Bill Liao is the author of the “The Stone Soup Way” and is involved with Xing and WeForest. The latter is an organization set up to empower local communities to reforest their environment by offering training in permaculture techniques.
Bill spoke on the first day at BlogTalk2010. He was interviewed afterwards and we would like to share some of the things he had to say.
“I am a great believer in a thing called permaculture which is an ethical design science. If you want to look at the height of civilization in my view, then it’s design.
“You can design a future that’s beautiful or you can design a future that sucks. Most people don’t bother to design the next five minutes let alone a future they really want to live into.
“It’s about designing a future you really want to live in and then creating a narrative about it that other people really hear and treating everyone with compassion. Hearing them, having them feel heard. Because most of the time we’re [left feeling] right about something because no one’s listening.”
On the internet and mobile phones
“We have the most powerful thing that we have ever had as a species. Our greatest tool is language. And now we have this thing that allows our language, our physical language, our emotional language, our direct language, written language and spoken language to be transmitted to every corner of the planet instantaneously.
“We did a survey with The Hunger Project years ago and access to [to mobile phones for] the poorest of the poor was about 1%. The same survey was conducted last year, 50%. Next year, 75% of the poorest of the poor will have access to a mobile phone at sometime.
“That means that language can span the globe quickly. What an opportunity.”
“If you want to end poverty in the world, empower the world’s women you end poverty – it’s pure and simple. That’s not to say that with men and women one acts dominant to the other. That’s not empowerment that’s just another function of being right. Empowerment is just allowing everyone to be able to do what they said they were going to do.
“Women are particularly good, when the barriers are removed, at collaboration. Women are also more determined than men.”
Unsustainability is a euphemism for doomed
“There is so much negativity being used to promote things. You have this fear based reaction. So you look at the future and you say, “We’re screwed. And given that we’re screwed I might as well spend my last dollar and burn my last tree.” That’s the fear response. You get out of that with language. You get out of that with education.
The challenge for me everywhere, is a world that works for everyone. That’s the hard thing to be designing the future from. Because if you have a world that works for everyone there’s a whole load of stuff that we humans do that doesn’t fit in a world that works for everyone.”
On how to create a world that works for everyone
“Awareness, mindfulness, language – these are the three tools we have. Awareness is having the presence to be in the moment. Mindfulness is having the ability to actually look at what is going on, to be hungry for knowledge, hungry for wisdom.
“Your ability to affect anything in the world comes down to something very simple. Language and integrity. Integrity is simply doing what you said you’d do and honouring that. Your personal integrity is a function that gives you your empowerment. Because if you think about disempowerment – disempowerment is that you cannot do what you said what you would do. You don’t have the power to do something. Something is between you and what you said you would do.
“That’s the tool, get rid of all the things that get between you and all the things that you said you were going to do. Now half or more of the things that are between you and the things that you said you were going to do are in your head. They’re nowhere else. Only a small number of them are external factors.”
On the inner voice
“This trusted confidant that you use to discuss important matters like the future. The first step to mindfulness, realise that it’s just chatter. You have put far too much weight and emphasis on your inner voice. Actually, it’s not all that bright.
“If you stop listening to your commentary on what I’m saying and just listen to what I’m saying you get more data. And you turn that data into more information. You can process it afterwards and not on the fly and you get to feel good.
“So most people don’t use the most powerful part of language which is listening. Now if you get your inner voice calm, when you speak you listen and when you shut up, you listen. You make the other person feel heard. That’s the most powerful thing in the Universe.”