Thursday, July 05, 2007

A couple years ago I received a desperate email from a man who had bought one of my books about boxes. He had gone through the book, making a list of the various tools used and had gone shopping. His new father-in-law was coming to the United States from Japan, and he wanted to make one of the more advanced boxes from the book as a gift. He said that all his friends at work made fun of his new obsession as he acquired tool after tool.

His email to me was, "Now that I have all the tools, where do I start?" I had to ask him to start at the beginning of the book, with the simple projects and work his way up to the complex skills required in the most advanced projects. Having the tools was no substitute for having skills and experience.

There is a widespread belief in our modern American culture that getting what we want has to do with shopping for it. You gather information and then spend your money. Mission accomplished.

George W. Bush suggested that the best way to combat the terror of 9-11, 2001 was to go shopping as a show of support for the American economy.

Now, in the environmental movement there seems to be a growing belief that shopping for new technologies will provide a solution to global warming... whether it is shopping for a new refrigerator, or for carbon credits to offset travel. While I don't want to diminish the importance of those things. I can assure you that shopping will not be enough.

The man who thought owning the right stuff for his workshop might offset the need for experience and skill, was disappointed at my response. But there is no substitute for the direct investment of oneself, heart, soul and hands in making change and the necessary change will be greater than we can yet imagine. In the book on boxes, you can start at the beginning. The book on how we address climate change and protecting the Earth's resources is on its first tentative chapter, still in outline form.

There was an interesting scene at the final moments of the movie, Apollo 13. The character played by Tom Hanks, facing certain death looked at his hands and fell into a state of wonder at their power. From this state of reverence his mind opened to the solution of the mission's problems.

Now, as we on our small planet hurtle through space on an even more vital and desperate mission, I can assure you that through the contemplation of our own hands, we will arrive at a clear understanding of our role as stewards of the earth and be rewarded by discovery of the essential qualities of our own natures. I can also assure you that as we continue to ignore the meaningful engagement of our hands, our mental health and the fate of the planet are each placed at certain risk.

No comments:

Post a Comment