We have lost the sense that we can and must transform the world. Dangerous Undertaking is a story about a man who learned about transformation, in the form of a chance meeting on a plane with a strange and wise man. He became a different man, ultimately creating revolutionary changes yet, in the beginning, he did not believe in his own power to transform his organization, his community and ultimately, even the world.
Why is it so important to understand the human capacity for transformation today? In a word, the world is in crisis. Crisis means threat, risk, danger. Yet seen through a different lens a crisis is an opportunity for a fresh beginning, the advent of a new way of thinking, the potential for a return to health. There are many voices telling us about the risks of the crisis we face today. Some are even saying that the human race has gone too far and now even our planet is at risk.
But there are other voices—muted and thoughtful, yet powerful—describing our current crisis as a wonder-filled time when something new is emerging. Thomas Berry, Paul Hawken, Nicholas Kittrie, Walter Brueggemann to name a few. Dangerous Undertaking presents their hopeful insights so that many people will experience the thrill of searching for and understanding their own creative role in resolving the current crisis.
There is nothing new about this challenge. The human spirit has been transforming the world for thousands of years. We all know stories about individual change agents like Jesus, the Buddha, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. Perhaps in the 21st century we should simply be patient and depend on the emergence of such extraordinary people to “save our bacon.” I believe we are called to do our part, not simply wait. The ‘little people’—the Frodos and Parsifals—must find their potential as change agents and act because of the urgency of the situation. (1)
(1) Dangerous Undertaking uses some of the great myths and stories to illustrate the capacity of even the least human being to transform things. Frodo is JRR Tolkien’s Hobbit hero in The Lord of the Rings who defeats the forces of evil, and Parsifal is Chretien de Troyes’ hero in the medieval legend about the Holy Grail who pursues and finds the Grail and ultimately transforms a wounded king and his entire kingdom.