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Blessed Unrest

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I just finished reading Paul Hawken’s new book Blessed Unrest. It is a beautifully written, extensively researched, deeply thoughtful but in the end unsatisfying read. While Hawken talks convincingly about the convergence of the environmental/sustainability movement with the social justice and indigenous rights movements (collectively described as “the movement,”) and the significance of the millions of organizations that have arisen world-wide to tackle the many issues that all these movements encompass, I don’t believe that this alone will adequately address our challenges.

The role and responsibility of business is for the most part sadly minimized and its potential unconsidered.

In the last pages of the book, Hawken writes:

“The only spiritually responsible way I know to be a citizen, artist, or activist in these strange times is by giving little or no thought to ‘great things’ such as saving the planet, achieving world peace, or stopping neocon greed. Great things tend to be undoable things.”

While I understand the sentiment, I disagree wholeheartedly. To face the challenges that confront us today, we need a symphony of commitment and possibility. From those of us that are only willing to make small adjustments to our lifestyle to those of us willing to ensure that the world’s largest corporations become a source of hope and positive impact, only by believing that we can, as Hawken says, re-make the world into a better place, will that possibility come into existence.

I actually think that the millions of amazing organizations that Hawken writes about would also disagree with his sentiment. Many of them are dedicated to doing “great things, ” things that others believe impossible. I was hoping for thoughts on how we can all make “the movement” stronger, more synergistic and more effective. Yes, what has emerged is wonderful, but no, I’m not convinced that it alone is enough!

One last thing… the final 110 pages of the book, almost one third of it’s total length is from WiserEarth, a website categorizing and describing the vast array of topics and issues that environmental and social justice groups are addressing. Why anyone would print this much of something that is far better accessed on the web is hard to understand. Given that I couldn’t find any notation that the book is printed on recycled paper that’s been made without the use of chlorine bleaching, this use of natural resources even harder to understand.

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