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Perspective on Our World

January 16, 2015 by ·

hopeI’ve been fascinated lately to watch VIA character traits emerging onto the world stage.  It’s an encouraging sign amidst much disturbing news.  As humanity faces its profound problems with increasing consciousness, it may be that the strengths within us, latent but universally present by definition, are coming into focus and being urged into greater use.  Maybe it’s a type of immune response kicking in.

Avaaz is a global advocacy group which taps the power of the internet to promote change.  In the last few years Avaaz has saved individual lives, influenced government decisions in the direction of humanitarian justice and stopped massively destructive projects-  all through the power of people taking a stand together through the internet.

In this context of great success, Avaaz yesterday sent out what they called their “most powerful petition target yet”, with a goal of 500,000 members signing on to one agenda for all of 2015.  I couldn’t imagine what this overwhelmingly important common agenda might be.  Was some calamity imminent?  Was some madman on the loose?  When I clicked the link I was astonished to find this three-part overarching goal:

Show Kindness and Respect

Strive for Wisdom

Cultivate Gratitude

Here was one of the most effective global activist organizations turning its focus completely around and stating that the inner work is just as important, if not more so.  Wow.  And they could claim that each goal was supported by over 97% of the membership, leveraging perfectly the universal nature and acceptance of these strengths.

On the same day, in an even more dramatic way, out of the cauldron of possible responses to the Charlie Hebdo massacre last week comes their next cover stating the unimaginable: “All Is Forgiven”.  Impossible, we think; it was so devastating; it’s so soon.  Nevertheless… are the survivors of this tragedy not  offering everyone a strengths lesson of world-class intensity here?  They decided to reach, at least symbolically, toward the farthest imaginable reaches of forgiveness while at the same time demonstrating the ultimate in human bravery.

Here we have five recognized strengths blazing into mass consciousness in one day, representing some of the finest possible human responses to events.  I would think all who are developing their own consciousness would be moved by this in some way, even if they feel the Avaaz project is naive; even if they think the Charlie cover is wrong.  That’s because these responses all speak to the forging of the human soul, which is the essence of character work and perhaps the most positive aspect of the world scene right now.

I find that those with perspective as a top strength can easily notice this type of connection between different things where others might just see the individual instances. The tendency to step back and see the bigger picture is how patterns and context can become as real for those of us with strong perspective as details are for most people.  I feel that this strength is much needed in a world where so many are focused on the day-to-day, but in my experience it can also lead to frustration.  Cultivating perspective can make real that which many are unwilling to see, putting one perhaps near the front lines of society’s evolution but, at the same time, far behind in general acceptance.  Environmentalists, for example, often find themselves in this quandary.

As I’m ready to turn this in, two climbers have just finished their 19-day ascent of the Dawn Wall of El Capitan in Yosemite.  So now I notice at the top of the news yet another strength radiating out for the world to see: perseverance.  This climb was thought to have been almost impossible, combining 32 separate climbing areas of great difficulty without stopping.  If you read about it you will discover the many layers of intense preparation necessary for this seven-year quest.  Tommy Caldwell, one of the climbers remarked, “For me the Dawn Wall is the perfect venue for some of the most important values I want to show my son: optimism, perseverance, dedication and the importance of dreaming big.”

Seeing all these strengths promoted in one day’s news brings to mind one final word:


-Werner John,

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