Tag Archives: misunderstanding

Global Warming: My Stance

I truly wonder if we will survive as a species.
I truly wonder if we will survive as a species.

I’ve been ill for the past week, still somewhat frail — it has given me an opportunity to think about what I really want, and why I am writing this blog. Succinctly, I believe that as a species we are on a suicide mission, and as a culture we are incredibly angry; you only have to look at the American politics to see how angry we are, and you only have to look at other situations to see how frustrated. I want to have a positive impact in changing all this.

Therapist: anger management

For almost 25 years, I taught anger management, and I was good. A judge would sometimes specify my weekend program as part of his judgments, to the exclusion of other better-known programs. A Probation Officer send me more that 60 clients for domestic issues over the years — he could only recall two who re-offended (after a while, he kept informal count, and eventually he gave me detailed feedback, published in my book Blowing Out The Darkness). Not all angry people end up with probation issues, but only two poor outcomes out of sixty is astounding.

During my career, I generally noted that my long-term clients fell into two groups. One group was very active in personal growth, and would change their lives in astounding ways; personal growth itself can be painful — these people would work through the pain, arriving at places in their lives where they were deeply satisfied.

My Acedia Clients

The second group was inactive. I came to characterize them as lazy and/or fearful. I am not intending to be pejorative, simply descriptive. By lazy I mean they would say they would do the work, and then produce no results other than excuses. By fearful, they would talk about how painful the work would be if they did it, and that they were afraid of the consequences (they were fearful — this was not fear!).

I eventually came to the conclusion that these issues were a broad reflection of their (unconscious) refusal to be authentic (so-called existential issues) and/or a refusal to engage in the profound beauty of life (one of my definitions of spiritual). I also know that I had no tools to offer — laziness and fearfulness were choices, and all I could do was to challenge the client to live authentically. (Actually, if the client accepted the challenge, the therapy became easy.)

PhD: Climate Change

After about 25 years, I recognized that I needed a break from my career, and the opportunity came for me to do my PhD at a university that emphasized authenticity. I decided that here was my opportunity to study laziness and fearfulness, and started on that journey. (I soon added self-righteousness, and subsumed all three under an ancient word acedia.)

Early in the course work, we were talking about the current state of our society, especially global warming. Given my first university degree was in physics, I easily understood the science and mechanics of global warming — I recognized we were on a suicide course, the extinction of the human species, no ifs! It is that serious. I was devastated, and it took me almost two years to get out of my despair (now long gone, but with residual sadness). So my dissertation became the relationship between acedia and global warming, eventually resulting in my second book Acedia, The Darkness Within, and the darkness of climate change.

Travels

For the next few years, I travelled, and saw a lot of the Caribbean, South America, and some of Europe. I also pondered one of my favorite expressions: “As individual human beings, we are capable of incredible greatness, but as a species, we are psychotic.” (Introverts, especially hermits, are very good at pondering.)

Global warming is a technological issue, but we do not resolve it. We have known about the issues for approximately 50 years, but we have continued on a path of denial and greed, such that now it might be too late. I hope not, and I intend to live as if it is not too late.

And global warming is simply the outcome of our hubris as a species. For perhaps millions of years, the Homo species has lived as hunter-gatherers. Ten thousand years ago (a drop in the bucket), we started to create civilizations through the dynamics of power. Eventually came scientific materialism, our marvelous technology, with hidden costs. And in our hubris, we did not want to pay the costs. Hence, we are where we are . . .

What I Want

About a year ago, after much vacillation, I decided this was not good enough. This is not how I want to spend my life, pondering. I have skills that are important to this whole struggle.

The world needs to mobilize its forces to deal with the ills of civilization. I can assist with this, although it is not my strong point. First, it must be mobilized to resolve global warming, likely at the level demonstrated in the States at the beginning of their direct contribution in the 1940s (see The Climate Mobilization). Second, we must create a more humane culture, one that honors the whole of the planet.

My skill is in being a resource to people who want to do the work. I believe there is a huge amount of anger in the world, even in the people who are doing the work. There is nothing wrong with anger, provided it does not lead to violation, but anger poorly managed leads to burnout, and burnout is not useful to doing the work. And I am very good at the management of both anger and burnout.

Next: What underlies global warming — the nature of acedia.

This post is part of what I am calling the core posts for understanding what I am attempting by this blog. For other core posts, click here.

A Future City: Daily Living, Part 6

Glitzy and exciting, but  urban sprawl has major disadvantages.
Glitzy and exciting, but urban sprawl has major disadvantages.

Daily life in a mature culture — now that we have looked at the possibility of a Victory City, what would daily life actually be like in such a city? As noted, I am proposing that the high-rise buildings would consist of a large number of village-like settings, where people would actually live much of their day-to-day activity.

Let me flesh it out a lot, with a bit of imagination. I’m in a dilemma though — I want to provide details of my vision, mainly to have something to bounce against, but I am also fearful that I will lose the reader if I get too detailed, too utopian, to hold interest. But I do so because such visioning is what I am encouraging in our society — we need a sustainable vision so as to more forward to what we want, not away from what we don’t want. Such is life!

Here is an overview. I strongly value Herman’s characteristics of individuation, relationship as primary, face-to-face democracy, and the need for a mythic narrative. So, for me, the needs are:

  • personal development of individuals,
  • relationships that maximize diversity and cooperation,
  • village life as the source of interaction,
  • the ending of consumerism, and
  • the sustainability and resilience of our planet.

To accomplish this, I suggest we must maximize both:

  • modular production of consumable products (minimizing footprint and waste while preserving effectiveness of function), and
  • individual creativity and expressiveness.

A tall order. Utopian in many respects, but still for me a vision of a creative life. There could be a lot of uniformity in the mundane areas of life (extensive modular design would keep the industrial impact to a minimum), and there could be much creativity and diversity of the smaller aspects. For example, buildings throughout the world could be quite uniform, but the manner in which they were decorated, externally and internally, could be incredibly diverse.

I am assuming that, if:

  • the basic needs of food, shelter, education, and health were provided, and
  • people throughout the planet were orientated to a balance of diversity and community, placing high value on personal development and creativity rather than consumerism,

then there would be little need for money and private property, and a large need for individual creativity.

Suppose, then:

  • the planetary population was one billion (1,000,000,000) people
  • there were 5000 cities of 200,000 people each
    • each city would occupy about 10 square miles (much smaller than current cities today), with extensive wilderness surrounding.
      • the wilderness areas would be available for exploration, provided the human impact was well managed.
    • each city would specialize in a limited number of activities (in modular fashion) required by the world population.
      • these might consist of some kind of industrial production, or some kind of artistic production such as film or theatre, all of which could be distributed to other cities, either in physical form (industrial) or virtual (artistic)
    • each city would consist of 40 high-rise buildings of 5000 people each
      • there would be another 40 low-rise buildings for such activities as food production, transportation, maintenance, et cetera
        • all buildings would be green buildings (see the Manchester Retrofit of the previous post)
          • most mundane activities would be automated to a major extent, but activities enjoyed by human personnel (e.g., garden care and cooking) would be encouraged
        • each high-rise would be 90 floors
          • 15 floors for high-rise common area, such as schools and hospitals, and/or industrial activity.
            • full medical and educational facilities would be present in each high-rise, with advanced facilities located in some of the out-buildings.
            • most industrial activity would be automated, requiring only limited supervision and/or the equivalent of sophisticated machinists. Much could be done under remote control with sophisticated electronics.
          • 75 floors of village-like living groups
            • every 3 floors would be a village of 200 people
            • each village would consist of 2 floors living area, with 1 common floor sandwiched between
          • connections within high-rises and between buildings would all be by high-volume, high-speed elevators and walkways, minimizing travel time within the city, and almost eliminating the use of personal vehicles.

I will continue next post with the characteristics of these village sandwiches.

The Power of Words

We are story-makers; we swim in language
We are story-makers; we swim in language

I value language; I value precision of language. I’ve often told people that “fish swim in water; human beings swim in language.” As such, language creates much of my world, and I need to be very careful as to what I am creating. Previous posts on sloppy language and shoulds were examples of such creating.

I’ve also said that if you want to change your world for the better, be meticulous with your language for six months. You will astonished by the changes that occur (and unfortunately, there will be some pain as well as great gain).

A colleague of mine, Janet Smith Warfield, is equally insistent of the power of words. She is the author of Amazon Best Seller: Shift: Change Your Words, Change Your World. She has graciously allowed me to re-publish one of her blog postings The Power of Your Words. Especially I want to note that, in a mature culture, we will likely return to valuing of the three ancient words she describes.

The Power Of Your Words

Janet Smith Warfield, 20131012

As a human being, have you ever noticed the words that come out of your mouth? If not, start noticing.

Your words demonstrate who you are. They can illuminate your character as fool or sage, lover or murderer, scientist or artist. Every word that comes out of your mouth has the power to heal or destroy. Sometimes, words do both simultaneously.

When you call someone a terrorist, you are not demonstrating your strength. You are demonstrating your fear. When you call someone stupid, you are not demonstrating your wisdom. You are demonstrating your low self-esteem. When you honor the beauty another has brought into your life, you yourself become beautiful.

The power of words has been taught through the first three of the Seven Liberal Arts [of antiquity]: Grammatica, Dialectica, and Rhetorica. Developed by the ancient mystery schools of Egypt and early Greece, they remain a foundation of education.

When taught by teachers of ordinary consciousness, they become deadly school exercises learned only at a surface level by the hard work of rote and repetition. When facilitated by highly talented educators attuned to Logos—the divine principle of order and knowledge—they transform words into exciting, creative, esoteric doorways to Wisdom, inner discipline, and purification of the Soul.

Grammatica pertains to the structure of language, its history, and the underlying energy of an idea. Nouns (chair, table, apple, tree) are immobile and passive. Our minds bring together an experience that we perceive as an object. We give it a name. Ordinary consciousness believes the name is the same as the object. Expanded consciousness knows that the name reflects something far more complex. The name is a human-created placeholder for a continually shifting experience. It stops the moving picture at a single frame so we can analyze it, understand it, and feel safe.

Verbs (run, sit, walk, fly) are changeable and active. They can create or transform our perception of time. We ran, run, or will run. Verbs pertain to the human will, choice, and action.

Adjectives (beautiful, sad, dysfunctional, harmonic) and adverbs (slowly, quickly, passionately, smoothly) bring emotion into our speech. They add expansion, contraction, and rhythm.

Dialectica is logical thinking. It requires us to speak clearly and see from many different perspectives. It allows us to move quickly from the depths of hell to the heights of heaven. It enables us to build word bridges between what appear to be opposites. Like Socrates, it asks questions. Like Zen Buddhist koans, it poses mind-bending puzzles.

Rhetorica is beautiful, persuasive speech. It uses passion and tonality, questions and pauses. Sometimes it tells heart-rending stories. Other times, it speaks through poetry or drama. It is the intention and power behind our words.

Notice your words. Play with your words. Choose them wisely to create the effect you want. Notice the results. Go back and reshape them to make them clearer, more succinct,  more creative, more intentional, and more powerful. As your thought becomes clear and your words become powerful, notice how effective you are.

Dr Janet Smith Warfield

www.wordsculptures.com

September 5th, Janet will be the guest speaker in a series entitled WE Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For… Engaged Spirituality Comes of Age, presenting Dancing With Words; Dancing With Wisdom,. I recommend it, as well as the entire series.

Climate Action: Urgency, a poem by Carol Chapman

Like us, a stressed species
Like us, a stressed species

I encountered this poem via Facebook, and upon reading it, deeply resonated with its content, a content that strongly identifies what I am also wanting to identify as the malaise of our society. I have Carol’s permission to copy it here, and thank her for her contribution. She adds that this poem is part of a series called Visions of a Possible Apocalypse.

Urgency,  by Carol Flake Chapman, 2016 July 18

Time’s winged chariot looms behind me

Nudging my bumper like an Italian driver

Blaring the horn, go faster or get out of the way

It feels like bullets are flying everywhere

Everywhere, that is, but here

Ice is melting, fires are burning

Oceans are rising, rivers are sinking

People are fleeing, walls going up

It feels like danger lurks everywhere

Everywhere, that is, but here

They are shooting elephants and rhinos

As polar bears drift away on Arctic shards

And wondrous varieties of birds and fish

Succumb to the human tide spreading everywhere

Everywhere, that is, but here

The unhinged are pushing buttons, pulling triggers

Unleashing death and fear as zealots egg them on

As we shop, diet and unroll our yoga mats

It feels like everything is unraveling

Everywhere, that is, but here

Where are the ancient mariners

To collar passersby with cautionary tales

Or the fiery prophets of yesteryear

Who warned, shape up or else

They are everywhere but here

Where are the witnesses who have seen it before

Who have seen the moving finger of blame

That lights the flames of hate

It feels like business as usual everywhere

Everywhere, that is, but here

Here where we hunker in illusions of comfort

In our safe houses, our virtual storm shelters

Where bad news comes in tweets

Here, where we have shot the albatross

Where we cannot hear the canaries in the mine

Here, where we have killed the golden goose

Where we have muffled the messengers

We could at least open the windows

To hear the distant clamor

Of the world as we know it falling apart

A Mature Culture: Daily Living? (Part 5)

Glitzy and exciting, but major disadvantages.
Glitzy and exciting, but major disadvantages.

Daily life in a mature culture — more musings. In the last few posts, I have suggested that “therapy groups” would be the norm for personal development. I now want to chunk up to what would cities be like, possibly shifting back and forth between daily life and city life for the next few posts.

First of all, village life has been part of human existence for thousands of years — it is what we were designed for in hunter-gatherer communities. The disadvantage of separate villages, of hunter-gatherer life, was starvation (Rupert Ross makes this very clear in his book Dancing With A Ghost.) The advance (?) into civilization, especially that of industrialization, then required that people move to cities so as to optimize resources, human and otherwise. And although there are major advantages to city life, the downsides are massive: concrete jungles, a lot of marginalization, et cetera. In a mature culture, we must find a balance between these forces, optimizing the advantages of each — the issue is that of a polarity difficulty, not an either/or situation.

In my explorations, I have encountered two examples that I really like (although each has significant disadvantages compared to my current individualistic lifestyle). The first is the greening of current day cities, such as the retrofitting of Manchester, with green streets, walls, and buildings; rooftop food production; and extensive photovoltaic energy production. Obviously, only a little different from our current world; technologically possible, but what about our emotional needs? From my perspective, very feasible if we truly step into a wisdom culture. The disadvantage would be the footprint of cities, precluding small group face-to-face discussion on most issues; this can be minimized with efficient technology, but I suggest that technology is not perfect, and does not replace the need for direct human contact. The greening of current cities could be a temporary measure, but I suggest some kind of village milieu is still needed.

Contrasting cities, with interesting options.
Contrasting cities, with interesting options.

I therefore favor the Victory City, the semi-utopian concept of Orville Simpson II, cities of approximately 200-300K people, self-contained and self-sufficient based on a land footprint of 3 square miles (compared to a modern city of similar size occupying over 200 square miles). I suggest the design[1] is very feasible if we truly step into a wisdom culture.

With the Victory City model, assuming it was widely copied, there would be approximately 6,000 cities across the world. Although I was initially reluctant to envision living in such a high-rise complex (102 floors) as Victory City, I am now more convinced of its design structure. Its small footprint means extensive wilderness areas. Local transportation would be by extensive high volume, high-speed elevators, both between floors and between buildings. Living units would predominantly be bedroom areas and privacy areas, rather than the extensive private living quarters of present day modern life. All food production is on-site, with only a small amount obtained from other centers. Most food service would be within large high-volume cafeterias. Its small size would allow easy access of work locations and of outdoor recreational facilities.

High-rise living, with many possible features.
High-rise living, with many possible features.

The change that I would make in a Victory City would be that the high-rises would consist of village-like sandwiches, every three floors being two floors of private living space with an intervening village-like common between. Such an arrangement would maximize face-to-face discussion of important issues (intersubjectivity), shared decision making in trusted groups (direct democracy). I would also want to maximize efficient electronic communication so as to allow people to truly live and work within their village-like environments.

Next posting, I will explore how daily living conditions would function in a Victory City.

Your thoughts?

To be continued.

[1] After his death, Simpson donated his work on Victory Cities to the University of Cincinnati; I have not found easy access to his work from this source. However, when I was doing my PhD, I was verbally granted me access for usage in my dissertation, although I never received written permission.

A Mature Culture: Daily Living? (Part 4)

Adults learn best in cooperation.
Adults learn best in cooperation.

Daily life in a mature culture — more musings. In the last post, I suggested that “therapy groups” would be the norm for personal development. What would this be like?

These would be gatherings in small group for honest dialogue, likely weekly or twice a week. Adults learn best by having significant emotional experiences, and then reflecting on them in the presence of trusted adults. This would be a place of honesty, emotional expression, and compassionate reflection — one of the best examples I have of something like this is the aboriginal justice circles (Rupert Ross, Indigenous Healing: Exploring Traditional Paths), where there is no sense of guilt or shame evoked. Another example would be the work of Roy Madron on Gaian Democracies — an excellent example of cultural maturity, ranging from individual group process to world governance.

In-depth personal work requires a facilitator — as human beings, we are past masters at avoiding our own issues, and a good facilitator can point out to us that we are avoiding an issue, or alternatively, can point out to us something that we are missing, even if it seems obvious. Such facilitators will be part of the ongoing village community, and in many circumstances can arise spontaneously through recognition of their maturity by others within the community.

One of my mentors suggested that a good facilitator-therapist has three characteristics, in reverse order of importance:

  1. they have a theoretical framework within which they work. This framework is seldom of use in the moment, but provides a way to talk about what was done, after the fact.
  2. they have practical experience working with people, usually with ongoing supervision by other therapists, either their peers or more mature therapists.
  3. they do their own personal work; they have struggled with their own demons, and know the value of compassion. This is the most important characteristic.

There are a number of fundamental skills that a therapist requires, independent of the theoretical framework, skills that are only learned by one’s own personal work. For me, most important amongst these skills are:

  • the value of powerlessness.
    • The most succinct way I have of describing this is the statement of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane: “If it is possible, Oh Lord, let this cup be taken from me. If not, Thy Will be done!” It is the process of acceptance of what is, or what must be based on one’s values.
  • the willingness to risk.
    • Personal growth is high risk. The individual will certainly risk feeling powerless, and potentially fall into pain as he or she confronts issues wherein he or she is not acting according to values that are important to this individual. (Such values may not be important to the group, or may actually be opposed by the group; this may actually be important for the growth of the group.)
    • There are many times where a good therapist must risk just as much as the client; it is frequently the place where the therapist grows, both personally and professionally.
  • the willingness to meet the client in their own world (the process of rapport).
    • Sometimes this means reflection with the client in their pain; sometimes it means getting in their face so as to demonstrate the impact of something such as self-righteousness. Again, it may entail risk.
  • the use of silence.
    • Silence is a very powerful tool, and used well, can be very therapeutic. It may be part of rapport; it may be part of risk.

We are not born knowing all we need to know; that is what the human journey is — the opportunity to grow in maturity. And our current culture is abysmal in this process. I have said many times that, as individuals we are capable of incredible greatness, but as a species we are psychotic — we tolerate numerous inequalities, of people, of education, of food availability, of basic necessities.

If we actually resolved these inequalities, we would still need living in small village-like environments, exposed to the processes I am exploring at the moment. But it would be so much easier to achieve and maintain maturity!

Your thoughts?

To be continued.

A Mature Culture: Daily Living? (Part 3)

What sustains your life?
What sustains your life?

Daily life in a mature culture — my musings continue (I will continue with acedia in a few weeks when I finish with my thoughts regarding a mature culture). In the last posts, I suggested at least two three-hour sessions a week for in-depth personal work. What would this be like?

For most of my career as a physician, I was a psychotherapist. I hate the term (therapy, that is) — it is so misunderstood in our culture, and still today, people who go to therapists are regarded as less than competent. For me, therapy is the only place in modern life where the skills of being a mature human being are explored. And hence, for me, “therapy” will be the norm in a mature culture. It will just be called growth.

Also, for most of my career, I did group psychotherapy, as opposed to individual psychotherapy. I did this for two reasons:

  • I was a physician, and hence almost all of my work was covered by the provincial health plan. On the occasions when I moved from one town to another, I would have a waiting list within three weeks — and within six months, the waiting list would be two years long. When I was doing group work, I had no waiting list; I simply added clients to existing groups, or I added another group to the week. It was simply more efficient to practice group psychotherapy.
    • On occasion, I would still see clients for the occasional individual sessions, especially when there was the need to explore issues of privacy or trust before bringing the difficulties back into a group setting. Eventually, when people learn to trust each other, such individual sessions were no longer needed.
  • I considered group therapy to be more effective. Clients learned that other people had similar problems, and they also learned from each other. My goal was to take the client to a level where they could do their own therapy — they learned this faster when they saw other clients struggling with their own issues.

I had three basic rules when working with people, rules I told clients when the need arose:

  1. I was willing to do up to 50% of the work; on occasion more, but not routinely. Even the best of people avoid issues, and it was not my job as therapist to make them work.
  2. If at all possible, we (the client and myself) would have fun! People learn more effectively when they are having fun.
  3. If anyone was going to be frustrated (in the therapy session), it was not going to be me. Now guess who will be!

I assume these three rules would still be necessary in a mature culture, but less so.

Your thoughts?

To be continued.

A Mature Culture: Daily Living? (Part 2)

LivingWell

To continue my musings concerning daily life in a mature culture — I am suggesting that human beings would essentially live within small village-like environments, nested within larger communities which would provide more sophisticated resources.

If we were to do away with most of the consumerism of our current society and live such that much of what was needed was provided in modular fashion, I imagine that work life would be greatly simplified with fewer daily hours of toil, and much greater opportunity for creative endeavors. I am going to assume that the work week would be five days of five hours each, with shift work as necessary for some tasks (perhaps many tasks). With good technology, many tasks could be accomplished electronically, and many meetings attended electronically. So I will assume that the average person leaves the local village environment three days a week, and remains in the local environment for the other two (see future posts for some exceptions).

I also assume that if I lived in a culture that truly honored personal development and the effective resolution of conflict, much of my work time would actually be pleasurable. If education was not a limitation, most people would devote their time to the creative aspects, leaving the drudgery to robotics, for example. Thus I would not be exhausted at the end of work, whatever the type of work. One of the aspects of being a therapist that I really enjoyed was that essentially I was paid to do my own emotional growth work, exploring with others as they struggled with their own issues, but at the same time providing creative opportunity for me — thus it was seldom that I came away feeling exhausted (almost exclusively this occurred when I was caught in my own issues with the client, wanting them to change so as to fix my own pain).

Effectively living a 25-hour work week, without the hassles imposed by consumerism, leaves a huge amount of time! How might I spend it?

My first question: how many hours do you the reader spend on your own personal development? How many hours would be needed, especially if you were truly committed to the Truth Quest as described by Herman?

I mentioned before that I believe the basis of personal development is that of meditation and journal writing. To this I would also add some form of physical activity, of which my preference is hatha yoga. All three are primary ways in which I access my other-than-conscious mind. For me, personal development depends on an integration of conscious and other-than-conscious mind, my conscious mind providing direction, my other-than-conscious providing life energy.

In the early days of my mid-life transition when I was in my 40s, I was dealing with much of my own personal pain. I found I needed three hours a day for my own personal work — an hour of meditation, journal-writing, and yoga. On top of that I also needed to spend at least another 8-10 hours a week engaged in my own therapy. At a later stage of my life, when I was creatively engaged in my work as therapist, I needed about an hour and a half: half an hour of each discipline. Now, towards the end of my eldership transition, I need about two hours a day. In both of these latter aspects, the creativity replaces the need for therapy.

So, on average, my answer as to how much time is needed for personal development is:

  • about two hours a day, plus
  • two three-hour sessions for in-depth work.

That may seem like a lot of time — but given that human beings are pain avoiders (and hence often avoid both personal development and the seeking of conflict resolution — both of which are often painful), it will be necessary time. As a species, we must do the work of overcoming our propensity to viciousness and self-righteousness; giving lip service to life change, and all the suggestions of what we should do, will not provide the outcomes we need.

Your thoughts?

To be continued.

A Mature Culture: Daily Living? (Part 1)

LivingWell

Daily living: I have mentioned in my last few posts that Louis Herman, in Future Primal, lists four characteristics that satisfy human activity, what he calls the Truth Quest: the seeking of wisdom (individuation), face-to-face discussion of important issues (intersubjectivity), shared decision making in trusted groups (direct democracy) and a narrative of meaning (mythic narrative). All components are in a continual dance with each other, in a never-ending journey of discovery — they are the basis of daily living.

MandalaFP

So –– what would cities or communities be like in these circumstances, where the total population of the world, the global village, is one to two billion people, all of whom were guaranteed adequate attention to education, health, and resources for living? Obviously very different from present-day modern life, which ranges from the affluent West to the poorest countries of the world. There would undoubtedly be much diversity, but the themes suggested by Herman remain important.

I remind the reader that what follows are my musings, based on ideas I have encountered in my personal readings. Given that I have grown up with the individuality of Western civilization in a somewhat affluent fashion, I cannot say that I like all that I am going to suggest, but I do believe that my musings are essential features of sustainable and resilient culture.

I consider the following would be essential features of daily life. Especially, I and every other human being on the planet would be living in similar fashion. I strongly value cultural diversity, but we simply cannot afford (both physically and emotionally) the vast consumerism of our planet — most of what we do would need to done in modular fashion, using shared resources.

A question: If our highest priority was the seeking of wisdom, the seeking of personal growth, would we need private property, other than in token fashion? If everyone had adequate education, health and living conditions, would we need money? If everyone was convinced of the need for sustainability, would we be willing to live effectively into community, sharing childcare, and sustaining each other in many ways to which at present we only give lip service? Utopian perhaps, but how else can we adapt to the massive changes that are needed in our current world?

I suggest that each individual would be committed to living in a village-like environment (up to about 300 people), seeking always to find a balance between personal needs and the improvement of local culture, not growth per se, but sustainable satisfaction.

  • Given advanced communication technology, this village-like environment could provide both work and personal-family milieu, offering excellent resources for cultural enhancement (library resources, theatre, et cetera).
    • Community child care of high quality would be an essential feature, such that children would be welcome to attend all community functions.
  • There would be many community interactions, on a daily and weekly basis, ranging from community sharing of food preparation and eating to local governance, with a commitment to:
    • personal development, especially emotional development (call it therapy by any other name),
    • resolution of conflict (the settling of inter-personal differences), and
    • local governance (the management of community to achieve local desires).
  • There would be some opportunity for travel, both business and personal, but for the most part, travel would be in a virtual domain, not a physical domain.

These village-like environments would be embedded within larger communities, where more sophisticated resources (medical and educational, for example) would be available. There would be strong linkages between governance at this level and that of the village-like level (see later posts for details).

Your thoughts?

To be continued.

Community in a mature culture? (Part 1)

DailyLife1

So, how would people actually live in a mature culture? As an aside, one of the disadvantages of digressions (my last few posts) is that I forget where I was. My current blog contributions are also complicated by a lot of traveling during the summer. So some will be short, others longer. In addition, in the next few posts, I will always end with “Your thoughts?” as a way to encourage your own ideas as to how we could live.

In my work with anger management, I have always maintained that there are two important considerations:

  • we are emotional beings, and
  • we can have clarity — it’s optional.

We are pain avoiders — that is almost the definition of biology (all of life moves towards pleasure, and away from pain). In this, we are driven by our emotional needs and our other-than-conscious needs, and we have great difficulty overcoming these needs so as to have clarity of options. We are thus frequently in internal conflict with ourselves; we are frequently in external conflict with others, especially in regards to the needs of the individual versus the needs of the group; and we have great difficulty with conflict (for most people, it is filled with pain).

And for literally millions of years, we have been hunter-gatherers, and it is only in the past few thousands of years that we have shifted to civilization, gathering in large groups so as to take advantage collective action. It is only in the past few hundred years that we have become technological. Who we are as human beings is determined by the millions of years, not the superficial gloss of the recent past. And if we are to be at peace with our world, we must live into who we are, not who we think we should be.

I’m currently re-reading Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon. Stapledon was described as the greatest mythologist in science fiction, deeply influential in that genre; Last and First Men is a three-billion-year history of mankind (in 300 pages!). Stapledon notes in the fiction that it took more than two billion years for man to give up the processes of misunderstanding, self-centeredness and ill-will — definitely a long journey — hopefully we can actually mature faster than this, we need to do so.

So, who are we? In addressing this question, I have been deeply influenced in particular by three books (each one is a fascinating exploration, and I recommend each highly):

  • Rupert Ross, Dancing With A Ghost: Exploring Aboriginal Reality
    • Ross explores the underlying basic whereby Aboriginal culture of Canada remained largely as hunter-gatherers, and did not become a culture of domination, but rather emphasized non-interference.
  • Louis Herman, Future Primal: How Our Wilderness Origins Show Us The Way Forward
    • Herman explores the nature of the society of the San Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert, our closest living relatives to the original hunter-gatherers. He suggests that they are also the longest surviving direct democracy in the world.
  • Andrew Schmookler, The Parable Of The Tribes: The Problem Of Power In Social Evolution
    • Schmookler explores how the impact of power dynamics has been the single most important determinant in the development of civilization, eventually leading to the dominator culture of modernity.

Herman, in particular, points out that the original Socratic intention of politics was the search for the good life, attempting to answer (and balance) two primordial questions:

  • How shall I live? and
  • How shall we all live together?

(This is certainly not how I think of politics today!)

Herman also names four components that bring satisfaction to human activity:

  • the pursuit of self-knowledge and personal growth;
  • honest, face-to-face discussion that enlarges and qualifies personal understandings;
  • communication within small democratic communities of trusted equals; and
  • a collective, cooperative weaving together of a big story — a narrative of meaning — that helped the individual find his or her particular place in the ever-expanding shared big picture.

The underlying purpose of my blog is to challenge the human issues that support accelerated climate disruption. I maintain that these issues are the same factors that have created the risks of nuclear holocaust, overpopulation, and other major environmental disasters. So my remarks on a future mature culture are applicable to all this.

Your thoughts?

To be continued.