Global Priors Council July 29, 1977
We do a lot of sighing and it takes many forms. We have some
folks here who are psalmists and sigh, "oh." I've really
been caught by my own sighing and I suspect we didn't sigh as
much last year as we do now. I have to talk about it' in this
way: in sighing we touch heavenly sorrow, and in touching we become
vitality. Or in the sigh of deciding to move, we take in all the
innocent suffering of the world and find ourselves moving in action
that is profound humanness. It goes something like this: "Representational
historical engagement occasions a particular deed to be appropriated
as accomplishment, and it allows the decisional victory to be
you. It always necessitates unmitigated engagement and manifest
One guardian friend of mine has a fine position in his company.
He has a timeline that goes to the year 2005. His job is to make
that company number one in the world by 2005, with all its flanks
covered. He buys forests the size of Rhode Island so that they'll
have packing material in the year 2005. But he no longer belongs
to that job. Something happened to him, and his life is now out
to be the appropriate deed. When you find the action that is profound
happiness, that is the appropriate deed.
When we were talking about Town Meeting or awakenment, this
friend would say, "Every community must have one or they'll
die. Every town must have a Town Meeting or they'll die; we'll
all die." He is forever hunting for the contradiction to
move on any particular phase of the campaign. You call him to
talk through the issues we have on our hands.
I remember one conversation when our block had to do with
funding. He said, "It sounds like we need to have the Chamber
of Commerce fully behind us, and maybe the Manufacturer's Association.
I'll do that.'' Two hours later, he called back saying, "You
have a conference with the state Chamber of Commerce man whose
name is such and such. We did this and this together." He's
always seeking out the appropriate deed. He is no longer concerned
about being a good guy, but with releasing the future. He is always
working on a particular
deed, one particular deed after another. That is profound humanness
that is action.
"We need 10,000 brochures by next Tuesday. There is no
money. We've tried all the inkind printers." His response
is, "Well, we can do that here at the office. Give me a couple
of hours to set it up." As soon as he says that, he knows
that his head is on the block because if he gets caught, he's
in trouble. But he does it for the particular deed.
I once asked him (and I had to get my nerve up), "Why
do you do this?" He paused a long time, then said, "I
remember my little town in the Carolinas when I was a young man.
I walked to the edge of town and for the first time I saw the
shanties. I suppose I do it for all the shanties of the world."
After that, there was no more conversation. He's not simply out
to do something; he's out to throw himself into the breach where
his life needs to be placed. He, for me, is the man who is grabbing
the wheel at every moment, and has become action beyond the act,
which is historical engagement.
The last conversation we had went something like this: "We
seem to be blocked in the eastern section. There are 12 counties
there and nothing is moving. We discovered some companies there
related to your company." He simply picked up and moved and
did a couple more counties. Action is historical engagement.
Secondly, action that is profound humanness is a particular
deed that becomes genuine accomplishment. One time this spring
I did nine or ten Town Meetings in a row. The weeks went like
this: circuittown meeting, circuittown meeting, circuit-town
meeting. What I discovered was that I wasn't doing circuits and
I wasn't doing Town Meetings. What I ended up doing was rolling
tape every Friday night. On more than one occasion I asked myself,
"What in the world is a 49yearold man doing rolling
tape every Friday night?" Profound humanness that is action
shows up looking like boring, hard work.
It is always a precise deed that you are doing so that history
becomes humanness; becomes what it was meant to be. For Gandhi,
it was the salt. As soon as the salt fell through his fingers
and he declared what was happening, it was over all
was done that needed to be done. I've thought, "What is it
for Town Meeting?" For me it's become the room. Maybe underneath
the five pillars, you put the ROOM SPACE. It's a precise deed
that releases the civilizing process.
In the Ohio Town Meeting Assembly we spent 20 hours getting
all of the symbols and slogans on the wall. Above that was the
Town Meeting Ohio sign and above that, just Town Meeting. At every
place setting was the songbook from Town Meeting: Ohio. In the
center of the room was a table with every document carefully arranged.
People gathered in another room for coffee. They talked and talked.
When they walked into the assembly room, they were not talking
any longer. They sat down and found themselves staring into each
others' eyes. Someone leaned over and said, "We can go home
now. All has been done that needed to be done." The precise
action that releases creativity that is profound humanness, had
Action is always a completed maneuver. It is finishing all
that you are out to do in every act. I remember being compelled
to wait for the mailing to mayors to reach their desks. I couldn't
find stamps fast enough. All four circuit teams had to wait two
days for that mailing to hit the desks before we initiated maneuvers
in that section of the state. It was incredible waiting. The action
was the waiting, and the waiting had become all that you needed
to do to complete the task. Once the mailing arrived on the mayors'
desks, all was done.
We all know that in profound humanness that is action, you
are at every moment on the edge of being destroyed. It is always
win or lose, win or lose. Either the county is white or yellow,
period. But in that, something else happens. It is not just the
white or the yellow that is significant. You discover that in
the doing you have been blessed; that in the integrity of your
doing is all that there is.
Third, profound humanness as action is decisional
victory; in action, decisional victory occurs. It is
in the first instance, the orchestration of your selfhood in history.
Every act is out to give every community the life that is life.
It is always orchestrated. The campaign in Ohio had 84 little
boxes to be done in 84 tactics. Half of those boxes had nothing
to do with being in a particular community. We'd go along for
awhile and I would start bleeding (this is after we've been running
all over the state getting names for a brochure). I'd get a circuiter
in the corner and I'd say, ''Now, how many Town Meetings did we
set up today?" The reply
would be, "We set up all of them." That was a ritual
we had with each other, one box at a time.
It felt like that whenever our doing had nothing to do with
what we had set out to get done. It always pointed toward that
which allows history to be recreated and it is knowing your doing.
I don't know how to say that. I don't know much about it yet.
It has something to do with tactical thinking. It's knowing what
to do with the arrangements of your troops and your weaponry.
At one point this year, the weaponry and troops looked like this:
a good bit of authorization, not much money, 20 cautious colleagues,
six well-heeled guardians, four tired house staff, and an incredible
In that situation you knew what you were doing; you were defeated.
You were losing. All you had to do was decide that you needed
to rearrange those forces and weaponry and move. And once you
moved, it was like the barefoot boy turning toward Jerusalem.
Action that is profound humanness is framing. It is accounting
for every act within your decisional maneuver. My image is, before
you draw your long sword, you know what damage it can give with
any particular move. You know that before you draw the sword.
In action that is profound humanness, you bury your druthers
and move. I kept looking at New York and saying, "How did
that group of people decide to do New Jersey?" That's an
incredible question. They had to know that they were precisely
on target before they could move and they had to know what they
had decided to do was called for in history. They took out their
long sword and swung.
A friend or mine calls every now and then and says, "Booher,
are you winning?" It's a ritual which says , "Are you
standing before all that needs to be done in history in order
that civilization survives and be the greatness that it is? Are
you winning?" In that, there is something called effortless
style. When you know that what you are doing is winning, there
is no effort. It's like the bullfighter. He knows he's over against
being annihilated at any moment, but he dances like a ballerina.
My other illustration is, I could be sitting in a room with my
wife and that she is just done in. Then, one of you calls and
it sounds like she has just jumped out of the middle of a cake
at a bachelor's party. It is effortless doing.
Finally, profound action that is humanness is manifest
intentionality. It is the unshakable resolve that is
always required. It is like riding a Brahma bull. You have to
decide to ride that critter and if you don't you'll die a silly
death. Yet, it's not 12 seconds on the back of a bull. It's long
enduring tenacity, and what you experienced as a residue is a
very tired and aching body. It even hurts to close your eyes and
open them again. It is resolve to be all that is needed.
It's something that ends up with you making six visits, doing
12 telephone calls, setting up tables and chairs, running over
to get some printing done, finding some money to buy gas, checking
the assignments with centrum for next weekend, unblocking the
mayor about the use of his equipment, or blocking him relative
to a long speech he wants to make, and on and on and on. Then
you go to McDonald's for lunch and start again. Or it's wanting
to sleep at night. When you finally get to a place where you're
prone, it's lumpy couch that smells a bit like urine, and you
can't sleep, even though you thought about sleep all day long.
The unshakable resolve for me, is something like sitting across
the table from a colleague who is the doctor's picture of complete
exhaustion. In your weakest moment, you suggest that he call and
cancel that meeting in Podunk and get some rest. At that moment,
your colleague is enraged, angry that you would even suggest such
a thing. Your colleague is the unshakable resolve that is always
required. The strange thing is, you knew it even before you asked
Action as profound humanness is incredible power unleashed.
It's the head down charge of a great fullback. A colleague of
mine was assigned to promotion for our state campaign. Once she
decided to do that, she did more work in two months than I've
done in the last five years. You simply got out of her way, stood
there, and shook your head in disbelief. It was incredible to
watch. It was Niagara Falls dammed up, and suddenly released.
In all our debriefing sessions we could hardly keep people
in their seats. You were itching, itching to go. All you wanted
was enough data to know what the contradiction looked like this
week so you could move again. Then you started packing to leave
again. There is an unnoticed cost in that happening. But you don't
notice it. You only notice it in others.
I have a meditative friend called Victory, the Cat. I walked
into the House last May and there was Victory. I counted 27 scabs
on his body. Another hunk of his ear was gone and his nose looked
like someone had rubbed it with sandpaper. But I wasn't looking
at Victory the Cat. Action that is profound humanness ends up
looking like that. You and I all know what it means to be turned
to ashes and picked up and blown into the Way that is Life.
Action is also exposed contingency. In whatever you're doing,
you know there is at least one flank that isn't covered. It's
like going to Kentucky to do Community Forum. We had nothing.
But you know the only way to do Kentucky is to do Kentucky. The
only tool you've got is your own body. You simply drive into Kentucky,
and you begin to stand long enough so you know what you're doing,
then you do it. But you die in the meantime. We found some Jaycees
who could take us to the Lieutenant Governor so that she might
give us a smidgen of public permission to be in Kentucky. We held
on to the coattails of this Jaycee till we saw the Lieutenant
Governor. I died inside. You know this needs to be done, but you
die. The Lieutenant Governor has only to ask two questions, and
you won't be in Kentucky long.
There's always in that, the weeping. I don't know how you
do your weeping, but in profound action there is weeping. There
is genuine weeping not only for the innocent suffering that you
act on behalf of, but for the fact that you are also that innocent
suffering. For most of us, weeping went on in the front seat of
a car, in the lonely hours between five and seven every afternoon
when most of creation is doing something other than racing through
the countryside to get to another meeting. I found a phrase that
says, "Action is Life." I think it's Mao. Without action,
civilization collapses. And in profound humanness, you know what
action is. It is action where life is given, but incredibly received.
I would not give up last year. All of you said you would not give
up last year. You would not give up what you did or who you were.
Somehow, we've become a new people. We've become the people blessed
by the heavenly sorrow. I was talking with someone last night
and I slipped and said, "Profound Happiness" instead
of "Profound Humanness." That's true too, isn't it?
We've become people of Profound Happiness.