Try this quick little test. Don’t spend a lot of time on it. Just list the first things that pop into your head. To make it easier, I’ll start each list.
List 5 movies that graphically depict a scary future filled with death and destruction.
- The Day the Earth Stood Still__
List 5 movies that graphically depict a beautiful future filled with peace and love.
- Halcyon A Movie for World Peace
- The Yellow Submarine________
Now think of the last newscast you saw.
- How many images did you see of death and destruction? _____________
- How many images did you see of peace and love? __________________
Who said this: “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” ~ Abraham Lincoln or Peter Drucker?
Did you have the same experience I did? Did you fill the first list easily and draw a blank with the second list? I had to do an internet search to come up with even two movies for the second list. Here’s what concerns me:
The images we hold in our mind have a tremendous impact on the reality we create.
On a daily basis we are bombarded with images of destruction in movies, on television and even in electronic games that children play. In contrast, there are so few images of what peace looks like.
When I ask people to describe what world peace looks like, they use vague terms. However, they are able to give quite vivid descriptions of what a post-World War III would look like.
I’m not suggesting we block negative images and only hold positive ones. If we only hold positive images, we become gullible. However, if we primarily hold negative images, which seems to be the case these days, we become bitter and jaded.
We must actively seek out positive images or our sense of reality will be unbalanced. Many wonderful and powerful things are happening everyday. But we have to look for them because they won’t be presented to us in the media, and we have to be willing to see them.
Nelson Mandela was a leader who understood the power of creating a unifying positive image. Arrested in 1962 for his role in resistance to South Africa’s apartheid policy of racial segregation, he spent the 27 years in prison. Following his release in1990, Mandela led his party in the negotiations that ended apartheid. In 1994 when he became president, the country was divided, fueled by anger and desire for revenge. By all rights, Mandela himself had every reason to be angry and vengeful. However, he chose a different path.
Holding a vision of a united country, Mandela’s leadership modeled forgiveness and reconciliation. Using the rally call, “one team, one country” he at once acknowledged the existing division and created an image of what unity could look like – joining the factions to together in support of their rugby team. With national attention and the support of their entire country holding that image, their underdog team, The Springboks, miraculously won the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
I hope you will watch this brief but powerful documentary that shows the real events that occurred in Nelson Mandela’s attempt to unify his broken country. Not only is the documentary inspiring, it provides us with positive images of what is possible when we hold a vision of reconciliation, unity and peace.
I don’t know whether it was Abraham Lincoln or Peter Drucker who said “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” My internet search showed both as the author. But whomever it was, he was right – we do create our future. And the question is: what future are you creating not only for yourself but also for the rest of us?
This brings tears to my eyes. Tears of joy! The memories are breath taking indeed. Francois Pienaar’s words that day really shook me as they were real. The commentator referred to the people in the stadium being behind the team (63,000) and Francois could say it with confidence that the whole country was behind the team (43 mil people).
Thabo, thanks so much for sharing your experience during such an amazing and pivotal point in history. You brought tears to my eyes!
Very true! Realizing how images around us drive, potentially, some of our behaviors and actions is essential to know. At the same time, realizing what image or vision we are portraying with our own actions is essential to know. We need to raise our awareness of both while balancing disengagement and full engagement; it is the difference between being pulled down and pulling people around you up.
Thanks for a great post!
Great point, Jon. It goes both ways – what are we taking in and what are we putting out through our actions. Thanks for adding to the conversation!
First of all, thank you for sharing such an inspirational post. I was moved to tears watching the video.
Mandela’s risk was what most people would consider absolutely crazy. But it actually was crazy like a fox. He was able to pull it off because of a vision that was full of grace, forgiveness, and reconciliation.
Positive thinking isn’t going to be what changes our world. Positive character is. Positive character comes only as we fill our hearts with visions of the kind of character traits manifest in Nelson Mandela.
I agree with you in that we must seek these thing out. We won’t get them from modern media.
We are responsible for the kind of world we want to live in. Governments won’t do it. Corporations won’t do it. Only individuals working together with a clear, deep, positive vision will.
Thanks again. I was truly moved by this post.
Your comments are powerful and moving, David. There’s little I can add, except thank you.
I stopped actively seeking news for this very reason. Things do come into my field of vision from time to time, and I choose that they do so I can send whatever it is my love and positive energy.
What I love about social media is I have been hearing some of the beautiful stories behind the tragedies…the ones of humankind coming together.
I loved the video. I’ve always known Nelson Mandella was a Visionary, but this is truly amazing.
Thanks for the brilliant post, Jesse.
Hi Velma, I love what you said about choosing to allow negative images to come into your field of vision so you can send love and positive energy. I’ve encountered many people who limit their exposure to the news in order to protect themselves. Others protect themselves by “steeling” themselves when they read or watch the news. The problem is that neither of these solutions is ideal. If you stop seeking news, your world becomes very small. If you “steel” yourself, you lose some of your capacity to be fully present. Unfortunately, I can’t offer a good solution, because the alternative, being bombarded with negatives is worse. It does help to counter-balance by actively seeking positive images. Today Steve Koss (@stevekoss shared a great article in Time Magazine filled with positive images: “10 Ideas That Will Change the World” http://tiny.ly/vuPu And we’ve been seeking positive images to share on our Seapoint Center facebook page http://www.facebook.com/SeapointCenter (fyi, If you click either of the links, hit the back button on your browser when you’re done or you won’t come back to this page). Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. They are much appreciated, as always.
I originally did limit my news exposure to protect myself. People would tell me stuff anyway, and initially I’d get all prickly about it. Finally I realized (or chose) that nothing comes into my experience that isn’t meant to be there, and from that place I’d have a choice on what I do with the information. So will I still don’t actively seek “news”, I don’t worry about when it shows up anymore either. Feels better to me that way.
Jesse, One of the ‘downsides’ of technology is the immediate access we have to world news, most of which is far from uplifting. In fact, it can create immense anxiety if so allowed. I really like the notion of being in charge of what I choose to focus on. And, while it doesn’t always work as I’d like, I often choose to focus on the phoenix and leave the ashes largely unexamined.
I too, love the story of Nelson Mandela. Thank you for sharing it and for reminding me that there are always choices.
Hi Gwyn, I love your image of focusing on the phoenix and leaving the ashes largely unexamined. The biggest challenge is finding the phoenix. The negative images are so readily available, not just in the media, and at times I sense a generalized anxiety and contraction in the air. I’d love to find more ways to make people aware of phoenixes like the work of the Berkana Institute. Good things are happening and a world of peace and community is possible. But if we can’t even imagine it, how can we create it?
Great piece. I had seen the movie “Invictus” but not this documentary which is even more powerful. I remember hearing an elder follower of Ghandi speak when I was in high school. He said Ghandi prevailed because he believed in the goodness in the hearts of the English people although he had had little experience of it. It was the force of a higher value that he called forth. And so did Mandela. I find it hard to figure out how to apply this principle to the conflicts in which I am personally involved, especially those involving many others. I will hold the image of one team, one country in mind. I can’t yet imagine what method we might find like the Rugby team winning the World Cup. Thanks to you, I am thinking about it.
All the best, MG
Hi Marye Gail, Thanks for adding to the discussion. I love the link you made between Ghandi and Mandela – that they prevailed because they honored the force of a higher value and believed in goodness of the hearts of people when they had experienced the opposite. How do you apply this principle to your own conflicts? With you heart and not your head. Let’s hold the image of unity and the path will reveal itself.
Thank you, Jesse, for the wonderful post. What one chooses to see, to hear, to think and to say surely creates one’s life. I don’t think we should become indifferent to the suffering which occurs everyday, in our world: but we do have the possibility to seek the good side of everything- here and now. Mandela surely didn’t deny South Africa’s history- and his own difficult experience; yet, he choose to see the present (one team, one country)- to create a great future, and a country founded on great values. Isn’t this the deep meaning of “being alive”?
Our world is pretty wounded: no need to add more suffering. Let us participate to a great individual and community healing process! Let us change the glasses we look to the life through. It it so joyful, and meaningful. And it does work, I promise!!!
Peace to you, Jesse. And Peace to all!
Hi Lucie, Thanks so much for emphasizing we must not become indifferent to suffering. It is there and it is real. The question, as you pointed out so nicely is, can we also see what is joyful? And the challenge I would like to add is – can you also imagine what a world of unity and respect would look like. I appreciate your comments and hope to see you again.
inspiration story for sure. And one that shows you that a VISION can pull you through any resistance or disbelief from others and truly unite people from all walks of lifes. Bringing people together for the purpose of “unity” and sharing commong values, yet his agenda all along was not his position or title, but to truly serve a country. We need more people like him in the U.S. Thanks for sharing. Coach Carl