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Every Monday, we hear from a Michigander who has some ideas about how we can improve things in the state. Today, Michigan Radio’s Morning Edition host Christina Shockley speaks with Phil Johnson, a minister, author, and motivational speaker who lives in Grand Rapids.
Mr. Johnson begins by urging the residents of Michigan to take on a more positive outlook about the state and the economy. He suggests that rather than worrying about the state’s economic survival, we should start focusing on the state’s future with anticipation and pride. Johnson says we need to “reimagine Michigan as being prosperous and thriving.”
One problem, says Johnson, is that people in the state have become obsessed with thinking about their lives in terms of the recession. “People like agony, sometimes,” says Johnson, “I don’t think it’s really conscious, I think that’s the way it is. I think we need to move beyond that, to think in terms of thriving.”
Once we have envisioned a prosperous and thriving future for the state, Johnson says that we then must challenge one another to focus on achieving that future. When Michiganders can come together in efforts of creating the prosperous future they’ve imagined, Johnson says they are then able to “risk on purpose with a common purpose.” He adds, “When we challenge each other to refocus, then we commit with each other to move forward.”
Mr. Johnson thinks that one obstacle to envisioning a thriving future in Michigan is that many people have forgotten what good economic times were like. “Sometimes people have what I call ‘social amnesia,’” says Johnson, “They don’t remember when things were really hopping so they forget that there are good times, that there were good times, and that those good times may come again in different forms.”
For his final suggestion for the state of Michigan, Mr. Johnson says we need to encourage one another to rebuild Michigan. “We need to be good ancestors,” says Johnson, “That means engaging our hearts and minds to cope with what is certainly an uncertain world.”
Regarding the power of one individual to influence the thinking of everyone, Johnson references his work in Kenya, saying, “It’s kind of trite to say that one person can make a difference, but when I’m under a net in Kenya, and there’s one mosquito in the room, I’ll tell you it has quite an influence.”
In closing, Mr. Johnson quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson, saying, “Don’t go where the path may lead, but go instead where there’s no path and leave a trail.” Johnson adds, “I really believe that Michigan has a marvelous chance to come out of this recession blazing a new trail.”
- By Eliot Johnson