Activism

Vision: New TV Show, 'Immense Possibilities,' Capitalizes on Hope Instead of Our Culture of Fear

The first episode features Frances Moore Lappé, saying, "Hope isn't what we seek in evidence, it's what we become in action."

If you're, like me, weary of fear-fueled media, imagine TV that leaves you feeling energized and even thinking, "Wow, maybe we could do that in our community!" Crazy, right?

Well, maybe crazy's not so crazy any more.

My friend, author and former radio personality Jeff Golden, stopped wishing somebody else would buck the "fear sells" formula. He decided just to go for it. And tonight Jeff launches "Immense Possibilities," a weekly TV show airing Tuesdays at 7:30pm both on Southern Oregon Public Television and online.

"Immense Possibilities" features social innovators strengthening and vitalizing their communities. Following each show is a live interactive webcast at 8 pm PDT allowing viewers to share ideas about how we can break out of "never-gonna-happen" jail and bring to life our failing democracy, from tiny towns to corporate towers.

Wherever you live, you can watch the weekly show, participate in the conversation afterward, and let Jeff know what sort of "immense possibilities" you would like him to explore.

I am delighted to be Jeff's first guest tonight. We try to get real about hope--not escapist wishful thinking, but honest hope--the sort that keeps us going through dark times. It's what fuels "Immense Possibilities."

I can only speak for myself, of course, but my hope starts with insights from what science now reveals about our own nature and the laws of nature. We realize that humanity's greatest handicap isn't our lack of goodness--for we evolved with just the pro-social capacities we need to turn our planet toward life--or that we've hit nature's limits--for, if we align with nature, there's more than enough for us all.

The only lack that's real is that of vision of a practical, do-able, effective democracy actually aligned with our nature. Without it, we feel powerless. Without it, we can't solve any of our huge problems. No wonder so many people feel utter despair!

But seeing the world through a lens of ecology, things change: We realize that we are all co-creating reality moment to moment; and that humans, like every organism in nature, are shaped by context. Thinking like an ecosystem, we perceive life as interconnectedness and continuous change--meaning that no one is without power. So we can begin to envision Living Democracy, not simply a fixed structure of government done to us or for us, but democracy rewarding way of life in which we each have a powerful role.

With an eco-mind, we also have to be ready for big surprises, for change--sometimes sudden--is the nature of nature. So it is not possible to know what is possible. And that means we are free to go for the world we want.

In our world journey to write Hope's Edge, my daughter Anna Lappé (author of Diet for a Hot Planet) and I discovered that the most hope- and life-filled people weren't those with the greatest prospects of success. Hardly. They faced some of the mightiest barriers. We came home with one big ah-ha: that hope isn't what we seek in evidence, it's what we become in action.

Then we had to admit that, yep, hope is not for wimps. It's not nicey-nice. It takes guts. It means taking risks, doing things that we've never done before. It means getting used to the idea that fear isn't a verdict, it's just energy. It is energy we can put to good use.

And the nick of time, humans are learning a lot more about how to become gutsier. New neuroscience reveals that when we observe others, our neurons fire as if we ourselves were doing what we are watching. So, if we want more courage, we can choose to bring our heroes, sung and unsung, into our lives, and "Immense Possibilities" offers one great way.

Courage is contagious.

So in the dark moments, when fear and despair threaten to take me down and render me powerless, I strive for a new kind of humility. I turn to my mental checklist of things that most inspire me that as a young woman I never would have believed possible. The Landless Workers Movement in Brazil comes to mind: In perhaps the largest social movement in this hemisphere, Brazilians have achieved land reform creating more than 2,000 new communities on rough 20 million acres of land, growing healthy food and reducing poverty and hunger.

Nah, I thought. Could never happen--the landed elite have all the power. But it did.

Or I think about one of the world's most dramatic environmental restorations going on right now. Where? In a desperately poor and hungry country: Niger. Over two decades, small farmers there have re-greened 12.5 million acres, and they're still going.

Nah, couldn't happen. But it did.

I realize that people associate me with the notion that consciously choosing what we put into our mouths is powerful. Well, yes. But just as powerful is consciously choosing what we put into our minds. So we can join Jeff in celebrating the gutsy actions of social innovators working to create vibrant communities. We can join in the conversation, too, telling of our own immense possibilities.  

"Immense Possibilities" is broadcast weekly online atImmensepossiblities.organd onSouthern Oregon Public Televisionon Tuesdays starting at 7:30pm PDT. The show is immediately followed by a webcast discussion for viewers. To learn more about the program, watch broadcasts, and participate in webcasts, visit their website atImmensepossibilities.org.

Frances Moore Lappé is the author of 18 books including the three-million copy Diet for a Small Planet. She is the cofounder of three organizations, including Food First: The Institute for Food and Development Policy and, more recently, the Small Planet Institute, a collaborative network for research and popular education seeking to bring democracy to life, which she leads with her daughter Anna Lappé. Frances and her daughter have also cofounded the Small Planet Fund, which channels resources to democratic social movements worldwide. Frances appears frequently as a public speaker and on radio, and is a regular contributor to Huffington Post and Alternet.
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