Updated: Jun 25

Audrey Peterman, DEL Co-founder The insistent calling of a bird outside my window woke me from a deep sleep. I lay quietly trying to place the notes, ruling out our mockingbirds, the black capped Loggerhead Kingbird or Pechary as we call it here in Jamaica, and the multitude of warblers. It called stridently, repeatedly, a string of three notes, as if it were trying to get my attention. It went on so long I thought I should record it and play it for Frank who knows much more about birds than me, but the minute I picked up my phone, it stopped. It had gotten my attention. And just like that, I remembered the tame Myna birds in Aldous Huxley’s “Island,” who flew all over idyllic Pacific island of Palau, calling periodically, “Attention! Attention!” By reminding the people to bring their attention to the present moment and keep it there, the birds had helped the society flourish in peace and harmony for more than 120 years. No old grievances were allowed to fester and poison the tranquility.

In this tumultuous time, I have to really work at mastering my attention, I’m grateful to that bird for reminding me to continuously tune in to where my attention is. There is so much news competing for my attention, it sometimes feels exhausting to try to keep up. I’m concluding that there is an inflection point for our country and our world, so I am focusing all my attention on the world I want to see birthed from it. It’s a world in which all human beings recognize each other as one family, and laugh at the artificial distinctions we used to make – a red rose and a white rose are both roses. It’s a world where we care for each other as we would care for ourselves, and as we want to be cared for. A world where all life is valued and respected. In context of this paradise, Huxley quoted Aristotle, “In framing an ideal we may assume what we wish, but should avoid impossibilities.” If you’re among those people who believe the ideal is impossible, I’d remind, “That’s your concept. My concept has as much validity as yours and whatever we put the most attention and energy into is the one we’ll materialize.”

If you’re looking to help create a more equitable and just world, our speakers and trainers at are ready to help you. Check out this article “Here’s How National Parks are working to fight racism by DEL Speaker James Mills.


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