The last great extinction event on Earth?

 

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(c) AlexMax http://www.fotosearch.com

It’s happening all around the world.  Once thriving oceans, seas, lakes, rivers are dying.  People are experiencing various forms of cancer at unprecedented rates.  Also hypothyroidism, diabetes, and other diseases are increasing in prevalence.  Then there are the dis-eases often categorized as mental disorders:  anxiety, depression, anger, and more.  What do all these things have in common?  All of these maladies, environmental and human, are either caused or exacerbated by one or more of the various forms of pollution which are rampant in our world today.

These forms of pollution include pollution of our water, air, earth, bodies, minds, and spirits.  Many types of corporeal pollution are listed above.  Regarding our minds and spirits, we are currently experiencing widespread pollution of human kind by greed, fear, and hate.  It only takes picking up a newspaper to find instances of this pollution at work.

Who to blame, or is there anyone to blame?  Do we always have to look for someone to blame?  In this case, yes, there most definitely are people at the root of the problem.

One source; a company, government, church, or other agency with financial or other special interests produces “Y” amount of pollution, another company produces 2 times as much.  Another company maybe only produces 1/2 as much.  And all of them are saying that they do not produce enough pollution to be causing such problems.  And all of them are right.  And all of them are wrong.  If you aren’t familiar with Aesop’s fable of the “The Crow and the Pitcher”, I hope you’ll read it.  It explains a lot.

And where is the E.P.A. in all of this?  They’re busy repeatedly firing Dr. William Marcus and then repeatedly trying to defend that action in court.  And I imagine other activities of similar ilk, all conducted behind closed doors.  Don’t ask, don’t tell.  Many believe that today, under the Trump administration, the fox has been put in charge of the henhouse at the E.P.A.  (Personally I think that has effectively been the case for at least a few decades.)

Don’t people see what’s happening?  Don’t people understand the real and potential problems associated with pollution?  Don’t we, with all our technology, possess the means to prevent and correct such problems?  The answer to all these questions is the same:  “Yes”.  However, there is another question and answer which, together, underlie all these problems:  Don’t we collectively, around the world, value life, human and otherwise, more than money?  Unfortunately at this time, the effective consensus is demonstrably:  “No”.

Too many people want their stock dividends, too many CEO’s want their 6, 7, or 8 figure bonuses, the power and influence of too many public offices are for sale, too many people want their cheap stuff.  As with the devastating effects of pollution itself, it’s a matter of no one contributing factor being the whole cause, but again, “The Crow and the Pitcher” tells the story.

I think at some point in the future when archeologists, quite possibly from another planet because Earthlings will have become extinct, look for the answer to the last great extinction event on Earth, they will find a direct causative chain of:  human greed-pollution-willful ignoring-extinction.

Yet, around the world, little by little, people are waking up.  So the last question is;  will enough people be awake and taking action before it is too late?  It truly is a case of “United we stand, divided we fall.”

I am using the same artwork for this article as the last one because, well, it is just so appropriate.  And I would rather think optimistically then post a picture of the pollution we can all see without any great effort.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Re-humanizing our World

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(c) AlexMax http://www.fotosearch.com

This is a “laundry list” of things which, if put into effect, would go a long way toward effectively stabilizing human culture, re-humanizing humanity, doing away with war,  decreasing the prevalence of many illnesses, and making life worth living!  None of these, except one (I won’t say which one), are my original ideas.  They are from people who have studied the issues and weighed the related factors.  As I have accumulated them over years I apologize that I do not cite the source.  In the interest of brevity I have sometimes combined what were originally separate ideas but which dovetail nicely together.

  • A three day work week with a living wage.
  • Abolish the stock market.  Keep companies in the hands of their founders and workers (employee ownership).  Let the consumers decide via their purchases, or lack thereof, when a company’s product is no longer desired.
  • New ideas for products/companies can be financed via bank loans, personal loans or the sale of bonds.  All at a reasonable rate of interest and able to be paid off.
  • Eliminate speculation in agricultural or any other products.  This only artificially raises prices thereby fueling inflation.  (Essentially do away with a “casino economy”.)
  • All industrial or other waste which poses a threat to the health of our environment must be discontinued or treated in such a fashion as to effectively neutralize any threat it may pose.
  • Legalize the production, sale and use of all natural substances which may be categorized as “drugs”.  These include marijuana, coca, poppies and their derivatives.  No prescription needed for these substances.  In order to purchase these substances a person must have a card indicating they have completed an introductory class of at least 3 hrs. in duration about the potential dangers and benefits of each substance they wish to be allowed to purchase.  Including tobacco and alcohol.
  • Re-institute regulations around the number of television stations, radio stations, newspapers and other media outlets that any one person or corporation may own.
  • Via regulations affecting banks, arms manufacturers and other government contractors, remove the the profit motive from war.
  • Make the dissemination of false and/or misleading information by elected and/or appointed government officials/employees a criminal offense (if it isn’t already) and enforce it.
  • Restrict election financing.  Cap the dollar amount any one candidate can spend during an election campaign.  Make it a felony with significant penalties for any person, corporation or foreign nation, or any agent thereof, to give donations, gifts, or make promises of future financial/material gain to any elected or appointed government official/employee.  Or for any elected or appointed government official and/or employee to receive such donations or gifts.
  • Maintain and adequately fund community based (not private) and regulated police forces, fire departments, schools, parks, hospitals, ambulance/EMT services (universal healthcare) and other services.  Such as concert and sports venues as a community desires and can support.
  •  Income from concerts, sporting events, etc, above and beyond that used to pay workers, performers, athletes, etc., should go to public coffers and to fund public services and infrastructure.
  • Establish and enforce both a minimum and maximum personal income.  The minimum income would insure basic housing, food and essentials for all.  There could be some work requirement (public service) upon those receiving it.  The maximum income would include income from all sources combined.  This would be in force for all people regardless of profession.  The maximum income should be no more than 7 times the minimum wage (not the minimum income which may be slightly less than the minimum wage).  

While in a rough draft format, as mentioned above this is at least a partial “laundry list” of actions which, if instituted, would serve to stabilize and re-humanize our cultures and our world.

The Common Ground of Stewardship

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(c) AlexMax http://www.fotosearch.com

(Well, it didn’t take long for me to drift away from trying to post on Saturdays.)  Anyway, I recently had cause to be researching the topic of “stewardship”.  I think most people are familiar with the concept of stewardship, but maybe not.  So to begin with, here is an excerpt from the Merriam-Webster Online definition:

“2 : the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially : the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care”

That pretty much sums it up.

The first I can remember hearing anything about stewardship was when I was young and attending a Methodist church in the small Midwest town I grew up in.  Stewardship was an important topic in that church.  Probably the most well known Bible story relating to stewardship is the story of Joseph in Egypt.  How Joseph, acting as a good servant, espousing good stewardship, was a blessing to the Egyptian people.  You can read more about the story of Joseph in the Book of Genesis beginning at chapter 37.  The topic of stewardship was one that came up every now and then in the topics being presented.

That association of stewardship and religion led me to look to see what some other religions had to say on the topic.  There is a lot that is written and discussed online around this topic related to various religions.  However, there did clearly appear to be a consensus to be found among many of the world’s religions.  Most of the information I have listed below are excerpts taken from the website “Religion Answers” although I often found similar quotes within other sources:

Within the Islamic faith we find:  “The three most important principles of the Prophet’s philosophy of nature are based on the Quranic teachings and the concepts of tawhid (unity), khalifa (stewardship) and amana (trust).”

The Hindu teaching has this to say:  “Stewardship is Right Conduct, what the Hindu calls dharma. Stewardship extends to water, to land, to animals, to food, to resources. Nature is Prakriti, Mother Earth is one of the Gods. Earth must be treated with respect.”

Buddhism:  “Stewardship is management of the Earth and its resources in accord with the dhamma, the teaching of the Buddha. This includes respect for all forms of life. Stewardship scopes to include environmental ethics, obligation to future generations, risk, and development of technology.”

Sikhism:  “The holy scriptures in Sikhism say God is the creator of all that exists., Man has a duty to care for the creation, The world reflects what is inside man – pollution, global warming, ecology disasters – all these reflect what is inside every man, woman and child.”  

In the Old Testament: (This does not come from “Religion Answers.)  I have to say this is one area of discussion that got a little blurry.  It seems to be accepted that God gave man dominion over the Earth.  The blurriness seems to be in how that may be interpreted from one place to another.  Does “dominion” mean do what you will?  That the Earth and it’s resources are here for our plunder?  Or does it mean that the Earth belongs to humankind for our caretaking?  For our stewardship in keeping with love for God and for one another?  Big difference.  I think (and hope) most conscientious, spiritually minded persons from both Judaism and Christianity regard it in the latter context.

From the New Testament: Titus 1:7 ESV :  “For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain,”

These are just a few examples.  From what I’ve found Taoism, Confucianism, Shintoism, Native American teachings, African native spiritual practices and Paganism all hold the value of respectfully and responsibly, if not lovingly, caring for the Earth and it’s resources.  I have not researched every religion, however, from the pattern which clearly shows within the ones I’ve listed, good stewardship, especially of the Earth and it’s resources, has been a shared and cherished value within the religious traditions of most, if not all, people from all around the world for a long, long time.

Imagine, human beings from most, if not all, cultures and locations on the Earth, who have sought wisdom within our spiritual reality, have for centuries, if not millenia, held values consistent with one another about how we should revere and care for, how we should engage in good stewardship of, the Earth and it’s resources.  Talk about common ground!  What has happened to divert so much of humanity from this very common understanding of our role as stewards upon the Earth?

If humankind, around the world, were to in deed practice conscientious, responsible, loving stewardship of the Earth and it’s resources, keeping in mind that humankind itself may be thought of as another resource upon the Earth, imagine how wonderful this planet and the cultures we build upon it might be?

 

Setting a new course…

IMG_1995For the next few weeks, months, years (?), I am going publish short commentaries on what’s happening in the world rather than longer essays.  My goal is to publish one a week, on Saturday mornings.  I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to read, “liked” and/or commented on articles on my blog!

 

A lot of (most?) people in the U.S. have played “Monopoly” at some time. The board game that’s designed to produce a winner and losers in an imaginary battle to acquire wealth. There is maneuvering for advantage, developing properties, lucky and unlucky roles of the dice. In the end someone bankrupts everyone else and owns it all. Then everyone can put the game away and head to the kitchen for snacks. That’s the part that’s missing in real life.
As in the game, in real life most (all?) people contribute in some way to building up and maintaining our communities. Most contribute throughout most of their lifetime. Building, serving, performing tasks meant to help keep the community vibrant. Unfortunately, these days it is happening within a system that is increasingly resembling the board game: designed to produce a relatively few big winners and lots of losers. Because we live in a finite system, there cannot be unbelievably extravagant winners without a whole lot of losers.
In the U.S. it hasn’t always been this way. Regulations against monopolies, a progressive tax system, wages and benefits people could thrive on, social safety nets and other safeguards kept the playing field more balanced; viable for the majority of, if not all, people. Then, those with more wealth began to find ways to manipulate the system. The regulations and safeguards which previously existed to protect the well-being of the whole have been, and are being, dismantled. This is leading to increasing economic imbalance with all the attendant debilitating effects on the general population that one can expect, even predict. We’re now seeing individuals with more wealth than millions of others. Others who have also been contributing.
The system needs repair. We need to restore lost safeguards. We need greater community mindedness. We need greater recognition of our inherent interdependence.

Update, 6/15/18:  The best laid plans of mice and men and all that.  I thought this was a good idea at the time, however, life has intervened and this plan for my blog did not materialize.  I’m not quite sure what I’m doing in terms of blogging these days.  I am certainly in a period of transition in my life.  To everyone who has read my blog at some time, maybe “liked” it or commented;  thank you!  I hope to be more actively involved at some time in the future…

Respecting our individual developmental imperatives.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Why do I use Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs so often in my articles? Because it informs us of a universal key to a successful life as an individual and as a culture.

Culture.  We all need one to live.  However, if and when that culture becomes too rigid, too intolerant, it stops being the supportive, nurturing, positive context we all need for whole, healthy lives.  We human beings are complex in our make-up, in how it is that we experience our world, our environment, and in how we, as individuals, want to respond and behave within it.  Each of us, while we do all share an essential common core of basic needs: water, food, air, shelter, love…, as complex beings are also very different in many ways.

We all experience and relate to our world in a somewhat different manner.  Some people are more oriented toward an auditory experience of the world.  Some the visual, or the tactile.  And there are many other aspects of our lives which we all approach in different measure, with varying degrees of passion.  We all have available to us the realities of logic, mathematics, healing/medicine, art, architecture, music, taste/food, physical capabilities; balance, strength, motion, sensuality.  There are so very many aspects of our lives and our world which we all can and do find ourselves drawn to, interested in, to varying degrees.  And they are all equally valid*What we find ourselves naturally drawn to is the path we need, as an individual living organism with both physical and spiritual components.  The path which will lead us to realizing our individual developmental journey in this life.  It is, in fact our developmental imperative.  And, again, they are all equally valid*.

This reality, of individual developmental imperatives, while so common sensical and simple at it’s base, has profound implications for us within our cultures and interpersonal relationships.  Currently, in many cultures, there is an expectation, sometimes a quite rigid expectation, that within the culture we should all follow a highly regimented common path.  This can, and often does, apply within our interpersonal relationships and especially marriages.  It can, and often does demand, that one party accept a subservient relationship to the other.  Often, but by no means always, the subservient role is expected of the female.  It is hard, real hard, (all but impossible?) to get in touch with and express one’s individual developmental imperative in such a situation.  Someone may want to attempt the argument that then the subservient person is experiencing that difficulty then that is their developmental imperative at that moment (to learn it is impossible to experience self-actualization while being rigidly held to someone else’s expectations and rules?).  What do you think?

Within healthy interpersonal relationships we often take on obligations.  Couples take on the obligation of maintaining a household, raising children, working together toward common goals.  Honoring one’s own developmental imperative does not mean being defiantly independent and resisting all cooperative efforts and arrangements in our lives.  It does mean being in touch with and honest with ourselves.  Honoring what we know to be our essential orientations and needs.  When partners recognize this reality within their own and their partner’s life, and when the individual orientations and needs are not incompatible with the needs that exist within the partnership, then all’s well.  As a matter of fact, it’s better than well, it’s excellent.

The only way it gets any better is when partners within a relationship not only recognize and honor one another’s individual developmental imperatives, but take an active interest in seeing one another succeed in expressing them.  

Today in the world at large we see individual developmental imperatives being honored, or neglected, to varying degrees.  Some cultures all but totally reject it.  When a brutally enforced totalitarian expectation of conformity is present, individual developmental imperative hides in fear.  Or there may be martyrs in it’s name.  The individual developmental imperative seems to most often demand our attention by being gently insistent.  However, if continually repressed there can be pressure that builds up behind it.  It can cry out within our being for recognition and expression.

The same is true within families, or interpersonal relationships and marriages.   It can require determination and personal effort in developing knowledge and reason for individual developmental imperative to find fertile ground.  Personal insecurities can get in the way of one’s own ability to express one’s developmental imperative and it can cause us to try to repress it in others.  Within close relationships knowledge of one another combined with trust and reliability are important.

We don’t come into this world “blank slates”.  We arrive with a developmental imperative already well underway.  Our spirit, our mind, our nervous system are already geared for the path that will serve us the best.  And, if we are happy and accomplished at a skill which brings enlightenment, joy, and increased turn-on to life and well-being to others…then it is a win-win-win situation.

Again, there is work involved, and discipline.  Work and discipline are not bad things when applied to the expression of that which we deeply love and seek to honor with our being.  In that context work and discipline feel right and we recognize the value they can add to our achieving that which we desire.

*So why the asterisk, the caveat?  Because there is something we need to acknowledge and honor in order to preserve our individual ability to access, explore and fulfill our lives.  It is really very simple:  we need to acknowledge and honor the basic needs and lives of everyone else as if they were our own.  Which means if we perceive our developmental imperative as requiring us to harm others, to inflict physical, psychological and/or spiritual harm:  mutilation, deprivation, destruction, upon others, then we need to rethink how we are interpreting our perceptions.  It is likely that if we find ourself having such thoughts that they are an expression of anxiety and fear.  Emotions often stemming from, at sometime in our past, our having been harmed, significantly physically, psychologically and/or emotionally mistreated.  And/or quite possibly that we are suffering from a neurological impairment resulting from an insult to our brain.  Possibly from a physical or chemical insult, or resulting from experiencing significant prolonged stress.  What is needed is an experience of pervasive healing:  and that experience will not manifest by harming others.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.