Bare Bones Biology 109 – Communication

In the past two Bare Bones Biologies, that’s 107 and 108, we tackled one of the most complex of human topics, communication. There are people who specialize in this area, and I probably should consult such an expert, because I confuses me. We so seldom use communication to communicate our reality, and then we have to translate, or guess, what people mean by what they say, and I’m not a good guesser. I finally did figure out the reason people don’t listen to what I say – that’s one of my biggest complaints – is because they’re listening instead to what they would have meant if they had said it.

This is not necessary by the way. If we did understand each other it would eliminate a lot of confusion, and it would only require asking a few questions. But now I find a generation or two of people who are offended by questions, because they equate questioning their meaning with – “dissing” them. (To diss = to disrespect.)

I can understand this, because so many people in our culture are addicted to – or afraid of – power. So we often use words as we would money, or expertise, or machismo or whatever we have at hand to reinforce our own sense of dominance or of defence. The result is not very useful.

I remember a time when expertise was envisioned as useful, not because it gave us an individual edge in a world of fearful competition, but because our individual expertise, whatever it is, can be used to contribute to the welfare of the community. There still exist communities, and some new ones growing, in which each person within the community supports the efforts of the other (even if by support we mean pointing out the flaws so together we can grow a better effort).

Every effort has value, and the values among the many can be discussed. They have worth. None is perfect and none is expected to be perfect. But all together, if the information is made available for solving problems, the community is in a position to deal with the real problems as a group, and so the community has more power than the individual to build a better future for the whole.

Generally, in our culture, we tend to view these communities a primitive, but let’s face it, primitive peoples lived sustainably for thousands of years until we came along with the so-called advanced cultures that are not sustainable within the factual reality of the earth ecosystem. Loving the ecosystem will not change this fact. Neither will technology. Until the spiritualists and the technologists are willing to learn about limiting factors, our advanced human cultures are on a fast track to destruction. Because we do have responsibilities to the earth itself, and unless we know what they are, and fulfill them, well, then our spiritual and technological good intentions are, and I quote St Bernard of Clairveux: “the road to hell, paved with good intentions.”

In a society of competition, where everyone is afraid of everyone else, we cannot use our expertise compassionately to benefit the whole, because the whole is composed of other people, most of whom are more concerned with their own physical or emotional survival.

The result is useless and fruitless power struggles rather than a compassionate intention to address real problems. And in a society where people are hooked on feeling good, or aspiring to feel good, there can be very little compassion, because in a crisis situation, compassion most often does not feel good. Doing what’s best to benefit the whole, often does not feel good. But that is what compassion is – doing what is best for the long-term interests of the other and the whole.

When a solution to a problem is well documented in fact, then it is the responsibility of compassion to study these facts and use them to promote the overall welfare, that is the least suffering, of the whole. For that, we must learn to listen and to discuss. Without listening and discussion of the impact of the facts on all the levels of life, from the individual through the ecosystem, there can be no deep, sustainable, compassion.

Bare Bones Biology 108 – Communication
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Owl photo taken in New Mexico at
Discussion photo taken in California at the conference of:

Stewards of our Children’s Future

On April 12, 2011, the Community Sustainability Commission of Benicia, California in collaboration with Solano Community College launched the first lecture-workshop in a five part series. The first speaker is a Texan in California!

The Mayor of Benicia, and the President of Solano community college introduce the first of a 5-lecture series in Benicia, California. I think it’s a model for those of us who want to DO SOMETHING, rather than just worry or complain or wish. I know that we have a very different sort of community here, and sometimes we tend to look to our University for resources, but TAMU has a different vision, and in any case cannot generate community outside of itself. They can give us information and helpers, but community has to come from the community. I think College Station is looking for the failed “American Dream,” but I think Bryan really might be looking toward community as that old dream of infinite growth fades into the past and we must look to a more realistic future for the children.

We will have a DVD copy of this series on file at the Peach Clubhouse to watch or borrow. Economics of Happiness will be shown again at the Unity Church in Bryan on Wednesday April 20 at 6 pm (or, come at 6, it will probably start about 6:15) and will continue to be available.

Power in Community

This is a quote from The Caucus, John Harwood.

“Stuart E. Eizenstat, a lawyer who is a veteran of the administrations of Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, praised Mr. Obama for bringing to the task three critical elements of presidential leadership. The first two, he said, are high intelligence and the ability to connect disparate issues in a larger framework.”

I’m interested in the ability to connect disparate issues into a larger framework. Whether or not we are pro-Obama, we are living in a time where it seems like every other person has an axe to grind, and may not have clearly thought through the cause of the problem or the result if we fix it the way we want to. But we all know there are a lot of problems.

We are so accustomed to linear thinking in our culture, that we sometimes get the idea if everyone does one good thing at the same time, all the good things add up to a good result. Clearly not. If our economists had thought about the implications of their actions outside of their own circle of expertise we probably would not be reaping the results of their mistakes.

We also know there is more power in a group of people working for the same cause than in a bunch of separate people working for different causes. So, if we were to all do the most important good things together — that might bring a very much more satisfactory result.

But it is indeed difficult to think of them all together, so we are lucky to have a President who reportedly can do just that. Not that we should all follow lock step behind Pres. Obama. I have a few complaints myself. But it’s good to have someone up there who can connect the dots between our own enterprise and those of other people.