GreenishLady

Originally Blogging the Artist's Way. Thoughts, musings, experience of the 12-week course, January to March 2006. And after that?.... Life, creativity, writing. Where does it all meet? Here, perhaps.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Future of the Planet: Sunday Scribblings

FIRST: The E-Bay auction run by Bloggers for Jenni is up. If you haven't yet read my post about Jenni Ballantyne, please do. She's an incredible woman who needs help, support, caring, prayers, people to witness her experience of cancer. Or just go straight to her blog and wish her well. She is not without her fears, but she is oh, so very brave, and she appreciates every word and thought that comes her way. Thank you.
---------------------------------

And now, for Sunday Scribblings....

Last week's prompt on Sunday Scribblings was "Composition". In my post, I spoke about the Sunday night business of writing 3 essays, or "compositions" for my weekend homework. In my time at school, I must have written hundreds, if not thousands of essays, stories, compositions on all kinds of subjects, but there is one which I recall in detail, and the results of which have had a lasting impact on me...

I am almost 16, newly arrived in a school that promises a higher degree of academic excellence and attention to pupils' needs than my previous school. My mother is so happy that here, I'll be in an environment that will encourage me to knuckle down, and release the potential that all my previous school reports assured her was in me, and that if I would just "try harder", I'd be achieving really outstanding results.

I am enjoying the work. I like the teachers. (For the most part. There's Gladys, but every school has a Gladys, I'm sure!). I especially like Sr. Maura. Yes, in those days, there were still quite a few nuns involved in teaching, and Sr. Maura was relatively young, progressive in her thinking, and a delight as an English teacher after my previous experience. She encouraged reading material that wasn't actually on the curriculum. She advised us to read The Feminine Woman and The Female Eunuch and see how they compared. She was open and ready to think outside the box, and she assigned essay topics that I enjoyed; themes that could be explored creatively and played with a little. When I saw the topic she assigned us that Friday, I knew this was one essay I wouldn't be leaving until Sunday night. This was an essay I wanted to get to straight away. I had so much to say, back in the autumn of 1973 about

.......... "What will life be like in the year 2000?"

I had SO much to say. I had a vision of what life would be like on this little planet of ours. I believed - indeed, I felt that I knew - that within those 27 years, the world as we then knew it would be transformed. There would be no poverty, no starving children, there would be no wars. No-one would suffer because they were of a different race, colour or religion than anyone else. We would all have finally realised that we are indeed one people living on one planet; that we each have responsibility for all our brothers and sisters throughout the earth, and no-one would want to have more than their needs filled, while there was anyone who did not have their most basic needs seen to.

I described in great detail the care governments would take of the lowliest people in their nation; how leaders and politicians would see their work as a humble service and not a matter of personal pride; how women would take their place as equals to men in all fields of human endeavour. I wrote about how with our new awareness of the earth as one country, we would all be eager to be able to communicate with one another, and how one language would be chosen to be used in common by all, while local languages would then flourish, freed from the burden of being just one among a whole range of languages demanding attention in schools.

I had encountered the Bahá’í Faith during the previous year, and in the summer of 1973, it crystallised for me into the answer to so many of the questions I'd had about religion. My vision of the future of our world was drawn out of my deep conviction that the teachings I had espoused would be accepted widely by all people who thought about such things. It holds the promise of a world that is united in this way.

Back in that golden autumn of 1973, the year 2000 seemed such a long way off. SUCH a long way, it would surely be enough time for the world to come to its senses, and stop hurtling along towards destruction; to halt all wars and to begin to recognise the common humanity of all peoples. Now, I see what a short span of time that is, and still, still, I believe now, more than ever that the time is close when the tipping point is reached, the turning point. I see it in the enthusiasm of millions of people for books and programs like Eckhart Tolle's "A New Earth". There is an urge towards unity. We are like a body divided against itself, and the time to acknowledge that we ARE one body will soon be upon us. Indeed, it is upon us now.

When I handed in my essay, I did it with a heart filled with delight that I'd had a chance to declare my faith in humankind, to lay out my hope-filled cards, and to say that "For all its sham and drudgery, it is still a beautiful world" (Desiderata). I was delighted to have been able to articulate my faith, to declare it, to offer it to Sr. Maura, not just as an essay for correction, but as a gift.

........................

Her response came in red pencil. I have forgotten what the grade was. But the comment has remained engraved in my consciousness. When I visualise my inner critic, when I imagine the wet blanket that doused my enthusiasms in the worst way - there is Sr Maura, she of the red pen, and the caustic comment:

....." Interesting, but it's hardly realistic, is it?"

No? Well, my dear Sister Maura, my unrealistic idealism has held. I still believe this is a beautiful world, that people have an instinct towards good, and that sooner or later, humankind will be united; that wars will be a thing of the past. Whatever ideals brought Sister Maura to the religious life did not last. She left the convent. I have no idea how her life has been. Hopefully it's been good. Hopefully, she found it possible somewhere in her life to consider what might not be realistic, but that still, with enough hope, with enough positive energy, with enough faith, might still come true.

For many years, I felt bitter anger towards her for her crushing remark. During the remainder of my time in that school, I handed in meticulously researched, carefully crafted essays on practical topics that called for no imagination, no creativity, no wondering what might happen. That was what she took from me. But I have reclaimed it - my right to wonder, my right to imagine, my right to say what I think, what I hope; my right to say that I think - despite all the many problems and ills that beset it right now - that this planet has a glorious future.
----------------------------------------------

If you'd like to read other Sunday Scribblings on the Future of the Planet, Click HERE.
I've finally done something to mark National Poetry Month. If you'd like to read, Click HERE

Labels: , , ,

22 Comments:

At 25/4/08 2:06 pm, Anonymous Brian said...

Hello, I left a comment and the future ate it. :(

I glad you reclaimed the hope in a better future. If the good in humans would come together and work towards solutions instead of worrying about how much we have, we can solve our problems.

 
At 25/4/08 2:09 pm, Blogger Joy said...

Wonderful! I agree with you. Struggles and problems each generation encounters is different. The only similarity can be the "hope" that we all contribute to the betterment of Earth and future of her children.

 
At 25/4/08 2:16 pm, Blogger Alexander M Zoltai said...

Marvelous article & essay !

I dropped my allegiance to school education in the 7th grade--always been a learner, though.

~ Alex

 
At 25/4/08 2:26 pm, Blogger Caroline said...

What a dreadful comment to put on a piece about the future... hardly encouraging was it? Glad you've reclaimed your imagination and retained your faith in a brighter more peaceful future.

 
At 25/4/08 4:00 pm, Blogger Becca said...

I enjoyed reading this tremendously, because I was just your age in 1973 and can relate to the feeling of the year 2000 being such a long way off. I was very involved with the zero population growth movmement in those days, which you can imagine didn't go over too well in my Catholic girls' school environment!

I'm glad you didn't allow Sr. Maura to dampen your belief in change and the power of unity.

 
At 25/4/08 6:10 pm, Blogger Judy Merrill-Smith said...

Oh, this is a glorious piece! I have felt so much the same. My optimism keeps bubbling up in spite of everything, so I know that this is a vital part of who I am. Keep singing your wonderful song!

 
At 25/4/08 6:29 pm, Blogger Tammy said...

Shame on that teacher! I'm glad you kept your hope and now you have us to share it with. HUG

 
At 25/4/08 7:28 pm, Blogger Granny Smith said...

I, too,have great hope for the future and, along with my husband, work for it every day. Without that hope, our work would be useless. I think it is imperative, however, to act now to protect the earth before it is too late and the climate changes that global warming is creating escalate exponentially.

And oh how I wish for a world without war!

Thank you for this lovely story of your idealism that still shines.

 
At 25/4/08 8:43 pm, Blogger Karen said...

Oh my--what a shock of icy cold water!

But I so agree with you...we have to hope and we have to believe. The pessimists will never change the world, never change the trajectory we're (possibly) on--it's the optimists that that have the power to heal.

I will always have faith.

 
At 25/4/08 9:29 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! As a teacher, I know that when I encounter the optimism and courage of my students, my comments are more like "This is what I believe too", or "Bravo! We need more people like you." Poor Sister Maura. She must have been feeling personal despair to be so unappreciative of your work. Thank goodness you did not allow your spirit to be quenched, as hers was.

 
At 26/4/08 12:02 am, Blogger Greyscale Territory said...

What an inspiring post! I am a teacher and treasure any wonder my high school students may have of the world! That is always worth cultivating. I can't believe the slap you received. It was downright cruel.

But I am glad you have found your wonder again. It is worth far more than gold.

Gemma

 
At 26/4/08 3:38 pm, Anonymous Amarettogirl said...

Wow. I always tell my students to save their work --so that one day they can look back and get a deeper glimpse into who they were and how they have become who they now are. This was wonderful.. and though my post is more on the down side - I tried to end with just that end with the same ideal- if not for those unrealistic dreams, if not for sowing our own garden, where would we be? Even in the face of imminent danger all we can do is dream and BELIEVE in those dreams. Thank you for sharing this with SS!

 
At 26/4/08 5:28 pm, Anonymous missalister said...

Ouch. The impressionability of youth, the hope opening wide after being dared do so, and then the crashing disappointment sharpened to a killing point by the unthinkable unforeseen, and the result taking its marked form of toll...
I remember many wet blankets thrown on my youthful ideas. My make-up was one of wanting more to please the adults in my world, so that when I eventually did rebel, there was no thoughtfully directed power behind it, and the effects of the wet blankets that had matted my path continued to do so long into my life until I understood that is what was happening...
This progression is a mirror of the world’s progression, as the world comprises me and all others who refer to themselves as “me,” at a glance it may look like there’s no or little hope, but if you zoom in closer, you can indeed see a building, a positive progression, and then yes, you begin to see bigger and bigger hints that we look to be heading toward a unified realization...
A deeply thoughtful, meaningful-beyond-belief piece, this! Thank you :-)

 
At 26/4/08 8:13 pm, Blogger paisley said...

sr maura wasn't the happiest camper in the tent,, but then again,, the world isn't all hearts and flowers either.. i tend more towards a n attitude of acceptance.. it is what it is,, but i can be the best that i can be....

 
At 27/4/08 6:42 am, Anonymous tinker said...

Since she ended up leaving not long after, I wonder if perhaps Sr. Maura's critical comment had more to do with her perceptions of what was going on in her own life at the time...
I think your vision of our future world is lovely - and maybe some day we will attain it - it's certainly worth working towards - if we just gave up thinking making a better world was 'unrealistic' we'd certainly never get there...Glad you've reclaimed your vision of it and shared it with us!

 
At 27/4/08 8:45 am, Blogger anthonynorth said...

An excellent post. I tend to see it like this. I share your hopes passionately. But I keep them to one side, always there, always working on my actions and thoughts. But then I work on another level - actually looking at the 'mechanics' of how things, people, etc, work.
The day when the one method approaches the second, we'll know we're getting there. I hope I'm around to see it.

 
At 27/4/08 9:18 am, Blogger NoorIntan said...

Firstly, thank you for dropping by my blog. I'd almost forgotten that I have left my details on Blogoversary website. I will now put that banner on my blog!

Your writings are beautiful I know for sure I will come and visit your blogs again in the future.

Sometimes people forget and turn down youthful creativity by giving negative remarks. I am happy to hear that you have reclaimed it again :)

 
At 27/4/08 6:04 pm, Blogger Robin said...

Innocence and hope are terrible things to steal. I'm glad you eventually found your way back to your idealism.

 
At 28/4/08 3:56 am, OpenID paperwhite said...

Amazing post. It always surprises me that people are so careless with others hopes/wishes/dreams. I am glad you wrote such a great paper. I am going to Haifa on pilgrimage with my Mom next March and I will definitely be thinking about you when I am at the Shrine!

 
At 28/4/08 4:04 pm, Blogger texasblu said...

I still get those "realistic" comments. I have to be careful not to get angry - they're jst ignorant souls. Bravo for keeping your hope - I personally still believe in a brighter future. :)

 
At 29/4/08 1:22 am, Blogger rebecca said...

i love your ending paragraph...."But I have reclaimed it - my right to wonder, my right to imagine, my right to say what I think, what I hope; my right to say that I think - despite all the many problems and ills that beset it right now - that this planet has a glorious future." it could not be better stated.

we all tend to have a bit of idealist and realist in us - and, like you, my idealist side dominates. if one is not hopeful of the future, if one does not dare to dream -- what then can become of us? it is because people HAVE dreamed, have hoped for a better future that we have progressed so far as a species. unfortunately, sister maura was a little limited in her thinking...and not a very good teacher at all!

 
At 29/4/08 6:10 pm, Blogger Deirdre said...

The world might be a better place is we were allowed to keep our early idealism.

I had a teacher in highschool who wrote in red pen that my writing showed "nothing". It was devastating. But we do seem to rediscover the magic.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home