Visionary Society Requests
Requests: No Place Is an Island
A place is like a person. Each has its own unique identity, its reason for being. Each is responsible for its place in the world. It can be narcissistic, money-grubbing, superficial, or it can be part of a more beautiful world that we are building together. A person is not a machine. We are not just consumers, gorging ourselves with satisfaction. Each experience presents us with a challenge to find a response that is worthy of the intangible realities that lay under the surface. Requests bring together the place and the person. They are a new way to interact with places, engaging us with all the people involved and all the things it does – a holistic, full spectrum approach. Like people, no place is perfect. All can improve. Requests are practical suggestions we can make to any place. But instead of just trying to achieve practical goals we can change the dynamics that creates the problems in the first place. The inner gives rise to the outer. Requests bring together the real and ideal. They join forces to connect mind, heart and hands. As long as we fight for effects we will battle endlessly. And we don’t need to appeal to institutions, bureaucracies or policies. Action at the level of the small and everyday is as important than geopolitics, and just as effective – if it is focused at the origin, a result of penetrating understanding, compassion, and moral courage. Requests operate by activating an underlying ethical principle of an issue. We form Requests as practical expressions of a principle. A Request must be presented as a moral challenge, with the moral authority that comes from understanding. A product sits on a shelf. We look at the price, and think about its value for us. But we are blinded by the present. There is a long chain of events that brought the product to us, a trail that may reach thousands of miles, that has invisible causes and effects. A place is private and the owners can do what they want. Users simply have the choice of where to spend their money, and if they're not satisfied they can go elsewhere. At least, that is how we usually think about it. But there is a deeper side, a higher responsibility. No place is an island, entire of itself (except actual islands). In addition to our private interests we have a responsibility to our shared humanity. As we add Requests we are building a picture of a place – a picture of its ideal form, which can eventually perhaps come into existence. Open your eyes. Make your places meaningful.