June Reflections

Truth and falsehood are not opposites.  The opposite of one truth is often another truth, and the opposite of one falsehood is usually another.  

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Inducing a student to accept conclusions, convictions and methods of others is not education, it is Indoctrination.  

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 If ultimate economic power is to be placed in the hands of commercial corporations, Democracy will live only in words, not in reality, for governance of such organizations is the antithesis of democracy. 

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Of all the delusions or a deranged mind, desire for fame is the most grotesque, desire for wealth is the most pernicious, and desire for power is the most evil. 

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Two societal intents, the ethical and the organizational must be intricately interwoven, lest the latter will turn evil and the former will be impotent.  

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The original meaning of soul---"The warm breath of the body"---has been has been so misused and obscured that we have come to the absurd belief that it's sole possessors are the two legged, lingual animals with an opposed thumb and an enlarged skull.

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The ultimate hallucinatory drugs are not herbal, physical, chemical or illegal.   They are lwealth, fame and power.

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The principal attributes of nature's societies are differentiation, connection and communion, both internally and externally, save one.  The principal attributes of the present human society are separation, competition and antagonism, both internally and externally.  Most societal organizations are in direct conflict with nature and evolution.  

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University degrees to often do little more than bestow pride on mediocrity, giving rise to great bursts of hypocrisy. 

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To accept with equanimity hat life brings, take from it only that which we need, and give back to it all that we can is an excellent path to death without regret. 

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In our commercialized corporate society, most of the jobs consist of work that would numb the mind of a salamander and crush the spirit of a mud worm.  

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One who does not know that people will one day be imprisoned for behavior that is now encouraged and honored and vice versa, knows nothing of history.  

 

May Reflections

Western man conceives of time as a straight string with beginning and end.   Instead, perhaps it is an integrated mass without beginning or end within which all things manifest themselves and move about without awareness of where they are in the mass, or where they are wandering.

 

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In our monetized society, share-holder profit is the only thing that can proclaim with the full force of law and judicial sanction, "Thou shall have no other god before me," to which politicians, academics, and corporate executives chorus a fervent "Amen." 

 

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Despite the achievements of science and technology, we cannot cure a fraction of the ills we  create, or create a fraction of the marvels we destroy.  Homo Horribilus!

 

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For those who do not believe in the religion of money, and do not worship in the temples of commerce, the world is an increasingly ugly, dangerous place. 

 

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We are nothing but temporary manifestations of the dispersed energy and intelligence of the universe.   How does our behavior appear to the pure intelligence and energy from which we coalesced ?  Very poorly, I suspect.

 

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Any third-rate, trained person can make things more complex and complicated.  It takes a first-rate, wise person to make them simple again.  When we train and elevate the third rate, and ignore the wise first-rate, we get what we now have---a dysfunctional, mechanistic, destructive society.

 

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Education should be the pursuit and acquisition of ideas that make life intelligible and give it meaning, not training in the mechanics of money plumbing and diversion of as much as possible into ones own pockets, as it now is. 

 

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Names by which we differentiate things such as species, races, nations, genders, religions are not things in themselves, but abstractions in the minds of people---In a very real sense, delusions, since words are but man-made symbols in his endless effort at distinction---effort to say not this, not that, not anything else. 

 

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A wholly personal, narcissistic life becomes becomes insufferably small, petty, and cruel.  It is only in inseparable union with all life, and with the cosmos, that it becomes infinitely expansive and splendid, making the rubs and and pains of existence tolerable.

 

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If ultimate economic power is to be placed in the hands of commercial corporation, as is now the trend, democracy will live only in words, not in reality, for corporate governance of such organization is the antithesis of democracy---or of equity and justice, for that matter.

 

April 2018 Reflections

Stock markets do not measure the value of companies, earnings, dividends, or the economy.  They measure the aggregate belief of shareholders that someone will pay more for their shares than they did,  They measure greed, not value. 

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Few adults of great achievement were cooperative, compliant children.  More often, they were rebellious iconoclasts protecting themselves as best they could from the contempt and persecution of conformists.  

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As diverse and complex as we perceive the external cosmos to be, the internal world is even more so.  It would take a mind, wider and deeper than the universe to fully understand a single one of us.  

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Young students who are not naturally docile and servile are often labelled as having a disorder and drugged into submission.  Docility and conformity are poor qualities for anyone creative, curious and longing to be free.  That such students should be drugged into tolerance of banal, boring curriculum and shoddy teaching is criminal.

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Most people fear contempt more than they desire admiration.  They avoid contempt by conformity and deception rather than seek admiration by originality and candor.  Capacity for the beautiful and genuine then atrophies, and often disappears.

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Just as the physical and mental health of mankind is at risk, so is the health of the planet.  What an incredible opportunity for those who profess to be leaders.  It is incomprehensible at such a time that they would demean their humanity by lavishing their time, energy and talent on nothing  but pursuit of power and profit, but so most of them have.

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Those born poor who become rich, or were born humble and became powerful are eager to tell us what good fortune it was to have had to struggle with adversity.  One wonders then why they try so hard to protect their children from having that same good fortune.  

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When we are told to do something contrary to our nature and beliefs with promise of a reward for doing so we are faced with a question of values, for we alone know the worth of our character and beliefs, and the price at which we will betray them.

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One can be fully human and not feel obliged to bring others to principles, ethics or morality, but it is hard to see how one can be fully human and turn others away from them.

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Billions of years parented genetic evolution.  Societal and cultural evolution, having been a scant thirty thousand years in gestation, are not yet out of the womb.  To think that present embryonic concepts of societal organization, such as nation state, corporation, and capitalism, are advanced is absurd.  Yet we endow them with unlimited power, and through them, presume to control all mankind, the earth and even a bit of the universe.  Are we mad? 

February 2018 reflections

No one has yet proven conclusively that a mathematician has more intelligence than a moth, or a physicist more than a marmot.  In fact, when we consider their respective contributions to a beautiful, peaceful, enduring livable life, evidence clearly favors moth and marmot.    

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Hidden in the desire to create men like machines is a desire to become machine like men, along with compulsion to create societal organizations in the image of both.  As a result we abandon ethical restraints, contaminate the water we drink, poison the food we eat, pollute the air we breath, ravage the earth, and decimate the diversity of life, the while denying the malignancy of our own behavior.  No god ordained it so.  It is not blind chance.  We have chosen and followed depraved leaders who have ordained it to be so.  It is an unacknowledged death wish. Without a massive change in individual consciousness it will continue unconstrained.  

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It is not the poor and humble that are desecrating the earth, instigating wars, decimating people.  It is the rich, the powerful, the honored, and acclaimed - - - the interchangeable cognitive elite that now controls government, business, science and education.  Unless their lust for wealth, fame and  power can be constrained, or their ethics, morality and integrity be reawakened the future of the planet and vast majority of people on it will be bleak indeed.  

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Never has the United States been so powerful or so insecure.  Never has our ability to inflict death and destruction been so great or our ability to protect ourselves so small.  Never have we had greater capacity to eliminate inequity, and poverty or done so little to do so.  It is a failure of purpose and principle unparalleled in the history of the world, and the price has yet to be paid.

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 Money is a symbol or material reality.  Writing is a symbol of lingual reality.  Mathematics is a  symbol of spacial reality.  Art is  symbol of visual reality.  Theater is a symbol of social reality. Symbols, no matter how convenient and useful, are not reality, they alienate us from it.  Unless we are deeply grounded in the real, we are forever at the mercy of symbolic manipulators whose craft is to lead us to prefer the artifice rather than the real.  We then cease to be human and become puppets dancing on the symbolic strings of a multitude of manipulators.

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In a monetized, corporate society where everything becomes property to be bought, sold , rented or traded, the bulk of mankind become poor, helpless, and hopeless, not because they are inferior, but because they become invisible.  They are not seen as individual people with all the capacity, needs, desires, loves, and fears and other characteristics common to mankind.    They become commodities - - - consumers useful to the commercialization of the earth and centralization of power and wealth.  Unless they rise in rebellion, they will have no part in the governance, direction and function of their own lives, let alone those of society. 

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Every triumph or tribulation;  every success or failure;  every hope or fear, is an opportunity to draw upon the unfathomable resources of the universe with which we are so amply endowed - - - humility in the face of fame, generosity in the face of wealth, tolerance in the face of criticism, endurance in the face of adversity, love in the face of hate - - - all are within us waiting to be educed. 

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We cannot escape cooperation.  It is a fundamental law of the universe.  if we do not cooperate in  tolerance, generosity, justice, compassion, respect and love, we will end up cooperating in poverty, ecological devastation, economic combat, hate and war.  Cooperate we must.  The  Integrity, wisdom and values we bring to that cooperation are a matter of choice - - - how we choose, and what, are all that truly matter.

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More than a century ago, Ralph Waldo Emerson in his journal wrote the following plea: "Don't trust children with sharp edged tools.  Don't trust man, dear god, with more power than he has until he has learned to use it a little better.  What a hell we should make of the world if we could do what we would."   Either there is no god, or his plea was ignored, for we now have more power than Emerson could ever have imagined, and are making just such a mess as he envisioned.

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The Real Donald

Does anyone remember that Hitler promised to make Germany great again?  Does anyone remember that Stalin promised the same to the Russian people, or that Mussolini did so to the Italian people?  Does anyone remember that those tyrants came to power by inciting groups of people within those countries to distrust, hate and fear on another;  by discrediting existing institutions;  by attacking media and distorting free speech;  by repeating lies and propaganda until they took on the appearance of truth;  by brazen claims of personal intelligence, ability and superiority;  by unrelenting denigration of opposition;  by secrecy, guile and deception;  in short, by tactics uncannily similar to those of Donald Trump.

Donald does not want to be president of a republic.  He does not want to be responsible for a democracy. He never did.  What he wants in the depths of his being is to be emperor of a great, global power - - - feared, revered, and able to indulge his every lust, whim, and aberration  unrestrained and unimpeded.  He intends to write TRUMP large on the face of the earth and he will not hesitate to trample on constitutions, pervert cultures, demolish customs, or write it in blood, if need be.  

If congress does not impeach him soon,  if the supreme court does not clip his wings, both institutions will become irrelevant just as parliaments and courts have become irrelevant in centuries past once an incipient tyrant has their foot in the door.  If congress and the courts fail in their duty, and the people of this nation do not unite in opposition to this sociopath, what remains of our freedom and independence could melt like snow in the desert. 

There is evil at loose in the land.  There will always be some who welcome it.  If the remainder ignore it, condone it, fear to confront it, or simply cannot see it, there are dark days ahead.  

 

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Social harmony, political order and justice have no solid foundation other than the moral order and ethical sense of individuals.

 

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Modern democracy consists of allowing us to periodically vote for media caricatures of people we will never know, can never influence, and should never trust.  What we experience is cynical manipulation, not democracy, and Trump is the proof of it.   

 

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A merchant is a poor source of information, a thief a worse one, an enemy a dangerous one, but the head of a nation intent on self glorification and plunder is the worst of all, especially if he is our own.  

 

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Liberty and justice caught between a crafty, corrupt leader and a credulous, careless people cannot survive.    

January 2018 Reflections

 

 

There is no limit to our capacity to love or hate.  None on our capacity for hope or despair.  None on our capacity for generosity or greed.  None on our capacity for violence or beneficence.  None on our capacity for choice or indifference.  A livable life in a peaceful, equitable, harmonious society can never be realized by competition between individuals, corporations or nation states.  it will come about when all people choose to behave in accordance with the constructive, rather than destructive capacities, of their individual being.  Such a life and such a society are neither difficult or remote.  It is a simple matter of collective choice.  

 

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Separability, measurement, specialization, analysis, and technology may be the immutable reality of existence, but life is more than existence.  Consciousness is a creative force of the universe. When we collectively engage in the creative act of imagining imagining  a better future, that future will be more willing to come into being than we can possible believe. 

 

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Universities should be creators of beneficent culture, not creators of commerce. They should be gardens of wisdom, not factories of expertise.  They should be custodians of beauty, not conveyors of credentials.  They should be homes of humility, not haunts of hubris.  Would that it were so, but that can never be until the consciousness of the people abandons the tawdry race for riches, power, fame - - - until they dismiss me and mine from mind, and replace it with us and ours - - - until they listen to the better angels of their being.     

 

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Man is not composed of autonomous organs, each of which has as its sole purpose its own function and survival.  All are connected to and function symbiotically with all others to bring into being and sustain the whole person and all it's parts.  Just so is each person in relation to all of mankind, and mankind in relation to all other forms of life, and all life to the earth itself, although we have yet to realize, or to act in accordance with that realization.  

 

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Two of the worst taxes are those on wages and the necessities of life, yet they are most favored by legislators, not doubt because they are the easiest to collect and fall most heavily on those least able to resist or evade. 

 

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Where does war come from?  It is not hard to puzzle out.  Have you ever heard of anyone who fought to be poor and insignificant?   I'll not ask the same question  about those who lust for wealth and power.  By now you should have figured it out.

 

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For every ounce of time and energy universities put into understanding the economics of  nature. a ton is put into understanding the nature of social economics.  Thus, reality is sacrificed to ideology, the effective to the efficient, and life to bureaucratic blundering and technology.

 

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For the sake of our grandchildren, if for nothing else let us lift ourselves from the ordure of ego, envy, avarice, ambition, and worship of science, technology and commerce, to immerse ourselves in respect for all life, tolerance, empathy, harmony with nature, and humble grace at our place in the universe. 

 

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Education that give priority to measurement rather than morality, to efficiency rather than effectiveness, to enrichment rather than equity,  to analysis rather than synthesis, to science rather than soul, to knowledge rather than wisdom, provides no barrier to barbarity and violence.   After all, the holocaust was perpetrated by a society of one of the most highly educated, supposedly civilized people on earth. 

 

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December Reflections

It is not entirely unfair or inaccurate to accuse many Academics of practicing the art of solemnly concealing a paucity of thought in a plethora of words.  They either never heard or choose to disregard LaRochefoucauld's admonition that "Solemnity is a disease of the body invented to conceal the defects of the mind.'' Little minds require many great words; Great minds require bur a few small ones. 

 

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 Education should teach less about how to do things and more about how to think about them.  If we know only how to do something we are in chains, for we are blind to when it should be done,  where it should be done, why it should be done, what else might be done, how it can be done better, or if it should be done at all.  When we learn how to think about things we are liberated, for we can then see each thing in all its dimensions and determine what ought to be done.

 

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The only peace conference that can succeed is one in which all participants are dedicated to admission of their own guilt, repentance, and forgiveness.  That is why there are no successful peace conferences. 

 

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The amount of money spent on luxurious eating and care of animal pets is enough to provide a sound diet for all poverty stricken children in the world.  So much for the merits of capitalism and free markets.

 

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The most persistent, pernicious propaganda is that which the rich and powerful utilize to convince the poor and weak that the fault is theirs, and that riches and authority are the just result of superior intelligence, character, effort and ability.    

 

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The rich very rarely subsidize the poor, and then only poorly, whereas the poor constantly subsidize the rich, and very richly indeed,  Every nation state insures this will happen one way or another through through a complex variety of laws and regulations.  This is so obvious, pervasive and continual that it hardly merits discussion, were it not so obscenely inhumane and unjust. 

 

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Every historian must begin with a design that determines what evidence to assemble, and a philosophy that determines how to interpret and portray the evidence.  They then paint a picture in words that is no more realistic than a painting of a stormy surf. 

 

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REFLECTIONS, November 2017

There is nothing in the United States constitution or laws to prevent Presidential mendacity, arrogance, avarice,  vulgarity, ignorance, narcissism, or vindictive, sociopathic behavior.  Neither is there anything in law or constitution to prevent tolerance of it by congress, or admiration and emulation of it by citizens.  It is a matter of culture, ethics, morality and norms of everyday civility.  It is a question of the kind of society in which we wish to live, and leave to our grandchildren.  The only cure for such behavior is massive public outrage and opposition.

 

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There is always a demagogue to articulate, simple, wrong solutions to every problem, and a great many more to blindly accept and implement them.  Professionalized it becomes politics.  Personified it becomes the Trump administration. 

 

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The genetic code is both constitution and bill of rights for all life on earth.  Those who tinker with it should be held to strict account in the high court of public opinion, for there is no other court to which the code can appeal, other than the court of evolution.  The only penalty that court can impose is extinction of the species.  

 

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Countless philosophers ponder, academics pontificate, poets muse, prophets preach, authors write, politicians fulminate, economist count, soldiers kill, painters daub, consultants advise, generals order, and  people parade, while the earth impassively turns, unimpressed. 

 

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Society is always enthralled and mesmerized by science and technology and their benefits, which tend to be superficial and temporary.  It is largely indifferent to the pernicious effects, which tend to be profound and persistent.

 

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We no longer have much agriculture.  What we have is biological manufacturing- - - giant corporate, factory farms spewing out engineered, products of seductive appearance, debased taste, diminished nourishment, and ever increasing chemical content.  The long range effect is not known, but is most likely to be serious,if not catastrophic. 

 

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Every nation state, realizing that completely unrestrained freedom results in anarchy, finds it necessary to impose and enforce some system of restraint on individuals and organization within its borders.  Unfortunately, they see no need for restraint on themselves, and insist on complete, unrestrained freedom in relations with one another and the planet itself.  The result is ever increasing global chaos, death, destruction and environmental devastation.  If there is to be a livable world for our grandchildren, it is far past time to envision and bring into being an effective, beneficent, chaordic concept of global governance, as difficult as that may be. 

 

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Has higher education debased itself by turning away from the humanities and embracing the training of specialists and managers expert at realizing short term objectives with little regard for the cumulative result - - - - a world of unrestrained greed, self interest, centralization of power, gross mal-distribution of wealth, plunder of the planet, instruments of massive destruction and genocide, and blind worship of science and technology.  If not through the instrument of higher education, how did we get where we are?  These questions should not ignored.        

October Reflections

Great ideas of the past continue to titillate our minds, but they no longer touch our hearts.  They have become intellectual toys rather than fundamental beliefs.  We reason about them but they no longer shape our lives.  They are in our minds but no longer in our bones.

 

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Belief that the information age and so called "virtual world" will be superior to the natural world are akin to belief that perusing a wilderness map is superior to a walk in a primeval forest; that reading a menu is superior to a gourmet meal; or that listening to reports of a town meeting is superior to participation.

 

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First came privateers and pirates, then commercial corporations.  That the first were freebooters outside the law and the second were legalized by nation states, materially changed the form but did little to change the function.

 

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If we were to define as material as that which endures, then such things as wisdom, reverence, generosity, empathy, humility and love would fill our minds and hearts, while physical possessions would be treated as the transitory trash they so swiftly become.

 

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We think we cannot live well without technology when, indeed, mankind did so for millennia.  What we do not know, is whether we can live well with it.  What we do know is that we cannot live at all without nature, and that much technology is destructive of it.  

 

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One of the greatest anomalies of nation states is the ease with which their highest officials become despots in the name of national security and the comfort citizens take in submitting to the despotism.

 

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We laugh at belief systems and societal organizations of the past knowing them to have been naive and flawed.  Societies in future will laugh at and scorn capitalism, free markets and nation states, knowing them to have been even more naive and flawed.  

 

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If you are brave and daring, act boldly and seek new heights.  if you are timid and afraid, act cautiously and descend to the lowlands.  If you are uncertain or indifferent, stay where you are and do nothing.  

 

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Most people do not want an equitable, just society that provides everyone a secure sufficiency.  They have been conditioned to accept organizations, laws and policies that force millions into abject poverty so a few can become obscenely rich, in the vain hope they will be among the few.

 

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If commercial corporations have their way, government will be largely compose of compliant sycophants willing to conspire with them to turn democratic ideas into a system of unrestrained, economic pillage and rape.  Come to think of it, they already have.

September reflections

 

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Our societal problem is to discover a new, unifying principle of relationship and a new concept of organization powerful enough to hold inviolate the liberty and interdependence of infinitely diverse people.  It will not come from on high to the thunder of drums and sound of trumpets, but will arise silently in the consciousness of countless ordinary people until it finds the right voice. 

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"Science discovers, genius invents, industry applies, and man conforms"---so declares the guide book to the 1933 Chicago world's fair.  The promoters of the fair apparently thought the subjection of mankind to machines and commerce laudable.  Only fools worship their tools.  

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Science should be judged by whether it has diminished violence, eliminated war,  enhanced justice, insured freedom, improved happiness, equitably distributed power and wealth, and protected the environment.  By any such standard it has been an abysmal failure. 

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Each bacterium contains about a billion nucleotide pairs in its genetic code.  More complex creatures contain up to ten billion.  A change in a single pair can send life careening in a new direction.  And we have the arrogance to think we can control everything with our clumsy technology and archaic four-hundred-year-old concepts of societal organization.   

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The question is not whether corporate capitalism produces good or evil.  It obviously  produces both.  Nor is the question whether it is constructive or destructive.  It can be either.  The question is whether, in relationship with all people, all other creatures, and the living earth on which all depends, it is more beneficent than harmful.  The evidence is not in its favor.