Bare Bones Biology 355 – Conversation

A pair of crows swoop low over the frost-dimpled sparkle of old snow in our front yard, looking for a handout, maybe, or just doing their sentry duty; watching Bitsy, in her blaze-orange vest, sniffing out the trail where our flock of wild turkeys stilt-walked single-file, at sunrise, across the strip of bare dirt, on the hill below our neighbors’ houses, where the snow has melted since we left yesterday.

 

Yesterday, Bitsy and I loaded into Old Silver, slid out the driveway in four-wheel drive to follow a snow plow to the main road, and drove South, watching the sky-glow come to life behind the lower layer of snow-clouds and the climate gradually change from winter into almost spring at the lower altitudes.

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Santa Fe was warm and friendly, as it usually is. Bitsy waited in the car, while Deborah and I had a long, slow, organic lunch at (la? el? maybe le? or the?) Vinaigrette, and a good conversation in the cozy privacy of too much noisy talk around us. Everyone being nice to everyone else. A warm treat in a cold world, and some serious conversation about the difference between an individual person (or crow, or turkey, or pet dog) as a unique system/organism; and a human social system consisting of many humans; and the whole of Earth, animal, vegetable and mineral, organized to make an incredibly complex, whole system of Life. Because those relationships are so beautiful that they tug at our heartstrings, if we ever stop to think about them, and so important to our survival that we are responsible to ourselves for their welfare. Good conversation.

 

Good conversation is not about what hurts and who did what to whom, though that kind of chit-chat can be important; and it’s not about who is bigger or more powerful than whom, because that is always a waste of time, especially in a time of world crisis. Good conversation is about how things function and how to fulfill our individual responsibilities to the welfare of the whole. Ourselves, our whole families, our social organizations, and the Biosystem that sustains the life of all of Earth.

 

At one point Deborah said that she felt these things strongly, but she had no the words to say what she felt, and I remembered Shodo, who can share emotionally — wordlessly — or mostly wordlessly; she has words for some of it. I did have words – I do have words – I thought I had the words, but eventually I figured out that “they” (I meant people of the corposystem ethic) “they” can’t hear my words because, as I said to Deborah: “They have stolen my words. When I say something to them, they do not hear what I said, but rather something different that comes from their own world views. What I say means something different to them then what I meant, using the same word.”

 

Evolution for example, no longer means to “them” what it really does mean, and that is mostly what I talk about. They hear something that is not the reality we must discuss if we want to survive as a human system within the Biosystem. “They” hear something about domination and human power; but that is not how naturally evolved systems primarily operate; not by domination and power, but by cooperative interactions, and therefore, in our efforts to save ourselves from climate change and other natural crises, we must talk together about cooperative interactions among the systems – and the different needs of the different systems – different from our needs as individual human organisms.

 

We must learn to “talk to the trees and listen to the answers,” both at the level of scientific fact, which is cold and inexorable and absolutely necessary, and at the level of warm human compassion, that is our choice, among ourselves.

 

So finally I understood that, whenever I am thinking about saving our species from extinction, and I use the word evolution, “they” are “hearing” domination, technological domination of the processes of nature, which is the opposite of what I am saying. I am saying that the domination ethic, applied to our relationship with the Biosystem, is what caused our current emergency in the first place.

 

 

What to do?

 

Well, of course “they” say they know better than I do, and then of course “they” want to argue, and the next thing they are in a red-faced purple rage if they cannot win the argument that has turned into a competitive debate. And then someone wins and they think they have won something worthwhile, but on the contrary they have lost the game by winning the debate, because human arguments cannot change the laws of nature – gravity, thermodynamics, nor the Laws of Life such as evolution and the ways that naturally evolved systems maintain themselves – that is, stay alive. They stay alive by cooperating with the systems around them – especially the systems that are more powerful than they are, and arguing over that point won’t resolve the problem.

 

Human dominance relationships cannot change the biological facts of Life. Arguing just uses up a good person’s energy in raging over things that cannot be changed, when he could be using his energy to make positive change toward human survival in reasonable comfort within our families, our social systems, and most importantly the Biosystem. Children of abuse and crisis should know this, having lived it; but they never seem to. Rather, they more often choose some form of abuse as their own weapon of choice. I suppose this is because it works for some people, within the human social systems, but it cannot work in a confrontation with Mother Nature, for many reasons that I have discussed in other podcasts and blogs.
The important point here is that good discussion could change that kind of toxic relationship. Good discussion among ourselves (humans) and between ourselves and our environmental systems, especially the corposystem and the Biosystem; but good discussion requires good listening, not arguing.

 

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Good discussion requires good questions; making sure we are all using the same words to mean the same things; understanding what is a fact and so we cannot change it, and what can be changed and what is likely to happen if we do change it; understanding the down side as well as the up side of whatever we want to do, how the systems function to maintain themselves, and how the different levels, the different systems that we live among, how the different systems have different requirements for their welfare; and then listening each to the needs of the other and talking about how we can arrive at win-win-win solutions to our problems, rather than beat each other over the head to see who can beat the hardest. Cave-man style head-bashing, (according to the comics, I’m not sure that was actually true). Simple head-bashing can only work in win/lose situations. We require win/win/win solutions to our root problem, and that cannot be accomplished with simple head-bashing, or with simple knee-jerk compassion. It could be accomplished with wise conversation. Wise compassion.

 

In fact, in our corposystem world, most people have been highly trained in the many ways of winning, but are not taught problem solving skills other than the modern style of the win/lose “cave-man.” Most of us are so well imprinted with the idea that winners are the good guys that we can’t feel good about ourselves unless we can prove to ourselves that we are better than someone else; preferably everyone else. This is impossible, because we aren’t, and so we mostly only fool ourselves, because our “winner” skills are mostly just excuses (and techniques) that we use to avoid listening to anyone outside our own world view. Interrupting, yelling, lying, changing the subject, and other defensive behaviors – are loser skills. You hear them in systems that are falling apart – becoming losers.

 

Instead of asking to hear more about opinions we don’t understand, we “hear” them as attacks. We “hear” questions as contradictions or debate or arguments, and sometimes, we even “hear” praise as condemnation. It’s true; sometimes if you agree with them, some people will imagine you are putting them down. And sometimes they will do anything, for fear of losing, to avoid good conversation. But good conversation is not about winners and losers; it is about partnership behaviors.

 

We waste our words, our communication – that most precious of human inborn gifts — crying about things we can’t change, without actually trying to find various other ways to deal with the problem as it is. Or more simply, we talk in circles instead of using our time to understand the facts as they are, and the true cause of our problem, so that we can behave in ways that have a chance of fixing the problem. As a result, we keep on doing the things that created the problem in the first place and it just gets worse and worse, and we try harder, and it gets worse, unto the end.

 

Usually the first reason that the problem is getting worse is because we waste our powerful gift of conversation rewinding our excuses to not talk about the cause of the problem.

 

Or we don’t have the words. Most of us humans truly cannot see or hear things or ideas that we cannot say. I don’t know why this is, but it’s like that “lightbulb” experience when we suddenly recognize something that seems obvious once we see it. It had been there all along; we just didn’t have the words to see it with. Maybe our neurons connect around our words, I don’t know, but good conversation really does help clarify realities, by giving us the words to say them. That’s why modern propaganda tries so hard to change the meanings of our words.   And in addition, of course our minds are full of ideas about things that are not real, are not true, and never were.

 

If we think or act as though reality is not true, or behave as though fantasy is true, then bad things happen.

 

 

Good conversation can sort out the realities from the fantasies — in our families; in our communities; and good conversation, rather than war — with the crows in the front yard, the turkeys prancing through the snow, the neighbors, the social system,    and the whole system of Life – good win-win-win conversation is our obligation to the welfare of Life itself, and ourselves within Life.

 

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy.com.

 

A copy of the podcast can be downloaded at: http://traffic.libsyn.com/fff/Bare_Bones_Biology_355F_-_Conversation.mp3

 

 

Credits:

This blog was made possible by a good conversation with Deborah, who gave me some of the words.

 

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Bare Bones Biology 353 – God Makes Energy

The title is a quote from one of Angela Sayers’ lovely books, I forget which one. Surely she, in England, never met up with a snow bank such as this, but the principle is universal. Machines do not dominate the weather; they only move it out of the way, or give us time to get out of the way.

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And we would be better to remember this principle, as we try to discuss climate change, which is all about our human misuse of God’s energy to make machines so we can do whatever we want to do. There ae some things that machines can not do, and it’s better to remember this fact.

 

For example, we can use the energy of life to make the roads, to push the snow off the roads, to heat our houses, and to grow our food — but we cannot change the way the energy of Life works to operate and maintain Life. And so we fuss and complain because our machines didn’t make the world be like we want it to be, and now we have climate change, and what are we doing about that?

 

Basically, we are still trying harder and harder to dominate nature with the machines, and doing more harm – as a generalization, we are not trying to understand that machines cannot change how God made energy to function. Maybe it would be better to study how Nature really functions, rather than throwing a tantrum because we can’t have everything, because the way we are now going will most likely end with nothing that we want, as the climate of earth changes holistically in response to our micro-efforts to dominate the Earth.

 

Clearly, climate change is not merely a change of temperature. That claim is just one of many boondoggles organized by politicians to encourage us to argue among ourselves — as though our arguments have some impact on the laws of thermodynamics, or gravity – to give us some relatively inconsequential details to argue about so we won’t recognize the holistic reality.

 

Meanwhile, they are extinct or going extinct — those other organisms that created the climate and shared in the climate in which we evolved and thrived. We didn’t create the climate, nor could we – they created and maintained the climate, in their balanced interactions – but now they are gone and going, in huge numbers, and that is largely why the climate is changing.

 

In fact, some people are trying to save the extinct species using cryogenics and the like, but that effort is not likely to be very effective, because the reconstituted organisms will have no place to live. Because we are converting their environments to make food for ourselves. It’s a cycle, a runaway negative cycle, we don’t want to think about – only to control. We could use it to inform our efforts, but we cannot control it. We are putting our faith in the ridiculous notion that we can control God with our machines.

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If one defines climate change according to a temperature, then of course, the temperature will change according to the systems that control it (the system created by all those other organisms that are going extinct) — but we won’t be here, because the Biosystem is not a bunch of little things that we can fix. It is an entire whole “body” like ours only much more complicated, and it will have to start over, make itself over, slowly adding and testing billions of interacting parts (like our physiology, but much more complex) that gradually “learn” how to work together to re-evolve a new set of sustainable conditions before becoming once again complex using whatever new species arise. That scenario is inevitable (or something very similar) if we continue as we are. It has happened a number of times before in the evolution of this living earth, and it will happen again if we cannot align our beliefs with the realities of our existence within the universe.

 

The future is not the next century we continue so confidently to talk about, as though nothing will change. It can crash dramatically in a few decades, if not supported and nurtured, and then it takes more like thousands of years for earth to begin recovery from a mass extinction. From our point of view – forever, because the higher organisms die off first, and that includes us. And then whatever simpler organisms manage to survive begin to repopulate the devastated earth as they find new kinds of environments that can support life, and begin again the evolutionary journey toward another, similar but different, complex earth system.

If we don’t like that scenario, then perhaps we should do something to prevent it, and what we should NOT do is more of what caused the problem in the first place. If we want to save ourselves, we must now try to establish a new norm for humans. A new “storyline” that does not involve domination as the solution to every problem. Unless we want to simply keep on recycling the extremes: the Hitlers and the Mother Theresas: unto our extinction, the new norm must be based on a new storyline that honors the balance among the systems: sustainable balance and respect for Life itself.   It’s too late to solve our problems with growth and domination.

 

So our recourse now because we as humans are not competent to “make” a viable ecosystem, is to stop trying to force our ignorant will (the word ignorant means uninformed, not stupid or dumb — this is possible, we just aren’t doing it) to stop trying to force all of nature to do whatever we want it to do and instead honor the reality that systems of life – those that survive — work together for the common good.

 

For example, we have been overgrazing the earth since approximately the turn of the century. That means we have been taking out of the earth more than it can continue to grow.

 

These are genuine data that have nothing to do with opinions. Lester Brown, for example, is a nonpartisan expert who has been recording these data for more than 40 years, nearly 50, until his recent retirement. It’s not like we don’t know; we do know. If we do not stop overgrazing the earth we do know the result will be something on the order of the scenario in the paragraphs above.   We can stop in two ways. One is to stop eating/using the available food and other energy supplied by the earth system; the other is to stop reproducing more people than we can feed. We are not making any particularly noticeable effort to do either.

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Our politicians get elected by promising to NOT stop.

Opinions do not change facts**. Whatever we want to believe will not change the fact that the earth has only so much capacity to feed however many organisms and at the same time maintain its own balance as a life form. Maintaining its balance INCLUDES but is not limited to maintaining the climate. Nor will human opinions change the basic laws of nature that we are only beginning to understand, such as how gravity works and how the naturally evolved complex adaptive systems of the universe balance each other to maintain (or not maintain) themselves. It is not by domination, overall, but by cooperation, system with system.

 

What we do know, that every “hands on” farmer in all of history also knows, if you put too many cows in the same pasture they will eventually destroy the pasture and die. And that exact same scenario applies also to humans on this earth. We have been overgrazing the earth, beyond its capacity, now for nearly 20 years, and we cannot change what we have done. Dead is dead.

 

And now that it is done, we have a problem, and there is no point arguing about it, because whatever our opinion, our best solution is to behave as though it is true. Then, if it is true, we have a chance to save our world for the children. If it turns out that I am wrong, then we still leave to the children a better (more healthy) heritage than we received, and a much better opportunity to solve new problems as they arise.

 

 

This is BareBonesBiology, produced by https://FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com

 

The podcast can be downloaded at:  http://traffic.libsyn.com/fff/Bare_Bones_Biology_353_-_God_Makes_Energy.mp3

 

Feel free to quote me, in context, with credit, while I retain:

© 2017, Dr. M. Lynn Lamoreux

MLLamoreux@hotmail.com

© 2017, Photos by Lynn

 

 *Metaphors – at one point in the history of this blog I promised to not use metaphors, but that turned out to be impossible because all words mean different things to different people. Some of my readers may prefer to use “emergent properties of the system” or “environmental system” or “higher power” to replace the word God. Some might prefer to think “evolve” where I said “learn.” And you may want to know that I use the term “emergent property” synonymously with “macro-property of the system,”

 

**References:

Brown, Lester R. 2008. Plan B 3.0; Mobilizing to save Civilization. W.W.Norton & Co

Sutherland, Stuart. 2013. A New History of Life. The Great Courses, DVD