FactFictionFancy-170130

I see some fairly dramatic changes in the discussions on line. When the internet first emerged, a lot of the flow of information was purely trivial and focused on level one (the “me” level): “Join me at the corner of Main and Pine streets,” or wherever “me” was at the time. And of course other-bashing or bullying behaviors and vomits of gossip and inconsequential trivia.

Next, emerged the realization that the internet is the perfect place to “get mine” without dealing with the social conventions or even the facts of life, and the belief that “everyone has a right to his/her own world view.” A belief that could not exist in the real world where people like Hitler and Trump play out their anti-social agendas.

But now, as we begin to see that internet opinions have real life consequences, I see another shift. I hope it’s not too late.   I would really like to see us grow up, get it together and use the internet and all our other technologies to the benefit of ourselves and our future and all the Life of Earth, instead of using them to exert our power and gain our personal perks.

However, right now, I see primarily two attitudes and a lot of confusion. First attitude: The “me” curls up inside its own world view, so as not to deal with whatever else is out there that it doesn’t like. Or lashes out or complains because “there is nothing I can do,” The fact is there is always something one can do, we really are responsible for doing it if we really do want to make a better world, and we don’t find out what it is by curling up inside ourselves.

The second attitude is choosing to believe that the earth resources are infinite. That belief is not discussable, because it simply isn’t true.   There truly are true things, and one of our excuses is to infinitely discuss the undiscussible, rather than dealing with it.   Again, usually lash out or complain because we can’t make it different, rather than doing something different, ourselves, that might get us to a better place. This issue is fact-based, not discussable, so I will return to the first attitude.

The human world has developed at least two levels of organization more complex than it was when the Buddha (and Jesus, and Mohamed) walked the earth during the Axial age – not all at the same time, of course, but all during that vast time of changing human consciousness of ourselves. Now we are having another time of vast change, and if our genuine goal is to make the world better rather than worse for our presence, or even if we only want humankind to survive, then it is our obligation to use our wonderfully evolved mind, in addition to our innate instincts and our learned beliefs, to inform our behaviors.

If our genuine goal is to make the world better rather than worse, we cannot live and behave according to our basic human instincts and values without STUDYING the technologies that we have built and their relationship to the factual truth of the earth and of human biology, so that we can learn how the good these technologies do for us may actually cause great harm to OTHER PEOPLE and to Life itself, and so to us. We need to remember that our technologies, informed by our communal world view, is what CAUSED these problems in the first place, and more powerful technologies attached to the same world view will not make things better, but rather worse.

For example, a common misunderstanding of basic science is the belief that technology can create more resources. (For example that farming, can make more food available). It cannot. Farming is a technology, and technology does not create anything; technology USES the resources, in fact redirects resources to human use away from their natural use. The earth does not have infinite resources, whether it be photosynthesis or chemicals of various kinds or anything else. Technology can change things around, but it cannot make more than there is. When we try to change our reality, rather than trying to live within it, the result is vast suffering to other sentient beings and, as a result, to humans and to ourselves individually.

For example, we are causing mass extinctions of other species by effectively using their food to feed ourselves. Because the earth has reached its limits and we are technologically more powerful than these other species, we can tear up the places where they live and use the land to grow food for ourselves. So they die.

Who cares? This all sounds like a great idea to some people. Kill off the other, and we have it all to ourselves. These people are ignorant of the facts of Life. The fact is that it is the other species — the other organisms that we are killing off – they function together to create the resources in the first place by cycling and recycling the things we need to stay alive (including food). That is the cause of climate change, and that is why our human overgrowth is the basic problem we must deal with if we want to survive, and that is also why me-ism is not how we can help to make things better rather than worse for the whole world and especially for ourselves. However, because we are all enjoying this (unethical) system of killing off the other, we therefore pretend the resources are infinite and we blame other people for problems that actually are caused by the way we use our technolgies. Or don’t use them, in the case of birth control.

The root cause of our problem is overgrowth, and as long as Americans are more willing to enjoy the temporary fruits of our overgrowth, rather than take responsibility for: 1) studying the facts of life as they are on earth today; and 2) reducing technological and population growth — then my opinion is that we (humans, worldwide) won’t make it to 2050. The reason will be not that the environment crashes, the environment will simply change to a form that can support itself without us. What is most likely to happen if we do not take responsibility for our behaviors is what happens to all overpopulated species. They run out of food and start killing each other. Haven’t you noticed? We have already started, but that will not save us from our overgrowth. In fact – look more closely and we realize that it is a part of our overgrowth. It means we can make more babies and profit from that, and then kill off more of whom we don’t want and profit from that. At it’s core, this is no different from farming. Farming people is more profitable than farming vegetables.

So, that is something we don’t want to talk about.

 

What I find highly irresponsible is that we would rather look for our own personal sense of peace by pretending all this is not so — and who cares about the future when it will happen to someone else — rather than taking to ourselves the lesser pain of the recognition that our dream castles are not real (and yes, I do know that tearing down dream castles is very painful) so that we can give everything we can/have to the future of the Life of Earth by taking responsibility for the pain we have caused by our overgrowth.

We humans did it, mostly with good intentions, and it is irresponsible to say that we as individuals “can’t do anything.” Especially considering the current election. What we can do, every one of us, is to study and discuss with each other the reality, what really is, not what the number-crunchers tell us, because they are human too, and their biases are impressive and un-recognized, and if they crunch the wrong numbers, based on flawed assumptions, it is all of life that suffers – not just our dream castles, as beautiful as they may be – and are – I do not exclude myself.

We are not required to do impossible things, but anyone can work to understand BOTH the down side and the up side of whatever we are promoting – and there is always a down side.

As a traditional elder has said (Oren Lyons): “It is our responsibility to plan for the seventh generation yet to come.” The Dalai Lama says something similar, but with a longer timeline. They are right, and that is something that ANYONE CAN DO, together with others in his or her community, or just the family, or even all alone. But we must remember that flawed planning, based on trusting someone else’s world view or value system or bad numbers, will not get us where we want to go.

Why are we afraid of hurting other peoples’ feelings when at the same time we are taking the food out of their mouths without a qualm, by growing the economy and the population beyond the level that the earth resources can support?

 

Buddhism does not say, nor does any other religion, that everyone should be happy all the time, regardless of the pain and suffering that our “happiness” causes to other sentient beings.

What does everyone really want? I think, when we get to the end of that Bodhisatva path that we claim to be walking, the only thing that can make us genuinely satisfied is the knowledge that we lived out our responsibilities to friends, family, community, and to ourselves — not by our opinions — whatever they may be — but by our responsible actions/behaviors, whether or not some of those behaviors made other people “uncomfortable.” That is wise compassion, and that is our responsibility to ourselves, that is, our species.

I would bet the Buddha never said that everyone wants “happiness.” Who said that? The corposystem says that, so that it can claim to give it to us with its technologies.

First, the Buddha did not speak or understand English as interpreted by the corposystem. And second, at least with regard to Tibet, there were two language translations between the original and the English.  The English translation, so far as I know was first made by Christian missionaries working from the Tibetan language that they understood only superficially. I would bet that what the Buddha really said was something like The Dalai Lama’s vision of “wise compassion.”

What we all want is achievable only through our own wise compassion, and wise compassion can be defined as doing what is best for the other; really best, not just convenient for right now but best unto the seventh generation, first by open minded deep study of the issues outside of one’s own belief system, combined with the understanding that there are NEVER fewer than three possible choices, and that we must study all the choices before we act upon them — and second by behaving in accord with the informed choices that we make.

 

 

 

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