Thursday, June 28, 2012

Taking the good with the bad....

Do you say, “You have to take the good with the bad”? or “You have to take the bad with the good”?  I caught myself saying, “You have to take the good with the bad” this morning and realized that’s the way I usually say it. 

Saying it that way means the bad is what’s normal and expected and the good is the exception that I have to make an effort to ‘take’ and accept.  I don’t want to think that way - that the ‘bad’ is what’s normal and the ‘good’ is the exception, but I realize that I do. 
I prefer thinking of myself as an optimist, not a pessimist, but apparently, given how often I catch myself saying, “You have to take the good with the bad,” I am a pessimist and my default attitude is that good is the exception and bad, the norm.

Where does that attitude, that pessimism, come from?  Do I apply it uniformly, to everything I experience, or to just somethings?  I think it comes from the political media culture; that the more I watch, listen and read about politics, the less hopeful and more pessimistic I become.  Optimism, on the other hand, seems to be present when I think of us, humanity, as spiritual beings having earthly experiences. 

When I think of humanity’s spiritual reality and earthly potential, I’m both optimistic and pessimistic. Optimistic about what we can accomplish and are already accomplishing in some areas, and pessimistic about what we’re not accomplishing but could; about the gap between our spiritual reality and our earthly performance. So, I’m working at being more mindful and more aware of where I’m coming from and what I’m saying and choosing my reality and optimism over pessimism more often.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

If blacksmiths had the power Exon has.....

In an article on 6/21, in the Herald, Andres Oppenheimer quotes Peter Diamandis as saying, “politicians are very focused on the near term and use linear thinking, with points of view that are based on scarcity and typically based on fear.” True enough, they do need to change.  But we need to change, too.  We’re the ones who keep electing the assholes!  Winnie Churchill said, “the people get the government they deserve.”  True, and sad!  But I don’t deserve the T party. Maybe you do, but I don’t!

Anyhow, Diamandis goes on to say the politicians (and us) should focus on “exponential technologies,” or technologies that double in their price performance ration every year.  “We now use these technologies to play video games, but we don’t use them to address the world’s biggest problems.”  Duh!!  Do ya think?

Could it be that there are those benefitting from the problems and the status quo, those with vast reservoirs of power and money who don’t want things to change?  Who do not care how many others are hurt or how the environment is degraded, so long as they and their ilk get theirs?  What if the blacksmiths, the saddle and buggy whip makers had the power the extraction industries have today?  We’d still be using horses.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

More on Beliefs

“When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Abraham Maslow.

This is about beliefs too, isn’t it?  If I believe I’m the righteous hammer of God, for example, that I’m doing God’s will and following God’s word when I hammer other people—criticize, attack, and worse, then that’s too bad for those other people, but it’s ‘just the way it is.’   After all, who am I to doubt and challenge God’s will?  Indeed, who am I, and who are you?

What if my mental equivalent—my belief about both myself and God’s will, is wrong?  What if it’s not even ‘wrong,’ but just a mistake?  Who has to correct the mistake, me or God?  What’s my ‘free will’ for, anyhow?  And what is God’s will?

Hard to know because many among us do not believe in one God, but in two, God and the Devil. 

Are we created in God’s image and likeness or the Devil’s?  What is our nature as human beings; is it always ‘bad;’ what’s our default, God or the Devil? What does it mean to be created in God’s image and likeness?  Does it mean God thinks, acts and looks like a human being; and if God is like a human being, why is It male and not female?

To me, ‘image and likeness’ means that we partake of God’s creative power, love and compassion; that there is no ‘Devil’, no power in opposition to God; that seeming ‘evil’ is what we experience when we forget our oneness with spirit, mistaking the ego’s nightmare for reality. 

Reality is our oneness with God, and if this is so, then God’s will is for us to manifest that oneness, Its creative power, love and compassion, realizing that seeming evil is only, ‘seeming’, and manifests when we forget who, and what we are. God’s will for us is to make loving, unique contributions to a world that works for everyone and everything, not righteous hammering.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Opinion v Fact

Everyone has a right to their own opinions.  But not their own facts.  Can’t we at least agree on the facts?  That’s what the sign I carry at demonstrations says.  Facts are neutral, not Democratic or Republican; just facts.  Their neutrality provides the glue that holds society together; the common frame of reference we need to communicate and dialogue.  Without facts communication and dialogue are not possible. Corrupting, twisting, shading or straight forward lying about facts makes communication and dialogue impossible.

That’s why it’s so important to be aware of and question our beliefs.  Beliefs always bend and bias facts.  Beliefs make people selective about facts, make us pay attention to only the facts that support our beliefs and discard the rest.  The more invested in our beliefs we are, the more subjective and less objective we are, and the more impossible it becomes to dialogue and communicate with those whose beliefs differ from ours. 

If dialogue and communication are important, then facts are important.  If one does not wish to dialogue or communicate, but simply wants to impose his beliefs on the world, then facts are unnecessary.

In fact, people who simply want to impose their beliefs on the world, dislike, even hate facts.  Such people give lip service to the importance of facts, but really think facts, Science and critical thinking are dangerous. Such people, groups and organizations seek to corrupt facts, muddy the waters, lie, shade and distort facts.  Such people think ignorance is good.  Just be still and go along.  You don’t know what the President knows.  He has the facts.  Trust him. The way we did with Johnson in Nam and Bush with his WMD. Just watch your sports, play your video games and watch the so-called news that isn’t news but opinion. Do anything but get the facts and think about them!

If dialogue and communication are important, then facts are important.  Facts make communication and dialogue possible, without them communication and dialogue are impossible.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


“The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls.” Elizabeth Cady Stanton, 1875

“First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.  Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.  Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up, because I was Protestant.  Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me.”  Martin Niemoller, 1945

What do you really believe?  Have you taken the time to check out your beliefs, subjected them to rigorous scrutiny?  Determined how well they contribute to a world that works for everyone and everything?  Do you hold your beliefs because authority figures in your past held them?  Do you own them, or does someone else or some other group or organization own them?  Does what you believe embody both the physical and metaphysical aspects of the one God/no idols concept, and the Ten Commandments?  What do you know, how do you know it, and how well is that working for you, your family, community, the Nation and a world that works for everyone and everything? 

Doubt what you believe! Question it! Check it out!  Have the humility and grace to recognize you don’t know everything and that maybe, just maybe, you can make a change, perhaps only a slight shift, that will enable you to better embody both the physical and metaphysical aspects of the one God/no idols concept, and the Ten Commandments, and make a contribution to a world that works for everyone and everything.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Idol Worshippers?

A few days ago, I posted about the metaphysics of the Ten Commandments; that there are two levels: the literal, legalistic physical level, where the words mean exactly what they say and the deeper, more philosophical metaphysical level where the words suggest concepts deeper and vaguer than the exact, literal meaning of the physical words themselves.  To me, the concept of one God has similar metaphysics.

On the physical, literal and legalistic level, “one God” means only one God and no others, that we do not worship graven images nor idols made of stone and wood.  But are all idols made of stone and wood? Is it possible that many of us, especially so-called conservatives, who believe they are honoring the concept of one God are really worshipping idols?

A less literal and more metaphysical interpretation of the one God/no idols concept is that anything that might come between God and Its people is forbidden; that things we yearn for, worship and sacrifice for like career, winning, success, fame and fortune may be perceived as idols.  Anything without the attributes of God—love, inclusion, compassion and peace, or that causes us to forget the attributes of God, or to sacrifice the attributes of God, is an idol. Idol worship is forbidden.

On a still deeper metaphysical level, the concept of one God, may be perceived as Oneness itself, that God is all there is, that there is no place that God is not. In this interpretation, nothing is ‘forbidden,’ and the ego nightmare becomes a classroom, with all things being lessons God would have us learn.  As Steinbeck said in East of Eden, the real Commandment is Thou mayest, not, thou shalt not. This is the deepest metaphysical interpretation of the one God concept. 

This is not permission to murder, rob, hurt and abuse other people and things; that would be interpreting Thou mayest and the one God concept at the physical, ego level.  Thou mayest, is not at the physical level. Thou mayest is at the deepest metaphysical level, the level at which we perceive that we, you and I, and everything and everyone, are one, created of the same substance and by the same Creator. The metaphysical level is acting as if we knew that our oneness with God was true and therefore whatever we do to someone or something else, we realize that not only do we do it to ourselves, but we do it to God as well.  All things are lessons God would have us learn means there is only one lesson to learn – God is One, God is all there is, so forgive and be kind as It at the metaphysical level, forgives and is kind.

We exist at both the metaphysical and physical levels simultaneously. We can choose to worship the one God at the deepest metaphysical level, manifesting all Its attributes: love, inclusion, creativity, compassion and peace, or we can choose to worship the one God at the most surfacey physical level, believing that because we go to church and no longer worship graven images and idols of stone and wood that we are not idol worshippers, even as we sacrifice God’s attributes in pursuit of career, winning, success, fame and fortune. 

We all fall into idol worship; that is part of the ego nightmare we call reality.  The thing to do is catch ourselves at it and stop, without blame, guilt, or judgment. When I awake and realize I’m worshipping an idol and begin worshipping God at the deepest metaphysical level instead, without guilt, judgment or blame, seeking to manifest all Its attributes: love, inclusion, creativity, compassion and peace, I make it possible for you to do the same. Try it. Wake up. What would the world be like if we all understood the one God/no idols concept at its deepest metaphysical level…?

Monday, June 18, 2012


“Do not try to find the truth, merely cease to cherish opinions. Tarry not in dualism.” Hubert Benoit  So much for my constant references to inner/outer, good/bad, Republicans and Democrats.  What should I do when these come up?  Forgive myself, not feel guilty or beat myself up; give ‘em over to spirit, get centered, and go from there.

“The only guarantee of our Divinity is in its expression through our humanity.” Science of Mind text.  This means that my default to dualism may be perceived as an opportunity to choose again and express my divinity.

“Make way for love, which you did not create, but which you can extend.  On earth this means forgive your brother [and yourself] that the darkness may be lifted from your mind.  This is the spark that shines within the dream.” Course in Miracles, Text.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Politics and The Ten Commandments

In my experience, both liberals, progressives, and so-called conservatives give lip service to the Ten Commandments. But even though many of the most fervent and dedicated so-called conservatives say they honor the Ten Commandments and try to live by them, they really don’t.  While liberals and progressives who don’t talk much about the Commandments, actually live them a bit more that do the so-called conservatives.

That’s because liberals and progressives have internalized the Ten Commandments more than their vociferous so-called conservative brethren and tend to see the Commandments in both/and terms, as both narrowly and legalistically meant to govern our outer physical behavior, and as guides to both our outer physical behavior and our inner thoughts feelings and behaviors - as guides for getting our bloated nothingness out of the way of the divine circuits. 

For example, the Commandments as guides to both inner and outer: we might not often be inclined to covet other people’s possessions, but do we compare our lives to theirs, sitting in judgment over the differences?  Yes, of course we do; at least I do, constantly. 

Another example:  Killing another person seems abhorrent, even when done in our names by the state, but what about when we have extinguished hope, enthusiasm, or opportunity—which seems to be the point of large chunks of contemporary Republican policies aimed at large segments of the population? 

The Ten Commandments may thus be seen to have both an inner metaphysical meaning and an outer physical meaning.  While the narrow, physical, legalistic interpretation of the Ten Commandments would not seem to be violated by much of contemporary Republican policies and politics, what about the spirit, intent and metaphysics of the Commandments? How well do the policies and politics of contemporary Republicans reflect the spirit, intent and metaphysics of the Commandments?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Using Stoicism

William Irvine in, A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy, asks, “Do you want to worry less and be more tranquil?”  Of course, I say.  Then consider this, and Irvine quotes the great stoic Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius: “Begin each day by telling yourself: Today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will and selfishness—all of them due to the offenders’ ignorance of what is good and what is evil”—good being, contributing to a world that works for everyone, evil being, making the world more exclusive and exclusionary.

In addition, Irvine and Marcus Aurelius suggest:

Practice negative visualization: Periodically contemplate the bad things that can happen to you.  This makes it easier to bear if such things do happen and it may also help you appreciate the stuff you currently take for granted.

Ascertain what you ‘completely’ control, what you cannot control, and what you somewhat control.  Remind yourself that one thing you can control is your attitude to what is going on in and around you.

Tell yourself that discomfort is not necessarily a bad thing, as dealing with it can help you become courageous.

Do not get bent out of shape over insults.  If the information conveyed is ‘true,’ learn from it.  If the data is ‘false,’ then consider the source and be relieved that you are doing the ‘right’ things.

For Marcus Aurelius, the art of living is more like wrestling than dancing.  To minimize getting thrown and pinned, follow his suggestions.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Paradox 2

This is not to say that some points of view, actions and activities are not ‘better’ than others—with ‘better’ defined as points of view, actions and activities that are scientifically shown to make a greater contribution to a world that works for everyone and everything. 

Some POVs and actions are more effective and efficient than others in this regard.  To me, the world that works for everyone and everything in both the short and long terms is the standard.  Do no harm, or very little; be kind and compassionate while avoiding the: ‘no pain, no gain,’ ‘this hurts me more than it does you’ and the ‘I’m burning your body to save your soul,’ kind of thinking. We want to measure our POV, thinking, feelings and behavior against that standard.

Of course as habitual, non-contributory, ineffective and inefficient thoughts, feelings and behavior give way, there will be some discomfort.  But if there is severe pain, then the standard is not being met and the POV, thoughts, feelings and behaviors have to be reexamined.  The choice is ours; we are responsible; no matter how it seems we are not victims, and blaming someone and something else is not a solution.  Sure there are people and things that seem to be ‘causes,’ but we are nonetheless responsible for dealing with them.  Name calling, finger pointing and blaming are not options.

What I didn’t fully explain in yesterday’s post about light being a wave or a particle is that whether it appears to be a wave or a particle depends upon the experiment.  If one does an experiment to show that light is a particle, it will appear that it is.  If one does an experiment to show that light is a wave, it will appear that it is.  This phenomenon is known as Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Theory and among other things, it shows the awesome power of individual choice in the creation of our experience of the world. 

So, what kind of experiments are we conducting?  Have we had enough blaming, finger pointing and name calling?  Are we ready to take responsibility for the kind of experiments we’re doing?  Are we trying to contribute to a world that works for everyone and everything, or are we trying to prove that the world can’t work but for a few and then only if they do it our way?

Monday, June 11, 2012


We live in a paradoxical, ironic world in which physics says light can be both a particle and a wave—both a particle and a wave, not either a particle or a wave.  Linking two apparently contradictory points of view, creates irony and a paradox.  ‘Apparently’ contradictory because like Democrats and Republicans, they are really the yin and yang of US politics, needing each other to be who each is, and together representing most of the electorate.

The first reaction to a paradox is to attempt to disprove one half of it, then make the remaining half the absolute truth.  We do this because we have been taught either/or thinking, instead of both/and thinking, and that what’s true is true and what’s false is false.  This kind of black or white thinking is barely descriptive at the extremes of the continuum, but leaves out the shades of grey in the middle. 

To have a world that works for everybody and everything we have to first recognize that it’ll be a paradoxical, both/and, all inclusive world, filled with ironies; then we’ll have to check our first reaction to the paradoxes within and around us, shift from either/or thinking to both/and thinking and stop seeking to make one side the angels and the other side the devils.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Original Thinking

Here is an amazing excerpt on writing, thinking and living from Ludwig Borne written in 1823, from the May/June Ode magazine:

“There are people and writings that provide instruction on how to learn Latin, Greek and French in three days, or accounting in just three hours.  However, nobody has yet demonstrated how one can become a good original writer in three days.  And yet it so simple!  You have nothing to learn, just a great deal to unlearn; nothing to experience, but quite a lot to forget.  With the world as it is now, the minds of scholars—and therefore their works—resemble the old manuscripts from which you first have to scrape the boring arguments of a Church father or the blather of monk before getting to a Roman classic.

“Thoughts beautiful and—since the world is re-created with each human—new are innate to each human mind.  But life and education overwrite them with useless stuff.

“You acquire quite an accurate picture of this state of things if you consider the following: an animal, a piece of fruit, a flower, which we recognize from their true shapes.  What they are is what they appear to us.  But would we have a true concept of the nature of a partridge pie, raspberry juice, or rose oil?  So it is with the sciences, with all things we perceive with the mind and not through the senses.  They are put before us prepared and changed, and in their ran and naked shape we do not know them.

“Opinion is the kitchen in which all truths are slaughtered, plucked, chopped, stewed and seasoned.  There is no larger lack than of books without sense/reason/wit; namely which contain things and not opinions.

“Only a small number of original writers exist, and the best differ much less from the less skilled than one would think upon superficial comparison.  One creeps, one runs, one limps, one dances, one drives, one rides to one’s goal.  Yet a destination and way is what they all have in common.  Treat and novel thoughts can be won only in solitude.  But how do you achieve solitude?

“You can flee humankind but then you stand on the noisy market of books; you can throw away the books, but how do you throw from your mind all the common knowledge with which education fills it?  In the art of making oneself ignorant, the true art of self-education is the most necessary, most beautiful art yet the least often and least skillfully exercised.  Just as there are only a thousand thinkers among a million people, there is only one original thinker among a thousand thinkers.

True scientific endeavor is not a journey of discovery like that of Columbus but a voyage like that of Ulysses.  Man is born in strange lands; living means looking for home, and thinking means living.  But the fatherland of thoughts is the hear; he who wants drink afresh must draw from this spring.  The mind is nothing but a stream; thousands have camped along its side and cloud the water by wishing, bathing and performing other dirty tasks in it.

“The mind is the brawn, the heart the will.  You can acquire brawn, you can increase it, train it.  But what good is all that brawn without the will to use it?  A fear of thinking is keeping us back.  More oppressing than the censure of governments is the censure that public opinion exerts over the works of our minds.  He who listens to the voice of his heart instead of to the clamor of the market will always be original.  Sincerity is the source of all genius; man would be more ingenious if he were more moral.

“And here is the promised practical application.  Take some sheets of paper and, for three consecutive days, write down anything that goes through your head without guile or dissimulation.  Write what you think of yourself, of your spouse, of Goethe, of the Last Judgment, of your boss—and, when the three days are over, you will be ecstatic with amazement at the new unheard-of-thoughts you have had.  That is the art of becoming an original writer in three days!”

Thursday, June 7, 2012


The following is a note I sent to a client who is feeling overwhelmed. 

I've been reflecting on our chat about Identity. It's something I've been working with a lot given all my prostate shit and my traditional 'male' identity.  You're right that CS is part of your identity, but not only your ego Identity.  As spirit you're much more than CS and your other endeavors, just as I am much more than my semen and books.  We are BOTH spirit and ego.  BOTH CS, books and something more, much greater. 

That greatness is wanting to express in CS and my books, but because it is of a different character and type altogether than our ego consciousness, we have to be diplomatic and tactful with the ego, to get it out of the way so the creative pieces of our spirit can flow thru us and out.  We can't deal with these pieces of spirit in the same way we deal with the ego.  When we try and think about them as if they were of the ego and not of spirit by setting deadlines, pushing and worrying, we will fail.  Ego methods do not work with spiritual things.

The way to work with spiritual things is spiritually.  The ego will worry and holler and struggle, but fuck it—no, that's where the tact and diplomacy you're so good at comes in. You want to do that with your ego.  As Emerson says, "Get your bloated nothingness out of the way of the divine circuits."  So know who and what you are--spirit and ego; but more spirit than ego.  That is our Identity.  Allow CS to express, if and when it's ready.  No force, no pressure, and most of all, no fear!  It's like gestation; it's more of a female than a male thing.  Spirit is kind of feminine in that way, ego more masculine.  We need both, but perhaps it's time we eased up on the ego and it's methods and shifted more to the spiritual.  What do you think?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Ego and Elections

Scott Walker has won in Wisconsin.  My ego, the ego in me, has taken a blow.  But I am not the ego. The ego has again shown itself for what it is, once again showing that spirit is the only choice.  But for the winners, the ego seems to have won. The ego in me hasn’t worked, but it seems to have worked for the winners.  The ego, which would rather be right than happy, was right for the winners but wrong for me and the other losers. 

In the ego world there are winners and losers.  In spirit’s world there are only winners.  Now that the ego has failed my ego self, I have no choice but to fall back on my spiritual self.  My self has failed but perhaps if I let that go and don’t take it so seriously, my Self will allow me to see it differently, through Its eyes.  We’ll see.  I hope so.  No, I know so but my self is in pain just now.

It’s very difficult to face the fact that the world the ego has constructed for me, doesn’t work for me; that the ideals, hopes and dreams I hold so dear are not shared, or not shared by enough people to win an election.  The ego in me likes to think that the ideals, hopes and dreams I hold so dear are god-given, the right ones, the ones that are best for everyone, the best way to contribute to a world that works for everyone and everything. But obviously, at least as far as democratic elections are concerned, that is not true; and the other egos in the world disagree.

In the ego world there are winners and losers.  In spirit’s world there are only winners.  Now that the ego has failed my ego self, I have no choice but to fall back on my spiritual self.  My self has failed but perhaps if I let that go and don’t take it so seriously, my Self will allow me to see it differently, through Its eyes.  We’ll see.  I hope so.  No, I know so but my self is in pain just now.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The DOD and Alternative Energy

I received a request to sign a petition to ask Congress to allow the DOD to proceed with its alternative energy and bio-fuel programs.  The DOD has been working with universities, scientists and entrepreneurs to develop alternative energy sources including a real bio-fuels program from weeds, algae and other substances (like Brazil has had for years), not ethanol from more expensive and environmentally destructive corn grown in politically potent Iowa.

The DOD is pursuing and alternative fuels program, not because it’s suddenly gone green and gotten an ‘environmental conscious,’ but because most of US casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan are associated with fuel convoys!  The DOD wants alternatives to gas and oil to save soldiers’ lives!  Secondarily, it wants to reduce US dependence on foreign oil and the need to fight to ‘protect’ it, and also to reduce its budget by using alternatives to the more expensive oil products.

Three excellent, rational reasons for DOD to proceed with its alternative energy and bio-fuel programs.  So what gives with Congress?  How corrupt and broken is our political system when our elected, so-called leaders fight the DOD and want to keep killing soldiers, depend on foreign oil, and drive up the deficit?  Who are the voters who keep electing these people?  When will these voters start paying attention and start voting for people who are not ideological radicals but really care about building a world that works for everyone and everything?  We are drifting lower and lower.  How low will we go?  Must the nation be destroyed and many more lives ruined before people vote differently?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Bread and Circuses

This is an older post, but worth sharing again.  I am not a big pro sports fan.  I’m not even a little pro sports fan.  In fact, I think the time, energy and money invested in professional sports is criminal.  Sports in school, even college, can be very valuable.  I think it has a place and should be nurtured there.  The trouble is, that love of sports in school, seems to mature into addiction to pro sports later in life, and schools are used as feeders for the pros.  I’m aware that following sports is a way to unwind, relax, channel and release aggression.  But following sports also has a dark shadow side that too often goes unnoticed and un-remarked, except by the power brokers and so-called leaders in politics and business.

The dark side can be summed up as bread and circuses, the phenomena that contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire.  Bread and circuses.  As the Roman Republic, became an Empire, Roman citizens stopped acting like citizens – stopped taking an interest in their community, stopped being actively involved in politics and in many cases even stopped working. 

To divert the mass of the population and keep the public’s mind off the collapse of the Republic and its values and ideals of Justice, the concentration of wealth and power and the abuses of power – the leaders of Rome gave the population bread and circuses.  Bread to feed them, circuses to amuse and divert them.  Arenas were built in every large town, and wheat was imported from Egypt.  Once hooked, the public’s appetite for free food and entertainment grew and grew until circuses weren’t enough and bloody battles between gladiators and feeding Christians to the lions were required.  As long as the elite rulers provided bread and circuses, they could do whatever they wanted.  That was bread and circuses.

I thought about bread and circuses as I watched the faces of the World Cup winners and losers on the so-called news last night.  Did you see the faces?  The faces of the Germans whose team lost – the grief, deep sadness and actual mourning?  It reminded me of the pictures of the faces in the crowds when Jack Kennedy died.  Hey! I shouted at the TV screen, it’s only a game!  And the winners in Madrid?  Thousands and thousands of people jammed together yelling and screaming, actual tears of joy running down their cheeks?  And I thought, too bad just a little of that energy and enthusiasm can’t go into saving the planet, and seizing the opportunities masquerading as the problems of poverty and injustice.  Instead, all that energy is bread and circuses.

The usual response is, hey, give us a break!  Those people needed something to celebrate and it also gave them a moment of national pride and unity.  Oh, yeah?  And what about the Germans? And all the other teams that have lost, and have you noticed the way the sports system is designed there’s always more losers than winners, that’s real healthy isn’t it - where’s the national pride and unity there?  And even for the so-called winners, how long will the pride and unity last?  Will it carry over into their everyday lives?  Will their everyday lives be better for the ‘victory’?

It’s all a momentary diversion, bread and circuses. But, its not just ‘momentary’ any more, pro sports is a year round, heavily marketed, designed to be addictive, trillion dollar business, a constant diet of bread and circuses.  And everybody’s in on it, from the President to your next door neighbor. 

But think about it, what if only a small part of that energy and enthusiasm could be channeled to dealing with the real life threats and opportunities surrounding us?  Only a small part; pro sports wouldn’t have to go away – much as I’d like it to, I realize that’s impossible.  It’s not an either/or, zero/sum, winner-take-all thing (as the sports metaphor would have us believe), but a both/and, win/win thing.  Couldn’t we do both, have sports and seize the opportunities in our seeming problems?  Aren’t we capable and competent enough to do that – to figure out a way to channel a small part of all the energy and enthusiasm that goes into pro sports to dealing with the real life threats and opportunities surrounding us? 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Science as Referee

A partial explanation for all the craziness we’ve been experiencing, the lack of a referee and the irrationality, is people’s loss of faith in Science. 

Science used to be the neutral referee, the generally objective test for public policy and the guide for individual choice.  But as big bucks have corrupted it (think of the ‘scientists’ that work for the oil companies) and a few high profile cases of scientists fudging their data have been revealed, certain politicians have accentuated these to discredit all of Science—very much like Reagan did with the welfare cheats and Willy Horton.  The public, media-fed resurgence of archaic religious dogma, even as more and more people say they are drifting away from organized religion, and again the media-fed political polarization, have also contributed to Science’s loss of influence.

In spite of all this, Science itself, despite a few bad apples, has not changed and remains our best hope for an honest, objective referee and alternative to irrationality and prejudice.  Talking about Mark Henderson’s new book, “The Geek Manifesto”, the Christian Science Monitor’s May 28th issue says: “We now have a strong argument for smart people to get involved in the grubby world of politics, standing up for good public policies that are based on facts rather than gut feelings and prejudice.”

“What is required, writes Angela Saini in a recent New Scientist magazine, is for those citizens who value science to rise up and force it onto the mainstream political agenda.”  Good idea!  Isn’t it time we got angry about the lack of Science in policy-making, and took action to return its influence?