This I Believe

Greg - Sandpoint, Idaho
Entered on September 8, 2006

I dreamed about us. I believe it’s important. I dreamed of people around a fire, and we were all there. The world’s need was with us and we were very quiet. From somewhere came one question: “How would you really like this world to be?”

Bravely, we each answered. We all listened. What we heard, in a rising tide of joy, changed everything! We arose to transform our world. Then I awoke.

I first dreamed this as a child. I’ve since asked all kinds of people that single question. It cuts through “us versus them” and all the talk about what’s wrong and who’s to blame. It gets to common ground. It also stimulates courageous imagination.

Fifteen teenagers, three teachers and I once sat around a small fire. I asked, “How would you really like this world to be? Disregard plausibility — just imagine it. Write it down, short, sweet, and from the heart.” They did, then read their answers aloud. In simple words they powerfully described a very sweet world indeed.

They spoke of a world finally at peace, with “government of, by, and for the people” at last a reality, and this beautiful planet safe, healing, and thriving again. They said we’d live simpler, closer with the earth, at ease with each other. We wouldn’t need so much stuff, wouldn’t even need money anymore (oh my!). We’d each do what we loved and were good at and share it. There would really be no motive for selfishness. Kids would grow up loved, feeling good about the future; old folks would be cherished and everyone valued for who they are. There’d be good work, play, art, stories and lots more music, dancing, laughing, and maybe we’d all be in love.

I’d asked them to raise their hands if they liked what someone said. All hands were up the whole time! They looked around smiling at each other. Then I asked the hard question: “Do you believe it can happen?”

Still watching each other, their hands came slowly down. “That’s it isn’t it?” I asked, “The cold aching heart of it. If we don’t believe it can happen, how can it happen? But, what if we did believe it? What would it take for us to believe it?”

There followed a conversation like the whole world needs. And they concluded they’d “believe it” if somehow everyone answered that one question and we learned we all longed for essentially the same kind of world. Wow—a childlike, yet wondrous, profoundly fundamental, and obvious idea! A simple global survey: “How would you really like this world to be?”

For this I believe: there’s a one-of-a-kind, magic planet here, with a fire in the middle and people around it . . . 7 billion of us now, doing the best we can, yet hurting and longing, for what? Let’s ask! Then we’ll know and we can do it that way! Maybe it’s really that simple . . . Try it. Answer the question.