Gore was introduced to the New York Sheraton stage last Friday night in the most beautiful way by Bobby McFerrin who slowly built an engaging a cappella melody out of Gore’s name. Then the crowd of 1700 environmentally-conscious transformational psychology fans (lovers of yoga and meditation as well) went wild, standing cheering when Gore came on stage.
Following that warm welcome, the former vice president/advance man on global warming gave a speech on “Turning Fear into an Opportunity” that was solid-ly okay, not terrific, the kind of speech you might expect him to give anywhere–with more humor than usual, perhaps–but still a lecture that in no way sent us out of the auditorium dying for him to be a presidential candidate again. (Here’s an excellent, more systematic summary of the speech by blogger Bob Morris, who was also there, and writes “Politics in the Zeros.”)
True, it was late in the evening. And we’d already listened to primatologist Jane Goodall, who had spoken about her optimism that we can set the world right through the indomitable will of our spirit.
Gore, to me, just seemed a tad removed and professorial, but he pleased those assembled (some of whom grew really sleepy) with quotes from such “with it” spiritual notables as Caroline Myss, M. Scott Peck, Gandhi, Teilhard de Chardin, even Kurt Vonnegut. Gore did not directly attack the current administration, but did say this: “The president has set the goal to rid the world of EVIL. Big job! There’s a lot of it out there, and it doesn’t all come in a turban.”
Toward the end, Gore wrapped up his thoughts on the environment by comparing our tenuous hold on the earth to the way he had been holding his young son’s hand right before his boy was hit by a car some years ago. We don’t want the world to escape our grasp, Gore cautioned. But if we all work together and obtain a critical mass, global warming’s outcomes can perhaps be overcome.
What was odd for me, as I sat there sorting out my own projections, was that I thought Gore was going to give a major address that would in some way give us specific marching orders. And I had imagined that he would set himself out to be a leader of the next phase. He did not seem to be that leader last Friday night. It felt more like he was passing a baton to us. So I was let down as I left, but also challenged.
I’ll have more for you about the rest of the conference in the coming days. FYI: Gore did seemed slimmer than he was six weeks ago. I’m betting he’s off white flour and all sugars (as I’ve been) too!