Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Finding My Voice, Part 2

Okay, I don't expect to have it this bad. I do know climate scientists to have received death threats, but I am only likely to receive the curses of an annoyed reader.

No, what is held me back is fear of loss of reputation and/or employment. When I worked for the federal government, I regularly attended what I jokingly referred to as one of my bosses schools of diplomacy. My sense of injustice was often stronger than my discretion.

After I retired and started to prepare for the ministry, I had peers, professors, supervisors, and the Ministerial Fellowshipping Committee to please. Life became a little easier once I was in final fellowship, but the habits of a lifetime are not easily discarded.

In both my careers, I liked to observe and assess the present and to predict and to prepare for the future. That's why I became a planner in the first and a justice advocate in the second.

However, you might say that I've been a court prophet in both my careers. It's safer and more lucrative to be in the court than in the wilderness, but it's hard to be entirely forthright when part of your job description is to please royalty. Even fools, whose job it was to tell the ruler unpleasant truths that everyone else was afraid to share, sometimes had their heads chopped off. While I never worked for the Red Queen, I did have a boss who often threatened to cut me off at the knees.

Now I'm entering the wilderness, or the wilderness is entering me. No person or organization has quite the hold on me that I once felt. Because the main challenges of prophecy aren't insight: They are compassion and courage.

In the Emperor's New Clothes, Hans Christian Anderson points to how an innocent can see clearly. However, most of us do not remain innocent beyond childhood and many of us don't even have that luxury.

And maybe even encourage courage is a wrong word. Many people whom we view as courageous do not think of themselves as being so. It's not all false modesty. Sometimes the most "courageous" actions occur without thought or through a feeling of compulsion to do the right thing.

After a lifetime of semi-obliviousness, a little over 10 years ago, I came to realize how catastrophic our future is likely to be. I have spent these last years honing my Chicken Little routine. Of course, the difference between me and Chicken Little is that the air is burning, the seas are rising, and the land and water are being polluted. Yet very few want to hear a story of doom and gloom, and even fewer are willing to take effective action.

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