Wednesday, January 27, 2010


This week I have reentered the world of Paulo Coelho via his book the Fifth Mountain. It is a tale about the prophet Elijah (you non-religious folks stay with me) and his internal struggles with his role as a prophet.

The characters in the book representative of modern day behaviors and events that are fodder for CNN, print news, movies - you name it. All the key elements are there, fear, rapid change, the desire for power, hanging onto power, tragedy, fear of empowering others, and greed to highlight a few.

One of the catalysts for change in the book is Byblos which you may recognize from the Greek name, alphabet. The character of the high priest is terrified of putting the alphabet into the hands of ‘everyday’ people. They could write what they want, they could reshape ideas – most of all this freedom would erode his position, his stranglehold on information and power. It has been this way for generations, why put information and freedome of thought into untrained hands? In his efforts to combat Byblos, the high priest stops at nothing, including plunging his country into war as a means to hold onto power. He whips up terror among the people, playing on their ignorance, cultural and religious fears to bolster his position - marching the masses head long into unimaginable ruin.

There are other characters, all motivated by fear on some level – the main culprit in every case is change. The world around them is changing. For each of them combating change is must regardless of great cost and suffering to those around them. Death and financial ruin is not a deterrent. Their fear and quest to maintain the status quo blinds them.

My goodness how this sounds so familar. We are living in a time of rapid change and upheaval, politically, financially, environmentally, yet those in our country will inject fear into our hearts and misguide us with faulty information without regard to outcome. They want things to stay the same no matter how shortsighted and harmful the results.

Interesting how a book set in ancient times parallels events in our world. So what will be the spark of us? What are we going to do about our country? What are we willing to change for the greater good of all human kind and the planet that sustains us? What are we willing to change to be better parents, partners, and friends? When will we begin to take action at a personal and social level to contribute to a better outcome?

I’m working on my answers and still reading the book…stay tuned.

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