Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Defining First

Okay, I kinda defined Goodness (barely) in all its relative glory in my last Goodness First installment.  It seems natural, since the blog IS entitled Goodness First, to take a stab at defining First as well.  Well duh, First comes before Second.  Mission accomplished.  

No really, the implied context of "First" is that we evaluate the Goodness of a thing before pursuing an action as an individual or community or planet  to our greatest ability, including the Goodness of choosing what to prioritize first in the continuum of our lives.

That last sentence might be sufficient; however, let’s ratchet up the interesting nature of the discussion and look at something a little bit deeper regarding temporal reference systems.  In other words why in the world are we still stuck in a world of BC and AD?!?!
This past weekend I attended the Franklin Institute’s Pompeii exhibit, which was a worthy albeit crowded archaeological learning experience, with a pinch of Disney entertainment thrown in for good eruptionary measure.  So, here I was standing in the modern era surrounded by two thousand year old, well preserved artifacts with placards meticulously designed by professional historians and each and every one included the BC or AD monikers.  And as you learned in grade school, BC stands for Before Christ and AD After Dead.  Well actually AD really denotes Anno Domini which is Medieval Latin meaning “in the year of our lord.” Really? One English term and one Latin term...smells like a jury-rigged system to me already.
Okay, let’s see, the secular world has chosen to use a calendar system which uses a Zero Year reference aligned to the alleged birth of Jesus (ironically, historians think he was born in 6-4BC) and which was leveraged upon the Western world due to the Christian hegemony and eventually onto the whole planet in the modern era to synchronize cultural, entrepreneurial transactions and just darn to help us communicate calendar time clearly.  So essentially we have a calendar that has a likely incorrectly referenced Year Zero; it has an inherently divisive religious basis, yet, in its favor, it does serve adequately to communicate with other people. Oh, and let's not forget that we're used to the darned AD-BC system as is!
But wait, since when should Humanity settle for a merely adequate system that we're accustomed to.  The whole idea of Humanity working toward greater Goodness includes refining inefficient systems that are inherited as well as dispelling supernatural ideas and foolish traditions that work against increasing the overall Goodness in the world.  Sure, it's an ongoing process, alas I think it’s about time we choose a referential Year Zero that make sense and inspires Goodness in our global culture.
I brainstormed this with my friend Jennifer at the Pompeii exhibit and she suggested Year Zero be the year that Mt. Vesuvius erupted, in part because of her immersion in the exhibit at that moment.  The idea has merit at its core.  Why not pick something that is not connected to any particular culture, religion or nation.  A natural event would be a known point in time and would avoid offending anyone, well except in this case maybe those sensitive to people who died horribly two millennia ago.
My friend also suggested the Earth formation and the Big Bang moment as prospective Year Zeroes, though she then discounted them immediately due to the number of zeroes that might be involved.  Certainly, it would be quite unwieldy to cite our current year as 4,102,103,454 AE (After Earth) or 13,893,343,234 AU (After Universe).  AU has the advantage of having only positive date years, alas even if we use a truncated form, say 234 AU, both of these zero references suffer from the reality that we cannot know these moments in history to the exact (given current scientific methods).
So what Year Zero should we use?  The reference event should obviously be a meaningful and well defined year and it should also be inclusive of all humans, rather than being inherently divisive like the current system (btw BCE (before common era) and CE (common era) is a worthy baby step in the right direction that has been partially implemented...it uses the current Year Zero reference while attempting to defuse some of the underlying hegemonic tensions)  
Well, let's forget baby steps; let’s take a solid rational step toward a sensible reference Year Zero.  Possible ideas:  first homo sapiens born (uncertain year plus the fact that speciesism is not discreet are both issues), contact between old and new world peoples? formation of a heliocentric world view? launch of first satellite? first transistor firing? first heart transplant? first signing of a modern democratic constitution? first airing of an episode of Cosmos (or Gilligan’s Island)? first day of Rush’s first rock album release?  Hmm, all potentially worthy selections….and I wonder what your top recommendations are. (post them in the comments!)
Well, since it is my blog I’ll pick my current leading candidate.  I believe a worthy Year Zero would be the convening of the League of Nations which occurred in 1920 CE.  At its core the League of Nations formation after the first world war conveys the ideals of an inclusive unification with a mindful pursuit of Goodness on an global scale.  Such an event is the perfect reference for everyday use by humans. As Year Zero of the Global Era (GE) our calendar would finally respect all global cultures equally, and even though the League of Nations has disbanded, the effort toward peaceful cultural exchange continues with the United Nations and other organizations worldwide as we recognize our role in a planet that has concerns stretching beyond any single group.  
So here we are.   And as an American I am stuck with AD and BC as well as the Old English measurement system with silly gallons and miles, et al (though I cite metric and CE/BCE dates often myself). In any case, the rest of the world has moved forward with a unified measurement system, and let’s be honest, the US standard system is an adequate system, alas it is also outdated and in the long run will prevent the US from most effectively working with the world. It is time for a global sync! Let’s envision a world together that celebrates our global connections and unifies its efforts toward global and local Goodness! By resetting the reference calendar Year Zero to align with a secularly inclusive event like the League of Nations creation, we can establish a world unity that begins to envision each added year as an intentional step forward toward future years, which inherently are more positive than the last!
Welcome to the year 94 G.E.

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