I am currently writing from a hotel room in Austin, Texas, where I am visiting for the second annual Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI-U) conference. Last year I attended with Mike, and this year I am representing the Capital Good Fund, along with two of our other core team members. On the flight out here I listened to recordings of Martin Luther King speeches, and reflected a great deal on the nature of greatness, the nature of history, and the nature of those that bend history in the direction of justice. I was amazed–and excited–to learn that from 1964 (after the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Bill) and his death in 1968, Dr. King devoted himself tirelessly not only to racial justice but also to poverty alleviation and peace. In fact, in some of his speeches and sermons, King even talks about the need for black owned financial institutions–something I find tremendously interesting as I work to create a borrower-owned, environmentally focused financial institutions.
But above all else, what stood out to me about Dr. King as I listened to his voice bellow from the past and pursue the future was the extent to which his entire mental and physical life was absorbed by the pursuit of justice. Long before he died at the hands of an assassin he had given up his life to his cause, and I began thinking about my own life, my own pursuits.
I often feel that there is a kind of inevitability to what I do, that though on a day-to-day basis I freely make choices that decide the effectiveness with which I implement my dreams, over the long run there is a nagging feeling that I cannot but help achieving my aims for a better, more prosperous and more peaceful world. I have always felt that I would do those things with my life, and even though I often doubt myself, even though I often waver and temporarily give up, I utterly incapable of being anything but devoted to what I am doing. These thoughts often teeter on the concept of predestination, a concept that I found repugnant and distasteful. In short, I want to know that If I accomplish something it is because of the choices and decisions that I made, and not simply because I was meant to do it all along. On the other hand, I can’t fully accept the notion that I am acting freely, for I feel a kind of inner fire compelling me to act, forcing me to move forward. Granted, that fire is inner–the flame is kept and maintained by myself and none other–yet still do the doubts linger. I have yet to fully and satisfactorily resolve this question. In effect, I am asking the same question as Tolstoy in War and Peace: what is the role of the individual in history? I ardently want to believe that great individuals shape history, yet in my heart I know it is nowhere near that simple.
And while I continue with these thoughts, other exciting things are happening. My dad came out last week to look at condos in Providence, and we are close to making a bid. My plan is to put solar panels (i’ve taken to calling them solar poetry) on the roof of the condo, and that, more than anything, thrills me to no end. At the same time, The Capital Good Fund just released the immigration loan applications into the community, and The Capital Good Group, Inc. is working hard to develop a proposal for creating a revolving loan fund for energy efficiency out of the Federal Stimulus Funds. In addition, The Capital Good Fund is now officially incorporated as a non-profit in the State of Rhode Island, and we also have found a pro-bono consulting partner–Minimax Consulting–that is going to help us with data management and analysis, and feature us on their web site!
In short, things are moving quickly and in an exciting manner. The first draft of my masters thesis is due in 1 month. The Capital Good Fund should make its first loans within that time period, and The Capital Good Group may get its first big job as well. Web sites for both organizations are currently being developed. Yet as all these things happen, once again, I inevitably return to the question of my role in all of them: am I making things happen through some wise choice or decision to work hard, or simply because I am meant to be doing these things? Or does it feel inevitable because I enjoy doing this work so much, yet in reality it is all about me doing things that I didn’t have to do? For some reason, these questions are plaguing me more than words can describe. I feel that somewhere buried in all these musings is a profound realization about the nature of life and the universe. I could easily write it off as mindless mental chatter, but something tells me I’m on the trail of a profound realization, the implications of which I may not fully understand or like.
Nevertheless, I have always said that my primary pursuit in life is the pursuit of Truth, and the thing about the Truth is that we can avoid it or accept it, but it’s always there, lurking, waiting for us to awaken. So If I catch up with the answer to this rather elusive question, then it will be a chance for me to test my devotion to internal revelation by accepting, rather than rationalizing, what I find. If I am able to do that with a fraction of the things in my life–in short, if I am able to be honest with myself–then when I die it will be said of me that I lead a good and passionate life, and I will be proud of my life’s work. Oh, to leave a mark on history, that is the most powerful of statements to make with the hours, seconds and breaths that one has alloted to one for living. May these keystrokes, these breaths, and these moments be as notches on the tree of history, twinkles in the starlight that illuminates poetry, mythology, religion and politics, etc. . .