July, 2005
Vol. 4, Number 7
The SNS Press E–Zine presents new perspectives for a better future in society, politics, religion, education, self-awareness and human relations.
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A hopeful approach for the future of international relations.

Redirect teen rebellion towards idealism and self improvement.

Read excerpts from unpublished book: Science, Religion and the Search for God —Bridging the Gap.

Poems of society, the human condition, and spiritual discovery.

Our student activities and curriculum materials instill an environmental, cultural, and global perspective, and integrate various academic disciplines.


This Month's Article


Thought and Imagination: Part 2

Read last month's article: "Thought and Imagination" Part 1

How can we develop a healthy mind and a healthy imagination so that they work together harmoniously to solve problems and promote happiness, tolerance, freedom and universal well-being?

I often tell my high school students that imagination can be more powerful than thought in shaping their lives. Our current educational system stresses passing standardized tests, which sends the opposite message about educational priorities. Imagination, however, is about formulating a future that one wants to achieve and then making the choices necessary in order to reach it. Youth is the time for imagining a better or an ideal future. In the teenage mind it often has to do with desires and image, but that is not a bad thing because these are strong motivators. It is greater cause for concern if a person cannot imagine a better future, since it may create a lack of goals, apathy, and even self-destructive behavior.

If we apply the same idea to adult society, we find that imagining a better future can be an antidote for boredom, pessimism and depression. Many adults feel trapped by life - by relationships that seem at a dead end, by jobs that similarly are not fulfilling, by bills that need to be paid month after month, by a political system that seems bogged down and unresponsive. One's imagination may become a doorway out of a dark room of negativity. The important thing is not that one achieves one's ideals, but that one's outlook be shaped by them. If one works for a better future, if one is willing to explore new approaches to life, life will be more exciting, relationships will improve, and one will have greater optimism. Working for one's ideals is empowering even if there are no immediate results evident.

When one works for a goal and makes plans to reach it, it activates the mind and reshapes one's choices. Creative, constructive action thus results from imagination working with thought. Imagination without thought is merely day-dreaming - the play of images and desires upon the screen of our mind. Imagination and thought are powerful allies because they produce invention, planning, and actualization. These are qualities that make life more exciting and make one feel more hopeful.

They can also be dangerous allies if the imagination and thought are not healthy. Hitler used imagination and thought to serve his diabolical purposes, and many in positions of power continue to base policies on lies, on desires or on fears, which are nothing more than negative imaginations. So unless the imagination and thought are healthy, we get negative invention, planning, and actualization resulting in destruction and suffering. What we call historical and contemporary "reality" is the mirror of the interplay of imagination and thought by individuals and cultures.

The challenge for a society is to nurture healthy imaginations in its people. Often cultures use myths and entertainment to accomplish this. This works to produce a degree of common values and norms but may not be progressive in the sense of producing creativity and adaptability. In the worst cases, a strong national myth and symbols associated with it may be used to manipulate people resulting in unwavering conformity and authoritarian control. At a point at which a society is threatened with survival it needs to solve its problems and reach a resolution which takes it to its next stage of development. The same is true for an individual. Individuals grow as they successfully meet the challenges and crises of life. Challenge and crises are never absent from human life, and may produce greater understanding and development. Creative people actively create their own challenges or take on the challenges of society as their own. This is how leaders develop in all areas of human activity.

A healthy imagination is not self-centered, but rather imagines a better life for others. It connects one in a positive way to others and to one's environment. It makes one become a positive force in one's surroundings. Two elements are essential to develop a healthy imagination: a sense of beauty and a sense of compassion. These develop a healthy heart and a healthy mind. The sense of beauty is developed through observation of nature and for looking for good in others. Compassion is developed through service to others. These are inner resources which anyone can develop. Through beauty and compassion we become human and develop idealism which is the product of a healthy imagination.

In order to become more than just rational animals struggling to survive, we must add imagination to our outlook on life. Imagination expresses the unique qualities of the human heart, and makes one's life worth living and a value to others. Without imagination our future is bleak and materialistic. A healthy imagination is the source of empowerment and action, and the catalyst for positive change.

Next month: Imagination and Healing

© 2005 Richard Sidy


"Thought and Imagination" Part 1
"Can Idealism Solve Problems?"
Global Consciousness IV : The Sense of Beauty

Archives 2005
Volumn 4
January: "Standing up for Humanity"
February: "The Wake of Disaster" – a poem
March: "Unity in Diversity
April: "Life is Calling"
May: "Entertainment" – a poem
June: "Thought and Imagination" part 1
July: "Thought and Imagination" part 2
August: "Imagination and Healing"
September: "Malice or Neglect? – Lessons of Katrina"
October: "Protecting Children"
November: "Intelligent Design or Evolution?"
December: "Building with one hand, destroying with the other"
Archives 2006
Volumn 5

January: "Conflict, Harmony, and Integrity"
February: "Satyagraha or Soul-force and Political Change"
March: "I Know I'm Not Alone - Wisdom of Michael Franti"
April: "Human Programming and Conflict Part I"
May: "Human Programming and Conflict Part II"
June: "Soccer Diplomacy"
July: "Sustainable Development is Nature's Way
August: "Parallel Universes"
September: "The News is not New"
October: "Legalizing Torture"
November: "Living Without an Enemy"
December: "Fast Food is really Slow Food"

Archives 2007
Volumn 6

January: "State of Fear"
February: Criminal Justice - "The Powerful Over the Weak"
March: "Culture Shock: The Good Life and Survival"
April: "March Madness"
May: "No Child Left Behind" Leaves Many Teachers Behind
June: "Personal Ecology"
July: Criminal Justice - "The Ethic of Custodianship"
August: "Exploring the Mind - part 1"
September: "Exploring the Mind - part 2: The Poetic Mind
October: "How Much Pain Can We Stand?"
November: "When Languages Disappear"
December: "Is it Enough to be Tolerant?"

Archives 2008
Volumn 7

January: "Beyond Ideology: Politics of the Future "
February: "Beyond the Bush Years"
March: "The Imaginary Economy - Part I
April: "The Imaginary Economy - Part II
May: Questions from Prison
June: "iGods and Connectivity"
July: "Energy Independence"
August: "Tribalism and the 2008 Elections
September: "Guilt, Shame and U.S. Justice"
October: "Have We Been Willing Slaves?"
November: "Are We Ready for the Future?"
December: "Are we done learning from pain?"

Archives 2009
Volumn 8

January: "Awakening"
February: "When Sacrifice is no Sacrifice"
March: "The Good New Days"
April: "The Power of Metaphor"
May: "The Conflict of Mythologies"
June: "The Time is Right"
July: "The New Anarchy"
August: "The Art of Living"
September: "Outrage"
October: "Are Women Becoming More Unhappy?

November: "Effect of the manufacturing culture on the American Psyche"
December: Who are the Real Game Changers?

Archives 2010
Volumn 9

January: The Music of Place
February: Earthquakes and Other Awakenings
March: Sense of Place, Sense of Self, Sense of Humanity
April: Why Do People Serve?
May: Decentralizing Food and Energy
June: Beyond Reading and Writing — Ecological literacy
July: Organization or Organism?
August: Fear and Cynicism = “Inter-fear-ance”
September: Are we afraid of our "Better Angels?"
October: Choosing Our Battles
November: Meeting the Need
December: A Living Canvas

Archives 2002: Vol. 1, Numbers 1-12
Read past articles including:
Hope for the Future
Six Part Series on Science and Religion
First Three Parts of the Series on Leadership
Archives 2003: Vol. 2, Numbers 1-12
Read past articles including:
Series on Leadership continued
Avoiding Dictatorship in a Free Society

Art and Politics
Living the Good Life

Teaching Teens
World Peace in Less Than a Month?
Archives 2004: Vol. 3, Numbers 1-12
Read past articles including:
Seven Part Series on Global Consciousness
Is "Liberal" a Dirty Word?
Can Idealism Solve Problems?
Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All
Poetry Diplomacy Science and Religion Teen Help
Archives 2002 Archives 2003 Archives 2004
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