Readers add to whack pack for a world out of whack

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, October 24, 2001

All week long suggestions have been pouring in from our coffee companions about what to include in a whack pack for a world out of whack.

Include "true smiles and real hugs for that honest connection we need with one another," Cochrane’s globetrotting volunteer Leslie Davies writes from Mexico. "Without that," she says, "we can never put the world back in whack!"

Canadian choral director Alan Gasser pleads for the inclusion of song as a bonding force:

What I'd include in my whack pack is song itself, rather than any particular version of one song. The difference lies in the bodily and community participation I wish could take over the world, starting yesterday.

Please don't turn on the radio or other electronic device for a song.

Please don't think that you can possibly find one on a piece of paper.

But use your big set of whack pack ears and listen to one, and then join in, inviting other people to do so.

My two-year-old and I give honour to our hero Pete Seeger, when we sing a song of his with well-known lyrics:

"Starlight, starbright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight: That always may your love be shining bright, Just like that first star that I see tonight."

How I wish I could just sing it with all of you right now around the coffee.

—Alan Gasser, Toronto

Just minutes after reading Alan’s e-mail, I received a long distance call from him. He actually sang Starlight to me while I listened on your behalf. You can listen to him, too, though not to Starlight. He has several CDs out featuring the rich polyphony of the Georgian Republic, performed by his Toronto village choir, Darbazi (

Then there’s this perspective from psychologist Laurie Seaman, who wants the whack pack to include a "profound acceptance of the reality of what is." He explains:

Throughout the history of our natural world, creatures have been terrorized by life-threatening, and often life-destroying, assaults – fires, hurricanes, tornados, blizzards, earthquakes, floods, droughts, plagues. Added to these are the so-called unnatural disasters of creature conflicts arising out of fear, threat, and actual aggressive attack. These have always been, and will continue to be, part of the creaturely experience of life on this planet.

Profound acceptance of what is yields solidarity with reality, preventing us from chasing the illusion that we or someone else (through taking control, fighting back, or doing it "right") can rid ourselves of future life- destroying events.

Terror is a monster, but as someone has wisely stated, "We kiss the monster on the nose, or it bites us in the ass."

—Laurie Seaman, Calgary

Finally, this parting note from Linda Popov. As you may recall, I included her internationally-acclaimed Virtues Project last week as one of the essentials in the whack pack. Linda writes:

I just love your article! I am honoured that you value The Virtues Project as you do. We are now being asked by USAID agency to go on peace-building missions to a number of countries. I spoke in Denver last week on "From Violence to Virtues" at the Character Education Partnership conference. May your ... approach in this article add to the light we all need at this time. It is reassuring to know that there are many kindred spirits speaking out for a virtues-based solution to healing our world.

—Linda Popov, Salt Spring Island, B.C.

Linda, your gracious words for the healing of the world remind me of a hint about why we even bother to try. I’m thinking of the ending to Desiderata:

"With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams," – its out-of-whack-ness, so to speak – "it is still a beautiful world."

Next week, more great stuff for the whack pack.

© 2001 Warren Harbeck

Return to Coffee With Warren home page