Spread the Word

Let’s say you want to change the world.

We are talking about a world that is large, complicated, seemingly chaotic and notoriously difficult to manage. Just ask God. God has a long and successful history as an organizing principle but lately the power of that principle seems to be waning. Recently one of God’s spokesmen, the Pope, declared that destabilizing the climate that God created and threatening the survival of God’s children is contrary to God’s will. Needless to say, God’s servants, particularly the rich and powerful ones, did not immediately change their ways.

But God works in mysterious ways. What if the Word that changes the world were to come from a different direction altogether? From you, for example?

You are not the Pope, but the game is changing.

Not so long ago my family and I lived on a slightly funky residential street near downtown Palo Alto, California. Directly across from our home was a low-rise cinder block office building that housed a small advertising agency.

It turned out that one of the projects that emerged from that building was a logo, a stylized apple with a bite out of it. That branding image was applied to a series of products that put new information and communication technologies into the hands of ordinary folks like you and me. Suddenly I am sitting in a hotel room in Portland, Oregon, with a device via which I can potentially touch billions of minds within the next few seconds. But what should I say? What is the Word?

Speaking of words, think about the track coach at our beloved duck university who, some years ago, noticed that his runners were flopping around in relatively heavy, flat-soled canvas and rubber sneakers. He put his waffle iron to work and devised a better shoe. One of his bright acolytes then decided that everyone, not just track stars, could stand to move around a bit more. He attached a phrase to the new footwear: “Just do it.” Millions did just that.

Flash forward to now. The climate of our planet is coming unglued before our eyes. The icy hats that have covered our northern and southern latitudes for millennia is melting in years. The boreal forest, normally frozen at this time of year, is burning. We need a miraculous change and we need it soon.

Perhaps we can use the unimaginable potential of our devices to disseminate a few simple words: “Just cap it.”

Send that message to Salem and to Washington. Send it to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Oregon’s State Lands Commission. Send it to Paris and Beijing. Send it to Veresen Corporation, the Canadian pipeline moguls, and our own Koch brothers.  You might change the world.