Friday, October 21, 2016

Pledge Across the Centuries

Centennial, 13 Stripes, 37 Stars
I pledge allegiance
to my flag
and the Republic for which it stands
one nation, indivisible
with liberty and justice for all
Bicentennial, 13 Stripes, 50 Stars
I pledge allegiance
to the flag
of the United States of America
and to the Republic for which it stands
one Nation under God, indivisible
with liberty and justice for all
Tricentennial, 13 Stripes, 1 Planet
I pledge my heart and mind
to the planet Earth
and to the pursuit of liberty and justice for
conscious creatures, a sustainable environment
and beautiful experiences everywhere

Divisiveness reigns at the moment like no other time that I can remember. This polarized patriotism inspired me to contemplate and explore what ought to lie at the heart of patriotism. With poetic exposition and found art elements I use the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance of the past, present and of a speculative future to pursue this.  

Although in the poem I imply a recitation of the pledge in 1876, technically the pledge wasn't written until 1887.  Still, I felt stepping from the original 19th Century form to the current version reflects a significant refinement of what was perceived to be required of the patriotic American. In particular, the addition of "under God" in 1954 to the official text underscores how the ideological right persisted to integrate a monotheistic belief component into the common interpretation of patriotism. 

(Aside: while reading this poem at The Without Limits Coffee House, I made a point of standing at the start of the poem, sitting down for the middle stanza and rising again for the third. This was to demonstrate support for the Sit Out the Pledge effort which seeks to remove "under God" from the pledge as a step toward a more mindful pledge)

Personally, I recited the pledge pretty much mindlessly in school growing up.  My position on the pledge has evolved alongside my worldview.  To this ends, the third stanza envisions a admittedly very progressive pledge for the Tricentennial year 2076.  I aimed to embody a positive, unifying, humane pledge with simple encouragement toward a greater, global patriotism, a patriotism that reaches beyond nationalism. Importantly, this speculative pledge is something the entire world could recite with pride, respect and hopefulness.

(Note: Namaste was added as the final line primarily because it has the punctuating character of an amen.  It also has an element of foreignness which emphasizes a joyful, global diversity .  I translate "namaste" to mean "in you i see sacredness" where the you in this case includes other people, creatures, the environment, creativity and the world as a whole.)


Friday, October 14, 2016

Angels of Indigestion

lost in wilderness
seeking answers, seeking truth
god's worshipers pray:

resolve climate change
bring peace, miraculous wealth
feed us with manna

ten trillion angels
orbit earth; watch, wait, squat; in
unison excrete

this irreverent haiku triad was created by a human, like all of the supernatural tales that have come before.  

while in principle i support the rights of people to worship peacefully, the foundation of supernatural obeisance sadly encourages believers to treat wishful thinking and mythology seriously and often to simultaneously avoid confronting the realities of the world. 

now i do enjoy fantastical, fictional creations (from Gaiman's incarnations to Clarke's machinations) and in fact, i think imaginative metaphor and allegory can help humans and humanity transcend our primal origins and motivations. however, one should first be able to identify fact (global climate change, human over-population, evolution) from fiction (heaven, sacred souls, creation myths) to more effectively implement mindful solutions that will lead to a better world for humanity and environment alike.  

believing angels or other imaginary higher powers are watching over us, waiting to escort us to paradise is a critical issue for humanity as it distracts too many people far too frequently (with violence and absolutism) from working on these solutions together.

as a hopeful exception, i have heard some "inter-faith" communities have managed to meet toward forging rational solutions while leaving their supernatural beliefs behind.  if accurate, it is a step in the right direction.

Human Creativity Takes Flight

Friday, October 7, 2016

Two Blondes and a Ballot

(I am now on hiatus compiling the Goodness First Millennium Vision blog entries into a unified manifesto.  Updates to come.  In the meantime, I will be releasing some of my poems and some commentary to fill the void. Enjoy and be warned)

word has it two blondes are vying to lead the nation
one's a casino lord so smart he evaded federal taxation
i heard the other misplaced her email
allegedly sexting pics with Dan Quayle
all while the american voter elects for aphyxiation

Here is my two cents on the upcoming election.   

My poem is meant to highlight how much national policy direction is being ignored in favor of sound byte gaffes and candidate likability.  Yes, trustworthiness is a laudable aspect of any candidate, but given the choices the country, and the world, will best be served if we elect intelligent people to lead us toward peace, prosperity and global ethical responsibility. 

Voting for the progressive candidates (which in most cases will be the Democratic candidates) from your local representatives to your national president will result in the best path forward.  Only by getting progressive leadership elected and then engaging with them can we reform political districting and political financing to reestablish fair representation of the people by their representatives.

And if there is a single reason why voting for Hillary Clinton is the better presidential candidate it is because she will continue the mildly progressive policies that President Obama has leveraged, even in the face of a very conservative congress.  Supreme Court nominations are particularly long term actions that will lead to the more progressive change many of us long for from our country, so whatever you do don't sit out this election.

Ok, that was at least 3 cents worth of commentary. Sigh.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Forgive and Forward!

The Millennium Vision developed over this past year in published Goodness First articles have focused on ratcheting up aggregate human ethical behavior, both in the present and in the decades and centuries to come. It will take many grass-root and global projects to shed the myriad of destructive cultural behaviors we've inherited. What more laudable pursuit could we have if not moving ever toward a sustainable global environment for all of Earth's creatures and which includes an amazing creative and peaceful human world civilization.
Starry Eyed Mindfulness?

Yet as we iterate forward, whether it be as peace forger, human rights activist, vegan advocate, relationship builder, or environment restorer, we will walk among peers who will disagree with making ethical progress in favor of keeping old ways sacred and unchanged when those ways no longer make sense.  This will cause friction, and in many cases fire, whether it take the form of incendiary commentary, peer rejection or government inertia.  We also must confront internal conflicts, both within our progressive groups and within ourselves. Such is the challenge of robust progressive change.

Much of the solution to this challenge is an ongoing effort for our activism to embrace maturity, empathy, and rationality.  Forgiving culturally seeded ignorance can be difficult, especially while persevering ever forward to continually re-evaluated, higher goals.  By lifting our minds above the petty, yet often understandable, feelings of anger, possessiveness and even vengeance, we can remain engaged in the hard work aimed at more ethical outcomes that will benefit the entire world.

Importantly, forgiveness of ones own past and flawed behavior is part of this continual pursuit.  Each of us was born into an imperfect world under a great variety of circumstances beyond our control. Which is why it is pretty darn wonderful that we have historical records to reflect on, written and spoken language to convey our ideas peacefully and competitive and cooperative means to purposefully execute them.

Forward to the future!

What other path is there?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Olympic Measures

Aim High!
While watching the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janero this week, I'm reminded of how humans can put forth such amazing effort to accomplish things that we value in the abstract. Sure we can wag a scathing finger at the scandals fueled by drug testing, corporate sponsorship, financial corruption, and even the global nation-state model itself (and well we should to foster improvement at each opportunity).

Still, the grand symbolism of human beings from diverse and distant places worldwide competing together peacefully easily outweighs these issues, taking leaps beyond any medal count statistic. Similarly with great mindfulness, training, and visionary heart humanity as a whole can restore, and augment, the Earth toward a fuller majesty, a state that strains ever to reach the epitome of natural, ethical, and artistic beauty for all denizens of the world.

Give us time and we'll earn the Gold!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Millennium Vision Project - Reflection Point

The dog days of August have arrived (note to self: check if Sirius is barking in the night sky tonight). Alas, with metaphorical dogs nipping at my heels, I find this a good moment to reflect on how Goodness First progress proceeds regards to its 2016 project: The Millennium Vision.

This year I have published twenty-eight articles here on Goodness First to date.  A few, like this one, have been self-referential and self-motivating, yet most have been to the heart of the goal: envisioning a thriving, sustainable world system that includes humans a thousand years from now.

Planetary Thinking Inbloggate
Arguably humanity has been a largely destructive force on Earth for the past hundred thousand years, spreading like a self-serving wildfire through the many ecosystems of the planet.  In the last century of human world domination the exponentially growing human population has reaped physical and cultural wealth for our species though at great cost to thousands of other species and the environment at large. Nevertheless, by thinking big ideas and extending them with empathy to all of life and the world, the next thousand years has the potential to improve civilization's behavior as a whole, with the Earth reaping the benefits.

I have striven with integrity and compassion to highlight the biggest issues (internal and external) on hand today alongside transitional hurdles to come. My readership, according to Google Analytics, is on the order of 1500 per month; I sense 10% of which may be legitimate. The active feedback I have received online and in person has been helpful to keep my idealism, my writing style, and my motivation in check.  I am realistic.  My opinions, anecdotes, and representations of the world on Goodness First reflect how civilization can implement best scientific and ethical wisdom toward the most hopeful vision of the future world.

Finally, note that it is my intent after another month of Millennium Vision articles to begin the process of collating my 2016 Goodness First writing into an aggregate manifesto.  The Millennium Vision project isn't meant to be either a scientific treatise nor an exercise in irrational idealism; it is intended to marry current human understanding with compassion toward a realistic, sustainable future.  Importantly, even in its final form, The Millennium Vision is intended to be a solid beginning, not an end, to expressing a desirable place where the world can be in a thousand years.  That place is a world system that includes a healthy environment, a wealth of natural biodiversity and select spot for human culture to thrive beautifully.

(Submit suggestions for individual Millennium Vision topics and overall project goals via comment, email, or in person as you feel appropriate.  Thanks!)

Friday, July 29, 2016

Poetic Interlude: the Earth

(engaging my inner poet this week)

the Earth
so easy to forget

chasing humanity's abstractions
chasing pleasures ancient evolution dictates
chasing careers modern culture values
chasing a life that a growth economy demands

the Earth 
so easy to remember

embracing humanity's abstractions
embracing pleasures that underscore connection
embracing careers that restore the planet's health
embracing a life that builds experiential satisfaction

the Earth
Mother, Father, and Spiritual Friend

the Earth (close up snapshot)
the Earth (close up snapshot)