A More Beautiful World is Possibleย 

imagesofhandlightI mentioned Charles Eisenstein in a blog or three back and said that his book “Ascent to Humanity’ is available as a gift from him to you. All he asks is that you do not use the book for any profit. My younger son downloaded it onto a USB a while back and that is what I listen to when out and about in my car. 40 hours (my older son told me) of audio listening. It is also available as a pdf.

I listened to several hours of it while driving on my own from home to Plettenberg Bay and back again through the Karoo a few weeks back. It was/is of great value to me. You can google his name for information to come up and how to download ‘Ascent to Humanity’ or read other essays and such.

He’s been visiting South Africa. I attended his talk last night in downtown Johannesburg. I was thinking of not going. Driving downtown not knowing exactly how to get to the destination was a cause for concern. In the traffic at that time? Coming home at night – a woman on her own?

I left early, to avoid the afternoon traffic and yes, got a bit lost, especially coming home. But this is not to tell you of my comings and goings and thumping heart getting there and coming back. I was deeply grateful to be home and let my thumping heart settle.

The venue, The Living Room, on the 5th Floor, in the Maboneng District of Johannesburg was lovely.

Charles Eisenstein. He said about South Africa and that a miracle took place when we held our first democratic elections in 1994. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was painful for all of us – hateful wrongs from all sides were exposed and laid bare, the underbelly grotesque. Yet, it lead to our constitution, still upheld as one of the finest if not the finest in the world. I thought back to Mr. Nelson Mandela, our president, and hope was high in our hearts that we could live as a united nation, a Rainbow Nation … all the colours glowing brightly. We felt hope – and o what a feeling it was! A glimpse of what is possible! We were not naive to believe that the miracle would happen overnight. The rainbow dims every now and then –

Charles Eisenstein touched on the spirit of ‘ubuntu’ – a uniquely African word roughly translating to ‘human kindness’ where the understanding is that one is inter-related to another and each is united in their human-ness. A person is a person through other people, through their own self-assuredness, each knowing that a harmful act has effects on the whole and that one is diminished by the act of it even if one is not the perpetrator. It is much more besides – but it is like an ‘operating system’ or an overarching archetype even.

Of course there was much more besides. After his talk there were comments from the floor. One person asked what can we do, how can we go forward. His response was ‘I don’t know you, so I can’t say how you can go forward. You know yourself, you know what you can do. Do what you can do. Small acts come from the same energy source’.

He mentioned Rupert Sheldrakes’ Morphic Field …

There are some things that can’t be ‘willed’, though many may disagree. It is not easy to let go of ‘old stories’ – but can one enable a way to let them go without ‘losing face’? Can this be extended to our politicians as well? To ourselves?

What do I want to say in this blog really? In my getting to my destination and coming home, I was helped when I asked on a few occasions. People were kind. On the way home, I was actually quite lost and was about to drive off into the black yonder. I retraced and got more lost. Dark, dark, no lights. Unmarked roads. Somehow, I got onto a semi-highway that looked familiar. Flashing lights, many cop cars up ahead. I was directed to stop. A policewoman asked if everything was alright? Yes I said, thank you. Is that North up ahead? Yes, she said … where are you going. Sandton I said. You’ve got a way to go yet lady. The highway is up ahead. Keep your windows closed and travel safely. Big smile. So sweet.

Our country is beautiful. The people are beautiful. So much is possible. Small acts of kindness, a smile, a helpful attitude, all making their influence felt and creating larger ripples. A more beautiful world is possible.


This is a photo from my phone last night of a small tray of cacti on the balcony of The Living Room.

54 Comments on A More Beautiful World is Possible.

  1. What a beautiful and inspiring post. I’m going to share this in the new Effectively Human community I created yesterday, because this post pretty much sums up everything we hope to accomplish there. Oh, and I’m glad you made it home alright. Been there, done that, and always glad to make it home and calm down again ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Hi,
    I have just bought the book on Amazon Germany. It was not offered as a free issue, but Eisenstein’s thought interest me. I want to hear what he has to say. Thank you for presenting this on your blog.


  3. Charles Eisenstein’s thinking recalls for me that Leo Tolstoy and it’s what I tried to say in my “Music: Part 2 – Rhapsody” blog post. Actually, both Tolstoy and Anton Chekhov wandered across Russia to be among the people — Chekhov making a trek by train, boat, cart and horse over the Caucasus and ultimately to Sakhalin, the Siberian prisoner island — to see the condition of the people. While Tolstoy taught in his writings, offered free, about being a better, helpful person — help one other and you help the world, Chekhov wrote those wonderful “Chekhovian” tales based on his observations.

    I think for your part, Susan, you do as much as for 10 people. Thank you always for your kind caring and thoughtfulness.

    • Thank you dear Samantha – the analogy of your recent blog and music knowing no boundaries and being in humanity rings true ..

      I will check out Chekhov and see if I can get his tales on my Kindle .. thank you for saying about this. I haven’t read half of what you have. Your blogs in which you write about authors or writing or music and it’s influence on you or on the wider world are always so interesting. This time I will check out Chekhov …

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment Samantha … if we can ‘help’ one another in whatever way, then we can do this. It begins small but means big – whether a smile or a kind word. These small acts are helpful …your comment about me doing whatever I do, exhorts me to live up to your ideal – but even as I write this, I realise what a complex statement that is … one has to live according to one’s own ideal. But it is nice to have another ideal such as yours to live ‘up’ to … I will try!

  4. “a harmful act has effects on the whole and that one is diminished by the act of it even if one is not the perpetrator.”

    It is one of the things they often emphasize where I sometimes attend classes.

  5. not only possible susan but probable and here we are living it…
    difficult to grasp our good fortune at times , I know I find it hard when I hear of the ‘ ‘ goings on all over this fair planet.
    I will check charles out..
    and thank you

  6. Hi Susan .. well that brought back memories … I checked the location and tried to remember where it was – vaguely got it! I used to work in the Mining district and used to go to the Market Theatre quite often … Also on a return visit some years after I’d left I got lost getting back to the northern suburbs and was quite anxious …

    What an amazing evening this must have been … I see Charles does TED talks too …

    Earlier this year Michelle Wallace, in Durban, had an Ubuntu blogfest … which I participated in and referred to Londolozi and learnt a lot about Ubuntu … such a great concept – and Boyd Varty’s TED talk encompasses people and the environment … it’s a great talk.

    Michelle’s blog post: http://www.writer-in-transit.co.za/1095-days/

    Perhaps you’ll join us next year – as I know Michelle wanted to do another one …

    Great to know about Charles .. I must find out more about him and listen to one of his TED talks .. brought back so many memories! Cheers Hilary

    • Glad memories came your way Hilary! Where I was was on the east side of town … couldn’t even locate the PO tower when I left!
      Yes, Charles’ TED talks are good ..
      I checked out Michelle’s blog post link thanks … though it seems last post was early on this year! I’ll check properly and would LOVE to join in any ubuntu gathering, action etc …
      Boyd Varty’s talk was excellent … (as is Londolozi!!! – last time we were there was for a 60th birthday celebration, not mine I hasten to say – ours was way more modest – we knew it better in the very early days!)

      • Hi Susan .. all good isn’t it – and I’ll let Michelle know re you being happy to join us ..

        She has posted this week on Tina … so not quite sure how, what, why and wherefore ..


        I think it’s something Michelle is thinking of doing again next February, and she asked me to help her co-host …

        Anyway I’ll put her in touch with your blog …

        Lucky you to have been to Londolozi – I never got there .. but I’ve been lucky with a few other bush breaks … Thanks for taking the time to look over at Michelle’s blog and the links ..

        Cheers Hilary

        • Thanks Hilary again .. funnily enough I did a random connection with one or two people from Lee’s list re Tina yesterday I think, and Michelle was one of them. I’ve just checked your link and I remember the art work she posted. I’m pretty sure I commented on hers, and I’ll go back and see if she did on mine on Tina’s .. I think she did.

          We’re off to the bush in a couple of weeks .. can’t wait!

          • Lucky lucky you … those days … I’ll be driving an elderly from Vancouver Island around for 5 days .. half way round England! Still I’ll be going to a few new places, as well as a run around .. seeing other elderly relatives … which is good in some ways … Enjoy your trip! Cheers H

  7. thanks for making the effort to get out there Susan! Ive just finished “Ascent of Humanity” and i reckon its one of the most meaningful books ive ever read…

    • Thanks James – Mike as you know told me about Charles Eisenstein – so your telling him led to my interest, and already one or two people have downloaded. Small meaningful actions lead somewhere … so thank YOU for sparking this ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Small acts of kindness, sometimes that’s all it takes, but it sure isn’t easy to change the human psyche. Our intelligence makes us extraordinary and dangerous. So many smart people in the past have used their considerable intelligence for bad deeds. If only they had stopped to do one small act of kindness, that could’ve changed their view of the world. I think he’s right in saying only we know ourselves, only we know how to go forward, how to make a change. May help to remember we’re only in this world for a short time, why not leave a good mark?

    Great post, Susan. Thank you.

  9. Yes, Susan, it would be so wonderful if the world were a safe “rainbow” place where we treated one another with kindness and respect. However, Mr. Eisenstein is correct that each of us have to do our part to work together. I certainly wish for a miracle that it would happen overnight.

    I’m glad you made your journey at night, safely, and with help.

    Thanks for working at making the world a better and kinder place.

    • Thank you dear Gwynn … we can each do our bit, no matter how small … and miracles are in front of our eyes. As he said last night, 50 years ago we could not e.g. imagine the technology that we have, yet it is a reality. Not that it happened overnight –

      Thank you for your kind words. And for being you.

  10. Susan –

    I am glad you attended the talk, but I’m so sorry about your fear, apprehension and driving confusions. My heart started pounding for you, and I hate that part of foregoing some nighttime events, which I do because night driving is difficult.

    I think we don’t emphasize enough what the speaker replied – that we each know ourself best and must decide what we can and want to do. We should not envy others’ great accomplishments or guilt ourselves for not doing more; we need to focus on the many, many small daily ways we can support and affect those around us. Many small acts accumulate as we’ve seen with our greatest leaders like Ghandi and Mandela.

    • Sammy, I’m so sorry you experienced my pounding heart. I am so grateful to the Fates for arriving home safely!
      Thank you for emphasising that small acts make the difference – which we can all accomplish – as Gandhi, Mandela and others have noted. Thanks be to them for the reminders…there are so many ways in our daily lives that we can ‘perform’ small acts …

  11. Thank you Susan! What a wonderful world it would be if we all could grasp Mr. Eisenstein’s concept and incorporate it in to our daily lives. Your post is a great example, just reading it has made my world a more beautiful place:)

    • O Vicki! How lovely is that thank you! I am smiling! Endorphins being released into my blood corpuscles .. glad that happened to you as well!
      How are you? I hope faring well. Spring is truly sprung here in S.A. It’s almost the equinox!

      • I am doing so much better, thank you for asking. Your spring has sprung and for us fall is rapidly approaching. Our trees are starting to turn colors and I must admit I’m not looking forward to the cold but there is always beauty in nature and every day is a gift no matter the weather!

        • So great to hear you’re doing so much better Vicki! I’ve just come back from a walk in the dark – full moon rising – and the scents of spring are so wonderful. It’s amazing to imagine fall approaching on your side .. do you get those lovely autumn colours? Every day is a gift …

  12. Thank you for introducing me to Eisenstein, someone I hadn’t heard of before. The concept of ‘ubuntu’ – a uniquely African word roughly translating to ‘human kindness’ and deep understanding is appealing to me.

    Your country has had a unique experience which we in America have heard about second-handedly through documentaries often featuring Nelson Mandela. The wonderful thing is that “ubuntu” can be fostered everywhere. Great post!

  13. Lovely post, familiar places, familiar apprehension, and deeper message. Though I say it as a native of SA we have probably punched above our weight in politics, creativity, brave pioneers. I think the liberty flows in the streams, carried on the air and ubuntu permeates.

    Each of us remembering even some of that have been much blessed.

    • Thank you Philippa. We’ve punched above our weight most certainly in many ways; such a nice way of saying it. I’m glad you are reminded of ‘ubuntu’ – such a rich sounding word … and your description is lovely of it ‘permeating’. Thank you!

  14. Thank you Susan. You are a kind, intelligent and brave woman and I have no doubt you change peoples’ world on a regular basis. Hope is the power of positivity and progress. xx

    • Thank you Lesley. I don’t know about all those lovely adjectives but thank you very much for the compliment. I’m smiling. Hope does I think allow for another way of looking at things and, while I don’t hold too much truck with always being positive, maybe it does open something up in a way not opened before so that ‘progress’ can be made. Thank you so much! Hope can also be so fleeting, capricious even … ๐Ÿ™‚

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