Exclusive excerpt from The One Idea That Saves the World: A Call to Conscience and A Call to Action by Laurence Overmire.

The House is on Fire.The people in the house are
Sleeping and in great danger

Seven of their neighbors will come along
Each with an opportunity to save them

Person #1
Does not see the fire
Consumed in his own thoughts
He passes by in ignorant oblivion

Person #2
Sees the fire
But, not wanting to get involved
Walks on by

Person #3
Sees the fire
But, shocked and terrified
Is left immobilized in a state of panic

Person #4
Sees the fire
And immediately takes action
First, phoning the fire department
Then, knocking on the door to
Wake up the inhabitants

Person #5
Sees the fire
And, daring what no one else would
Enters the house to try to
Save the inhabitants

Person #6
Sees the fire
Surveys the scene
And discovers an opportunity
To promote his own interests and
Make a buck
(He’s the one handing out
His business card to sell his stuff)

Person #7
Set the fire
And lurks unnoticed
Watching the destruction
Not caring really
About anything at all.

_

The house is Mother Earth.

Which person are you?

This poem encapsulates the central, overriding issue of our time: our world is on fire and on the verge of collapse; what are each of us willing to do about it? How do we galvanize people to do what is necessary and right?

Of course, very few of us are willing to risk our own lives to do good in this world, though we are eternally grateful to those who do. But let’s try, all of us, to do our best to be number 4’s. Let’s help to put out the fire.

Unfortunately, one of the biggest problems at this particular point in time is that there are too few people who are working hard to douse the flames. Most people are 1’s, 2’s or 3’s.

The 1’s are the people who don’t even see that the house is on fire. They don’t really understand that there is a problem. They live in ignorance of the situation, consumed with the trials of everyday living. We must wake them up, educate them and ask them politely to help us put out the fire. After all, most of them are decent people. They are your friends and neighbors.

The 2’s are perhaps the most frustrating. There are an awful lot of them out there. Most we would consider good people, but good people don’t always do the right thing. They know that the world is on fire, but they refuse to help in any way to put it out. They just don’t want to make the effort.

Are they lazy? Some perhaps. Apathetic? Yes, some are just too comfortable and want to live their lives in a self-centered kind of way without bothering about the larger community. Some are just too jaded and cynical, believing that there is nothing they can do that will make any difference. Their negative outlooks defeat them before they even make an attempt to rise to the challenge.