First be hopeful. Hope not optimism.

I ordered In Search of the Missing Elephant: Selected Essays by Donald N. Michael. It arrived a few days ago in the mail. I mentioned this book in my Dec 20th blog post. I attempted to get the local bookstore to order it for me. But they couldn’t match my $25 maximum limit on cost. I felt slightly bad and then ordered it on line $25.13 including S & H.

I am intrigued by the late Donald N. Michael’s use of the story of the blind men and the elephant. This story has been very formative on me. It was in my mind when I wrote my song, “Why did the elephant cross the road?”

Michael uses the story to talk about the complexity of contemporary life. He says that not only the blind men who are grasping parts of the elephant do not see the elephant, but the person who is watching also cannot see it clearly. In other words, none of us understand very much right now.

“We need to acknowledge that, somehow, we have discovered and are ensnared in a new wilderness, a new jungle, and that skills that got us here are inadequate to get us out. Looking around us, we must acknowledge that we are really lost.”

Don Michael quoted in the introduction

When I apply this kind of thinking to my understanding of the world I perceive this makes sense to me.

From the back of the book:

“Don Michael was a remarkable polymath, policymaker, scholar, teacher and sage. With degrees in both the natural sciences and in social psychology he carried his knowledge lightly, also taking a deep practical interest in the arts, in nature, and in cultures that revere ‘the beginner’s mind.’

The book is a collection of his later essays collected by and for the International Futures Forum.

Graham Leicester

Graham Leicester, Director of the International Futures Forum, wrote the introductory essay which I read this morning.

He ends with these quotes from Michael:

“First be hopeful. Hope not optimism. ‘Hope has to do with looking directly at the circumstances we’re dealing with; at the challenges we must accept as finite and vulnerable beings … recognizing the limits of our very interpretation of what we’re committing ourselves to, and still go on…”

“This means acting according to what I have been calling ‘tentative commitment.’ That means you are willing to look at the situation carefully enough, to risk enough, to contribute enough effort, to hope enough, to undertake your project. And to recognize … that we may well have it wrong…”

“And finally, practice compassion.. the blind must care for the blind.”

Don N. Michael quoted in the introduction to the book.


A Murder at Paradise –

A moving description of a park ranger who recently was killed by a mad man.


The C.E.O. in Politics –

America Isn’t a Corporation –

I abhor the business model of governing and also community. It is so reductive as to be incoherent to me.


Why Taiwan’s Future Matters –

Some stuff I didn’t know about recent events in Taiwan. I hope this is all true and seen clearly.


Jodi Kantor’s “The Obamas,” Review : The New Yorker

A “friend” on Facebook had a strong negative reaction to Jodi Kantor (“she lies”).  I always read with large doses of skepticism. But I enjoyed this article. Especially the history.


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3 thoughts on “First be hopeful. Hope not optimism.

  1. I know that this is a little off your topic, but I played Horton the Elephant in a Reader’s Theater adaptation of “Horton hatches the Egg” I had very long hair and I tied my hair into two pony tails over each ear. (supposed to look like elephant ears)Any way I still remember,like an elephant, my lines. “an elephant is faithful 100%”

  2. It was 1972. I was much thinner in those days. I wore huge gray sweat pants and sweat shirt which was stuffed with pillows. Also, large tennis shoes. It was amazing that some years later that I saw a Horton hatches the egg animation and voice sounded much like the one that I did in the production.

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