We’ve all experienced this phenomenon before: you’ve never heard of a particular item, idea, or person and then once you do you find it popping up all over the place. It’s as if the whole world (or at least everybody you know on Facebook), all got the same buzz at the same time. Of course, we all know that someone had to be “the first” — the first to think that thought, invent that item, do the research, say or do or discover something new — and that everybody else caught on later. Malcom Gladwell elaborated on this pattern in his first book, The Tipping Point, comparing the spread of new ideas to that of viruses in an epidemic — sooner or later everybody gets “infected.”
I found myself thinking about this process and how these trailblazers, or thought leaders may plant the seeds for a new world for all of us — how they, in effect, help to shape or create our reality. Whether it’s Pema Chodron, the Dalai Lama, or Carolyn Myss teaching about forgiveness, or someone like Elizabeth Warren standing up and saying that the Emperor has no clothes, the vanguard of any field anchor each advance for the rest of us. Sometimes it’s as simple as a fresh perspective on an old problem, like Joe Dispenza’s new book, You Are the Placebo Effect, in which he takes a different slant on the documented phenomenon of the mind’s ability to affect the body. He argues that it’s time to stop dismissing, or factoring out the placebo effect and to actually start harnessing it.
Sometimes it’s more complex, like the societal shift that has occured for gay rights: from Stonewall, to the fall of D.O.M.A. and the consensus acceptance of same sex marriage in my lifetime, where each step has built a new reality that would have been unthinkable several years ago. Who was the first person who stood up and said, “This is unacceptable?” Who planted the seed of the idea that we could change the old reality and create something new? Who had the imagination to think of something different?
I wonder about these things whenever I hear about the latest war or atrocity, or stories of child or animal abuse. I sign the petition, I make the phone call to my representative, I donate money and it never seems like it’s enough. But then I think — no, I imagine, that there are a few of us out there saying, “Enough is enough.” Then I imagine that perhaps there are several hundred, maybe even thousands of us holding that thought and anchoring a new reality… maybe it even goes viral and swamps Facebook: no more war, no more abuse, and universal rights for all people and creatures of the world. Hell, if we’re going to create a new world, why not thing big? And, who knows?… maybe we’re already near the tipping point.