Discussion Topics

1. In Deborah’s lecture, she says ‘we’re inside it, we can’t see it.’ What is she referring to? Do you see examples of this concept in your world?

2. In Attar’s book The Conference of the Birds, he describes seven valleys toward spiritual enlightenment. Do you think Deborah follows them? How do the valleys lead toward enlightenment?

3. Gandhi defined seven social sins. What are they and what do you think social interactions would be like if society put them into practice? Where else does the number 7 appear?

4. Many Native American tribes have practiced making collective decisions based on the benefit of seven generations in the future. What does this mean to you and how does it relate to the way our leaders make decisions today? Think back 140 years.

5. Both mainstream religion and mysticism are discussed. What is the difference and how do they relate? What do you think about the way of life that is Orthodox Judaism? Islam? Christianity? What is the purpose of these ways of life?

6. In her essay “White Privilege,” Peggy McIntosh says, “I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance to my group.” How is conferred dominance and unearned privilege shown in the book? What do you think it means to be morally normative and ideal?

7. Homosexuality has been condemned by religions throughout his- tory as being immoral. When Deborah speaks to the minister, she offers a scientific explanation for it. Which do you agree with? What are other aspects of human behavior that are not mainstream but are inherent?

8. What is the significance of the pendant? Why did the author include it? What other material items does Deborah connect to and why?

9. Robert Gifford from the University of Victoria argues that seven psychological barriers or “dragons of inaction” stop us from acting on climate change. These are manifested in such things as our ancient brains, uncertainties, denials, optimism biases, financial investments, political ideologies, and belief in techno-salvation. Where in the book do these occur? What are you doing about climate change?

10. There is a discussion about the dirtying of our commons, the overuse of Earth’s resources, and the development of bad technology. Where and how are these discussed? Do you think they are real or fiction?

11. What do you think of the conclusions from the International conference? Do you think that is the world we have today or is it the world of fiction?