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Paul Hilder – The Futures Interview

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Paul Hilder

Paul Hilder is an organiser and social entrepreneur. He helped to launch the global movement Avaaz.org, which now has almost 10 million members worldwide, and served as its Campaign Director for almost four years. He is a co-founder and board director of the British movement 38 Degrees, and was co-founder and director of the global debate website openDemocracy.net. Paul now serves as Director of Campaigns with the global development movement Oxfam. He has worked with many different organizations globally on social innovation, governance and conflict resolution, in particular in the Middle East and Europe, and his publications include Contentious Citizens (Carnegie, 2007). Cooking and gardening are two of his joys.

?!X: What’s the Future You Choose?

PH: The future I choose is a rainbow at sunrise. It’s the mingling of the future you choose with the future she hopes for, and the future they hardly dared to dream. Most of all, it’s the future I never even thought of – before each one of you opened my eyes.

It’s the future we choose. Togetherness in tomorrow. It grows from listening to each other, sharing the very best of our impulses and insights, ear to mouth and heart to heart. A future where we bump into each other day after day and in the blink of an eye, there we are again, familiar faces and new, rolling our sleeves and plunging in — up to our elbows together. Moulding our society of hopes into a richer, better future.

This future I choose is a future where my sons are grown and strong and full of life, choosing their own shared and individual futures, and challenging us old fools on all we left undone – because we will never do it all.

But knowing what we did do, how we shot the rapids of our time… it’s a future where we can still sleep deeply at night, and take the deepest of breaths, and pause… and truly delight, together in this moment, in the light of the clearing, the wonder of our short lives, and the slow rebounding of the only world we share.

?!X: What’s a ‘think’ to create this future?

PH: I read voraciously. But the book of relationships is the richest and most inexhaustible. The most important thought is taking a moment to listen, really listen, to what the person facing you is saying or not quite saying. See your own face through their eyes. Listen to their hopes and fears and dreams, and listen for the echoes chiming in your own heart. It’s not simple or easy, this. It can lead to all kinds of arguments and embarrassments. But it’s the beginning of everything that is good and human.

?!X: What’s an ‘act’ to create the future you choose?

PH: There’s an act for a better future lying hidden in every moment, but here’s one simple one that I at least have found can teach patience, consequence and reward. Plant a seed with someone you care about. Tend it, water it and feed it. Watch it grow, day after day, into something tasty or beautiful or both. Share the joy – and plant again.

?!X: What’s a ‘vote’ to create the future you choose?

PH: Look for the things that are wrong, and just as much or even more, for the things that should be right.

If no-one’s doing anything about it yet, and there’s a chance you could… and really, you can’t wait for someone older or better qualified to do it, because you might be waiting forever and a day.

So start a conversation, hoist a flag, spread the word…! You never know what might happen. There’ll be failures and reverses intermingled with joy and success. Along the way, we’ll all learn more and more about the future we are choosing and not choosing.

And just as much… join in where other people lead. If someone else hoisted a flag before you – great! Thank them. Lend a hand for at least a second if you can. Sign a petition, join a party, grow a business, grow a tree. This will take all of us, sharing our hopes and dreams and projects, and dancing together toward a better dawn.

?!X: Future Soundtrack – What song would you take with you into the future? 

PH: Bach’s Cello Suites

?!X: Can you share with us up to 5 weblinks that you find interesting and inspiring?

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulhilder

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