(This is an article I wrote for my newsletter nearly 3 years ago. Since it’s come up in several conversations, I’m posting it here, which I hadn’t done before.)
My daughter called Saturday. We talked for an hour and a half We don’t talk very often. Our conversations, when we finally get our schedules together, can run to 2, 3, or 4 hours. Since we both have inquiring minds, the more we discuss things the more new questions arise.
About an hour into the conversation, after catching up on our various activities, things started getting philosophical, and soon Tara asked me:
What do you Care Enough About to be an Activist?
My answer? Building and nurturing relationships in my life and helping everyone around me understand the value of relationships in their lives.
A good way of examining what’s most important to a person is to consider what they say during their final hours or days before death (in cases where they know it’s imminent) that they’re happiest or saddest about in their lives. In most cases they either celebrate great relationships or lament poor ones or the lack of satisfying ones. Only the vainest tout the amount of money or possessions they’ve accumulated, or even their achievements.
Landmark Education is a worldwide company who conducts programs to help people see and understand the “blocks” they put in their own life’s way, and then to remove or work around those blocks so they can live authentic, well-balanced, psychologically healthy lives. Over the past several years I’ve done some work with this wonderful organization, both as a participant in their programs and as a volunteer to help others benefit from this great work at a reasonable cost.
At Landmark, the entry point to their huge menu of offerings is the Landmark Forum. A hundred people, more or less, assemble in an auditorium with only the vaguest idea of what they are about to participate in for the next 3-1/2 very long days. Early on, the Forum leader asks people what they think defines their lives. During the ensuing discussion, he or she writes a couple of large slate boards full of people’s answers. Sometimes a participant will finally hit on “relationships”, and sometimes nobody gets it until the leader finally suggests it.
The rest of the entire work of Landmark’s many programs is dedicated to helping people find ways to build, repair, and maintain healthy relationships with those who are important in their lives. The transformations that occur for people as a result of this work are truly stunning. Landmark makes no claims for specific changes that will occur in anyone’s life as a result of this work. Nonetheless, I’m fairly sure I’ve seen several suicides prevented, and certainly many completely different (from when they arrived) people at the end of the Forum and/or follow-on programs.
In my own case, I’m not aware of changes that dramatic (Quite likely they’re there and I’m not consciously aware of their full significance). I can say that many relationships in my life have improved significantly, particularly notably and importantly those with my children and my ex-wife. I also have many important friends among the people I met at Landmark
Truly exciting…and indicative of the importance of relationships to the human condition!