage you have carved yourself a line of sight from now until the actualized vision.

The corporate world has used this process to their advantage and the peace side of society needs to be more about envisioning and actualizing than merely hand-wringing on the one hand and living isolated lives of peace on the other.

This is why it's important to engage in collective envisioning. Once an affinity group has worked through a shared vision and future's history, the action steps are all brushed in and only the discipline and mutual support are needed to actualize peace at whatever level the group is capable of achieving it.

My friend Jeanne Larson crossed over a few years ago and all who knew her mourn her passing and miss her still. She was a great peace visioner. One of her lessons to her students was that the images they were creating needed to be sharp and specific.

So one wouldn't say, "Well, in the year 2020 I see everybody loving each other," without numerous details of what that means.

"I will be writing at my little desk, which is made from recycled wood that laborers reclaimed from a home that needed to be removed. No homes are torn down any more; many products are made from the wood and other materials taken from these places. My desk is scarred and battered but serviceable and beautiful for its renewed life. My lamp is made from recycled titanium from the hull of a Trident nuclear submarine, all of which have become artificial hip joints and other valuable bone replacements, but I got this somewhat expensive lamp with the idea of passing down to the generations and I think there is a special light that comes from such a peace conversion."

Jeanne made the best, detailed, and meaningful images, the allure and clarity of which helped teach her students to work hard at similar creations. Once we have that, we can begin to connect and integrate our images systemically with our affinity groups and create a structural vision we can commit to achieving.

How important is this, really? Can't we just do the right thing as it comes to hand?

Sure, if we want to continue to live in Dick Cheney's vision. He had one, based on greed, power and selfishness. He and his elite powerfriends in the neocon movement and the rich overlords of war profiteering figured out how to create the world in which we currently live. Other Donald Rumsfelds and Paul Wolfowitz's are just coming of age, talking together about their visions, coordinating them, making agreements that will pay off later quite handsomely.

Unless, that is, we organize, envision, and establish a creative and concrete beachhead out 10, 20, and 30 years into the future. Our collective power to enforce our vision with nonviolent action will always be greater than their hired guns and their hired guns will always be more powerful than our few participants. The choice is ours.

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