My children like to quote the science fiction writer Isaac Asimov musing about inspiration: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka' (I found it) but 'That's funny...' "
Curiosity, wonder and a desire to solve a problem are what drive the scientific imagination.
Hearing that, I wondered what magic words ignite the social entrepreneurial imagination. What drives some people to choose to work for change, begin or join new organizations, shake up structures set in their ways and otherwise make trouble for a settled but faulty world. It seems to me that those words are just as simple, almost as terse, and even more searing. They are: "Oh. That's not good."
Social entrepreneurs see the world the way it is and say that is not the way it could and should be. But that is just the beginning. Many people, even most, see that things are not right, just as many people look at something and wonder what makes it work. But they don't move from thought to action. So what is the extra impulse that urges one to become a scientist and turns a person from someone who tsks and laments to someone who digs in and acts? I would argue that the answer is twofold: an inner demon that drives them to do more coupled with a hope that perhaps they really can.
So the scientist and the social entrepreneur are similar in some ways. But in one huge way they differ. The scientist can research, study, think, tinker and try a thousand experiments by themselves. Though they may achieve a breakthrough sooner with others to help think things through, they do not need them to make their discovery.
Not so with the social entrepreneur. No social entrepreneur ever achieved their goals alone. Their very medium is other people - speaking with them, inspiring them, and being inspired by them in turn.
All of you reading this are social entrepreneurs. You would not bother to be here, at this site, on this blog, engaged in this issue to the depth you are if you had not at one point looked at what the human race is doing to the world and said, "That is not good." So thank you not just for noticing, but for taking that extra step.
Thanks to all of you who have worked with BJEN over the past year and a half. With your help, five synagogues have voted to join our Green Synagogue initiative to date. More are exploring the option. Sustainable actions are also underway in various sectors of the Baltimore Jewish community including the Associated, the JCC and of course Pearlstone Conference and Retreat Center and Kayam Farm. The tide is turning, but there is still much to do. And with your help, BJEN will continue to be certain is gets done.
So as daylight hours begin to lengthen, and as we turn from a political era of environmental degradation to one of renewal, healing and growth, I offer you thanks for being wayfarers on this most important of journeys. There is still much to do and I look forward to doing it with you.