This book is ambitious and as a result paints a clear broad picture of what it takes to be in groups or large systems. Complexity is embraced by the author and therefore his change method is not the norm.
He explains and makes sense of the challenge to focus on the common good (What Quinn also called the ‘journey of collective fulfillment’) for organizations and groups of people. Quinn makes the point that he feels that ordinary people can become profoundly affected as change agents.
I like this book. I recommend it to people that are thinking about how a family, group, organization or big system (like government) moves forward, backwards or becomes stagnant. He makes the point that what seem unchangeable might in fact be changeable. I also like the book because it sets out the kind of tasks and paths that reasonable normal people might benefit from following to move a family, group, organization or big system toward the common good.
“At its heart, of course, an animal fantasy is as much about humans as it is about animals – about things we most fear and things we most love, about pain and sadness, but also about redemption and hope.”
“In Ivan’s story – both real and fictional – there is hope.”
“Children know all about sadness. We can’ tide it from them. We can only teach them. We can only teach them how to cope with its inevitability and to harness their imaginations in the search for joy and wonder.”
“Nothing, nothing in the world, can do that better than a book.”
Katherine Applegate shared these words as she accepted the Newberry Medal in 2013.
My words, related to The One and Only Ivan, are: Read it! Read it to kids of all ages, much like you have read Charlotte’s Web to children of all ages. Read it for yourself, too. Give this book as a gift to readers, beginning readers and future readers. This is a book for families to enjoy together – to read and reread The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.
As a 67 year old guy, who has been in engaged public service for decades, I believe that much can be accomplished when ‘we’ choose to work ‘across differences’ in service to the common good. I have been part of such efforts. I have seen things occur when people have focused on the common good. It can happen!
And today, here in America, it seems that ‘commonality’ is not prized. From my perspective today’s politics are ripe with discord, dysfunction and degradation of others. I agree with Parker J. Palmer when he writes that the politics of today seem to be “intent on dividing us so deeply that there will be no more ‘we’ in ‘We the People’ — and thus no way for us to reach even a rough consensus on the common good to which we can hold our leaders accountable.” He sees hope if we can breathe in new life to ‘We the People’.
I choose to be hopeful. I believe that hope is bigger than fear, discouragement and weariness put together. I also believe that action is better than inaction. This is not a time to let frustration immobilize us – We the People! The ‘us’ I refer to is everyone. People who see things differently are willing to struggle toward a better future together.
Palmer has come to the conclusion that: “Though much of our political discourse is toxic, ‘politics’ is not a dirty word. It’s the ancient and honorable effort to come together across our differences and create a community in which the weak as well as the strong flourish, love and power collaborate, and justice and mercy have their day. Yes, that’s a vision of politics that will never be fully achieved. But every time someone abandons that vision and turns to cynicism, democracy suffers one more wound in the death of a thousand cuts. Just as democracy can die a death of a thousand cuts, it can be given new life by a thousand acts of civility.”
Take a minute to read his entire essay, Breathing New Life into “We the People” and begin your ‘thousand acts of civility’. Begin to re-frame the situations you encounter into opportunities. Opportunities build to relationships were we ‘turn from ire to inquiry’ and all benefit from creative, respectful engagement.