World out of whack

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, October 17, 2001

"The world's out of whack," Cochrane coffee companion David Irvine observed the other day.

Now, we've all known the world's been out of whack for a long time. But when this highly-respected motivation consultant stresses something so obvious, I sit up and take note.

I also consider doing something about it.

If the world's out of whack, I figure, then let's supply the world with what it truly needs – more whack.

Distribution would be an important factor, I realize. I mean, the world's a pretty big place, and there are lots of people and nations in urgent need of whack. But how to reach them?

So, I had a serious discussion with coffee companions Leanne Forest, Bob Bartlett, and my wife Mary Anna, and we settled on a scheme. Inspired by the legendary example of CARE parcels of food, education and toiletry supplies, we said, "Let's create whack packs!"

The obvious question, of course, is what kinds of whack to put in a pack for a world out of whack.

If it were something on a smaller scale – say, a radio, television, or computer that was out of whack – the task would be easier. Just include a replacement, or a technician to make repairs.

Or how about health? Back's out of whack? Include a new mattress. Sleeping's out of whack? Throw in some pills or, heaven forbid, a sack of decaffeinated coffee.

But a whole world out of whack? Can't just throw in a new one. Adding pills to the whack pack won't help, either.

The world needs grander whack than that.

Mary Anna suggested the whack packs include sets of big ears for world leaders, so they could listen to each other more attentively. She also thought pairs of special eyeglasses should be included – to help these leaders better see all points of view.

Bob and Leanne thought we should include teddy bears and security blankets, so that global decision makers weren't driven by fear and insecurity. Werther's Originals candy should be included, too, they agreed, so that whack pack recipients would always take into account the grandchildren around the world who love and trust their grandparents.

As I reflected on the kind of whack I personally wanted included in the pack, the internationally-acclaimed work of e-mail coffee companion Linda Kavelin-Popov came to mind. She's the creator of The Virtues Project (

Linda, a psychotherapist and community healer, together with her psychologist husband Dr. Dan Popov and her art-director brother John Kavelin, came upon something she regards as quite profound. "At the heart of all spiritual traditions," she says, "are virtues, ...the essence of the human spirit and the content of our character."

In her books and seminars, recognized by the United Nations and used in education programs worldwide, she celebrates 52 virtues. These include compassion, forgiveness, gentleness, honesty, honor, integrity, justice, peacefulness, tolerance, trustworthiness, understanding, and unity – virtues without which civilization would cease to exist.

I would like to include each of these virtues, beautifully gift-wrapped, in the whack pack, along with copies of Linda's books.

There's another virtue Linda highlights that must absolutely be included, a virtue also celebrated in the words of that great song by Hal David (lyrics) and Burt Bacharach (music):

What the world needs now
     is love, sweet love
It's the only thing that
     there's just
     too little of
What the world needs now
     is love, sweet love,
No not just for some
     but for everyone.

I think I would want a copy of that song included, as well. It just seems so very appropriate at a time like this.

How about you folks? What would the rest of you coffee companions like to include in this gift pack for a world out of whack? I'd be interested in hearing your suggestions.

After all, in doing something beautiful for a world out of whack, we might very well be responding to a request by the late Mother Teresa: "Let's do something beautiful for God."

© 2001 Warren Harbeck

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