Worldchanging World-Saving Actions Must Include Humane Education and MOGO Living

Last week’s Earth Day celebration passed with the usual green this and eco that. But this year also brought more attention to how both Earth Day and the concept of green have started to lose a bit of their shine, with their cooption by multinational corporations and other companies trying to cash in on our desire to do good. There’s also the growing revelation that taking those itty bitty steps for the planet, while better than nothing, isn’t nearly enough to save us – or the earth – from ourselves.

As Worldchanging says,

“We’ll only head off disaster by taking steps — together — that are massive, societal and thorough. Most of what needs to be done involves political engagement, systems redesign, and cultural change. It can’t be done in an afternoon and then forgotten about.”

Worldchanging has created a list of 10 “big, difficult, world-changing concepts” essential for helping create the just, compassionate, sustainable world we want (and need). Here’s their list:

1.    Eliminate nuclear weapons.
2.    Stabilize the bottom billion.
3.    Create a globally transparent society.
4.    Be prepared, globally.
5.    Empower women.
6.    Enable a future forward diet.
7.    Document all life.
8.    Negotiate an effective climate treaty.
9.    Build bright green cities.
10.    Build no new highways.

If you check out the full post, you can see their explanations about the problems that each of these concepts solves and why it’s important.

All of the above are admiral, desirable elements of a humane world. But, one essential concept that’s missing from the top of their list is:

1.    Integrate comprehensive humane education and MOGO living into all areas of our lives.

If we’re taught from a young age to live with integrity, compassion and wisdom; if we’re given the tools and knowledge to put our deepest values into action; if we learn to pay attention to the impact of our choices and to do the most good and least harm for all people, animals and the planet; if we’re encouraged to think critically and creatively and to find solutions that work for all; if we’re inspired to look at the world through a lens of interconnectedness; if we’re empowered to make positive personal choices and to transform systems, we can create a truly humane world.

We’re going to have a challenging time accomplishing all that other stuff on their list if we don’t collectively have the passion, the skills and the integrity to create that world, and those are things that have to be nurtured and taught.

~ Marsha


Live Your Epitaph

Yesterday I was in a meeting in which two colleagues, both long-time, passionate volunteers for an important social cause, were heatedly arguing. Today I snapped at my husband…more than once.  Recently a friend told me about witnessing a woman yelling at and shaking her children — and when she offered to help, the woman turned on her. Of course, skim through the media and you’ll see countless atrocities upon people, animals and the planet.

How do we spend our days, our hours, our years? How do we address each moment of our lives? If we could transport ourselves into the future and look back on our lives, what kinds of lives would we have lived?

One of the great visualizations that Zoe Weil (President of the Institute for Humane Education and author) offers through her humane education teaching and in her new book, Most Good, Least Harm: A Simple Principle for a Better World and Meaningful Life, asks us to jump to the end of our lives and examine what we want to have contributed to the world — to consider whether or not we’re really living according to our deepest values. Here’s the visualization:

“Imagine that you are very old. You’re sitting on a park bench in a beautiful setting, breathing clean air on our now peaceful world. The greatest challenges of your lifetime (pollution, war, poverty, hunger, genocide, animal cruelty, global climate change, etc.), have been largely solved. A child walks up to you and sits beside you. The child says that in history class they’ve been learning about those difficult times, and the child asks you, ‘What role did you play in helping to create the world we have today?’

What do you want to be able to tell this child?”

It’s really an amazing and enlightening exercise.

Recently I also came across a series of questions on a website focused on positive thinking. The questions were something like:

Will it matter in a week? A month?
Will it matter in a year?
Will it matter in 88 years?

I think those are also great questions for us to ask ourselves, especially when we get so dug into our habits and preferences and lenses through which we perceive and analyze the world.

~ Marsha

MOGO Workshop Changes Lives, Changes the World

The MOGO group, after a day of sharing, learning, connecting and eating!

The MOGO group, after a day of sharing, learning, connecting and eating!

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a proud employee of the Institute for Humane Education, but I also volunteered to organize a MOGO Workshop for IHE here in Portland. It was held last weekend, and it was truly an amazing and transforming experience.

If you don’t know, MOGO stands for “Most Good” which refers to doing the most good and least harm for all people, animals and the planet. The MOGO Workshop was based around the 7 keys that IHE President and author  Zoe Weil writes about in her book Most Good, Least Harm: A Simple Principle for a Better World and Meaningful Life. The 7 keys are:

  1. Live Your Epitaph
  2. Pursue Joy Through Service
  3. Make Connections and Self-Reflect
  4. Model Your Message and Work for Change
  5. Find and Create Community
  6. Take Responsibility
  7. Strive for Balance
Two volunteers spend a couple minutes getting the vaguest idea of what life must be like for battery hens.

Two volunteers spend a couple minutes getting the vaguest idea of what life must be like for battery hens.

Throughout the day, Zoe used these 7 keys as the basis for helping participants explore, question, reflect, think critically and define their values, the impact of their personal choices and the power of systemic change. Zoe used a variety of interactive strategies during the workshop. She started almost immediately by having people think about and list all the challenges of the world, the ones about which they’re most passionate, and what skills they have for helping solve those challenges. It was a very revealing exercise.  Some of the other activities included having people write their epitaphs, share experiences of joy through service and write out their MOGO Action Plan, as well as exploring the impact of our product choices on ourselves, other people, animals and the earth and learning about the ways other concerned citizens are creating positive change in the world.

As the local organizer, I was able to invite several of my friends and colleagues, and there were also several people there who didn’t know anything about the MOGO principle but were curious about the concept. Sweetpea Baking Company generously donated some yummy vegan donuts, which were quickly consumed (I jealously snagged a few extra for myself – not very MOGO, I know). And, Papa G’s catered an awesome vegan, organic, mostly-local lunch of enchilada pie, salad, corn, beans and rice, cornbread, and the best pear cobbler I’ve ever had (even better than my husband’s!). We were also fortunate that it was a beautiful, sunny day!

Everyone seemed to have a terrific experience (the evaluations were all very positive), and I think people left with a stronger sense of community and purpose, and the feeling that we all indeed can make a powerful positive difference in our lives and in the world.

IHE Prez and MOGO Workshop facilitator Zoe Weil. She totally rocks!

IHE Prez and MOGO Workshop facilitator Zoe Weil. She totally rocks!

I’m looking forward to connecting more with the participants and spreading the MOGO principle all over Portland…and the world!

~ Marsha