Sunday, November 18, 2012

No Place Like Home

I spent today at TEDxSanDiego with our principal and a group of inspiring students from our high school.  We joined 400 other youth from all over the county and a bevy of provocative artists, musicians, inventors, scientists, and heroes.

One of the most memorable speakers of the day for me was Andrew Slack, founder of The Harry Potter Alliance, a non-profit determined to mobilize young people to support missions of equality and equity worldwide.  Slack believes that "the story of the orphan and the empire has the power to be a gamechanger in the story of humanity and how we see ourselves as human beings."

Because we, like Andrew Slack, can all identify with orphan-heroes and their noble quests.  His speech was a plea for us to remain undaunted, and join forces.

Slack cited a long list of narratives which subscribe to the 'Orphan vs. Evil Empire' archetype, including The Wizard of Oz, Star Wars, Superman, and of course, Harry Potter, explaining that the protagonists all face obstacles.  But the walls they encounter tend to have literal or figurative secret doors waiting to be found.  Slack acknowledged that the problem is that many of these doors "are very good at hiding."

Harry Potter, he reminded us, was just a "boy who lived in a cupboard who hoped that somewhere over the rainbow there was someone" who valued him.  The sadness we carry--the orphan parts of ourselves--can be the "doorway to a loving world."

He described a Jewish saying which observes that the mundane "routines of life can block the radiance of the world," urging his young audience members to indulge in daydreams and fantasy, which are not escapes "from the world, but invitations to go deeper into it."

Finally, Slack explained that reaching out, bonding, and establishing interconnectedness, "makes us not orphans, but siblings...who...from Gaza to Jerusalem...sleep together as a family of heroes under one sky, and we are home.  And, there is no place like home."  He finished his talk with a slide of the earth.

I was agape at this man's ability to link his personal story to popular literature to archetypes to a call for global service, like a nerdy young professorial rock star.

Just the kind of human I hoped would be speaking to and connecting with our students.

Here's his talk at another TEDx event:

1 comment:

Marisa Reichardt said...

I have always wanted to go to a TED event. Amazing. Love that 400 students went with you!