We are 1 Tribe

I’d like to focus on a crucial step in beating the odds – Consulting Nature. In my book, I outline four aspects of Nature that can be used when faced with challenges: having clear goals, fostering diversity in achievement of those goals, operating in systems and thriving on competition that is deeply rooted in cooperation. The sculpture below is the essence of diversity in achieving a goal and giving competition the umbrella of cooperation.

“We Are 1 Tribe” was made by my students at the Arts & Ethics Academy in Santa Rosa, CA. The sculpture was inspired by the Owerri Igobo mbari shrines of Nigeria, where each figure represents a loved one who is gone, a yet-to-be born child or the child of imagination. The young people who made this work of art live in the reality of rival gangs.  I chose the red and blue colors on the background to symbolize two gangs, the newly arrived southern Mexican Sureños (blue) and the more established northern Mexican Norteños (red), unified into one shrine. (In Pittsburgh, PA, the Crips wear blue and the Bloods wear red.) The figure in the exact middle without hair honors 16 year-old Alex, a Sureño member who was killed in a gang-related shooting. The student who made him wrote: “I hope that Alex will live on when people see my sculpture and hear his story.” The tallest figure on the right symbolizes the future son of one of the students, with the colors of the Norteños on his hat. The young Native American man who made him wrote “I hope that my son, Anthony, will live life without having to worry about the next day and the next month’s rent. I hope that he finds work that he loves doing and gets paid well. My son means a lot to me. He is a piece of me to live on when I leave this world.” This collection of loved ones, animals, mermaids and firebirds are a powerful visual reminder that Nature’s diversity forms ecosystems where the needs of all living beings are met, even though there is also competition. (Visit my Facebook page to see more details and hear about what each sculpture represents to the students.)

I would like to ramp up the conversation about how people are cooperating.  Competition is the main drama we hear about and I want to make Nature’s story of cooperative diversity among humans front and center. Do you have stories to share about wildly successful cooperation by diverse elements? Please share them here, knowing they will be passed along to young people. Our life depends on the process of cooperation with every breath we take, where the oxygen molecule that was outside our body becomes a part of our body.  When you share your story, you will be helping to combat the negativism so prevalent among the young people I work with. Your story will also help us adults who are despairing under the weight of the odds we’re up against.

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