Change is in the air. We put it there to breathe it in and invite its fallout to permeate our every cell. We are asking for it in every structure of the world we live in. Education, politics, banking, medicine, environment, thought and science are in all of our prayers and pleas to change, evolve and embrace the whole picture and person.
The Renaissance period we read about contains numbers of prolific thinkers, poets, painters. Few of them were recognized as leaders before their time. Few were recognized as leaders at all. None would make the Fortuitous 500 in their day. Their ways of thinking, writing, and painting broke most of the rules and rewrote the future for those who would study their legacies and begin realizing the brilliance of their teachings.
Leonardo, Michelangelo, Copernicus, Brunelleschi, William Byrd, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Francis Bacon, Galileo, are a handful of change makers. Reading about their personal lives is like reading tales of upheaval, misunderstanding, frantic and frenetic spurts of expression, destitution, and depression.
How did they cope with their lives? How did they continue pulling their creations from blank canvases while many shook their heads at such insanity? What drove them to give of themselves sometimes giving their very lives? How did they continue their devotion to callings that were unseen by the masses?
If they were born today, what would we do with these kinds of people? How would we handle them? How would our current systems of education handle them? Could they write a business plan, be considered for a business loan, have the credit history to qualify for a home mortgage? How would science categorize the worlds they paint, write about and lived in? What would we label them? Altruistic, Artistic, Autistic, ADD?
Who might these “types” be among us that are coming in large numbers into our lives, homes, schools, and systems? What might they bring that we aren’t seeing, aren’t ready for, and aren’t ready to change towards? Their minds are misunderstood, as shown in A M Baggs’ YouTube (watch the whole video). Their spurts of expression are difficult, sometimes terrifying, misunderstood and painful. Their and our frustrations run deep.
What I’m suggesting is that we could be in the midst of that change we are all asking for. Renaissance in itself is defined as a "rebirth" or a "reconstruction". The broken and decaying systems of education, politics, banking, medicine, environment, thought and science could be signs that a massive renaissance is underway. Like a season that comes whether we are ready or not, change is here. We’ll choose when we’re ready to shed the layers of old systems. We’ll choose how to prune the old systems allowing for new ideas to awaken in full bloom. And in this season of change, each of us gets the choice to “see” these explorers, pioneers, visionaries dressed as altruistic, artistic, autistic, ADD, types. While we’re deciding when to choose to see the change happening around us, they’ll continue pulling their creations from blank canvases and wait until we see the brilliance, rebirth and reconstruction they may be bringing, ready or not.
As the Founder of The Arts Organization, TAO Metaversity, CEE, Artist Studio Suite, Wendy Adams Mendenhall focuses on experiential education to (re)awaken the Artist in all of us. With a background in graphic design, corporate communications, retail, and an ongoing "passion for observation," she works with teachers, authors and artists, to further the recognition and utilization of their art in the 21st century." She is committed to the union of teachers throughout the world, a global curriculum and global campuses. She is a Huffpost blogger, lives in Salt Lake City, UT and is available for travel wherever and whenever the sun shines. Featured images by Jeff Clay
"Start some big foolish project like Noah" - RUMI
Education for the 21st Century. That is a big project. An old African proverb expounded on by Hillary Clinton said, "It takes a village to raise a child." It's not so different with 21st century education. It takes a global village to raise a multi-cultural, eco-literate, open heart and open minded, engaging world citizen. That global village consists of a network of experiential, educational environments with a inter-connected world curriculum.
How can that begin to happen?
There are many incredible teachers throughout the world. The list would fill pages and pages. Deepak Chopra, David Orr, Bruce Lipton, Karen Armstrong, Oprah, Carolyn Myss and Lynne Twist are a few we immediately recognize. They, like many who teach yet aren't recognized across the world, give workshops, seminars and gatherings to share the evolutionary world unfolding before us. As they travel, these teachers hope to re-create a sacred space where the fullness of their teachings may be given and received. The people who attend begin to quench their thirsts with the recognition of the whole being. They fill their hearts and minds with the nectar of the teachings. With the departure of the teacher, the people began to look for places to continue the conversations. New ideas, ways to live and think are evolving and the people are looking for communities where this powerful recognition can be supported and cultivated. The TAO Metaversity is being created to support these teachers as well the students. Knowing the environment of each TAO Metaversity, each teacher will prepare their teaching knowing after they leave, there will be an on going curriculum to continue the conversations, realizations, ideas and opportunities that opened for those who attended. All become part of a global facility, global citizen, and global village.
The homes for these Metaversity's exist now. There is green space with many empty structures available across the world. The many,many teachers already have much of the curriculum to be integrated into a global curriculum - a curriculum to embrace the whole being. The creation of this world wide network of experiential, educational environments most importantly need - a community of people who recognize their connection to something much more powerful than any boundaries separating cultures, countries, and beliefs.
What can you do to help build this network?
Look around your city. Is there green space with a building(s) where the TAO Metaversity could help support and be supported by your community? Who do you know that is looking to be involved in a evolutionary entrepreneurship? What teachers do you know? What social networks can you communicate with to help get the message out about this network of experiential education? Each of you are the backbone of creating the community that will co-create the revolutionary world the global citizen will experience.
Our progress into degeneracy seems to me to be pretty rapid. As a Nation we began by declaring that all men are created equal, except Negroes.” When the know-nothings get control it will read “all men are created equal except Negroes and foreigners and Catholics.” When it comes to this, I shall prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty.
-Abraham Lincoln, letter to Joshua F. Speed, 18551
Being something of a creature of the current decade, I expected this passage to devolve into a well-meaning but ill-conceived rant about the decay of American morality. Lincoln was the first Republican president after all. But devolve Lincoln’s letter did not, rather the letter still rings with timely rebuke.
Lincoln seems to have had a rather nuanced view of the founders. And by nuanced I mean a healthy disrespect, which granted him the ability to notice when they were wrong. And, at least on slavery we can agree, wrong, they were. Devastatingly, immorally, stunningly, and inexcusably wrong - yet today we seem quite unwilling to question even our allegiance to the founders and the founding much less criticize and depart from it. Our present politicians seem obsessed with that the founders wanted, we seem to ignore, as Lincoln did not, the imperfection of the founders and the documents that they created.
We should note that, in spite of Lincoln’s lack of capitalization, the “Know Nothings” were a political party of some note at the time. Lincoln rightly notes as should we that a party, or a political system that divides humanity arbitrarily and on some basis disenfranchises or discriminates against those arbitrary groups while claiming to love liberty is more degenerate than a party or polity that at least does not perjure itself professing to “love liberty.”
In our current milieu of paunchy pundits and paid-for politicians we appear to love no such liberty. While plenty of barbs can be sharpened and thrown at one political party with nearly no modification to Lincoln’s letter, the liberty for which there is no love in our present polity is the liberty to disengage the habits of our democracy and find paths forward. On both sides of the aisle we cower, often behind the precedents and practices of the past, hiding from the responsibility to find present solutions to our present problems.
This is exactly the cowardice which Lincoln would later address a Congress more dysfunctional than ours (You think South Carolina is rowdy now, remember when they tried being their own country?) asking them to govern in the present rather than in the past:
“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate for the stormy present. We must think anew, we must act anew, we must disenthrall ourselves."1
We could use the same council now in every facet of our world, especially in politics, but politics only reflect our society. As we collectively live - so are we governed. By this I don’t mean that we have the government that we deserve, I mean that we have the government that we allow. The corporatization of government that we have allowed, is a natural extension of that corporatization which we have allowed and created in all other aspects of our consumer culture, but that’s a whole different topic. The point is that the solution to our social and political malaise is new thinking, new acting, it is creative. Just as the economy of American industrialization is dying for lack of innovation and evolution (steel belt to rust belt, grain belt to dust belt... I don’t have anything to say about the bible belt) our political system is fraying by the same mechanism. The solutions and habits of the past only worked in the past.
In government and in life creative solutions to life’s pressing problems are persistently prevented when we are preoccupied with precedent. What we need, and what we hope to bring to the table is a perspective free and a place to learn and discuss free from dogma.
Part of the solution will be a safe place to think, discuss and plan. A lyceum that we create together where we can bring novel thought to our persistent present problems.
1All quotes are from Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years - Vol. 1 by Carl Sandberg.
As principal of tenlitre, Arthur writes, records, builds, and analyzes anything and everything that clients might need. When that's not occupying his time he's charging around the Wasatch Range on skis, bikes, foot, or a rope with his wife... or herding their two monochromatic kittens.