Brian Sullivan

Katherine Jones
Boiseans will have an opportunity to hear - and talk with - four internationally known leaders as they speak about philosophy, activism and social consciousness.

James O'Dea, former director of Amnesty International and the Institute for Noetic Science, is one of the keynote speakers at "Living in the Fire of Change: Sacred Activism and Social Transformation."

With the election of a new U.S. president whose mantra was change - and keen awareness of global economic and environmental challenges - the conference title alludes to fire as a symbol of transformation.

O'Dea says, "Our problems are too big to face from a narrow, partisan lens. So how do we face those challenges - America as a nation and as a global society - with a new kind of intentionality and a new spirit, not based on the old finger-pointing way?

"In this great transformational moment, what is the creation of the solution together? Let's put our minds together and mobilize our greatest creativity."

"Sacred activism" is not activism based on politics or ideology or religion, O'Dea says:

"It is moving inward. When you move into your heart and ask, 'How am I part of the problem,' that's sacred. It's a deeper task in our consciousness: How am I responsible, how am I contributing to the problem; how do I contribute to the solution."

That's what he hopes conference attendees will take away: "Immerse themselves a bit more in the importance of their own contribution."

Boise is particularly ripe for this kind of reflection, says O'Dea, who has spoken here twice before. "Idaho can be a leader. Idaho is very interested in green economy - windpower and so forth. A change of heart and a change of consciousness together with that kind of work - and you have the next phase of evolution."


O'Dea is helping conference director Mali Leach bring in national speakers Andrew Harvey, Barbara Marx Hubbard and Sequoyah Trueblood. But their speaking is not the heart of the conference.

"(An important) part is interaction with Idaho and Boise leaders, not just a bunch of celebrities coming in from the outside, giving a talk and zipping off," O'Dea says. Saturday afternoon will be a dynamic, interactive dialogue between community leaders and the keynote speakers, a "conversation between equals."

The conference will close with a "call to action," with local non-profits offering concrete ways to become involved.

"It's my belief that in the giving, we receive," Leach says. "Community service is a key aspect of helping our lives to heal and come closer to our own truths. It feels so good to know that we helped another human being. It changes our lives, really."

If, in these tumultuous times, it's hard to see beyond one's own survival, Leach says, action is key. "Because really, the true essence and joy of life is knowing we're not in it alone ... and that helping other people brings a deep grace and helps us to heal, almost immediately, from our own truth and happiness."

As former director of Amnesty International, O'Dea says he's seen the darkest side of human cruelty - yet he can tell story after story of reconciliation.

"In my own story, that sense of seeing how wounded we can get - how broken things can get and how society can get into very difficult places, like war and race intolerance. My story is very much about evolution and growth and our capacity to change and transform. It's not just from an academic place. I've seen and experienced the worst and I've seen - the best is yet to come

"As things shift and change, everyone is affected. É Fire is transformation when you really undergo change. É We're in the fire together."

Mind Power Masters

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