Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Hundredth Monkey Synergy

The Hundredth Monkey Synergy

"Are my eyes deceiving me,"

I whispered this morning when I noticed that two of my blogposts from a day ago are, without doubt, showing up on my MSNBC's Headlines feature on my homepage. Can it be? Or is this just an instance of this highly interactive and intuitive Vista playing ego trips on my brain? It would not be the first time. Vista and I get along just swell, I must admit, so maybe she's stroking me outrageously by putting "Buen' Dia, Todos, Hi, Ho!" (#14 on current MSNBC list) and "Getting Ready to Go" (#22 on it)?! How tantalizing, even if it's only sweet Vista!

Thus, driving to Grand Junction and back today, I've been reflecting on the incredible power of the Internet and blogging to work the "Hundredth Monkey" miracle on a day-to-day basis. Do you know this concept? Basically, it suggests that, when a certain proportion of a species knows something, suddenly the whole species starts behaving in concert with the new idea. It just pops in for everyone. I'd add to that a little tweak, for it's clear to me that when an idea's time has come, when it is NOW, enough sensitive, attuned people on the planet catch it all at once, which like an idea-epidemic, then makes things happen from its own sheer potency. Thus, synergy creates more synergy and the world of man turns.

I give you an empowering example from my recent and final semester as an educational worker-bee at Colorado Mountain College, the best Learning College in the West. In August, about ten days before classes were to begin, I tried to psyche myself up for guiding one more round of academic essay and research paper writing in my classes, using my tried-and-true course plans, with new dates, one more time. "How will I get through the semester that way?" I asked. What else could I do? Then, I remembered that Roaring Fork Campus would be reading Greg Mortenson's great Three Cups of Tea together, about one man making a difference in the world (in a huge and growing way!) Go, Greg! He's building schools in rural areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, mostly on his indefatigable spirit, which, in the long run, counters the frightening thrust of jihad fostered by the madrassas, by focusing on the education of women and on indigenous involvement to build strong and literate, critically-thoughtful communities.

Wonderful work, wonderful man. One man. It felt a "Now" idea to me, and I went with. As a result, I built my ENG Comp classes on finding a global issue; learning about it from electronic sources; narrowing to an acceptable focus for problem-solving; committing to its solution in four highly rigorous essays, supported by academic opinions; and, with the help of Greg and Three Cups, bringing most of my students into a greater sense of global commitment than ever, with a final Problem/Solution Persuasive Paper that demanded all the best of academic expertise, plus a commitment statement showing step-by-step personal actions already taken or projecting them, anyway, to forge the writer as a part of the solution.

Fortunately, I was helped along the way by a Doritos bag on the table down in Center, suggesting websites to "make a difference"; Bill Clinton's Giving (ditto); and almost countless other synchronicities, all showing that acting consciously for change truly is an idea coming to the fore in this country, just when I was teaching it. Newsweek ran a cover story on it this Fall. Then, I got floored, hearing the new Eagles CD set, Long Road Out of Eden, with its classic anthem of the 2010's, for me, anyway, "Do Something," almost a chant of a song by Don Henley about taking the craziness of the world and making it better from within! Of course, I played it during the Final Presentations in December. The result? More students stayed the course, achieved more successfully, than ever in 25 1/2 years of teaching! And, believe me, my numbers were pretty good, already.

There is something wondrous going on if the significance of conscious, individual action feels so right-timed and successful to me. I pray that what we do, collectively, in this time of change, proves as fulfilling for us all as both I and my former students feel now.

Gracias a Dios. CenterDoug

[CenterDoug Notes: 1-23-08 edit: It's clear to me that my sweet Windows Vista is stroking my ego vis-a-vis MSNBC. There were 5 of them on there this morning, but none on a friend's Headlines. It did get me thinking about a time when my prognostications might cause headlines on the web. Why not? CD]

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