Bare Bones Biology 067-What To Do-01

It’s not as though I’m running out of things to say. I have at least three whole books left in me. But here I was getting a little tired of what I was saying, and along comes someone and asks me what we should do about all this. I thought that’s what I was saying, but it reminded me of the time I asked Noam Chomsky that very question. Only, of course I wasn’t quite so nice about it. He was on television; I was sitting at home feeling sorry for myself. At that stage of my life I was just finally dragging myself out of the muck of the victim role in our co-dependent culture, and that’s pretty much what my email sounded like that I sent to him. A pity party. But he answered right away, like, before he got off the television, and gave me a big round pill to swallow, and that’s where it all began. That’s one of the books I still haven’t written.

Unfortunately, he didn’t answer that particular question, so I still didn’t know what to do.

And then there was the time when someone asked me that same question when we were alone together in our dorm room after a stressful day at the photo clinic, I think it was in Italy. I didn’t have an answer, so I worked on it for about a year until a new understanding opened up for me about citizen responsibilities as they relate to biological reality. So I wrote it all out in great detail, annotated and logically consistent, and sent it to her. She never did answer. But then a friend told me that her question, when she asked me “what would you do?” is a classic “nice” technique to shut someone up when we don’t want to listen to them anymore.

I personally think it would be easier and nicer to just say: “I don’t wanna talk about it anymore,” but you can’t knock a year of productivity in a positive direction that came out of her manipulation. So we all are lucky. I have figured it out, and I will tell you. It’ll take more than five minutes, but we can begin with the fact that we who are interested in this problem are consumer citizens, and we all do have the same bottom-line goal or we wouldn’t be doing this. The goal is to build a tomorrow that is better than today.

To do that, we need to have a vision of what that tomorrow would look like, and we need to hold that vision in front of us at all times when we’re making decisions that affect other people. Which is all the time because all of our decisions affect other people.

The simplest vision I can imagine that would work out well would have three basic components. The first is kindness and compassion. Second is a respect for the rule of law as it relates to human rights. And third is a deep understanding of what the ecosystem requires to be healthy, and a constant awareness of our own long-term and short-term desires and needs, as they relate to the long- and short-term requirements for a healthy ecosystem.

Of course, that’s merely the background. The original question relates to what can I do today to contribute to such a future. Or someone else might disagree with the common goal. Either way I have another list that might be helpful and I’ll talk about that next time.

You might want to go to my web page and print out a copy of this series of ideas, and then the next time someone says “What would you do?” You’ll be all ready to tell them. (It’s fun.)

Bare Bones Biology 067-What To Do 01
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Today’s Question

Which is more important, the goal or the game?

I mean, unless your goal is to win the game, of course, then it doesn’t matter.

My goal is to not leave the world worse for my being here. This is very difficult because everyone must eat or not be here. That’s because we all need food energy for our bodies to grow and/or do anything.

I only fully realized how difficult it is to not do harm when I read a Facebook post from Dot, who said that our current entire world is right now using (approximately of course, but we have all kinds of measuring devices so it is no doubt pretty nearly right) 1.5 times as much resources as the earth can produce. That’s right now this year.

To appreciate this we need to know that nearly all renewable resources, that is, food energy and wood and other things we use to make THINGS and also to make MONEY — almost all of that comes from photosynthesis by plants and other photosynthetic organisms living on the earth (including oceans, everyplace on earth). Technology can not solve this problem by making food because it takes more energy to MAKE it than the organic energy we get by eating it. Technology has been trying. You never hear about it because they can’t do it. All the organic energy that organisms need to stay alive on earth, all comes from those lovely green things that grow in this lovely green earth, and that’s only if we don’t destroy the water and climate and soil that they need to survive. And we cannot have more food than there can be; we know how the biochemical process functions, and it requires the green organisms to do it. The only way we can adjust to the balance of organic food energy is not to use too much of it, either for eating or for making things and money. That means we have to balance ourselves from now on. Do we want more things, more money or more people? We can’t have all three.

Or, in old fashioned terminology, you can’t get blood from a stone.

Power to do what?

I just received a local email urging support for the President with the following words:

“The fight to restore our country to its former self has just begun. . . YES WE CAN.”

No we can not. The reality is that we can not restore our country to its former self. We have no power to do impossible things. We would do better to set positive possible goals so that we can focus our energies all in the same direction. Focus our power rather than scatter and diffuse it by attempting the impossible and ending up with something we were not aiming for.

All behaviors have their consequences. Do we claim that we can erase the war and begin again 8 years ago? That we can unkill that Iraqi child whose brother now hates our guts?  We can forget, if it is more convenient for us,  but he will not.  Can we unwaste all that money we gave to Blackwater?

What we have lost is irreplaceable and immeasurable. Either we face facts and go forward or we lose even more. The power lies in moving toward possible goals, not in pretending we can reclaim what we have destroyed.

The effort to accomplish the impossible sometimes spins off useful results, but it is far more efficient to set our sights on positive, possible outcomes. Then at least we know we are moving in the right direction.