I am 41 years old, a husband, a father, a farmer, a musician, a carpenter, and the co-founder / director of a small non-profit organization, ECOVA MALI. ECOVA MALI is dedicated to increasing food security and promoting economic development in Mali by providing technical (and occasionally financial) assistance to Malian farmers.
Farm. Food. Hope. Mali with Greg Flatt #isharehope Episode 95
Summary: Greg’s answer to the five questions! Listen to the full conversation on the player above; also available on iTunes, Stitcher and Soundcloud.
Question 1: How do you define hope or what is your favorite quote about hope?
Hope – a belief in the positive. A core value that the world fundamentally is a magnificent and wonderful place and that there far more wonderful, loving, caring, kind people in this world than there are people out to do harm unto others.
Question 2: W8ho has shared the most hope with you?
The first thing that came to mind is my children. I think all children are born curious and loving and happy and excited and enthusiastic and they’re ever hopeful.
Second is the Malian people. That was really very striking to me as a Peace Corps volunteer. Despite their circumstances, people still maintain faith and hope in the world.
Question 3: How have you used hope to make it through a difficult time in your life?
I think because I have been able to travel pretty widely and I have a lot of experiences overseas, I have seen a lot of hardships that most people in the United States don’t. Not that I have suffered personally, but I witnessed. Having seen all the hardship and being aware of so much hardships in the world, it’s just so heartbreaking to me that so much of it is preventable. I mean when we think of people dying of hunger every day and preventable diseases and then people have the audacity to come along and say we need genetically modified crops so that we can feed the world. There’s enough food in the world for everybody already. It’s a question of distribution and unfairness in how that happens. We have everything we need already on this planet so the fact that there’s still people dying of starvation is just unacceptable to me. The fact that there’s millions of homeless people when there are so many resources and people living large and big homes and lots of stuff. That’s the stuff that brings me down. So I definitely had to lean on a lot of people over the years to maintain hope the world can be a better place. I had to lean on my wife for that, I had to lean on my kids at times just to be inspired by their hope and their joy and their love and lots of friends who share my world view and other family members.
It’s hard to come to terms with the suffering in the world especially as one who lives a life of relative privilege. It’s hard not to feel like a hypocrite somehow just by having access to all these resources. But, you have to have hope otherwise what’s the point really?
Question 4: How are you sharing hope today?
I try to make eye contact and smile with people throughout the day. That’s something that also struck me about Mali. They would greet each other, they actually are offering blessings to each other all the time. Complete strangers they’ve never seen before and may never see again, but they still greet each other, they offer each other blessings. Here especially in the cities, if you make eye contact with people, sometimes it’s like, well what’s your problem?
I try to be friendly. I try to think about what people might be going through and try not to take things personally. I’m also a musician. I do make it a point to go out to some open mics in Salem and that brings me joy. The joy that I’ve seen music bring to people is really powerful. Music totally gives me hope. One of my first real Malian friend, Toumani Traoré, we collaborated on a bunch of original songs over the years and that’s what ended up becoming the album. He passed away a couple of years ago from ALS. He gave me hope. In spite of his condition, he couldn’t even sing or let alone talk or play the guitar anymore, but he still had that sparkle in his eyes. I hope that when I am able to make music, I am hopeful that it can raise other people’s spirits too.
Question 5: How should I (the listener) begin to grow in hope or share hope today?
(1) Smile at people. Be polite. Be kind.
(2) Reach out to those having a hard time.
(3) Tap into your inner hope by getting in sync with yourself and your surroundings. (Read about “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience” as mentioned by Greg!)
(4) Do anything that can cultivate joy in your life.