Co-Op Village
Free plans for sustainable intentional communities.

   The Power Of Minus One

By: Jim Costa

Dr. Phil tells us that there are defining moments in our lives that shape our futures.  One of mine occurred the second week in high school algebra.  When the teacher revealed the power of minus one I froze up and never got passed that point in time.  I didn't hear another word he said the rest of the year.  I remained focused on the minus one dilemma.  I am delighted to announce that, in spite of tuning out the teacher, I still made my Mamma proud by “earning” a
“D-“ for the year.

Now, to my dilemma:  Next to zero, "one" is one of the lowest numbers you can have.  A minus one is even lower.  That part I can comprehend OK.  Here’s the situation: If the fraternity needs 500 beers for the party Friday, goes to the cupboard and discovers a negative 500 bottles, it has a major problem.  Instead of having a 500-bottle problem as originally thought, it discovers a 1,000-bottle problem instead.  I comprehend this.

Here’s the kicker.  A law of algebra is that a minus times a minus equals a positive.  This I cannot comprehend.  How can we take a lowly Minus One (-1), multiply it by our major problem (-500) and get the most wonderful party of the year (+500)?  How can an almost nothing (-1) take us from hell to heaven instantly?  I didn’t get it.

After leaving my Mamma’s home, I spent the greater part of my life trying to understand why everybody got it wrong but me.  I just had to prove myself right and redeem my honor at the next school reunion.

Being that math might not be one of my strongest talents, I turned to life to prove my point; that “the power of minus one is unlimited” is a false claim.  But the more I observed the more I realized that I had indeed gotten it wrong.  Every negative in my life could be turned into a positive easily when I focused, located a Minus One, and applied it to the equation.  What was unnerving was that the bigger the problem, the bigger the opportunity.

I got to the point that I went around deliberately seeking negatives.  I would eagerly jump into a pile of it so it would turn to gold! During the learning process I left a lot of bad tracks. My wife, out of desperation, removed all of the carpet from the house. In the end though, I perfected it and finally accepted this as the truth. This was great. I then began to walk around with gold on my shoes and a smile on my face.

Today we face the ultimate pile (i.e. the end of civilization as we know it).  The problems we face today are unprecedented: global warming, financial meltdown, post peak oil, etc.  But if we locate a Minus One we can turn this into the greatest opportunity mankind has ever experienced! This is finally the opportunity for mankind to end suffering on the planet for all people.

The Minus One is Co-Op Villages.

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