Published in 2007, Blessed Unrest by Paul Hawken has not only maintained relevance over time, but has actually increased in importance as the world now struggles to deal with tough issues of hunger, poverty, social justice, warfare, climate change and economic crisis
The message of the book is two-fold. It details a set of initiatives that need continued and increased involvement from citizens of the world, and it also describes the miraculous movement that developed in support of those initiatives. Separate topics indeed, yet inseparable when we strive to understand the vital need for changing/saving the world.
Paul Hawken, who also wrote The Ecology of Commerce, is a bestselling author, self-proclaimed environmentalist, entrepreneur, and journalist. As stated on the book’s opening page, he has given nearly one thousand talks about the environment over the past fifteen years and has traveled the world in his quest to raise awareness of the human and environmental issues that plague this planet.
The two-fold message referred to above is best expressed on the inside of the book’s dust jacket:
“The dawn of the twenty-first century has witnessed two remarkable developments in our history: the appearance of systemic problems that are genuinely global in scope, and the growth of a worldwide movement that is determined to heal the wounds of the earth with the force of passion, dedication, and collective intelligence and wisdom.”
In the first chapter Mr. Hawken discusses his numerous encounters with hundreds of individuals and organizations who are working on a multitude of local, regional and global issues. Coming from all walks of life, and not realizing they were part of a much larger movement, they collectively provided him with countless bits of knowledge that, after a time, coalesced into the foundation of the book’s premise.
As Mr. Hawken considered these encounters, and mentally connected the dots, it became apparent that there was a powerful movement of sorts underway, though not one that could easily be recognized as such. Wanting to understand the phenomena more deeply, he began counting the number of organizations, large and small, that were working on similar social projects. His conclusion is that there are well over a million such organizations, and what also became apparent was the direct connection between issues related to society and those involving the environment.
“A Native American taught me that the division between ecology and human rights was an artificial one, that the environmental and social justice movements addressed two sides of a single larger dilemma.”
“The way we harm the earth affects all people, and how we treat one another is reflected in how we treat the earth.”
These two quotes, which lay the groundwork for much of Blessed Unrest, resonated with me as cornerstones to the philosophy of Global Patriot, as our dedication to the planet, and our ultimate need to defend the planet, is fundamentally based on how we should treat each other, and how we should treat the earth. This interplay, that we can more easily see on a local level (assuming we pay attention) has been happening on a global scale.
The realization that technology – transportation, computers, communication – has bridged the gap between continents and cultures begins to illustrate how connected we all are. The fact that this blog can be read by anyone with access to a computer and a browser, regardless of location, is profound. There’s no incremental cost, and (in most cases) no corporate or government filter in the way. And it is just this shift in technology that has allowed the worldwide movement described in Blessed Unrest to develop and flourish.
Blogs provide global access to information and opinion while email allows for instant communication with anyone, anywhere. And if you’re on Twitter (twitter.com/globalpatriot.com) you know how rapid the flow of information can be, as news is broadcast long before the news media has heard about it.
In subsequent posts I will continue with highlights of Blessed Unrest and further Global Patriot commentary. I invite your comments and questions, especially from those who have read the book, and encourage those who haven’t to do so soon.
Are you participating in a social movement dedicated to improving the world?