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Pat Piper has made a career learning something new. As a journalist in the news business, “something new” occurs every hour so he’s becoming an expert at understanding stuff he never thought about. Learning became a common word in “Future Talk: Conversations About Tomorrow” (Warner Books), the popular book he ghostwrote with Larry King as […]

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Talking to Maya

By on May 29, 2014 in See It Here

When I wrote Future Talk with Larry King we were about to start writing checks beginning with the numbers “20” instead of “19.” Yeah, I know, nobody writes checks anymore.

One of the people interviewed was Maya Angelou who read  “On the Pulse of the Morning” at President Clinton’s 1993 Inauguration. Because this book was about what to expect in the 21st century, that was my first question:

I would hope our fascination with technology does not separate us from our souls. I would hope that CD-Roms and web pages don’t separate us from our respect for each other. My office is replete with computers but I still write on long yellow pads. I have three in front of me right now.

I asked what scares her about the coming century.

Isolation. We are a people, we are a school, we are a group. And we are weakened when we are separated. But there’s a uniqueness in each of us. However, all together is when we are at our best and our strongest, and you can see that when we have a crisis. Something pushes us to each other when there’s hurricane or a fire. I hate the crisis but I love to turn on the television and hear that firefighters have gone from North Carolina to California to help.

Ms. Angelou said she hoped poems would be read aloud and to others. We run together. We jog together. We walk together. High school students will be amazed to hear their voices read those words written by someone else, maybe two or three hundred years earlier.  When you read to someone else you are doing the reading but you are also doing the listening.

And as we were moving toward the conclusion of our talk (she had a class to teach), I asked about a news story where a school board was facing budget troubles and decided to do away with arts classes as a way to save money. Maya Angelou had read the same story.

That’s the last thing to cut back. We are forever talking about protecting the life of the environment but we never talk about protecting the life of the soul.

That line has stayed with me. And now 14 years into this new century, I think all of us can see the state of our collective soul. And I wonder, from time to time, what our world would be like had Maya Angelou never made an entrance. I think we all know that answer. We have a hell of a lot of work to do but the optimist in me says someone gave us a solid start.

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