The Problems with the Answers

Problem AnswersWe now know our world, our planet (or those who are paying attention know) is one single, large, system.  When we tweak the system, for better or for worse, there are systemic consequences.  For centuries we have had examples of the systemic effects altering a single component of a system can have.  If a person’s liver stops functioning: the person dies.  The whole person, not just the liver.  As human beings we are all sub-systems within, what we undeniably now know is, the larger, unified system which is the Earth.  The danger we face is in continuing to think and behave as if each seemingly separate free-standing entity, whether a person, cow, tree, continent or ocean is an independent entity unaffected by the other seemingly free-standing entities around it.

As a video which used to be shown before movies in the U.S. said:  “There is no non-peeing section of the pool”.  Our environment is like a large pool, it’s all connected and there is no “non-peeing” section.  What happens to the ocean off New Jersey affects Shanghai, and vice-versa.  With some events proximity makes some difference; the closer a place, a people, are to the event, the greater the impact.  Yet even small doses of a poison, continued over a long enough period of time, are going to affect the whole system.

Therein lies the problem with so many of the answers that industries and governments (and those controlling them) want to hand to the rest of us.  So many, if not all, of the answers are lacking in adequate consideration of the systemic consequences of what is being proposed.  Or, if the systemic consequences are being considered, there is a Machiavellian agenda afoot which gives little or no weight to the health and well-being of the majority of people on the planet.  It is the cognizance of this latter possibility that underlies many, if not all, of the “conspiracy theories” we encounter.

The “mainstream” culture in the U.S., the government, industry, media, seem to want us to view the systemic reality that is our planetary ecosystem only one component at a time.  We’re supposed to believe there is no critical interconnection between the components (seemingly independent entities).  We are supposed to ignore the system as a whole.  In actuality, each part, each component, of our planet is in constant energetic, chemical and/or physical interaction, communication if you will, with every other part.  Just as our body is a whole system with each part in constant communication, via energetic, chemical and physical affects, with every other part.  What happens if our planet’s “liver” fails?

This consequences of this interconnectedness has been referred to at times as the “butterfly effect”.  That is an extreme, but not unfounded, conceptualization of the systemic reality we live within.

It’s time we not only face this reality but alter our thinking and behavior to properly take it into account.  Air pollution in China affects us all.  The radioactive water leaking from the Fukushima reactor in Japan is poisoning the whole ocean.  The inordinate materialism being promoted in advertisements, movies and other media from the U.S. is affecting the collective psyche around the world.  You see, it’s not just about air, water, or soil pollution, it’s about everything.  Including the physicality, mentality and spirituality of all people, everywhere. 

Some want to see our Earth as a being named “Gaia”.  I have no problem with that.  Whether our planet, our home is a sentient being or not really should make no difference in how we treat it (her).  Our undeniable reality is that the Earth is our home, our only life-support system, and we need to give much, much greater respect and consideration to that reality than is being shown at this time.

What’s your system?

City with QMSystems:  family, community, national, political, governmental, religious, industrial, military…even musical, intellectual, artistic.  We all live among them.  Some we belong to, subscribe to.  Some of these we internalize, as if it were a part of us.  When we do so, then we become like cells within the body of that system.  Via the reality of our mind we more than identify with the system we have joined with, we feel what it feels, what affects it affects us.  To a greater or lesser extent, we tie our future to that system.  Sometimes systems can, via the sheer number of their subscribers, have great influence, great power in the world.  People, individuals, are, collectively, what make or break a system.

However, we, as individuals, are all separate functioning systems ourselves.  The system which we are, which is “me”, is made up of components which include aspects which are corporeal (flesh, muscle, bone), chemical, emotional, intellectual, electrical, energetic/spiritual.  Some of it, that which is “me”, is temporal, destructible, and some is spiritual and lasting.  Even when the earthly vehicle which is usually identified as “me” while I inhabit it is no longer, I go on.

The intent of this article is to ask a question and hopefully lead you to ask it also.  The question is:  Am I satisfied that the systems which I contribute to keeping alive, to their well-being, that these systems adequately reciprocate in ways which also contribute to my well-being?  In other words, is the relationship a two-way street or a one-way street?

This is actually a very important question which we should all be visiting and revisiting regularly.  The desire for health, vitality, general well-being are usually at the foundation of why we create systems.  Systems are, at their best, tools by and for the general public to more efficiently and/or effectively perform certain functions for the benefit of the whole.  At their worst systems fall under the influence (ownership?) of a limited number of individuals, a fraction of the whole. Individuals who have the desire and the cunning to manipulate conditions within the system to inordinately benefit themselves at the cost of everyone else.  There is a great advantage to be had if they (the abusers) can successfully frame their abuse, create a public perception, that the abusive behavior is actually necessary and a benefit to the general membership of the system.

Sooner or later though, all such misrepresentation, lies, deceit, are a corruption of the integrity of the system they exist within and the constructs will necessarily collapse.  The matter of consequence to us, besides how much damage the corruption may do while it exists, is how much pain and suffering is going to accompany the eventual collapse?  Is the corruption so pervasive that the entire system is going to collapse?

What systems do you subscribe to?  Are you adequately aware of what they’re doing?  Are they reciprocating in terms of supporting your well-being the way they expect (demand?) you to support their well-being?  If not, why are you supporting them?  Does it make any sense to be expending our resources, expending the system which is “me”, to support a collective which does not reciprocate in kind?

Sound, well designed, well-functioning systems can enhance and benefit us all.  Corrupt, self-serving fractional systems can and do drain the life from us, our families, and communities. 

Guido Monaco…who knew?

IMG_1897At one point on our trip to Italy, while most of our traveling companions decided to go to Venice, Riitta and I decided instead to visit the city of Arezzo. I’m not quite sure why we picked Arezzo other than it was convenient and seemed a good opportunity to explore a city we knew nothing about. When we arrived at the train station we began walking directly into the city and quickly came to a grassy piazza, which we wrongly assumed was probably the main piazza of the city. In the center of the piazza is a statue of, and dedicated to, Guido Monaco. Somewhere among you reading this are probably a person, maybe even two, who know what Guido Monaco did. We had no clue. My guesses tended to run to his being a political or religious figure. While one of those is somewhat correct, neither is why this particular statue has been erected. To one side of the statue there is a smaller, metal sculpture which tells of Guido Monaco’s accomplishment. I have to admit I was initially incredulous. We turned to the internet capability of our cell phone and did some quick research. What we found confirmed the assertion on the small, metal sculpture.

Then, as we continued our walk into the city, my mind began to put together the implications, the immensity of Guido Monaco’s contribution to our world. I was awestruck! First by his contribution and, secondly, that I had never before heard of him.  It is no exaggeration to say that Guido Monaco’s contribution to human civilization has affected our world as much, or more, than that of any other human being. For centuries his work has touched lives around the world. His accomplishment has provided countless millions with joy, excitement, comfort and inspiration. It has helped us celebrate the good times, make it through the hard times, and, in general, to be happier, healthier, and more complete as individuals and as a species.  Guido Monaco paved the way for us to experience the music of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Ellington, Basie, Lennon and McCartney, and virtually all of the other great composers past and present.  So what did he do?  He developed, invented if you will, musical notation!

Riitta and I were both initially incredulous of this claim.  Musical notation has been around forever hasn’t it?  Isn’t it as common as the dirt beneath our feet and the air we breathe?  Didn’t it just happen?  Well yes and no.  It happened because Guido Monaco brought it into being.  Wow.

Imagine how much we would be missing if Guido hadn’t done what he did.  Would another person have stepped in to fill the void?  Maybe, who knows?  But the fact is that Guido Monaco did it and we have it and we have been enjoying it a long time.

When I think of all the people that the educational system at the time deemed worthy for me to learn about;  the soldiers, politicians, monarchs, scientists, doctors, and yes, artists and musicians, I am at a loss to think of any of them who has affected my life in a more profound way than Guido Monaco.  It makes me wonder about the value system we use when we decide who’s accomplishments are to be celebrated…  Here’s to you Guido.  Thanks.

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Let’s show a little respect!

img_1889.jpg  I’ve been privileged to spend some time in Italy lately.  A little in the south, a little more in Tuscany and a little on the “Italian Riviera”.  It started as a sightseeing trip:  see the landscape, the old cities, the ruins, the shops, the Italians.  Then some things happened.  I am not going to go into them all, however, I do want to share some events from one day.

First some backstory.  I was raised in a mid-western Christian tradition.  As I grew older, went out in the world, saw more, learned more; I began to question.  Gradually, to me, churches have become, in significant part, artifacts of a system which has failed to appropriately respond to too many of the realities of the world around it.  Too many meaningless or hurtful doctrines.  Too many arbitrary rules.  Too many judgments upon people whose lifestyles do not conform to someone else’s idea of “normal”.  Yet, seeing some of the old churches was also part of the agenda on the trip.

It was a sunny, warm Sunday.  We were in a town, walking in the centro area enjoying the pleasant, cooling breeze which was very present on the hillside the town was built upon.  Then, unexpectedly, all around us the bells of several churches began ringing.  The sounds reverberated through the narrow streets lined with buildings.  While there were many bells ringing at once, they were all in harmony.  It was beautiful.  We stopped in one church and witnessed a monk lighting some candles.  He was a younger man, tall, dark hair, wearing the brown robe and white belt which monks of his order probably have worn for centuries.  I remember noting that people are still joining monastic orders.  Then an older monk appeared.  His appearance and bearing were striking.  Short, stocky, with a ring of white hair around the tan, bald crown of his head.  I could not help but notice the kindness and intelligence which were very present in his eyes.  I felt a liking and an admiration of this person.   While he and I very well might not agree on everything, I found myself instinctively respecting the dignity and sincerity which this individual embodied.

I had entered the church with shorts on, above the knee.  As we left there was a sign (which had not been present at the door we entered through) showing appropriate dress for the sanctuary.  Shorts above the knee are not appropriate garb.  I realized the church held profound importance and relevance for some and that I was a visitor, a guest.  I resolved to respect the dress code for any future visits to churches.

As we continued our walk we came to the main cathedral in the city.  Mass was going on and could be seen and heard through the doors which were probably kept open to capture the wonderful breeze which cooled the otherwise hot day.  I looked through the doorway, inside there was a small (for the size of the cathedral) group of worshipers sitting mostly toward the front of the cathedral.  Unbelievably there were tourists walking in, strolling, looking around, examining the art on the walls and ceiling, probably taking pictures.  It was as if the worshipers were exhibits in a zoo.  I was amazed at the disrespect being shown by the tourists.  I have no idea where the tourists were from.  Probably they were from more than one country and ethnicity.

I realized what I was seeing was a microcosmic display of something that has become far too common in our world:  a disrespect for the essential being and lives of others.  

“It’s all about me” has become the motto of too many people.  Or is it that we are seeing each other as abstract concepts and not whole human beings, like ourselves?  We don’t have to all agree on everything.  We don’t have to all hold the same values, tastes, or desires.  But somewhere within those values, tastes and desires needs to be an essential, basic respect for the lives of others.  The spiritual journey we engage in, whether within or without an established church, is usually an important, central aspect of our lives.  We should, within reason, endeavor to respect the spiritual journey of others.  I think allowing worshipers to enjoy the sanctity of their worship service is a gesture of a basic, essential respect for the lives of others.

Maybe then we can also realize the need for regard and respect in such things as freedom from violence, the need for food and housing, a clean environment, the need for medical care, and the mutuality of our lives around the world.

Extremism

ExtremismViolent extremism may or may not be lethal.   Lethal extremism may or may not be violent.

In hindsight I might more descriptively have titled this article “Extremism and Terror”.

We encounter the word “extremism” a lot these days.  In the U.S., President Donald Trump uses the word a lot.  In his recent speech in Saudi Arabia he spoke strongly about the need to rid places of worship, communities, the Holy Land, and even the Earth itself, of terrorists and extremists.  (Perhaps there is more than a little extremism and terrorism in this speech itself?)  Terrorism and extremism most definitely are blights upon the Earth today.  In the world today, as in President Trump’s speech, they are frequently found going hand in hand.

Terrorism, as it is most widely recognized today, is an intentional action designed to inflict terror upon a “target population”.  That is pretty much how I have found it in dictionary definitions.  Unless one has totally ignored world news the past couple decades or longer, we all know what violent terrorism is.  And, whether we watch the news or not, most, if not all, of us know what terror is.  Just so we’re on “the same page”, here are some excerpts from the  definition of “terror”  given by Merriam-Webster online:

1   : a state of intense fear

 2   b:  a frightening aspect

      c :  a cause of anxiety :  worry”

Most of us have experienced terror for one reason or another during our lives.  Maybe we’ve even gone to watch certain movies or taken part in other activities to feel it.  However, as an ongoing aspect of our day to day lives, terror is not something to be desired or sought.  While in a single dose it may provide an exhilarating thrill, as a steady diet it is stressful and, unless one can free oneself from it’s hold (as one can in a movie situation simply by getting up and walking out), the anxiety and stress accompanying terror can wear us down, become debilitating.  Ultimately the physiological effects resulting from the anxiety and stress which accompany terror, if experienced long term, can diminish the quality and the quantity of our lives.  In fact, terror itself, not just the violence perpetrated in an act of terrorism, carries it’s own lethality.  (See the link at the end of this article.)

Extremism, in and of itself, while today’s media usually has it associated with terror and violence, isn’t always the purveyor of harm or even unpleasantness.  For example, someone may be extreme in their view that all school textbooks should contain information which is true and accurate to the best of our knowledge.  While extreme, that pursuit isn’t going to cause harm for it’s target population.  Quite the contrary.  So maybe “extremism”, in and of itself, is getting something of a bad rap in the world today?

Merriam-Webster online defines extremism as:

“1 :  the quality or state of being extreme 

 2  :  advocacy of extreme measures or views :  radicalism”

However, in recent world news the word “extremist” is most often used referring to people who hold extreme ideas about religion.  Further, in the news the past few years, the words extremist or extremism are often (always?) linked with the words “violent” and/or “religious”.  Violent religious extremism is frequently put forward as a cause of many, if not most, of the world’s ills right now.  It is a fact that people; men, women and children, are being harmed and are being killed in places where “violent religious extremism” is taking place.

Looking at the phenomenon a little closer, what exactly is it that the religious extremists (violent or otherwise) are extreme about?  It is, in every case, their ideas; concepts, values.  In the case of religious extremism those ideas relate to religion.  In cases of religious extremism, I think it’s fair to say those concepts and values are being accorded primacy above all else.  Upholding, following, those concepts and values is being seen and acted upon as being more important than the well-being, even the lives, of others.  That is where lethality enters into situations where extremism is present:  when an idea takes on such value that it becomes more important than life itself, that of others or possibly even one’s own.    

It seems humankind, in general, does not like nor respect the act of putting one’s ideas, no matter how deeply held, before the well-being and lives of others.  Sometimes we may find honor in being willing to put one’s own life on the line for an idea, a value.  However, being willing to put someone else’s life or well-being on the line for that idea or value just doesn’t carry the same merit.

At least throughout the past couple millenia, history and now current events, are showing us that religious extremism can result in lethality.  However, extremism isn’t limited to religion.  Extremism can be found in other aspects of human thinking, human cultures around the world.  As so much suffering in the world right now is being ascribed to religious extremism, I think it is fair to ask:  are there any other forms of extremism which either historically or currently are showing themselves to be as capable of inflicting pain and suffering upon the people of the world?  As it happens, there is at least one.  If there is any other form of extremism which has shown itself to be as capable of violence and/or lethality as religious extremism through the ages, it is extremism in the pursuit of wealth.  Economic extremism.

Economic extremism can take three forms, they are:

  • Extremism around a particular economic system.  Extreme exponents of both capitalism and communism have left some significant body counts in their wake.
  • The extreme pursuit of less.  Asceticism most definitely has the potential to be lethal, but only to the person pursuing it.  I have nothing to fear if my neighbor decides to pursue a life of asceticism.  Realistically, if I live in an area characterized by even a moderate level of life’s comforts, they probably won’t be my neighbor for long if they are extreme in their pursuit.
  • The extreme pursuit of more.  This expression of extremism, as much as any other form of extremism known to human kind, including religious extremism, can result in and has resulted in violence, terror, and/or lethality.

Just as the pursuit of religiosity, carried to extremes, has led individuals and entire cultures to engage in cruel, brutal and murderous behavior toward other human beings, the pursuit of material wealth, carried to extremes, has done likewise.  It is pretty clear that an extreme desire for wealth can lead a person to give that desire the same primacy that religious extremists give the religiosity they cherish.  Off hand, without having all the data on how many people have been wounded, maimed, and/or killed by religious or economic extremists in all of recorded history, I think it would be very hard to make a reasonable estimate on whether religious extremism or economic extremism has resulted in more casualties.

It is also true that sometimes religious and economic extremism go hand in hand.

In understanding the relationship between extremism, terror and lethality, it is important to keep in mind that debilitation, terror and death are not always the results of violence.  Violence is the act of giving someone else more of something:  force, brutality, injuries, lethal trauma.  Debilitation, terror and death can and are just as easily, though not necessarily as quickly, caused by giving someone else less of something:  food, water, shelter, medical care, even education.  Revisiting the topic of terror and terrorism briefly, sometimes terror is the result of the prospect of unfulfilled needs:  unfulfilled needs for food, water, shelter, medical care.  In this way, again, we find extremism and terror going hand in hand.  It is the latter method, the method of giving or allowing less which is the primary method of lethality accompanying economic extremism.  No matter how many people have been killed by violence occurring through the extreme efforts of tyrants to acquire more wealth, more people have perished as a result of being on the wrong side of an extreme economic imbalance.

If a man or woman can be happy with the wealth produced by their own hands, we have no problems.  The problems enter in when men and women desire the wealth produced by the hands of others. The greater the desire for wealth, the more people it requires to produce it.  When inordinate amounts of that wealth are being directed to a ridiculously small number of people there is no question that the people actually producing the wealth are being deprived of an equitable share of the wealth they contributed to producing.  That is a signature of economic extremism, and there is lethality occurring as a result.

The methods, the ploys used in the expression of economic extremism, as with religious extremism, are many and I’m not going to try to go into those at this time.  Suffice to say that whenever, in this world of plenty, we see people languishing in poverty we can be certain that there is economic extremism at the root of it.

If humankind is ever going to realize it’s full potential, if healthy, viable, sustainable, communities are ever going to exist, we are going to have to transcend religious and economic extremism.  

“Why Stress is Deadly”

The Corporate Promise

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Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_bigfatnapoleon’>bigfatnapoleon / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

The twentieth century may go down in history as the century of the corporation.  Corporations dominated the economic and political scene in the U.S. and many other countries.  Somehow the American people bought the idea that the U.S. is like a corporation and that corporate CEO’s know how to run it best.  A corporation is in business to make money and a corporate CEO is generally judged by their ability to make the corporation successful at that goal.  However, the U.S. general population has not been seen as shareholders.  Rather, the U.S. treasury has become just another source of wealth to be looted.  As Eisenhower warned us, the military-industrial complex has garnered power and has taken the lion’s share of our treasury.  Private interests have effectively cleaned out our collective wealth and delivered us into decades of debt: to them.  That has been the fulfillment of the corporate promise.  More a devolution to primitive tribalism than progress.

In truth, a stable, healthy country is more like a family than a corporation.  It is when we recognize our kinship and work together that we realize our fullest potential.  The stress of relentless competition affects human neurology in a way which prevents whole and healthy development.  If we want to continue evolving as a species we are going to need to recognize general well-being as a worthy goal, more worthy than extravagant individual wealth.  “As man advances in civilization, and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him. This point being once reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races.” Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man.

We Need a Culture That Can Care For Body and Soul

img_0502-2What are our natural resources?  Essentially they are the inherent qualities of the planet we live upon.  None of us created them or contributed to their existence.  However, as we know, many if not all of them are necessary for our lives.  Without the air, water, food, shelter, medicinal substances, that our provided by our natural resources we would die.  Without the beauty and recreational opportunities inherent in our natural resources our lives would be much less enjoyable, if even tolerable.

Natural resources include the plants that grow and the animals that inhabit the Earth.  Natural resources are the source of all the raw materials that all products are made from.  Even what scientists require in order to create “synthetics”.  Without the naturally occurring  base materials there would be no synthetics.  We come to the Earth with nothing and everything we have while we’re here has essentially been provided to us by forces beyond our control.  Everything.  That makes the naturally occurring resources of our planet (and others) pretty valuable, doesn’t it?

It is true that humans very often take a natural resource, add some ingenuity and work, and thereby create something more useful to human life than the raw material alone.  Clothing, houses, automobiles, medicines, works of art, musical instruments, books, computers, jewelry, beer, wine!  Humans have bred some plants to produce more or better food products than they did previously.

However, it’s worked the other way with plants also, nutritional value has been reduced in some strains.  And similar claims can also be made for about every natural resource.  At some time one or more human beings have tried to create something with one or the other natural resources which has ended up being of less value than the raw material.  Trial and error, we humans seem to do a lot of that.

Somewhere along the line some people decided that because of some arbitrary situation in their life they actually own one or more natural resources.  Maybe they were born into a “royal” family with a longstanding (but never the less arbitrary) claim.  Or maybe they had friends within one or more governments that were ready and willing to pass laws that proclaimed they now have ownership of certain natural resources.  In any and all of these cases, assertions of ownership have only worked because there were sufficient other people ready to support that assertion.  All such assertions are arbitrary in that they are devised and implemented solely out of the volition of the human beings involved.  In other words, if I say I now own New York, and if I can get enough people in positions of power and a sufficient army to support the claim, then I own New York.  That’s how it works.  We all came with nothing, everything that is, every single solitary natural resource on Earth, has been provided to us freely by forces beyond our control.  Every product that exists is produced from these resources.

Whether by design or default, currently we are allowing individuals or small groups of individuals to claim ownership of massive amounts of the Earth’s natural resources.  Is this really how we want to conduct ourselves?  This type of practice, among other things, leads to competition among the individuals and groups vying for ownership.  It has led to wars and will undoubtedly lead to more if the practice is continued.  It leads to inflationary, greed based pricing of the resources and works toward the impoverishment of the general population.  The psycho/emotional effects of a competition/greed based culture in general are to be seen within populations around the world:  fear, anxiety, disenfranchisement, depression, or vanity, narcissism.

When enough people wake up to the reality that private ownership of natural resources, and all similar cultural structures, can only exist with the cooperation of the general population, then we will see significant change within systems take place.  In the past this has often just meant that the group controlling the resources changes and the same greed/competition model stays in place.  We need something better.  We need to realize that as a species that our fates are inextricably intertwined.  We need to realize the mutuality of our plight and then to act upon that realization.  We need to utilize, to apply the magnificent body of knowledge that already exists within the disciplines of psychology, physiology, sociology, medicine, anthropology, ethics, and spiritual studies in the design and maintenance of our social and industrial systems.  Economically we don’t need socialism, communism or capitalism.  We need a hybrid born in knowledge and reason with the well-being of all of humanity as a goal!

A key foundational piece of wisdom comes when we realize that, in general, looking at the basics of our biology and spirituality, what is good for one person’s body and spirit provides us with a model of what is good for the body and spirit of humanity as a whole.  

The Divided States of America

I just watched a video of Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, and others voicing their outrage at President Trump’s ban of immigrants, refugees and travelers from selected Middle Eastern countries.  Other speakers included Lance Lyttle, Managing Director of SeaTac Airport and Port of Seattle Commissioner, Courtney Gregoire.  Their speeches focused upon the people, the families affected who are at SeaTac and the pain they see this Executive Order creating in the lives of many innocent people.  They made many valid points, none disputing the need for high security and vetting of immigrants from the involved countries.

Initially I personally agreed overall with what these individuals had to say.  After watching a later press conference with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, I realized that there are details not being shared in the press: such as the numbers of those detained, why they were detained and for how long.  Without details it is possible to take away a very inflated view of what is going on.  After getting a little more from both sides of the story, I have to say there is much more to be considered than I think much of the polarized press is bringing forward.

I still am not entirely sure what to think about the temporary bans.  I do understand after how loosely immigration has been handled in the U.S. the past couple decades or more, it may take some time to be sure an adequate system of vetting immigrants from high risk countries is in place.  I am sure that the U.S. has been involved with rendering these countries unlivable for a lot of people and has an inherent responsibility to be involved with assistance and reparations.

What I also realized while watching the video of the press conference regarding SeaTac airport, is that there were references to “our country” and “this country” as if whoever was speaking was vocalizing the sentiment of the general population of the United States.  Right now our nation is so fragmented in our perceptions of what the problems are and how to remedy them that I venture rarely, if ever, can anyone actually take a position and claim to be speaking for “our country”.  Doing so is actually risking being quite presumptuous and misleading.  As a nation, it seems the issues of what our national values are and how they apply to our practical reality are very much up in the air.

As a generalization, it certainly appears the various geographically, economically disparate segments of the population are very much out of touch with each other.  We’re fragmented so badly it is difficult to recognize that this is supposed to be a “united” group of states.  Donald Trump didn’t create this fragmentation.  In the long run will his policies and actions work to remedy it or exacerbate it?  This remains to be seen, but he didn’t create it.

This fragmentation has come about from a variety of contributing factors.  One of these factors which has played a large role in creating the divisions and dissatisfaction within the U.S. population is decades of “business as usual” politics.  Decades of individuals and relatively small groups within the U.S. seeking and acquiring inordinate wealth and power while only valuing and serving their own special agendas.  In light of this reality I have to say I have serious reservations about Donald Trump’s actions serving to correct this underlying condition.  Is there a Donald Trump the public servant who can adequately differentiate himself from Donald Trump the financial profiteer?  Will Donald Trump be able to recognize the need for and wisdom of supporting and strengthening the established social programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, which greatly contribute to a stable, healthy citizenry?  Will he be able to envision ways to ensure needed services such as quality healthcare and education are kept affordable and available to the general population?

Combined with the growing acquisition of power on the part of a relatively small group of extravagantly wealthy individuals, the individuals who hold the high elected offices within our government who we empower to be serving “us” as a whole, have been incrementally opting out of the role of representing the whole of the population.  This has been taking place over the same decades that power has been incrementally acquired by the extravagantly wealthy.  There is much information, evidence, truth behind all the statements going on that our elected officials/representatives have been bought.  We have allowed becoming a President, Senator or Representative to become a career much more akin to private enterprise than public service.  One that not only allows but encourages individuals to capitalize upon their influence and rake in exorbitant wealth for doing so.  We have allowed an unhealthy peer culture to establish itself in the halls of national power.  One that has turned predaceous; feeding upon, pulling apart, the nation it is supposed to be working to preserve.

We, the average citizens, are not going to profit from name calling and engaging in more divisive thinking and rhetoric.  We need to be sitting down together, speaking truthfully, with respect, to one another and listening carefully to what the “other” has to say.  I think by and large we will find there is not a great difference in our motivations, hopes and dreams.  We need to understand how we arrived at this place of perceived and real rifts and disagreements.  Then we can begin to construct remedies that work for most, if not all, of us.

We need to become a citizenry and a regulatory government that think in terms of a national “we”, not just an individual “me”.  And we need to realize that “profit” should not be measured simply in personal material wealth.  The overall well-being of our neighbors, our communities and our nation, including how our nation is seen within the world community, are essential to our personal well-being.   The national well-being is an extremely valuable, essential component of the profit we should all be seeking from our combined efforts.

A primer on illegal immigration.

 

 

The whole of planet Earth is like a sailing ship.  We are on board this ship traveling incredibly fast through the vastness of space.  Without the life support this ship affords us we would all die.

Countries are also like ships.  We travel through our lives on board the ships that are our respective countries. The conditions on board our respective ships affect us a lot.  If the Captain or the officers want to hoard rations or act like tyrants, or make bad decisions about supplies and living conditions, we all suffer for it.  Anxiety between crew members goes up, anger and hatred can start to brew.  It’s even possible, if not probable that mutiny will start to enter some crew members’ minds.

If other ships start experiencing shortages with rations or deck space, or if there are some other conditions which undermine the quality of life:  the crew aboard those ships suffers for it.  If we affect their quality of life by:  firing upon their ship, poisoning their food/water or otherwise shorting their necessary supplies, or by encouraging and/or supporting their Captain and officers to hoard or behave like tyrants:  then sooner or later members of that crew are going to start either engaging in mutiny or jumping ship…or both.

Something I think we very much need to keep in mind is the inescapable law of reciprocal action that exists in our world.

The ones who jump ship are going to look for another ship to climb aboard.  They have no choice.  If our ship is in relatively good shape, and is close enough, they are going to try to climb aboard our ship.  We can count on it.  Once aboard they will use our rations, our food and water and gear.  Some (most?) will also try to work and help keep things going.  If there are enough rations and accommodations, we’re all fine.  If not, eventually there will be shortages.  When there are shortages, tension, anxiety, fear, and anger will escalate.  Or if we start getting all uptight with one another just because of our differences, then we’re also in trouble.  This brings up one aspect of this subject which is more difficult, maybe the most difficult to resolve:  do the “refugees” have the right to expect the host culture to change to accommodate aspects of their culture?  Does cultural change, on anybody’s part, need to happen at all?   Regardless, there are certain rules aboard  every ship that everyone needs to follow in order to prevent chaos and disaster.

Finally, there is no question that if too many climb aboard our ship it will destabilize.  We may even be threatened with capsizing.

It should be clear that it is in our best interests to do what we can to support genuinely good, healthful living conditions for the crew aboard all ships.  

 

Do we care more about the truth relating to objects than we do about the truth relating to events?

Mag picA definition of “coherence” to be found at Merriam-Webster online is:  “1:  the quality or state of cohering: as  a :  systematic or logical connection or consistency…”  In every day terms that might be expressed as “making sense”.  If something is coherent it makes sense, if it isn’t it doesn’t.

One additional term I need to include here is “integrity”.  Merriam-Webster gives us:  “1:  firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values :  incorruptibility  2:  an unimpaired condition :  soundness  3:  the quality or state of being complete or undivided :  completeness”  That pretty much says it.

When we combine coherence with integrity within a concept, agency, person, we have something we can know and trust to be what it is and/or claims to be.  How nice is that?

When it comes to the objects in our world, in order to understand them and use them successfully, in a way that will benefit our lives, we need to have coherent and integral information about those objects.  If we do not have such information we are either uninformed or misinformed.  Either condition is a set-up for something to go wrong.  The truth of this is self-evident.  We need good information to make use of the objects:  machines, computers and even the basic tools in our lives.

If there were a movement going on to give Americans (or anybody) false, misleading information about the machines/technology/tools in our lives, in a way that would directly affect our ability to successfully use these devices we would recognize the wrong in doing so very quickly if not immediately.  When people start losing body parts to lawn mowers, chain saws, other power equipment, when people can’t get their coffee makers to work or their computers to function properly: we would recognize something is amiss, it would be apparent.  And we wouldn’t be happy about it.

But what about the events, the actions, that take place in our world?  Do they matter less in terms of affecting our lives than the things, the objects?  No they don’t.  In fact the events, the actions that take place in our world can do affect our lives greatly.  Not just actions but the reports of actions have started wars during my lifetime:  Vietnam and Iraq for example.  So actions and the reports of actions can and do affect our lives every bit as much, if not more, than the objects around us.

Yet while we would not tolerate being given false information about the objects in our lives.  The VW exhaust scandal being a recent example of how we react to such inaccurate information; we repeatedly tolerate inaccurate reports about the important events, the actions taking place.  And we don’t just tolerate them, we act upon them sacrificing lives and treasure.

Now President-elect Donald Trump has offended the U.S. intelligence community with his disparaging treatment of them.  I have to say, while I am not at all generally happy with Donald Trump’s practices, this particular action caught my attention as a potentially positive statement.  Again, during my lifetime, I have seen the “official sources”, citing intelligence data, with the mainstream media in the U.S. blindly following along, handing the American public blatant lie after blatant lie.  And far too many Americans have been duped into believing the lies and either acting upon them or supporting the ill-founded actions based on them.

Examples of such events include:  the Kennedy assassinations, the Oklahoma City bombing, the Gulf of Tonkin incident, and the events of September 11, 2001 (9/11). While we may not know the full truth of what took place within these events, we can know by looking at the evidence that exists that the official stories are not the truth, not even close.  Sometimes it is just a matter of looking at the authentic mainstream news reports that went out before there was an official story that needed supporting.  And sometimes it takes a little more work accessing the authoritative independent research that has taken place.  There are a lot of theories that exist around the independent research that has taken place around these events.  However, for purposes of this article my goal is not to argue for any of these theories.  My goal is to make the point that the official stories are not accurate and that we, as a people, do not seem to care.  We don’t seem to place the value on coherence and integrity (the truth) regarding events that we do around the objects in our lives.  Why is that?

Is it that the objects are, in their totality, right in front of us where we can see them and directly experience the truth of whether they work properly or not?  On the other hand the events often occur far away and we are dependent upon the reports of others to know what happened?  Is it that, as a population, we haven’t learned how to critically think and analyze the news reports that come to us?  Or is it possibly that we have fallen too completely for the cults of personality that have become so prominent?  Do we accept information because of who (a person, an agency) says something rather than an open, honest, critical examination of what it is they are saying?

No matter what the reason, the result is the same when we accept untruthful information about events as it is when we accept untruthful information about objects:  a profound lack of things working as they should.  When we accept bad information we can’t understand why things are going the way they’re going.  It doesn’t make sense.  When we take information lacking in coherency and integrity into ourselves, make it a part of our internal system, we have subjected ourselves to those deficiencies.  Our thoughts and actions now lack coherence and integrity.  This works on us, eroding our ability to function in a manner which most benefits ourselves and our families.  We become dissonant rather than harmonious with the world around us.  And we experience greater friction, frustration, anxiety, anger wearing us down, robbing us of the life in our years and years of our lives.