Wade Davis

Anthropologist Wade Davis of National Geographic in an absolutely mind-blowing TED talk from 2003. I’m floored. I caught a bit of this guy today on the radio while driving back from the garage and wanted to find out more. He’s giving this year’s Massey Lecture.

The whole TED talk is fantastic, but the ending pushes it over the top for me to something transcendent:

“It’s pretty obvious, at least to all of us who have traveled in these remote reaches of the planet, to realize that they’re not remote at all. They’re homelands of somebody. They represent branches of the human imagination that go back to the dawn of time. And for all of us, the dreams of these children, like the dreams of our own children, become part of the naked geography of hope. So what we’re trying to do at the National Geographic, finally, is, we believe that politicians will never accomplish anything. We think that polemics are not persuasive, but we think that storytelling can change the world. So we are probably the best storytelling institution in the world: we have 35 million hits on our website every month, 156 nations carry our television channel, our magazines are read by millions. What we’re doing is a series of journeys to the ethnosphere where we’re gonna take our audience to places of such cultural wonder that they cannot help but come away dazzled by what they have seen, and hopefully, therefore, embrace gradually, one by one, this central revelation of anthropology: that this world deserves to exist in a diverse way, that we can find a way to live in a truly multicultural, pluralistic world, where all of the wisdom of all of all peoples can contribute to our collective well-being.”

His summary of the craft of storytelling takes the career longings and yearnings I’ve been having to a higher place, to a truer place. It transcends mere journalism and enters the realm of something almost holy. It seems to unify the spiritual searching I’ve had all these years and expressed in my exploration of religion, along with the need for relevance through journalism, my own persistent desire to write, and the urge of humans 10,000 years ago to sacralize the hunt by painting it on cave walls. Really. His vision is celebratory of the human adventure, cherishes it, and is in love with it in all its forms and manifestations.

Too many thoughts are springing forth from this. I see connections in the career I’ve sought, in what I’m writing now, in what I wrote years ago, in values and ideals I shape and form and hold dear. I, I, I need to think this through more. Not enough tags for this post! Not enough! Ahh, this is so going in my personal manifesto box. “The naked geography of hope.” Argh! And I marvel once more at the poetic capabilities of the human spirit. (Falls over)