I love this picture that I took at the Economics of Happiness conference. I don’t really know why. I don’t know her. But I think somehow she reflects how I felt about this very positive conference that was based in knowledge and commitment to the future, rather than empty corposystem hype.
Hatred is never healed by hatred. That is a universal law. I just quoted an important Buddhist maxim. Many or most of the major religions will tell you the same. That’s why non-violence works—well of course nothing is perfect. If you’re the guy at the very top who doesn’t have to do any of the fighting, I guess violence is useful to you. But in terms of growing a sustainable, reasonably comfortable social structure for the future, violence will not get us there, and I think it’s our job to get us there. So, I think it’s time for a change.
“Just as it was once possible and important for people to imagine a world without slavery, a world beyond slavery; just as it was important for me personally to learn how, as a child, to imagine a world without racial segregation, and then later to imagine a world in which women were not assumed to be inferior to men; . . . it’s really important to work with your imagination. To use your imagination. To think beyond the moment. But, it’s not enough simply to imagine a different future. We can walk around with these ideal words in our heads, while everything crumbles around us.”
These words of Angela Davis (link) were edited from a speech she gave at the University of California, and are similar to comments she made when she was here at Texas A&M University. I’m sure you can find it on YouTube. She’s probably right. It’s probably impossible for people to do what they can’t imagine.
So, here’s the new plan. And believe me it won’t be easy – five minutes a week – to imagine a viable, sustainable, reasonably comfortable society for our country and our world. But let’s stick with our country and give it a try. You can help with your ideas. I made my statement in Bare Bones Biology 044, entitled Proposal, that you can find on my blog (link). And if you look around the web, and the bookshelves, quite a number of people are trying to do the same.
Perhaps we can evaluate all these visions against a base of what I believe to be the minimum requirements for a healthy, sustainable human social structure. That is, its citizens must be educated in the skills of practical compassion applied to problem solving; of the nature and needs of a healthy ecosystem; and a rule of law that recognizes the conflicting human rights at the level of the individual and at the level of the whole. Certainly we do not want to perpetuate the kind of educational system that is described by New York State Teacher of the Year, John Gatto (read by Jack Kornfield).
“Think of the things that are killing us as a nation: drugs, brainless competition, recreational sex, the pornography of violence, gambling, alcohol, and the worst pornography of all, lives devoted to buying and getting things, accumulation, as if it would give meaning to life. All are simply addictions of dependent or fearful personalities, and that is what our brand of schooling is now inevitably producing. The children I teach become indifferent to the adult world . . . The children I teach have lost most of their curiosity and cannot concentrate long. They have a poor sense of the future. The children I teach are dependent, passive, 18000 hours of watching television. The children I teach are materialistic, following the lead of the schoolteachers who materialistically grade everything, and the advertisements that offer everything in the world for sale. The children I teach are uneasy with intimacy or candor. They lack compassion for misfortune. They laugh at weakness. What are we to do?”