It´s a small world with John Perkins
George Terrell, President of Caminos de Agua Board, reflects on the serendipity of life´s events.
It's a small world.
I was on my way from San Miguel de Allende to Miami when a man across the aisle sat in the wrong seat and the flight attendant asked him to move over next to me. I always talk to seatmates on flights, unless they make it clear that they want to be left alone, and it's always interesting. I asked where he was headed: "to the Caribbean" and what he was doing: "giving a talk on shamanism."
We talked for a while about his work with the Shuar people in the Amazon. A shaman had saved his life back in 1968 and he had become apprenticed to the shaman for a year thereafter. He had learned so much from these people - about real community and living in harmony with the earth and about creating a better world by following a better dream of what is possible. I had similar experience in working with indigenous people of Mayan descent in Chiapas. We bonded over these experiences. He too understood that we had a lot to learn, if we would only listen. And that our dying culture should pay attention to the wisdom of indigenous peoples which our consumer culture has forgotten and abandoned. We both worked in organizations trying to make that better world which we all know is possible. Our organization's are dedicated to assist in bringing appropriate and sustainable capacities sought by indigenous cultures to defend their land and their way of life and to promote a saner more just world.
When he asked me about our work, I explained that I was the Board Director with Caminos de Agua and that we were currently focused on assisting communities around San Miguel get safe and healthy drinking water. He said that was strange - as he was coming to San Miguel in a week to give a talk the following week. Suddenly it hit me: He was John Perkins! He was Camino´s invited guest to the San Miguel Writers´s Conference as a benefit for our organization. Wow! What an incredible coincidence. John would launch "The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man." I had read the original "Confessions" and it was one of the books that influenced me to begin work in Mexico trying to help enhance the capacity of indigenous movements like the Zapatistas to resist the destructive power of neo-liberalism.
Suffice it to say that John and I had a delightful three hour flight to Miami and made plans to meet up again when he and I returned to San Miguel. I had also taken on assignment within the capacity of our organization: looking for a way to light homes of the Achuar people in the deep Amazon for several hours at night, which wouldn't have to rely on trucking heavy lead acid batteries to store power. John's several talks in San Miguel were inspiring - he is an activist after my own heart - imploring people to take action every day to make the bastards hate you - or as he would put it, in a much more positive light - do something every day to help us turn from a culture of death to one of life.
As large and diverse as it is, we really are not far from each other in this world. I now have a new friend and am just 2 degrees of separation from a shaman in the Amazon. It really is delightful to connect with strangers when you travel.
SPECIAL NOTE: John´s participation in an event with The Center for Global Justice and his Keynote Address with the San Miguel de Allende Writers´Conference raised more than $2000 for Caminos de Agua. Our thanks to the Writers´Conference and to John for a great event!