I finished reading the book Making Good today.
As I wrote previously, I am inspired by the authors and many others whose stories are included in the book, described as “Rebuilders:”
“Empathy is different from sympathy or pity, feelings that preserve an uninvolved distance. Empathy connects us to the realities of others, makes us feel their emotions and experiences as we feel our own, and it’s what makes us as humans feel that desire to do something, to not just passively stand by when there is injustice, or join in when there is hope. We are actually hardwired to feel this way, to feel compassion and togetherness when someone else is in trouble, to feel implicated in their well-being.
“All across the world, people are waking up to this feeling. It’s almost as if a global alarm has gone off, calling us collectively into action in a way that feels brand new. And with the added urgency we all feel to find paying work, many people are driving positive change through business, converting possibility into reality, and discovering lives that are more fun, more prosperous, and more meaningful. The people channeling these feelings into lifelong careers are the architects of our future. We’ve come to think of them as Rebuilders.”
As I read Charles’ post for today entitled, “Living Flat,” I wondered about a certain common thread weaving all three examples of institutions: New England Town Meetings, the Sudbury Valley School, and Valve Software. In addition to what Charles characterized as “flat” in the sense that there exists “the barest minimum of official hierarchy,” could another alchemical glue that transforms these institutions into thriving communities be empathy?
Empathy comes from caring, and genuine caring comes from the heart. I suspect that the citizens participating in New England Town Meetings, the Sudbury Valley School students, staff, and parents, and the employees of Valve Software, all have a high empathy quotient for caring about where they live, learn, and work.
And I get the sense that, for them, living, learning, and working all happen dynamically through community dialogues; and that such dialogues (unlike hierarchical commands) help them strengthen their sense of belonging, ownership, and responsibility for not only individual well-being, but also for the community’s prosperity. I can see that each individual in such communities believe that their happiness is tied to their community’s well-being.
As Charles points out, these may not be perfect communities, but they seem to have better odds at “discovering lives that are more fun, more prosperous, and more meaningful.”
Most of us would not object to “discovering lives that are more fun, more prosperous, and more meaningful.” Some may be already enjoying fun, prosperous and meaningful lives while making the money they need to live well. Others may be looking for ways to join the Rebuilders, but have not found their way into answering the three touchstone questions that the authors of Making Good ask:
- How will I make money?
- What does doing good mean to me?
- How do I want to spend my time?
These are all personal questions to be considered by each individual. As such, the book does not give one-size-fits-all answers to these questions; however, the authors’ perspective, insight, and wisdom gained from their own experiences and other Rebuilders whom they interviewed for this book provide rich resources for anyone who is seeking a path to have comfort and control over their time without compromising their values — to explore, experiment with, and experience the path of a Rebuilder.
Among many memorable quotes and passages, the following excerpt from the section on, “What does doing good mean to you?” resonated most brilliantly with me and served as steadfast encouragement for me to keep moving forward on my path:
“Doing good doesn’t have to be about working for a non-profit, it doesn’t have to be about feeding hungry people in the Third World — it can be about finding purpose in helping people each day live their life better. Everyone has to make a unique contribution, a passion that fits with the life you want, the family and friends you have, and the world that you want to create. It also doesn’t usually mean you need to start up your own thing. We need Rebuilders in every level of the transformation of our society.”
May the Force be with all Rebuilders!