You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between
* * *
Sometimes a book comes along at just the right moment.
For me, today's book is Food Not Lawns: How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden And Your Neighborhood into a Community.
I spent yesterday complaining about happy-happy talk--but now I finally get what my partner David was trying to explain to me after he read my post.
He kept saying that stating things in the positive made it possible to move toward what you want to build. And I kept saying that the difference between saying you don't want to hurt something versus you do want to help it doesn't make any difference in how one decides to act.
So he goes to work and Son and I sit on the couch to read next to each other.
I pick up Heather Flores's book and just roll my eyes one (last) time as I start this quote: "Much of the work [done by activists] was about stopping something--logging, mining, violence, et cetera--and not much seemed to focus on starting real alternatives."
Yes, yes, whatever--I think. "But we must respond to the crises of logging, mining, violence, et cetera. That is what often produces true change!" I want to whine at the author.
But then, I got it, understood what she was saying. I sat up. My eye-rolling suddenly stopped and I heard Melinda telling me to stop complaining and start finding solutions.
Yes--that is it! One must define the problem, often in the negative, and then try to move forward with it. Not abandon it and not ignore it--but solve it. Sometimes the solution to changing the world is working hard to stop something. That is a positive step all by itself.
If one gets too stalled, either in the negatives or the positives, one cannot make a difference. You can cry all day, you can whistle Dixie--or you can actually work (even if it is just on ideas). As Flores says in her book, "Dreams of industrial collapse became prayers for communities feeding and healing themselves."
* * *
So I'm all for accentuating the positives of the future--but in crafting that future, we absolutely can't "eliminate the negative" as Disney would have it in the song.
We cannot abandon our efforts for positive change. But building that better future happens not through dreams or hope alone. It happens because of analysis of the past and present, analysis of plans. It happens because of hard work in the dirt, because sweat and mosquitoes don't stop you. (Hrumph. They stopped me today.) Dreams only become reality when we get past the simplicity of both the positives AND the negatives and on with the real building of what we want and need, as individuals and as a community.
So just call me Mister In-Between.