December 12, 2018

The Evolution of Western Individualism, Part II of II

Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog (1818) by Caspar David Friedrich

At the December 11, 2018 meeting of Owl & Ibis – A Confluence of Minds yours truly presented Part II of II of The Evolution of Western Individualism, "Individualism in the 20th and 21st Centuries, A Closer Look." A PDF of the evening's slideshow is here.

The following handouts were given at the meeting – Handout 1, Handout 2. As always, comments and questions about the presentation, slideshow and handouts are welcome. 
Topics covered during the presentation included:

Recap of Part I
Collectivism as a Reactionary Force
Measuring Individualism/Collectivism by Geert Hofstede
The Historical Spread of Individualism Beyond the West
Objectivism by Ayn Rand
Individualism in the U.S.
The Modern Rise of Individualism Outside the West
Neoliberalism & Individualism by Noam Chomsky
Closing Thoughts
   Individualism-Group Equilibrium
   Individualism and Morality
Individualism by John Steinbeck
Individualism by Oscar Wilde 

The PDF for Part I, "From the East African Rift to Silicon Valley," is here.

November 19, 2018

Enlightenment Lost: A Faustian Exchange of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity for Self Glorification and Material Convenience

Nellie Bowles
The New York Times
November 9, 2018

Franklin Foer
The Washington Post
September 8, 2017

Imagine observing a group of chimpanzees in the woodlands of western Tanzania. One day, an otherwise ordinary member of the group decides he will affix wildflowers to the hair on his head and rub a red ochre paste on his face. Imagine further that he, so adorned, then swaggers among his fellows gesturing to his new appearance and pointing at and laughing disdainfully at his group mates. Finally, imagine that this same chimp begins taking overt and deceitful actions to get what the others consider a disproportionate share of food that the group has hunted or found. 

Three Questions
1. What do you think Mr. Special’s group mates will think of him, and what consequences might he face for such behavior? His fellows might ignore his appearance or find it amusing. Then again, the ranking male and female might take umbrage if the lesser females start given Mr Fancy the attention and deference they normally give to the two leaders of the group. Eventually and more probably, his antics regarding food, if they continue for some time, will likely result in him being beaten and/or driven from the group. 

2. Now, imagine a corollary scenario among a group of modern humans. Think of a business office situation where someone adorns himself and behaves in a manner suggesting to others that he is superior to them. And that he begins stealing or bullying to obtain promotion, wealth or communal resources to a degree that degrades the wellbeing of his group mates? For example, a cologned, well-coiffed, well-dressed Wall Street financial manager becomes known in the office for his vanity and arrogance. In his work he frequently takes action to demolish low income housing that will put thousands of low income tenants on the street in order to make way for the construction of expensive, highly profitable townhouses on the same land. Does our Mr. Profit exemplify the spirit of liberty, equality and fraternity in his individual and business behavior?

3. How has it come about that the maverick among chimpanzees scenario is an obvious affront to chimp individual and group morality, yet the corollary among humans is acceptable? 

I kindly ask that you not jump to a conclusion, in the currently popular mode of “gotcha, see, I can think faster and therefore better than you,” that I’m a socialist using an evolutionary biology analogy as a rationale. Also, this essay is neither a sophistic argument intent on demeaning all points of view other than mine, nor an attempt at rhetorically deceiving you or clobbering you and your ideas into submission to my way of thinking. I kindly ask that you stay with me a bit longer. I’m simply trying to expand thinking not win points of argumentation.

First, I am not a socialist. During thirty plus years of working and living in Africa, observing firsthand how various forms of national socialism fail, I found little in that social system to recommend to any large society. Now, consider the following.

November 7, 2018

FROM THE ARCHIVES: The United States Peace Corps and Social Development in Africa

(Peace Corps Logos, Old & New)
A paper read at the University of Ghana, Legon, Department of Sociology
April 29, 1990
James E. Lassiter

October 29, 2018

DOCUMENTARY: No Room in the Inn by Pam Dewey

Pam Dewey

"Attempting to severely limit immigration to America is a hot-button issue in the political debates of the 21st century. Yet the plaque on the Statue of Liberty has extended a warm invitation to the tired, poor, wretched, huddled masses to find refuge in America for well over a century. Has the view expressed by Lady Liberty somehow changed in recent years? No Room in the Inn is a docucommentary I created that explores the long history of her offer. The political debates over immigration in the Trump Era are nothing new. You may be surprised at what the man or woman in the street thought about immigration and refugees in the 19th and 20th Centuries, including Jewish refugees from the Holocaust of World War II." - Pam Dewey

The Evolution of Western Individualism, Part I of II

A sincere thank you to those who attended Owl & Ibis - A Confluence of Minds on Tuesday, October 23, 2018 for my presentation, The Evolution of Western Individualism, Part I, ”From the East African Rift to Silicon Valley.” For those who missed it a PowerPoint version is here. A PDF copy of the slideshow is here.

A key part of the meeting was an individualism-collectivism measure and an accompanying graph I developed. This may be seen below (click on image) or in higher resolution by downloading it as an MS Excel spreadsheet here. Any comments or questions you may have about the slideshow or the measure and graph are welcome.

Regrettably, I ran over my allotted time presenting Part I and did not allow enough opportunity for discussion. I will be sure to allow plenty of discussion time during Part II, “Individualism in the 20th and 21st Centuries – A Closer Look.”

November 13 – No Meeting
November 27 – No Meeting

Dec 11 - The Evolution of Western Individualism, Part II, "Individualism in the 20th and 21st Centuries - A Closer Look" by Jim Lassiter
Dec 25 – No Meeting

Jan 08 – Little Known Facts About Gardening by Steve Yothment
Jan 22 – TBD

October 25, 2018

My Sources of News and Information

 I am sometimes asked what sources I use for news and information. In addition to electronic and paper books and a free local weekly newspaper tossed in my driveway every Wednesday (awful opinion page, great crossword puzzle), I read mostly online sources. Some of them I subscribe to at reasonable rates. The following are my main sources for news, articles, commentary, essays, and other information. Very often in reading something I'll explore an embedded link to an additional source. But these are my day-to-day places. If you know and use others you think I might be interested in, please put them and their links in a comment. Thanks!



August 31, 2018

Owl & Ibis: Human Nature - The Poets' View

Many thanks to all who attended last Tuesday night’s “Human Nature - The Poets’ View” at Owl & Ibis - A Confluence of Minds. The poetry recited or read aloud was wide-ranging and the discussion far exceeded expectations. Here’s the email from O&I that got this whole thing going:

Can we modern humans, three hundred years since the Enlightenment and a century-and-a-half since Darwin, accept as truths teachings about Humankind derived from sources other than secular science materialism? Is the inner view of self and outer vision of Humankind now all about science and its tech derivatives? Are the artists, musicians and poets merely useful as entertainers?

Yes, scientific or not, we humans, all of us, still like art, music and stories. But can the views expressed in, say, poetry impact us to the degree they once did, to the same degree that scientific facts do today? Can artistic, musical, literary/story truths be as consequential as those of the natural sciences? At the next O&I Confluence, led by yours truly, we shall read aloud and discuss selected poems from the Western canon and try to answer some of these questions.

Attached is a selection of such poetry and soliloquies, pieces I’ve collected over the years and reread often. Please look at them beforehand, though, and choose one, or a portion of one of the longer ones, you’d be willing to read aloud and initiate a discussion on.

You may, of course, choose other short poetic works or extracts not found in this compilation, or from works of non-Western origin. Feel free, if you wish, to read some of the online expert commentary on the piece(s) you’ve chosen. But, your own personal take on it may be best and more indicative of our locale, times, the general population, and the power of the piece than the views of academics. Your reactions would also include any language and ideas you don’t understand. O&I members typically rely heavily on scholarly views, but are not bound to seek their help every time. We of the Confluence think original thought, if such is possible, is also worth pursuing. Let us dare to think freely!

Truths, as we’ve explored at a previous O&I meeting, come in many forms with varying degrees of potency and utility, be they poetic, scientific or religious. And why not? Humankind is an amalgam of the matter of the universe and no less of the stories we create and tell each other.

Join the discussion!

As last Tuesday’s night’s chair I opened the meeting with a brief comment on the often disputed notion of “human nature.” I recommended to the Confluence and received no objections to this definition by Skye Cleary and Massimo Pigliucci:

August 23, 2018

Waist Deep In the Big Muddy – A Conversation with a Friend in Cape Town

Friend: I see that Trump has entered South African politics. This bloody issue of [land] expropriation might really be a tipping point. How far does it go? Sure the whole colonial bit and apartheid were abhorrent. But firing the pendulum to the complete opposite also seems to invite chaos and evil. Yessus! The Institute of Race Relations here does some reliable measurements of attitudes and those do not show the excessive inter-group hatred that seems to be promoted by populist leaders. But who will gain the upper hand in the power stakes?

Me: Trumpian populism in South Africa’s politics!? Hadn’t been following the recent expropriations. Can’t think of a worse setting for populism. Talk about pouring gasoline on a fire.

One of my profs (economics) in grad school at Oregon in the ‘70s had a line he liked repeating: “The world is globalizing and tribalizing simultaneously.” He insisted it was an unsustainable dynamic that would eventually come to a fork in the road. He seemed to have no idea which fork we’d take, understandably, but he sure seemed worried about it. At the time I didn’t pay much attention to his caution. I was intoxicated by the myth that “international development” would save the day. And I was going to do my part by joining the Peace Corps and going to Africa to help in the education sector. I finally woke up after living in Swaziland a while in the early 1980s and, while there, talking and drinking a lot with Zulu, Swazi and Sotho friends sitting on the ground behind the bottle store, across the highway from the school where I taught... 

August 19, 2018

BOOK REVIEW - Atrocities Too Often Forgotten

Paul Lentz

Paul Lentz’s novel The Cry of the Innocents is a masterwork. It tells a monstrous story of human trafficking and organ harvesting in the US Southwest. Lentz is a highly gifted author whose strengths are his meticulous research skills and fluid prose.

The business of this book’s narrative involves the Russian mafia, profiteering medical administrators and practitioners, officials at privately run prisons, and corrupt and criminal government officials and employees at various local and state levels.

The heart and soul of the narrative, however, is expressed through ancient notions of honor, sanctity and justice still strong among the Hopi, Navajo and Apache. This includes a growing number of these cultures’ youth who find meaning and purpose for their lives, and moral guidance in long-standing indigenous cultural beliefs and practices.

Through the actions of the book’s ethnically diverse protagonists these spiritual and moral foundations are coupled with the secular-scientific ethos of medical science, honest law enforcement, and forensic anthropology. In opposition on the dark side are the immoral antagonists involved in illegal, for-profit human trafficking and organ harvesting and transplantation.

Though fictional, there is much truth in this book about the cruelty of the heinous transnational crimes of human trafficking and organ harvesting.

This book is a must read for most of us who know too little about the often hidden, money-driven atrocities of human trafficking and organ harvesting.

August 14, 2018

Luck - When Reason, Religion, and Common Sense Fail

Luck is a judgment many people produce after an unanticipated or uncontrollable outcome. It is a mental posture individuals learn and associate with their hopes for their future. If we decide an occurrence benefits us, another or anything’s wellbeing we conclude the occurrence was good luck; if not, it was bad luck. Luck’s most appropriate corollary is serendipity but even that is a human judgment. In raw, pre-human physics, yes, stuff happened. But, there was no luck, happenstance, serendipity. For example, when atoms combined to form a molecule with properties that the single atoms did not have, and no human was there at the time making a judgment about the event, there was no good or bad luck. There was simply, as far as we know, a non-judgmental occurrence. It happened and was neither an inherently good or bad event.

But, how far can such thinking be pushed - just how useful is it? Darwinian evolution would not have come to dominate the life sciences had Darwin not seen, judged and communicated that natural selection led to improved wellbeing and group continuance for some animals in certain contexts. That in the process, I dare say, some organisms were lucky. To say that such and such just happened would not help in understanding how it happened. That is, unless there was demonstrable, factual evidence supporting a judgment that the change was somehow beneficial. This was the genius of Darwin - to see that stuff happens but the consequences, though not predetermined, under certain circumstances, can be said to have been favorable for some critters and not for others, the unlucky ones if you must.

In the end, both views are correct and worthwhile. Things just happen and it is sometimes normal to see and communicate about the advantages of what has happened. Judgments declaring an outcome to be lucky, good or bad, account only for causes that are absolutely unknown, unknowable or possibly discoverable. “Don’t know why it happened. Must have been luck.”

I wrote the above before I read the following essay: The Unreality of Luck by Steven Hales, philosophy professor at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania, USA.

Regrettably, the author made little to no effort to discuss the notion of luck itself. His interests focused on differences between test subjects who had been ranked using an optimist-pessimist psychological test. Hopefully this broader and necessary discussion of luck will be found in Hales and his collaborator, experimental psychologist Jennifer Johnson’s, forthcoming article in Philosophical Psychology.

Toward the end of Hales’ article I found this:

August 3, 2018

Strange Brew: Religion, Politics and Business in America, Part II

August 5, 2018
Today, Pam Dewey, author, blogger and video producer, posted her latest video, "Strange Brew, Part III: Eye of Newt and Foot of Frog." It may be accessed here. Here's an accompanying note from Pam:

"If you have not yet seen Part 1 and/or Part 2, links to all three current videos in the series are available at the YouTube "Playlist" page linked below for the STRANGE BREW series. Be sure to watch them in order...the material in each one builds on information and commentary in the earlier entries. And stay tuned for more to come in the series. Links will show up on this playlist page on the YouTube website each time a new video is added to the collection. 


"The ongoing STRANGE BREW Series is an examination of the weird symbiosis of GOP Politics, Big Business, and Evangelical Christianity during the presidential administration of Donald Trump, which is affecting a wide swath of US issues including the climate change and ecological crises debates, public education, economics, civil rights, and social justice.

"I believe my 30+ years of intensive research into “homegrown American religion” that I share on my Field Guide to the Wild World of Religion website, coupled with a decade of intensive research into the nooks and crannies of US history that are not covered in the standard narrative fed to kids in grade school and high school history classes, that I share on my Meet MythAmerica website,  has led me to a unique perspective on the interplay of these forces."

Pam Dewey

On July 24, 2018, Pam Dewey, author and video producer, made the following presentation at Owl & Ibis - A Confluence of Minds: “Strange Brew: Religion, Politics and Business in America, Part II." Part I may be accessed here.

A central theme in Pam’s talk was the belief among many Evangelical Christians in the U.S. that President Donald Trump is a gift from God. That he has been sent by the Almighty to rectify the ungodly direction that liberal progressives have taken the country. As for his crudity, misogyny, and racism, the ECs say that is none of our business. That, they say, is a matter between him and God.

An outline of Pam’s presentation is available, with her permission, here. Prominent during the evening was the viewing of two of her masterful videos. Both are available free on YouTube:

In these three remarkable videos you will find the following ECs who play a dominant role in Trump’s ascendance, his staying power, and what his “bedfellows” envision for the future of U.S. society: Paula WhiteBenny HinnKim ClementJim BakkerTammy FayeLance WallnauMark TaylorRick JoynerKenneth Copeland, and Kenneth Hagin.

You will likely be as stunned as the O&I Confluence was after viewing the videos and learning about these people and their plans for the future of the U.S.

Congratulations to Pam on her deeply researched and professionally presented talk on one of the most serious problems facing America and, many believe, the Enlightenment Project.

Owl & Ibis also highly recommends Pam’s 2011 Book, Field Guide to the Wild World of Religion. It may be purchased here.

Owl & Ibis
}:> & ~:)

P.S. Twenty Richest Pastors in the World (2018)

July 20, 2018

The Dark Mountain Project - An Owl & Ibis Assessment

More than a year ago I stumbled upon the Dark Mountain Project, a British social and literary movement to alert the world about Humankind’s threat to itself and Earth. DMP disturbed me. Most of what its founders and members had written rang true with my own thinking about the negative cultural evolutionary direction of Humankind over the past five centuries, and our rapid degradation of Earth along the way. But was DMP’s solution of a total abandonment of the Western, now global, approach to economics, politics and ecology justifiable, and would DMP’s suggestion for doing something different work?

These were questions I could not answer. So, in December 2017 I made an email proposal to my fellow participants in the Owl & Ibis Confluence of Minds hoping to answer them. The full text of that email is here. Here is an extract of the proposal itself:

I propose a close look at DMP by Owl & Ibis over the course of several meetings in 2018. This would require an O&I team approach that would investigate and make presentations on various topics contained in the following questions:

Is the DMP prediction of the collapse of the world system likely to take place, totally or in part? To find out I propose O&I compare DMP’s reasoning and evidence to that supporting the mythic-story-turned-truth standard version of civilization in the three notions presented above - Humankind’s dominance relationship with nature; trust in religion, progress and science for continuing survival and ever greater economic prosperity and social flourishing; and that current unending capitalistic economic growth and consumption is the only system that is productive and sustainable.

If we decide DMP is correct, that the current world system and vision is uncontrollable, destructive and therefore unsustainable, what are our options - damage control and contingency planning and measures? What might these be like?

Is DMP’s call for an exclusively humanities response, especially “uncivilized” writing, to ameliorate the collapse of civilization, along with a complete discard of current political, economic and scientific/technological methods, and religious approaches, sufficient?

I propose that we discuss the DMP Manifesto at the scheduled O&I meeting on Tuesday, Dec 26, 2017. If at the meeting we decide to look into DMP more deeply in 2018 as proposed here, we could then come up with a framework for an approach at the meeting.

Beginning in January 2018, a small but determined group of us, most of O&I’s regular attendees, spent six months examining and discussing the DMP with the hope of answering two questions: Is Humankind’s current heading leading to, as DMP claims, the destruction of civilization and an unsustainable planet? If so, what should our proper heading be and how might we redirect to and stay on a better course?

We sought answers by examining in detail the Dark Mountain Project’s premises and arguments. DMP’s assumptions and arguments may be found in three of their major publications: The Dark Mountain Manifesto; The Eight Principles of Uncivilization; and Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist. An abridged compilation of these assumptions and arguments may be found here. Of all these works the Eight Principles of Uncivilization gives the best summary of DMP’s full message. Below we will look at the O&I group’s conclusions regarding each of the eight principles.

Here’s how we decided to assess the DMP. The Owl and Ibis core agreed that each would take a pertinent area or sector of concern addressed by DMP, research it and make a presentation to the group. Under the general title “Current Worldviews and Visions of the Future” the following multi-media presentations were made:

The Dark Mountain Project, An Overview, Jim Lassiter, Jan 23 & Feb 13, 2018
How Western Prosperity Came About Part I, Part II, Part III, Jim Lassiter, Mar 13 & Mar 27, 2018
Natural Science and Technology Futures, Steve Yothment, Apr 10, 2018
The Social Sciences, Parts I & II, Jim Lassiter, May 8 & May 22, 2018
Art, Judith Moore, June 12, 2018

Again, the over-arching goal was to find out what is currently going on in these areas and where do they seem to be heading with reference to DMP’s catastrophic forecast.

It was not easy to sum up or find consensus among the five of us who tried to collectively shine a light on the Dark Mountain Project. But some trends and general similarities did emerge. The following is a summary of my recollections of what the group concluded about the premises and assumptions of the Eight Principles of Uncivilization.

I kindly ask John, Judith, Richard and Steve to comment on this post as to the accuracy of my summing up under each principle. I am certain I have made errors of commission and omission. All others are also welcome to comment, of course.

1.     We live in a time of social, economic and ecological unravelling. All around us are signs that our whole way of living is already passing into history. We will face this reality honestly and learn how to live with it. All members of the group agreed with this declaration. One suggested a slight change in the wording of the last sentence so that it would read: “We will must face this reality and learn how to live with it.” All of us were not as confident to use “will” as was DMP.

2.     We reject the faith which holds that the converging crises of our times can be reduced to a set of ‘problems’ in need of technological or political ‘solutions’. The group was mixed on this view. Some partly agreed but were skeptical that scientific, technological and political solutions were the best path to a survivable and sustainable future for Humankind and Earth. Others argued we have no choice but regard the future as a set of problems solvable though science, technology and politics. Most were willing to concede that this approach alone was insufficient unless it was coupled with a radically new “story” of Humankind’s place in Nature, a reworking and refocusing of our various moral systems, and a re-commitment to the scientific truths about the deterioration of the survivability, livability and sustainability of the biosphere due to unbridled capitalistic human ecology.

3.     We believe that the roots of these crises lie in the stories we have been telling ourselves. We intend to challenge the stories which underpin our civilisation: the myth of progress, the myth of human centrality, and the myth of our separation from ‘nature’. These myths are more dangerous for the fact that we have forgotten they are myths. The group as a whole accepted this as an accurate statement about the worldview of most, not all, of Earth’s wealthiest and most powerful people, corporations, and governments. We also accepted that the mythic story Humankind has come up with about its self-exalted place in Nature and the Cosmos is delusional. That is, the story of our supremacy over all earthly life and belief in our ability to make progress in the direction of individual and societal perfection has become falsely regarded as an absolute truth by most of Humankind. That this story turned truth is a very dangerous delusion.

4.     We will reassert the role of storytelling as more than mere entertainment. It is through stories that we weave reality. The group agreed, we are a species that survives and thrives by our wits and the stories our imagination and reasoning create about how to survive and prosper. We certainly weren’t likely to otherwise survive during the early period of hominin evolution with our relatively under-sized canine teeth, weak musculature, long postnatal childcare, and slow foot speed compared to the predators we lived among during the East African Pleistocene. Language, social cooperation and accumulative cultural transmission over generations form a structure, an adaptive strategy, in which we place and improve upon ideas for surviving and flourishing. We were likely to become a minor footnote to the evolution of Life on Earth without this strategy and the stories, the life-ways, we packed into it and built upon. But stories are meant to be, must be, continuously thought about and questioned as they are retold through the generations. Environments change and the challenges they present require that humans come up with better stories, better ways of thinking about what we are, how we should relate to each other, and how we should treat all other life forms and the Earth itself. The story of human supremacy, unbridled capitalistic exploitation, and inter-national Darwinism is not proving best for our species, now and in the foreseeable short and long term future. The cost in human suffering and planet degradation the current story exacts is unacceptably high. Yes, we need a new and better story. Now.

5.     Humans are not the point and purpose of the planet. Our art will begin with the attempt to step outside the human bubble. By careful attention, we will reengage with the non-human world. All members of the group agreed. We must adjust our view of our place in Nature. In doing we might succeed in redefining the “point” of Humankind’s existence and our “purpose” for being. The hard question is: How?

6.     We will celebrate writing and art which is grounded in a sense of place and of time. Our literature has been dominated for too long by those who inhabit the cosmopolitan citadels. This is the point where the O&I group’s respective points of view showed the greatest disagreement. Essentially, the group was divided, with some overlap, in terms of holding one of the following three positions regarding DMP’s claim of the primacy of art and literature in writing a new story for Humankind:
A.    Science, technology and political solutions should suffice. A good story to go along with them won’t hurt and might help.
B.    Science, technology and politics are methods we have worked hard on and steadily improved during our species’ cultural evolution. Let’s continue to improve on them and guide our efforts using them with a new and better story.
C.    Coming up with a new and better story is of paramount importance. Art and new stories from literature are essential but alone they are not enough. Our new and better stories must be fomented not solely by the hopes and dreams of the Humanities. Art and literature are essential, but alone they are not enough. Our new and better stories must be informed not only by our hopes and dreams, they must also have the substance and direction that only the ever-evolving provisional truths of the natural and social sciences can provide; and knowledge of the pitfalls ahead that history and philosophy can help alert us to avoid. Art and the Humanities generally provide inspirational sparks and reflections but science, history and philosophy are the fire and light leading us to and along a path with the highest probability for survival and flourishing. A consilience is underway - a linking together of principles from different disciplines, especially those of the arts and sciences, to form a comprehensive theory.

7.     We will not lose ourselves in the elaboration of theories or ideologies. Our words will be elemental. We write with dirt under our fingernails. The group generally thought this was insufficient. Our current theories and ideologies, the group concluded, are part of our basic story, an extension of the primal adaptive story of Humankind. But they do little unless they are constantly challenged and redirected. A voice from the “dirt” is necessary but it alone is not enough.

8.     The end of the world as we know it is not the end of the world full stop. Together, we will find the hope beyond hope, the paths which lead to the unknown world ahead of us. We agreed, the world is likely to survive the best and worst Homo sapiens  does to it. But “will” we find the “hope beyond hope?” Some thought we would. Others hoped we would. All agreed there’s an “unknown world ahead of us,” of course, but we also concluded there is more reason for hope than what was given by the Dark Mountain Project.

July 17, 2018

Political Disagreement - Choosing Understanding And Tolerance Over Hatred

Since a recent meeting with a close friend I’ve been thinking a lot about his caution concerning my views of those who hold political and moral views different from mine.

Specifically, I’ve been thinking about revising what I think of the mostly white, rich, Christian, (ultra)conservative, Republicans, WRCCRs (pronounced “wreckers”) for short, currently in power in the US. I’ve decided I want to shed my hatred for them and their beliefs and values, and replace it with a deeper understanding of why they hold the views they do.

Socially, I’m looking for common ground as a basis for a better dialog when I encounter them, in person or via media. Personally, I’m looking to replace my hatred based on judgment with a tolerance based on understanding. All things considered I think this approach is the only reasonable option. "Those folks," as my friend reminded me, aren’t going anywhere and their thinking isn’t going to change easily or quickly. My hatred won’t free up or change their thinking and it leaves me ineffective and unhappy.

To change my thinking I’m relying on my old methods but have also added one I recently found. It’s contained in a new approach to journalism:

It has become clear to me, from the above article and from the admonishments I’ve received from my friend and conservative acquaintances on social media, that the hatred I feel towards the WRCCRs who disagree with me is a characteristic of someone involved in an “intractable conflict.”

Amanda Ripley, author of the essay linked above, “Complicating the Narratives,” describes IC as follows:

Researchers have a name for the kind of divide America is currently experiencing. They call this an “intractable conflict,” as social psychologist Peter T. Coleman describes in his book The Five Percent, and it’s very similar to the kind of wicked feuds that emerge in about one out of every 20 conflicts worldwide. In this dynamic, people’s encounters with the other tribe (political, religious, ethnic, racial or otherwise) become more and more charged. And the brain behaves differently in charged interactions. It’s impossible to feel curious, for example, while also feeling threatened.

Despite her use of the now wildly popular “my brain made me do it” approach which I’ve argued against here, here, here, here, and elsewhere on my blog, Ripley is right. I, that is, me, my entire embodied self, becomes a very different person when I’m exposed to or just think about the beliefs, values and actions of WRCCRs.

June 14, 2018

The Power Of Human Creativity: The Future Of The World May Depend On It

"Things I Would Not Normally Recycle"

On Tuesday, June 12, 2018, the Owl & Ibis Confluence of Minds took a swipe at the Dark Mountain Project by tapping into our respective creative spirits. Why? Perhaps to actively, personally demonstrate to ourselves that the human creative spirit is alive, well and ever necessary - now, if not more than ever, during the 200,000-year evolutionary history of Homo sapiens.

Necessary, especially now, given DMP's and others' claims of impending global catastrophe(s) from human arrogance and delusion, and wasteful, unbridled-growth global capitalism.

Since January, O&I has been closely examining DMP's bleak forecast, and DMP's suggestion that only the arts, especially literary efforts at a new "story" for civilization, can help avert the coming fall of Humankind. Tuesday evening's presentation, "Current Worldviews and Visions of the Future, Art" led by Judith Moore, and the upcoming O&I presentation on June 26, "Current Worldviews and Visions of the Future, The Humanities" by John Cruickshank, will conclude O&I's look at the Dark Mountain Project. To the relief of many, I am sure.

Kudos and a hearty thank you to Judith for organizing and leading this great evening, and to her husband Richard who participated and helped schlep the pile of art materials to the meeting! Judith's presentation also included showing excellent short videos on creating art works from disposed of materials and Dan Phillips' construction of alternative homes from found and natural items, and construction project discards.

"Never underestimate the power of human creativity!" one attendee quipped at Tuesday's meeting.

Great evening, time well spent! At top is an image of one of the evening's creations. Here are the rest:




Pith helmet a prop, not standard O&I gear. :)

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