Friends, There is Good News

by Ray Matthews on November 28, 2004 at 04:32 PM

We interrupt this irregularly scheduled broadcast.... to share a message more momentous than we've reported on before. We bring a message of hope, of goodness, of peace, of universal brotherhood. Here's how we can join our voices in a global conversation that can forever change the world.

"In one's own way," my mother told me long ago, "every person can change the world." That advice was at the time more prophetic than a truism.

Hyperbole aside, I do believe that individuals are now empowered as never before in history. Individuals are no longer bound by the confines of time, place, language, and political regime in their quest to do good in the world. We now have the capacity to find each other, to gather, and to converse without ever meeting in the flesh. It's all made possible through virtual communities and virtual networking.

Why does that phrase in the United States Constitution "we the people" so resonate in the hearts of people throughout the world? I think it has something to do with our nature as social beings.

In the past, institutions such as governments and churches were needed to organize and rally people. The problem is that all institutions by their nature become corrupt. Leaders succumb to power and greed, and institutions stray from their altruistic beginnings as they amass fortunes and property, gain political power, and build monuments unto themselves.

To Jesus, the church was the community of believers. It wasn't a building, it wasn't an organization, it wasn't a corporation. The church was not a place nor did it own any property. It's unfortunate, but institutions calling themselves churches have embellished to the point of distraction those simple teachings of Jesus to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself. The true church remains the community of believers.

To do good in the world, you don't need institutional wealth, buildings, and treasuries. To self-organize, you don't need creeds, dictums, laws, governments, and rulers. People just need to do be free to do two things: talk and act. You just need to be able to communicate with others of like mind and then to collaborate with them in resolving needs. All conversation inevitably leads to understanding. Understanding leads to acceptance and concern, which in turn naturally leads to the desire to act.

So why can we be so optimistic?

Think for moment about peer-to-peer networks, instant messagers, collaboration workspaces (wikis, collaborative blogs), online communities (Meetups, AOL, Craigslist,, eWomenNetwork, Yahoo Groups, Ecademy, Idealist), alumni communities (SelectMinds, Classmates, TheSquare), syndication technologies (blogs, moblogs, RSS news feeds), and social and business networks (LinkedIn, Ryze, Orkut, Spoke Software, VisiblePath, ZeroDegrees, Knowmentum, Company of Friends). These social networking inventions are now in place and changing the way we interact and converse. But they only portend the future; more powerful social networking is on the horizon.

Social networking facilitates real-world and online conversations. Each of these technologies helps us bridge the six degrees of separation in finding others with similar goals and interests. We just need to apply this knowledge to loftier purposes. It's high time we used what we know for a higher purpose than dating, deal making, and job hunting. How about world peace? Maybe that generation of Miss America contestants had it right after all.

I'll call this repurposing of social networking the "Good News Network." The Good News Network needs no place, no domain, no trademark, no sponsors. It needs only open access and to be built on standards -- standards to converse one language with another and standards to programmatically exchange information. It consists of you and I, our friends, friends of friends, and those yet to be brought into our circle of friendship.

The Good News Network has two functions: to promote conversation and action. We converse by sharing the good news, our faith, and our belief in the goodness of humanity. And we act. We act in small ways, in big ways, but always in individual and personal ways, to share the good news of universality and peace and to promote well-being.

We speak multitudes of languages, we live in diverse regions of the globe, and we comprise all races and nationalities. In this day and age that is unique in history, we can all converse, we can join a global conversation, and we can meet in the virtual living room or the virtual temple of our choice.

So back to the age old question, how do you change the world?

Start by entering the conversation. In your blogs, in your chat rooms, in your networks, in your music, in your poems, in your art, in your families, and in your communities -- tell your story. Let your voice be heard. Sign on in whatever way makes sense to you in order to make a difference. As the marketers say, create a buzz. In the sense of paying it forward, start something in your own way and in your own voice. Start a conversation that will spread, that will continue, that will penetrate the hearts and minds of the power brokers. Those in high places will join us. They will, as Saul of old, see the vision and join the conversation. Perhaps in fulfillment of ancient prophecy, those with ears to hear will find each other, and they who are confused will recognize the voice.

Interrupt your own broadcast to begin the conversation. Let it begin with you; let it begin now. Spread the Good News!

Season's greetings, my friends,

Ray Matthews
Editor RSS in Government