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2011: Time for a New Clear Vision

For related articles and more information please visit the OCA's Resource Center on Politics and Democracy.

For the coming year, rather than short-term resolutions, I'm issuing an ongoing challenge that is at once both personal and political. Despite much evidence to the contrary, and notwithstanding the relentless news cycle that we frequent, I believe that 2011 will be the year that the majority of people in the world demonstrably turn away from the brink of destruction and embrace a spirit of positive innovation and creative intervention in their communities. This may seem like a preposterous conclusion, but then again if someone told you in early 2001 that we would be living in a perpetual state of terror/war and that our rights would be wholly eviscerated in short order, you might have said the same thing.

Watershed changes happen, and they needn't always be to the bad side of things. I won't attempt a predictive litany here, but any number of significant events could transpire this year that would forever remake the map of the world. One of the most troubling aspects of the present moment is that we've fostered a sensibility in which crises, conflicts, and cataclysms eclipse any comprehension of positive information in our midst. While bad news is trumpeted on every billboard and dutifully reprinted in a preponderance of blogs, the prospects of anything good happening recede farther into the nether regions of our neural and informational networks alike. At this point, it's a fair question: if something monumentally positive were to occur, would anyone be inclined actually to notice and/or report it?

By most accounts, it looks and feels very much as if the fate of the world is approaching a fundamental crossroads, and for most prognosticators the future is grim. But that's as much a matter of our willing perception as it is a venal construct of the mass media. While undoubtedly many of the major issues of the day - from politics and culture to economics and climate - are seemingly in a downward spiral, it's also true that this is a time of great innovation, community-building, and creative visioning. For every corporate crony there's a neighborhood activist; for every warmonger a peacemaker; for every usurer a micro-lender; for every profiteer a volunteer; and for every agribusiness an urban garden. In each case, we can expound upon the poverty of the former while also highlighting the power of the latter.


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