Press Clip Source: Post Bulletin
Date: September 24, 2016
Written by: Emily Carson
Read original article: Here.
To every problem, there are a variety of possible solutions. The people willing to imagine those solutions are possibilitarians.
The word possibilitarian was first coined by author and minister Norman Vincent Peale. It describes someone who recognizes and creates new possibilities. Peale thoughtfully advised, "Become a possibilitarian. No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, raise your sights and see possibilities — always see them for they're always there."
I recently encountered two possibilitarians. First, Perry. Justin and I met Perry while checking out the downtown Rochester PlaceMakers Prototyping Festival. Perry and his PlaceMakers team identified several creative solutions to deal with the city's excess rainwater.
Perry, an engineer, showed Justin and I how small, inexpensive parts can lead to cost-effective solutions for existing water-related concerns. His enthusiasm for solution-finding was contagious. It was as if he saw the whole world through a lens of limitless possibilities. As he spoke, I began to imagine myself as an idea engineer, too.
The next possibilitarian I encountered was Mel Duncan. Mel gave a 1-hour presentation on the Nonviolent Peaceforce at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in town. The evening event was co-sponsored by Assisi Heights Spirituality Center, the First Unitarian Universalist Church, Pax Christi Peace Group, and Southeastern Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers.
Nonviolent Peaceforce was built on the idea that there is immense value in prioritizing nonviolent ways to approach global conflicts. Mel shared examples of times when teams of unarmed peacekeepers around the world have been able to create safe spaces for dialogue.
He shared the following quote by R. Buckminster Fuller during his presentation: "You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete."
Listening to Perry and Mel talk about water reclamation and peace building helped me realize that there are walls in my mind where perhaps I'd be better off with a window. I want to install more internal windows; the kind that can be easily opened to let in new possibilities.
It is not hard to find problems in our personal lives, communities, workplaces, and across the globe. We can all point out the things that are inefficient, annoying, and incomplete. But while naming problems certainly has value, the story can't end there. It's also worthwhile to tap into the part of our brains that imagines possible solutions.
The New Testament was first written in Greek. One of the Greek words for "possible" that shows up in the original form of the books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke is dynamos. Jesus says that all the things that seem impossible are actually possible (dynamos) with God. In saying this, Jesus expands the creative imaginations of his listeners.
We, too, crave the expansion of our creative imaginations. We, too, delight in "dynamos" living — a dynamic approach to life that makes space new ideas and solutions.
Where might you benefit from tapping into your inner possibilitarian? In what part of your life are there solutions you haven't yet imagined? How might you reframe the elements of a problem into sources of nourishment and hope (like in the case of excess rainwater used to hydrate plants)?
There are a range of possibilities to every problem. The challenge is to make time and space to imagine them. I'm grateful for the possibilitarians among us paving the way.