The True Harvest



The True Harvest

We easily associate Henry David Thoreau with civil disobedience, which was made historically dramatic via Mahatma Gandhi’s widely and wildly successful Satyagraha – that is, Indian civil disobedience founded on non-violence – but we never associate Thoreau with creativity. Ann Woodlief writes (American Transcendentalism Web, 2002, that he was ‘a complex man of many talents who worked hard to shape his craft and his life, seeing little difference between them.’ Thoreau wrote of the ordinary in an extraordinary way. He discovered truths hidden in what everybody saw. That’s creativity!

Creativity is something you do everyday not apart from you, except if you prefer to assume your critical self, which millions prefer to do. As in you say: ‘Filipinos? A hopeless case!’ and you know you’re a Filipino. Sir or madam, as the case may be, if you say that, you are a hopeless case that I’m not, and I’m a Filipino.

Yesterday, I was asked to be a part of Task Force Rainbow if only by documenting it, starting tomorrow. In anticipation of that, here’s an exercise I just gave myself: Think Task Force Rainbow and discover what others have missed about it. I write this (15 November) not knowing anything about it except that it is a local legal arm dedicated to conservation of natural resources. I will know more about it after this (16 November).

In the meantime, I think like this: Task, Force, Rainbow. Consciously, I dismember the thing but I know that in the end I will try and put the pieces back together again, expecting to see more than Humpty Dumpty, more than ‘Task Force Rainbow.’


I’m thinking of two types of tasks, one for the leader and one for the followers.

Task of a leader

‘The first task of a leader is to keep hope alive,’ says Joe Batten, author of the bestsellers Tough-Minded Leadership (1989) and Tough-Minded Management (2002). What a pleasant surprise! I have been reading about management since about 15 years ago because I have been editing reports and theses on management and I wanted to be knowledgeable about what I was working on – but I don’t remember any management author saying anything about the first task of a leader being ‘to keep hope alive,’ no not even Peter Drucker, Management Guru, thinking man. Joe Batten taught and motivated, among others, soldiers. He knew that when the going gets tough, the hopeful gets going.

But ‘how do we define hope?’ asks Rev John Kramer and answers himself; My excerpt (2006,

First, hope must have reference only to things yet to come.
Second, we speak of hoping only for something that is desirable.
(Third, hope) must refer to something within the realm of possibility.

So, according to Kramer, hope refers to what is in the future, what is desirable, what is possible. Future only and desirable only, of course, but possible only? I hope not!

I always hope for the impossible, and that’s why I’m creative. I say therefore that the first task of the leader is to be creative. To find ways to encourage people in the midst of failure needs creativity.

Task of the followers

Since we cannot all become leaders, it follows that the rest of us must become followers. Instead of turning to those management gurus to identify what is the task of the follower, to be creative about it, I will turn to the genius of Albert Einstein, who says:

A human being is part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

Einstein is to me the most creative scientist the world has ever known, not only because of his magic formula E = mc­­­2 but also because he saw God in a grain of sand. He was a genius. He had faith in God, he had faith in man.

What’s he saying there? Followers and leaders, we are one, we are the world. We think otherwise, but that is a delusion, a self imprisoned by self. We think too highly of ourselves. Our compassion is not enough to embrace everyone, everything.

I say, perhaps if we never learned to use the mirror, it would be easy to see us in others. Though the mirror be clear, we see through the glass, darkly. That’s why we are able to say, ‘Blood is thicker than water’ and forget that there is much less blood and much more water; precisely! We do not see that without water, there is no blood.


Force, says my favorite dictionary the American Heritage, is the capacity to do work or cause physical change, physical power against resistance, intellectual vigor especially as conveyed in writing or speech, capacity for affecting the mind or behavior, a body of persons organized for a certain purpose, something that produces acceleration of a body, legal validity.

So, push is force, law is force, persuasion is force. When Albert Einstein says, ‘Force always attracts men of low morality,’ he refers more to physical violence. Be careful about physical force! As I write this, 15 November 2006, at about 0925, the ABS-CBN news channel ANC flashes a report that Gringo Honasan, the super-patriot who describes himself as the Philippines’ ‘resident adviser on failed coup attempts’ (15 November 2006, Daily Telegraph,, has been arrested in a lady’s house in Quezon City, in the exclusive Greenmeadows Subdivision which is near the military headquarters! The best place to hide is where they are not looking. Honasan is today the embodiment of force in Philippine society in all senses the American Heritage tells us above. And he has the intellectual persuasion; he has persuaded himself and many others that the way to progress in our country is, first, by force of arms – their arms; and then, by force of minds – their minds. Their collective, not ours.

‘May the Force be with you?’

How can force be a tool for good? The only way it can be that is to avoid violence on others. Borrowing from AJ Muste: ‘There is no forceful way to peace. Peace is the way.’

What do you do when peace is abused equally by the powerful and the powerless? If you are a poor farmer and you violate the soil by poisoning it albeit slowly, you are abusing the peace. If you are a poor fisherman and you use dynamite for fishing, you are abusing the peace. If you are a rich farmer or a rich fisherman and over-fish, you are abusing the peace. I do not see the rainbow in that.


‘The soul would have no rainbow had the eyes no tears,’ says John Vance Cheney, American poet. The rainbow comes after a rain and you see it, if you’re looking.

After the 30-day flood, the Lord painted a beautiful rainbow in the sky for Noah to believe that God will from now on spare man from the deluge – if man behaves. How have we been behaving lately?

In the Philippines, as far as our natural resources are concerned – the lands, the mountains, the seas – we have been focused on the golden pot at the end of the rainbow but not the rainbow itself. The rainbow is the path we have to take to reach our ends, our goals, our objectives. If we are in a hurry – and we always are – we take it that the ends justifies the means. We rush to the end of the rainbow without passing through the rainbow. We want instant gratification and we are willing to disregard the rights of others to exercise our own.

The rainbow signifies hope, not fulfillment. And so we come back to the first task of the leader, which is to raise hope and, once raised, to help sustain it. And he can do that by being creative.


Task Force Rainbow

And so we come back to Task Force Rainbow.

‘The true harvest of my life is intangible – a little star dust caught, a portion of the rainbow I have clutched’ – Henry David Thoreau. Borrowing from this American philosopher once more, and looking at ‘Task Force Rainbow’ as one whole again, I can say that the true harvest of the farmer is not the fruit; the true harvest of the fisherman is not the catch – the true harvest is the people who do what they do with nature to enrich themselves and others. Apt image from Ayeona who captions it ‘Tannud Harvest’ ( That is a true picture of creativity. That is a most beautiful sight to behold!

Explore posts in the same categories: Conservation, creative thinking, Creative Writing, Creativity, critical thinking, Give peace a chance, true harvest

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