It’s not just the guns. It is something much, much worse. There are guns everywhere in the world, but only in the U.S. has there been an average of more than one mass shooting every day this year (274 days / 294 mass shootings). The something worse is that in the U.S. various factors have combined to cause American culture to lose sight of the most fundamental moral precept known to humankind. In the words of Jesus of Nazareth, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” In the words of philosopher Immanuel Kant, “You must never treat persons as things.” In the words of the Rastafarians, “I and I say I and I, instead of you and I, because the other is an I also.” And in the words of Confucius, “If you don’t want someone to do something to you then don’t do it to them,” which is of course, another way to state the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” To put this as clearly as I can: if one loves and respects others as one loves and respects oneself then one does not murder, rape, cheat, manipulate, take advantage of, or otherwise violate that other; rather, one is as concerned with the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and financial well-being of the Other as with one’s own.
“Our lands are intertwined. Our histories are intertwined. Our fates are intertwined. Let us be partners.
“There are millions of people of good faith, vision, wisdom, compassion and courage in Palestine and Israel. We will put all of our energy into building peace and prosperity for the children of Israel and Palestine. We will work side by side and the welfare of each will be the greatest desire of the other. The success of each of us will be measured by the success of the other. All of our children will thrive. The entire desert will bloom. We will watch each others’ backs and help and support each other. We will trust. We will be stronger together than we ever were separately. We will live lives of safety, freedom, comfort, work, and spirituality. Continue reading
“You didn’t believe in me, in my literal existence, did you?” He asked.
“No I didn’t,” I replied. “I thought you were a way of talking about being human in the world.”
He laughed and said, “That’s the spirit! Good for you. There was no evidence or reason to believe otherwise. It’s what I would have thought myself.”
So I asked my question, “Why did you create rational people with free will then, when some of them would surely reach erroneous conclusions?”
“Dang,” I said, “so I was wrong. You exist and this is the afterlife.”
“Oh no,” He said, “you were right.”
Michelangelo, Creation of the Sun, Moon, and Plants
Star Child, Excerpt from concluding scene of Stanley Kubrick, 2001
Do clothes make the man? For many years I made my living as a college professor. My classes were known for a high degree of activity, interactivity, creativity, and laughter. People brought their friends to see the show because I was not one of the professors who wore a suit and stood behind a podium and recited his lecture, or read it off the PowerPoints. Rather, I took part. I demonstrated the Buffalo Dance, ran the video camera, mixed the paint, moved the furniture, held the fire extinguisher, and whatever else needed to be done. For this kind of performance art, one needs clothes that are designed to facilitate movement, not those that are designed to restrict it. Think about it, suits were originally the mark of the ruling class, for precisely the opposite reason, to demonstrate that they were not required to do any physical work. Ease of movement was for the workers, and they wore clothes appropriate to their need to move unrestrainedly. So did I. Continue reading
We baby-boomers ought to be ashamed. It is incomprehensible to me that any member of my generation (U.S. baby-boomers, b. 1945-1964) could look at these pictures and not feel that they have failed in one of their most fundamental human responsibilities. The picture above shows the catch off Key West, FL, in 1958, 1983, and 2007 The picture below shows the habitat of the tiger in 1850, 1950, and 2006. These pictures make it real to me, more than the statistics, charts, and graphs. It’s really happening. Some of the damage was done while the boomers were kids, just because there were so many of them, but most of it was done after they matured and came to power, when those numbers could have been used to prevent further destruction.
Today it was announced that Apple will replace AT&T on the Dow Jones Industrial average. This is a spec sheet from Walmart showing that the Ipad Air has no, that’s right, zero, components that are either manufactured or assembled in the U.S. It is also well-known that Apple has over $100 billion dollars abroad which it keeps abroad in order to avoid U.S. taxes. Apple even borrows money in the U.S. in order to avoid bringing that money home. (search: apple money abroad). However, Apple is in the position to make that money because U.S. taxpayers have funded the universities that educate those Apple geniuses, the transportation system, the public utilities, the environmental and occupational health and safety protections, and the fire and police that make the Bay area such a nice, safe place to live and do business. Continue reading
The conversations in a pot store, or recreational cannabis dispensary, are fascinating. People in Colorado pot stores are talking about very subtle variations in their consciousness and experience, associated with different forms and strains of cannabis. They are doing very comfortably what philosophers call phenomenology, examination of the structure and nature of consciousness and experience. It’s usually a pretty hard thing to get across in class but these people are naturals. Allen Ginsberg certainly understood too. In 1966 he wrote that “the marijuana consciousness gently shifts one’s attention…to sensing phenomena.” And then his 1977 his book Mind Breaths Ginsberg explicitly associated the creation of poetry with the observation of consciousness as practiced in Buddhist meditation. Continue reading
Spaceship Earth has exceeded its carrying capacity. Its human inhabitants are talking of limiting carbon emissions, refraining from dumping environmental toxins, eating lower on the food chain, and wasting less water. These are all good ideas, but none of them is going to save us, not even all of them together. There is an elephant in the room that is being ignored. All of these Climate Change Conferences and no one says the obvious: There are too many people. OK, I will open the bidding: If we are extraordinarily careful Spaceship Earth can sustain 1 billion people, and “by extraordinarily careful” I mean, no burning coal, no petroleum, ground the jetliners, restore the 75% of forest we have destroyed, take down the dams and let the rivers live free again, no more Consumer growth economy. Continue reading