I stand for peace

I was raised to believe I was special.
Now I see I’m the same.
What once was Godly and transcendent,
Is now scientific and tame.

Yet something inside me is still reaching out
To find a connection to more
I see the possible in humanity’s soul,
Ideas long carried through lore.

For ages we’ve survived as all life has,
But recently we’ve broken free
Perched atop our mountains of wealth,
Humanity is beginning to see.Read More »

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Be The Wind

It’s time to hold tight,
An ignorance has died.
And now I must say it,
I’ve lost the wind.

My trusty boat,
No longer sailing.
It’s trusty wind,
I will feel no more.

A new path ahead,
Unlike any before.
Am I ready? No.
And yet, it’s time.

Looking back,
I see what I’ve learned.
Looking forward,
I know what to do next.

My life is like others,
Yet like others, I’m unique.
Am I grounded in reality?
Or am I the fool?

We are caught in a tale,
Of world peace.
Passengers on a quest,
To transcend survival.

I may no longer,
Have the wind.
But now,
I can be the wind.

Hold tight,
Fair passengers,
It’s time.
It’s time.

The Solution to Capitalism

cap·i·tal·ism
ˈkapədlˌizəm/
  1. an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.

The problem is, Capitalism sees rich people as better at running our institutions than everyone else.  In fact, you can see this blatant promotion of oligarchy over democracy when you take a closer look at the words used.
The state represents a democratic government, which makes decisions based on the popular needs of the community.  If the public were in charge of trade and industry, they’d want them both to benefit the good.
Private owners are people as well, but a very small number of people.  Rich people.  Not everyone.
Thus, if you translate the definition of capitalism from Americanism to Realism, it reads:

cap·i·tal·ism
ˈkapədlˌizəm/

1. an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by the rich for profit, rather than the public for good.


Defenders of Capitalism will quip; the state does NOT represent the public… it’s corrupt.
And they are right.
And defenders of The Public retort, “so are you!”
And they’re right too.  Corruption is a problem of humanity, not one of politics or poverty.
The problem is that capitalism leads to a dog-eat-dog society where you much fight for your piece of the dream: to enjoy your life in peace.
However, we have good news.  The solutions to the problem of capitalism are already known.  You probably know them yourself.
Transparency, for example.  Any human system that increases transparency also reduces corruption.  It works for individuals too; when we are subject to judgement, we behave.
Locality is another solution.  As we push against the urge to make everything efficient and cheap,  we get in return things that are high quality and purposefully produced.  We also get more environmentally responsibly companies that invest in their communities.
Shared Power also works.  Not just one leader, but many leaders, all collaborating.  By sharing power we cancel out behaviors that cause corruption; greed, hubris, deceit, or aggression.
Imagine what it would be like to live in a community that was entirely transparent, focusing on local economics, and willing to let you have influence.  Is that possible?
Not with capitalism.
But I believe it won’t be long until we fully integrate the Wisdom of humanity into our organizational structures.
Thrive Capitalism is the transition.
A Thrive Capitalist Business may be owned privately, but real value of that company is shared.
Here’s what a truly Thrive Capitalist Business would look like:
IMG_1744
  • Open power.  Policies and procedures are set and enforced by employees.  Leadership is rewarded financially, but their salaries are set by their team, not other leaders.  A business can only do this if they trust their employees.
  • Open books.  You’d be able to see every purchase, know exactly the cost of every item, how much each person is paid, how much was sold, and what the plans were for the future.  A business can only do this if they are being fair in how they operate.
  • Open Trade.  Customers set their own prices.  They are shown the cost of production (based on employee-driven sales goals) and the mean price paid.  This makes financing dynamic, responsive to relationships between employees and customers.  Prices are set because of a need for relationships, not profits.  Note: the identity and price paid by customers is not considered private information.  A business can only do this if they care more about adding value to their community than making a fat profit.
And that’s it.  Any business could do this today.  But they won’t because of one simple reason.
Capitalism.  Show weakness, and you will become the prey of something more powerful.
Wouldn’t it be nice to evolve beyond survival mode?
Perhaps a Thrive Economy could lead to a Thrive Society, one where there is more peace, and we live more sustainably with our environment.
We are social creatures, and value relationships above all other experiences of life.  That’s why we need to realize that this world is a LOT less hostile than we were taught.
IMG_1742
We’re on top of the food chain.  We’ve got plenty of food and shelter.  As a species of 7 billion individuals, we have enough resources to ensure each person can live a long, happy life.
We’re just stuck in survival mode.  All of us, together.  Like a comedy of errors, we fear each other and hurt each other while deep down, wishing we had peace.
Things are changing.  Humanity is waking up.  We’re not satisfied with old knowledge.  We yearn to move forward, because we look back and realize one startling fact.  It’s getting better.
We’re on the right track.  World peace could be a reality.  Who knows, maybe we’re close.
Let’s be open to each other, and find out.

The Golden Rule Upgrade

I love the Golden Rule, but I can’t help but feel like it’s just not enough.  After all, we’ve had this rule for all of recorded history, yet only recently have abolished slavery.  Despite it’s incorporation into every major world religion, we are still waging war on each other.

poster

It’s almost like this rule is falling on def ears.  Perhaps it’s time for a change in strategy.

Why is the Golden Rule so hard to follow?

Excellent question.  The reason is that this behavior is based in our evolutionary drive to reciprocate altruism, or help others so that when you need help, you can get it.  It makes sense to work together to reduce the risk and stresses involved with surviving.

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Yet reciprocal altruism as a crucial limit: it only makes sense to help the people you know.  Helping people who won’t be there for you is (in an evolutionary sense) wasting resources.  That’s why you are most kind to your family, lesser so, but still kind to your friends and co-workers, and even less interested in the many strangers around you.  Your brain is at work, guided by selfish genes to prioritize your needs first, and inhibiting you from wasting time and resources on behaviors that don’t aid your survival.

So why DO we help strangers?

This is not a good question.  The reality is that we DON’T help strangers.  We may give a few bucks, volunteer at a shelter and show compassion for our homeless community members, but there are still vast inequalities in a civilization of vast wealth.

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So why DON’T we help strangers?

Better.  We don’t help because our animal brains keep telling us that resources are limited and to focus on who you know to maximize the returns for altruistic behavior.  Your brain says: help people who you see often, because they are most likely to be around when you need help in return.

Yet this thinking can be over-ridden.  Like a child being taught how to share, we learn to control our selfish feelings and reactions.  As we shift our focus from our own needs to our community needs, we can tell our brains shut up!  I have plenty to share!  That’s what millions of people do every day when they donate resources to charities and volunteer their time to improve their communities.

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So we DO help strangers?

No.  We give to charities that we identify with in some personal sense.  We help people who live near us.  We may not KNOW the people we help, but we KNOW the people doing the helping.  Anyone who has fundraised for a nonprofit knows that personal connections with donors are necessary for sustainability. People are generous to people they know, which is why every nonprofit wants to be your friend.

So we DO help strangers, in a round-about sense?

No. Our nonprofits are completely overwhelmed by the needs in our communities.  They are desperate to find many many more people who care about them.  There are huge needs in our communities, and many millions of people suffering.

There’s no rational reason for this: we have plenty to share.  In America, the average net worth of an adult is $300,000.  That’s a lot of money.  Now you’re probably thinking “that’s just because of the super wealthy” and you’re right.  Can you imagine how successful our nonprofits would be if they got more than the 2% of household income they receive in donations annually?

charity-74rcat

So how do we solve the problem?

Yes, now we’re getting somewhere.  The problem is that our brains are wired to limit altruism to the people we know.  Thus, the solution is to expand the circle of people we know.

When we learn that sexual preferences are mostly genetic, and that they represent a vibrant ecosystem of gender and sexuality, LGBT identified people become a part of our circle.

When we learn that some people are born in countries that treat them horribly, immigrants became a part of our circle.

When we learn that stressful childhoods can cause damage that is difficult to repair, criminals become a part of our circle.

We are getting to know each other, and that widening of our circle of altruism is resulting in a more fair, more safe community for us all.

We may have a ways to go, but our progress justifies optimism for peace.  The Golden Rule reminds us to be kind, but it doesn’t help us understand WHY we need to be reminded.

So here’s a new rule, something that will remind you to help others, AND remind you WHY we need to be reminded in the first place:

Golden Rule 2.0:
Learn about others as you would have them learn about you.

Because in the end, this is how we’ve been making progress, by getting to know each other.  It’s all about relationships.  Once you have gotten to know someone who was once a stranger, you can then kick back and allow your evolution-crafted altruistic behaviors to kick in.  And boy, does it feel great to help others!

Learning about what life is like for others is important.  When we apply our curiosity to others, we learn more about what it means to be human.  We’re social animals.  We’re unique individuals with different experiences.  And ultimately, we all have the same mission: to live long, happy, healthy lives.

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Why Compassion Is Hard

Compassion underlies all world religions, most boldly embodied in the provocation “love your enemies as you do yourself.”  Yet in a world of violence and hatred, where people sleep in the streets of our wealthiest cities, it seems compassion is in short supply.

This shortfall of caring has been outlined recently by the comments of presidential hopeful Donald Trump, who’s exclusionary ideas stand in stark contrast to the peaceful world many want to work toward.

At a time of year when we tend to dream of world peace, and to that end, guilt ourselves and others into being nicer, it’s rare that we spend time truly understanding compassion.

In the following post, I’ll cover compassion from three perspectives: the scientific, the ideological, and the emotional.  The ideas expressed are largely borrowed from a number of TED Talks, and other areas as cited.

Read More »

The Secret About You

“Can you answer this question I read in this book?”

human_evolution_iconIt was biology class in 11th grade at Boise High School, and I had brought in the book “Darwin On Trial” from the church library to try and understand what I was learning in school.  Evolution was scary to me, a feeling that was reinforced by the youth pastor, who directed me to the book.

I was shocked how my teacher responded, a statement that burned into my mind, and to this day speaks directly to a serious problem we have as humans.

“No, I can’t.”  He blew me off.  My teacher refused to help me understand what was being taught in school for one reason: it challenged belief.

It took me years of self-study, reading books on science, philosophy and everything between.  I would come to understand that evolution was controversial in the US, and only in a religious sense.  The reason it was being taught in schools was simple: it’s a solid, well-supported theory that has stood up to testing for more than 150 years.  Evolution is fact.

Yet there is an implication to this idea that took even longer to process.  I consider it a shocking secret, because it’s the real reason we resist the idea of Evolution.

Read More »

Justifying Slavery

A catechist that a chief wanted to sell because “he taught doctrines that the ancients did not know about”, Les Baloïs (Haut-Oubanghi area, 150 km north of Liranga towards Impfondo, Congo), 1905, photograph by Father Leray, second series of postcards published by Father Augouard (before 1912)

How would you have felt about slavery if you lived 200 years ago?

Defending slavery today is completely immoral, but it’s wide practice and enormous benefits made it easy to defend for thousands of years.

Today we can feel good about having made an important social transition in human civilization.  We don’t enslave humans anymore.  It’s crazy to think we did.

This leaves me with a burning question: is there a modern equivalent?  Is there a practice future generations will find atrocious, yet is widely popular today?

I believe there is; another group being exploited through complete control. I believe that the way we treat animal life is a modern example of slavery.

Read More »

Understanding Conservative

I’m a liberal.  I love Bernie Sanders because he stands for things I believe in: people over profits, reducing economic disparities and dealing with climate change.  And as a liberal, I tend to see a lot of degrading remarks about republicans, and conservatives.

One institution I’ve learned to dislike is the Tea Party.  The one that is using bullying tactics to  take over congress.  They want to remove social programs and engage the world in war.  Tea Partiers are certainly not the kind of people I could get along with.

Which is why it came as a shock that while visiting the Tea Party website I found that out of the 15 core beliefs, I could see myself agreeing with 7 of them.  Sure, the remaining 8 I’m flat against.  But if I share core beliefs with the Tea Party, why do I not like them so much?

Vilification.Read More »

Finding My People

After knocking on more than 1,000 doors this month, I've learned that generosity can be found everywhere.
After knocking on more than 1,000 doors this month, I’ve learned that generosity can be found everywhere.

We have a phrase at Washington Community Action Network that we use to get fired up before heading into a neighborhood to rally support: “go find your people.”

“My people” are the people who give.  They are the generous ones who help me make quota every day, and support the work of our tiny nonprofit as it seeks to make our community a better place. They exist in every neighborhood in every corner of this huge city, and they are awesome people to talk to.

I knock on about 100 doors and really connect with about 20 different people a day.  Over the course of one month I set foot on expansive, beautifully landscaped properties as well as worn-out, unkept homes.  I’ve pet dogs and cats of all kinds.  I’ve been greeted by kids of all ages, and I’ve spoken through many iron security gates.

And occasionally some people even invite me inside.Read More »

The Story of Us

Every culture has one: the story of why we are here.  These stories contain the most important stuff of our collective beliefs, which is why I think it’s time for a new story.

adam-and-eve-in-worthy-paradise

I’m most familiar with the story of Jesus, but there are many more with names like Buddha, Mohammad and Zeus.  All of these stories are fictional in nature because until recently, our ability to tell stories of this magnitude were limited.  Yet there’s something in them I find fascinating.

Beliefs are important because they influence the way we think about ourselves.

These may be stories of our ancient past, but they’re also powerful narratives intended to guide our behaviors. Beliefs are important because they influence the way we think about ourselves.

All major religions promote peace by holding individuals accountable to being good. While our definition of “good” may be subjective, nearly everyone agrees on the central tenants: be honest, don’t cause harm, and help others.

The only problem with the old narratives are that they aren’t true.  And their insights into the human being are outdated, calling their credibility into question. They are ancient stories crafted when we knew far less than today.

There is a better narrative in which to believe.  This narrative is based on the best of human knowledge: just the things we are most confident we understand.  It communicates an important concept that we are capable of doing bad things and need encouragement to do good things.  And best of all, it rescues the idea of personal growth from the spiritual arena. This narrative  tells the “Story of Us” from a scientific perspective.

Here is my “New Story of Us”…

Read More »