Not many people know that during World War II, the community of Le Chambon, France saved 3,500 Jews from the Nazis. Without any formal organization and at great risk to their own lives, the villagers managed to hide thousands of strangers (many of them orphaned children) for several years. In fact, there were countless rescuers like this all over Europe during the war.
Decades later, in 1987, a Rabbi was giving a talk about that chapter in history and recounts:
“Once, when I was speaking of the ‘conspiracy of evil’ in WWII: a Dutch rescuer in the room stood up and asked, ‘Do you think I could have hid Jewish families in my home without the active cooperation of the mailman, milkman, and the neighbors? For every one person saved, there were seven who rescued.
There was a conspiracy of goodness.’” 1
When I heard those three words — Conspiracy of Goodness TM — everything we had discovered in the last 5 years with Ever Widening Circles made sense.
I realized that while my team and I had been single-mindedly celebrating goodness and curating the web for insight and innovation, our articles had all been pointing to one Conspiracy of Goodness TM happening right under our noses. There are countless thought leaders all around the world whose ingenuity, courage, and relentless perseverance are helping to rescue our shared futures. But unfortunately, too few people know about them. But we’re celebrating that goodness and putting them in the limelight.
The problem is not the lack of goodness in our world, it is our lack of awareness about all that progress.
There are innovators out there saving the rainforests using old cell phones, making skateboarding a cornerstone of progress in Afghanistan, and discovering our human history using satellites to do unimaginable archeology. There are thought leaders doing the seemingly impossible: growing ears from apples, teaching the blind to “see” like bats, using a kind of natural sonar, and those figuring out how a family can put a whole year’s garbage in one mason jar. Not to mention all of the wonders of nature that no one knows about!
Countless people and projects are making the world a better place. Yet, sometimes, I catch the news or a glimpse of the acrimony in politics or on social media—where all the focus is on what’s wrong with the world and others—and it feels like we are standing in a shower of gold with only a pitchfork.
So, why aren’t we hearing more about all the boundless progress and wonder in the world?
We did not evolve through the last 100,000 years on a steady diet of fear, hopelessness, and anger.
Human beings thrive on curiosity, challenge, and cooperation. We are at our very best when situations call for courage, compassion, creativity, and collaboration. And we persevere in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Continuing to overcome in bleak places because of our ability to see beauty, humor, and wonder in the world around us, no matter the blight.
Perhaps it’s time to remember all that and begin a conscious effort to follow our strengths.
I sense there is a wave of all that coming. I used to hear a lot more “downward spiral” conversations. But now, I’m hearing people taking an understated, personal stand against the current malevolent wind. They say they have decided to just tune out the negativity and double down on the good things they know they can influence.
This article of ours will connect you to many thought leaders in this wonderful movement.
Contrary to the negative dialogue about our times, ingenuity and nobility of spirit are both alive and well.
Every thought leader we’ve written about has a wonderful group of early adopters. In order to bring their stories of progress and insight to the forefront, it will take many more rescuers. Remember in the story of Le Chambon?
For every one person saved, there were 7 who were rescuers.
That same impulse is being followed when people willingly pay more to buy shoes or glasses from places like TOMS or Warby Parker because they know their purchase will support a person in need. That’s the same impulse we follow when we refuse a plastic bag or straw, and when we donate to a Patreon page.
Alone, we are unprepared, but our futures are so intertwined that we can aspire together.
The key is starting with the things we can agree upon. There is far more of that than we realize. There are fundamental acts of goodness that transcend everything that divides us. We can all admire the wonder of discovery, ingenuity, good intention, creativity, generosity, and selflessness.
At what point do we turn our backs on the malevolent wind, and instead, open the door to the Conspiracy of GoodnessTM? It’s well underway. It’s just a matter of welcoming it in.
If we share, shout about, and click on the folks who are making the world a better place for everyone, we will get more of it and our future will finally turn a corner. It’s just that simple.
Become one of the rescuers. Ensure that these people making our world a better place—acting inside of the Conspiracy of Goodness TM—receive the attention they deserve. And let’s turn our backs (stop clicking) on anything that is ratcheting up the acrimony, divisiveness, and drama.
The world’s too good for that now. We can move on if we work together.
- Schulweis, Harold M. “Conspiracy of Goodness: An Untold Story.” The Harold M. Shulweis Institute, 2016, hmsi.info/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/another-witness-the-conspiracy-of-godness.pdf. Accessed 15 Apr. 2019. ↩
- TEDx Talks. “Exposing the Conspiracy of Goodness. | Lynda Ulrich | TEDxNaperville.” YouTube, 9 Dec. 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbHtb2kptVE. Accessed 10 Dec. 2020. ↩