Friday, December 30, 2016

A Vision of Goodness

This year I wrote extensively on this blog about the pursuit of goodness for the world as a whole and for individuals within that global sphere.  Certainly goodness is about as subjective a topic as one could opt to write about, nevertheless, pursuit of goodness seems to me to be the core reason for existence. As a capstone for my 2016 contemplations, here is a summary of the aspects of goodness that I perceive deserve pursuit with compassion and rationality at every turn.

Respect for the Universe.  Everything begins with matter and energy and their organization spatially.  Having a healthy awe for and understanding of all things from galaxies to quarks helps set the stage for any experience that might be called good.

Respect for the Environment.  On Earth, a healthy environment underlies the natural cycles and interconnected ecosystems that all species depend on. Minimizing human impact long term is critical to maintaining a healthy world.

Respect for Communities. Whether we're talking about society as a whole, a specific living species, a peaceful human sect, or a complex biome, there is goodness in the emergent qualities that groups of individuals bring to the world.

Respect for Individuals. All living things have value. Self awareness, consciousness, and the capability to experience sufferring and thriving are some of the elements contained within the package of an individual. Yet no single individual of any species has infinite value, which presents a challenging reality.
Respect for Abstraction.  Ideas, creativity, emotion, art, science, music, mathematics, story-telling, adventure, dreams et al. The variety of abstract concepts are uncountable as the stars, and play a critical role in the lives of thinking creatures and their world.

Each of these elements deserves great consideration by human individuals and communities worldwide. Recognizing the interrelatedness  of these elements and their impact on the rest of the world needs must drive progressive systems and behaviors, if our journey is to be one of goodness.

imperfect sunset

Thursday, November 24, 2016

When Turkeys Fly Free

meleagris gallopavo silvestris
strut with pride 
strut with poults by your side
winged creatures
wander free
wander wide
across the countryside
and when the occasion suits
lift your wings
and fly

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Day After

trump wins
civilization implodes
(if We let it)

Numb and helpless. That's the simplest way to describe how I felt after the votes came in last night.

The people of this country and the world will be feeling a whole range of emotions today and for weeks and years to come.  For many it will be disbelief, anger, sadness and disgust.  And for many it will be feelings of victory, joy, and yes, hope and pride.

I honestly don't know if we can heal as a unified nation anytime soon, but has our nation ever been wholly unified?  Too often we can imagine a time where togetherness as a country existed in these united states, alas in the best and worst of times protesters, idealists and change seekers are needed to keep stagnation and human rights violations in check.

To be sure, it will take time for many of the left to catch our breaths, but I submit that our country can thrive even from under a predominantly conservative and unpredictable leadership.  It is because the challenges will be greater that our progressive efforts will need to be all the more stalwart.

And I personally have to believe the razor thin majority has goodness within them, and that with nudges, protests, and conversation, we can still fight for positive change in these trying years to come and make slow progress forward toward a greater good.

For now I recognize I and many in the pursuit of positive, progressive societal outcomes needs must work through some extreme, hard feelings... some peaceful venting and fantasy escape are in order, but we cannot curl up and quit the good fight.

For now I'm convinced that my feelings of depression over this election can be countered with the intake of humane food, energizing exercise, beauteous nature, open-hearted learning and listen-filled teaching moments.  For the pursuit of good works and rational ethics must continue.

In the end, I believe mindful and heartfelt communication and action within our families, circles and extended communities serves a great purpose.  These efforts will not alleviate all suffering, let alone unify us all, but good works can bring many of us together and reaffirm that goodness within humanity lives and progresses!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Hallowiener Unleashed!

dusk approaches with a glop glop glop
lapping at the sun like a fruity lollipop

leaves swirl about me doing their worst
as i race through the autumnal colorburst

my tiny paws stampede crunch crunch crunch
bred to ferret out badgers and the beasty bunch

no longer am i a canine brute
my job now is to be Übercute

so on Halloween beware of me, the wienerdog
consume you I will, like a film by Werner Herzog

[Just a short poem this week to connect with the experience of having joyful fun. no deep explanations, just encouragement to have a laugh for the laugh of it!  (btw Into the Inferno by Werner Herzog is pretty cool and on Netflix now)]

Happy Haunting!

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)

Friday, July 22, 2016

Gimme Shelter!

Time to minimize!
Hope you found the visionary prospects in Water on High and Food Fight? worthy!  Alas, longterm survival in the real world may start with food and water, but as any backpacker caught in a hurricane knows, you best get yourself to shelter to wait out the storm.  Reasonable protection from the elements in pleasant surroundings will permit humanity to thrive on sustainable supplies in relative safety while contemplating consciousness, art, and adventure that is sentient life.

So what might reasonable shelter consist of for the human race in the centuries to come? As with all else humanity harvests from the limited yet massive resources Earth offers, we can strive to build our community homes, societal infrastructure, and creative space in a mindful manner.

Currently any and all development seems to be held as a sacred right of the human species.  We ask our wild cousin species to relocate, to sacrifice territory and to die unconditionally to make room for human expansion.  And then without waiting for an answer we take with little regard for the consequences. Sadly land ownership is decried as a possession of and for the sole benefit of man.  Individuals and biomes that don't include homo sapiens rate at best secondary consideration.

Intelligent creatures that we are, we can take a step back and actively return much of the world to the pristine, beautiful and wildness that is Nature.  With scientific understanding and responsible vision we can find space for civilization, all while giving plenty of room to the natural world to thrive alongside us.

Time to downsize!
Many options lay before us on our planet to blend rather obliterate where shelter is needed.   Currently the Tiny House movement upholds many of these forward thinking ideals.  Reducing our individual home footprints to one or two hundred square feet is a radical leap from the 2000 to 5000 square foot mansions that so many in the developed world are brainwashed into wanting.  Integrating solar power, green disposal of waste, minimal use of cooking fuel, and maximum connection to the world and to living are all at the heart of this movement.  Mindfully customizing ones home, rather than relying on cookie cutter construction, also can connect us further with efficient, creative and aesthetic living!

At the other end of the spectrum, immense communities of people can also ratchet up efficient and effective communities!  A reduction in population over several centuries may permit many to pursue tiny home residences, alas with billions to provide shelter in the intervening times, communities with common and efficient infrastructure can be a large part of the solution.  In the end, reducing per capita residence square footage will permit more land to be devoted to thriving wilderness.
Time to upsize!

Going vertical, up or down, is one great way to reduce the human urban footprint.  Cities already capitalize upon this dynamic, however the suburban sprawl that has resulted from extreme land use needs to be gradually repealed.  Our cultural desire for private estates simply does not work in a world of billions of people.  Other options include building reclamation and domicile sharing in which individuals and families can build a microcommunities, sharing cooking and cleaning facilities and even sleeping quarters perhaps on different shifts.

 Of course much land use is used for agriculture and livestock efforts.  As previously noted, moving toward a vegan civilization can reduce that usage immensely.  All property ownership laws need to be re-evaluated, apportioning sufficient space so that the planet as a whole can thrive.  Sure humanity should also thrive within Earth's sphere as, alas it should thrive at as little expense to the rest of the world as while meeting ethical standards that are truly honorable. With multiple solution paths, humanity can find good shelter amongst all living things in this world!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Food Fight?

Oh the Veganity! 
Okay after last week's Goodness First water article, you got water (you as in the human race from now until the end of time, or at least until the extinction of intelligent life on Earth).  Next, we gotta get you (same you as above) some food...and not just any old food; you deserve delicious, nutritious, ethical, satisfying, economical, and wholly sustainable food!  Sounds like a tall order, alas the solution is quite simple and quite doable for an entire planet of hungry humans.

Solution Prime: a vegan lifestyle for every person.  Hands down as a whole veganism is the most globally sustainable, economical and ethical option for feeding billions of humans.  Our inherited culture of food will buck this declaration like a steer looking a butcher's knife in the eye.  Nevertheless, the overall ethical, economic, and environmental factors favor veganism by a magnitude.  Deliciousness and nutritiousness is simply a matter of designing plant based foods, and as necessary synthesized nutrients, to meet our needs. With a bit of skillful preparation and aesthetic presentation amazing vegan snacks and meals await you every day!

Argue with me if you like, but I having been a vegan now for more than two years, I am the proof in the plant based pudding! I've never felt healthier in my life.  I've been able to find create diverse, delicious meals. And I feel better for being one seven billionth of the solution to reducing human impact on the environment not to mention reducing overall abuse of thinking creatures of the Earth. And did I mention I run a lower cost food budget too!

Still, there are challenges to be faced if you take on veganism.  There are plenty of vegan recipes out there, plenty of guidance to ensure you are fully healthy in your selection of plant based foods, plenty of mock carnivore foods to satisfy your comfort food addictions and even vegan groups to assist with the social challenge of striving toward being a successful vegan.

The greatest challenge in my experience has been the reception by friends, family and our denialist culture, in general.  Perhaps, relaying some of my struggles can ease your transition.  Foremost, always rest assured the evidence backs veganism as being the most sustainable, ethical, and environmentally friendly food world view out there currently.

Nevertheless, you may struggle internally and externally when all your omnivore friends order a pizza or subs to be social or select a seafood or steakhouse as a celebration venue.  Inside your head you will be chanting "dairy is abuse juice," "oceanic overfishing" and "meat is the flesh of teenage slave animals" but it will do little to help the cause to slam this in your friends' faces.  Their behavior is indoctrinated deeply, as it was for myself from birth and for decades.  They very well may scream bloody murder like a dairy cow having her calves pulled away from her if you even suggest they do without their bacony, eggy and cheesey addictions.  So what is a mindful vegan to do?

Hard as it may be, we must walk the gradual course of perseverance and kindness.  I suggest planning delicious vegan meals and inviting your friends over.  Nothing wins someone over quite like evidence in their mouth. I've had success with meatless sloppy joes, vegan lasagna and plenty of straight forward plant based stir-fries.  Vegan restaurants are popping up everywhere as demand rises, so consider volunteering them as venues for celebrations and gatherings in general.  True foodies will want to explore the growing offerings of these vegan bistros!

Perhaps, most important is being patient. We all are on a journey and shared information can sadly take its time to register in people's minds.  So when you are eating lunch across from an omnivore, keep a kind conversation rolling. When mention of food comes up, there will often be an opportunity to share some of the benefits of vegan food, but also any struggles or tipping points that you had to work through to get closer to becoming vegan.  Planting seeds works much better than planting judgmental landmines.  In the end the path of that person across from you may just benefit from the subtlest of nudges, in time.

Praise FSM! May His Hearts Be Ever Meatless!
Indeed, it will be a long-- I'm talking centuries long-- battle to win over the masses toward vegan value based thinking.  Certainly, eating is in its own right can be a religion, and as the Flying Spaghetti Monster knows, relinquishing ones spiritual traditions, even when they do harm to yourself, others and the planet as a whole, is quite tough. Alas, keep fighting the good fight, knowing deep down that as time goes by your efforts will encourage more and more people to choose the sensible humane path ever moving the world toward a global vegan society.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Water on High

Liquid Magic!
I'll open by citing the poignant lyrics of "High Water" by the band Rush.  Do yourself a favor and listen to their song on Youtube for the full impact of the prose ensconced in enchanting, rocking melody!

High Water 

When the waters rose in the darkness
In the wake of the endless flood
It flowed into our memory
It flowed into our blood

When something broke the surface
Just to see the starry dome
We still feel that relation
When the water takes us home
In the flying spray of the ocean
The water takes you home

Springing from the weight of the mountains
Like the heart of the earth would burst
Flowing out from marble fountains
In the dreams of a desert thirst

Something swam through the jungles
Where the mighty rivers roam
Something breaks the silence
When the water takes you home
I hear the wordless voices
When the water takes me home

Waves that crash on the shoreline
Torrents of tropical rain streaming down
Beyond our memory
Streaming down inside our veins

When something left the ocean
To crawl high above the foam
We still feel that elation
When the water takes us home
In a driving rain of redemption
The water takes me home...

Water is indeed intimately connected with life and our living planet boasts water in apparent abundance. In fact, oceans, lakes and rivers cover our planet so much so that we have nicknamed Earth the Blue Planet.  Water stirs gaseous in the planet's atmosphere, flows gently below its surface, and saturates the very core of our and ever plant, animal and fungus' cells.

With so much water on hand, why has water become such a near future concern?  Because the clean water associated with a healthy environment has become harder and harder to come by.  Seven billion people seeking water for drinking, flushing, washing, agriculture and production has put a strain on the natural water supply.  Add to that many humans use water to float away waste all too often without any treatment.

Perhaps in the past, the waste of a tens of thousands of people globally could be naturally recycled.  However with a human population a hundred thousand times more "successful" now produces waste in immense quantities.  Subsequently, available water supply has gradually become tainted with fertilizer, pesticides, hormones, fecal matter, plastics, and a whole host of undesirable chemicals.

Developed countries have successfully leveraged technology to ensure their citizens have adequate access to water and septic systems.  Nevertheless, proactive water management needs to be at the top of any long term planetary vision to benefit humans and environment alike.  Without a sustainable plan ecosystems will be stressed by water quality, species will go extinct (especially aquatic species), and human civilization itself will suffer.

Every drop counts!
In the long run our individual behavior can make a difference. Ensuring communities have access to quality water goes without saying.  Eliminating a variety of wasteful practices particularly, livestock and dairy farming, and reducing water intensive industrial processing is a start. Longterm, as always, a gradual reduction in human population will be key.

Ultimately, positive water management will be part of a holistic body of solutions integrated into the both human infrastructure and the global landscape.  You can be part of a positive water culture today by filling a reusable water bottle to carry with you today.  Doing so has the benefit of decreasing the immense disposable bottle waste industry to be sure.  More importantly it can serve as a talisman to remind each of us to encourage everyone, every business, and every government organization to plan wisely and not squander a single drop of Earth's most precious, life-giving liquid!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Transportation Next

One of the most devastating categories of human consumption currently is transport. Animals
evolved the ability to selectively move from place to place to more greatly reap the benefit of resources located elsewhere.  Plant individuals largely anchor themselves to a single spot and rely on resources coming to them, whether it is water to roots, sun and air to leaves, or in the case of some carnivorous plants, flies to digestive traps.  Certainly plants grow, drift, float and extend to maximize their resource gathering abilities, especially while reproducing, alas animals move with purpose unconnected to the earth, air or sea.
Transportation Next?
Humans, being animals, certainly rely on transport to thrive;  seeking out shelter, food, reproductive and pleasure opportunities happens most effectively when humans are on the move.  And like many social animals we move to assemble groups that can work toward a purpose as a team.  Indeed, humans have taken transport to a whole other level by mechanizing movement with machines, particularly with machines that are by and large powered by fossil fuels.

As we well know centuries of fossil fuel use have begun to reshape the Earth's climate, causing phenomena which will cause long term destabilizing trends unless humans change the culture that we have inherited.  Reducing use and maximizing efficiency are both realistic paths to help minimize our civilizations.  Solar, wind and perhaps nuclear fission and fusion power have the potential to gradually replace our hydrocarbon transports.

Transportation, like so many other human impact industries, is massively acculturated.  Each community has a blend of personal transport and public transport options.  In America we are addicted to owning SUVs, in Europe public transport dominates, in Asia bicycles crowd the landscape.  Technology, from snail mail to email to skyping, has given us virtual options that can eliminate unnecessary transport.
Overall, each community is capable of mindfully shifting transport to achieve long term environmental and ethical goals while still supplying our movement needs.

Returning to a more primal transport paradigm may very well be the path forward.  Yes it is a natural fallacy to assume that returning to the ways of the past is necessarily the best path; however, the one thing millions of years of evolution and geologic processes have going for them is a foundational global stability carved out by the eons.  In regards to transport, time's trials has yielded human bodies which yearn for physical motion.  More walking, running, rollerblading, bike riding and somersaulting to destinations would not only decrease the per capita impact humans have on the Earth, it would also connect us with our evolutionary inheritance, the animal thrill and joy that it is to move!

Transportation Next, Previous and Present!
So what could human transport look like in several hundred years?  Surely it will be a blend of many possibilities and perhaps as we know it transport will no longer exist.  In the extreme, telepresence might be so integrated into civilization and its individuals that each person will be cocooned in an array of virtual sensory transducers, enabling instant communication with anyone else on the grid and "transport" to any location, real or imagined.

A less extreme, and more desirable future might see similar technology accessed when the occasion warrants, whereas the predominant culture may be localized, encouraging walks, climbs, skates, swims and glides within gardened, small-community metropolises.  As such, daily transport could be part of a globally stable planet full of thriving ecosystems and human villages, with human movement embodying a rush of self propelled motion not entirely unfamiliar to our aboreal ancestors.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Consumption Junction IV: Everyone

Defend or dissect, you decide!
In the last three Goodness First articles the nemesis that is unmitigated human consumption was pared down into three digestible (urp) chunks. First, a saber was lifted in defense of the environment, the veritable source of all physical matter and energy that the human species draws upon.  Then, in the form of empathy, a heartfelt dagger was armed toward understanding the needs of life, beauty, humans and humanity.  And finally at the ready, the laser edged scalpel that is efficiency was presented to demonstrate how sharpened scientific rigor, technology, and downright common sense can be judicially brought to bear to minimize consumption and maximize comprehensive goodness.

It might go without saying that each of these progressive weapons requires us, human and humanity, to wield.  Yet because of this it is too important not to emphasize loudly that WE hold the handle of each of these allegorical Excaliburs!!!  Each of us!!! Everyone!!! must therefore rise to the challenge to leverage our heartfelt desire for change, tempered with mindful reflection and cooperation.  For if there is one thing that we have the greatest effect upon in life, it is our very own and subsequently collective behavior.

Of course the wielder that is Everyone is itself a double edged sword.  The immense numbers of the human population are by definition proportional to the magnitude of the impacts of human consumption on the world.  Yet, each of us humans also has the capacity to reduce the average world impact by factoring in Earth's environmental impacts, our empathic understanding of the world, and the efficient implementation of our desires and concerns.  Thus, we can turn the tide long term toward goodness.

Human population just might naturally slow and then decline as rational education suffuses civilization.  Nevertheless, if we can leave the mythically sacred human soul behind, our weaponized species can transform its mindset from attack and consume toward protect and conserve.  At that time humans might very well consider themselves to be one part of a healthy world.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Consumption Junction III: Efficiency

We Feed the Machine
At its core, anthropocentric consumption reshapes and devours matter and energy 365 days a year on Earth, year after year after year.  Our hungry civilization has evolved into a vast macro-organism-machine whose seemingly insatiable appetite reshapes the very planet itself. Surely, some worthy production flows from and within our planetary society, alas the massive inputs and outputs need to be thoughtfully considered if we don't want to poison the well that is our home for us and the living world.

Reducing the human population long term seems like the best path to mitigate local and worldwide impacts of our species, but in the near term one of the most effective things that can be done is to dial up efficiency in all aspects of human living. In a sense modern society is riding the benefits of efficiency already as leveraged by science, technology, and business savvy. Without the refined processes of agriculture developed over millennia, for instance, the existence of billions of humans on this planet would be entirely unsustainable.

Efficiency at its heart is embodied by the common sense to reduce and minimize unnecessary consumption in the first place.  Market forces, and the wealthy stockholders behind them, all too often seek to encourage consumption for the sake of profit. Economic revolutions aside, we as individuals and communities do wield the real power, as ironic as it may As we are the literal consumers that drive the market forces the powers that be pay attention to.  So, as an organized collective we can channel change through many paths including our governments, flexible boycotts and individual behavior.

In the real world, whole industries have the potential for significant consumption reduction.   Personal tranportation which maximizes fuel efficiency can be pursued with better engine technology and public transport, but also with more walking, bicycling and telecommuting.  Food production efficiency can be tremendously improved by simply moving away from archaic (and inhumane) animal products and toward plant-based nutritional production.  Land use can be minimized through tiny home philosophies complemented by mega-city development, each simultaneously encouraging wildlands stewardship.  Even the elimination over time of the enormous misguided spending on military efforts can free up resources for investment in education and mindful infrastructure development.

The list goes on and on, and I encourage you to pick your favorite category and envision a short and long term efficiency plan.  Sure, the world won't change overnight; that's because changing reality takes patience and effort longterm, but we can do it across generations with our capabilities.  It all starts with each of us reducing consumption in our lives today and encouraging others to do the same tomorrow.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Consumption Junction II: Empathy

Embrace Every Species...
Human consumption tends to ignore the impact on sustaining a healthy global environment (see last week's article).  On the other hand, human consumption at its core feeds off of human desire.  If we can channel human empathy to play a larger role in energizing these desires, global goodness would, no doubt, improve tremendously.

The ability to empathize with other humans, other animals, and even plants and microorganisms can serve the planet well. Empathy is about putting oneself in another's position and responding as best we can to accommodate the others needs balanced with our own.  This applies both to caring for individuals and communities of our species and others.  Of course, at the moment, when it comes to caring about other species, it tends to take the form of anthropomorphizing and caring for the cuddly creatures we keep for human benefit. Alas loving our trophy animals and plants kept in captivity does relatively little to strengthening the fabric of global goodness.

Humans first. Arguably, as Americans we celebrate to a great degree the end of slavery.  Sure there are still challenges ahead to leveling the playing field when it comes to economic disparity and human thriving, in general. One ought to consider the tremendous success reflected by our numbers alone; a population of nearly eight billion humans speaks volumes.  Still, we should be empathizing with those that are struggling and implement efforts to reduce population, improve living and working conditions, support fair trade practices, reduce barriers between "castes," and ensure fellow humans have opportunities for education and progressive, meaningful participation in global affairs.   That said, efforts focussed on human benefits are probably already consuming 99% of our energy, time and resources daily.  It's high time that we ratchet down our numbers and focus a bit more attention on the rest of the species in this world.

Perhaps, very gradually, some humans have begun to turn their empathy toward the organisms that contribute, past, present, and future, to the Earth's amazing living environment.  Take caution; there is a naturalistic fallacy in believing that how things used to be ought to be the target end condition. Nevetheless, how nature "ran" things before humans showed up should be part of a long term vision. Humans and human civilization are responsible for numerous destructive changes over the last 20,000 years, including many species extinctions.  Wouldn't it be better if we set aside enough space for all the other creatures of Earth to thrive as well?

...And Let Each Species Thrive in the Space They Need!
A progressive solution might encourage altering human consumption behavior to reflect the diverse conscious and thriving living states of other organisms.  Demonstrably, humans are innovative with our current technology to create all our products and entertainment without the need to keep captive or kill thinking creatures, in spite of our historical record.  The captivity, abuse and slaughter of all animals is simply unnecessary for our civilization to thrive.  Speculatively, maybe one day even plants will be recognized as organisms worthy of not killing.  3D Food Printing and micororganism cultures may be a path in the far future, and deserve mindful consideration.  For now as a global culture, humans need to do more to reach inside and empathize to draw a line in the sand of subjective ethics toward removing all individuals within the animal kingdom from our consumption menus and give them the space they need to thrive.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Consumption Junction I: Environment

There's no escaping the fact that the human species has an incredible impact on the world.  With more than seven billion individuals and growing. In the long-term humanity should target reducing human population sensibly, as our sheer numbers underlie pretty much every challenge facing Earth. Nevertheless and in the meantime, it is decidedly important that we as individuals, as communities and as global culture encourage human behaviors that minimize human impact on the landscape and environment.  This is not only for our benefit, but also for the benefit of living individuals of all species, and the beauty of Earth itself.

You are what you eat! Chew mindfully.
No surprise, the human industrial consumer culture is in full swing.  Wealth is measured in dollars and euros and leisure time. Understandably, developed nations and developing nations alike want consumer goods to generate this wealth so that many can live the good life.  As savvy individuals, we can guide this consumer economy down a less destructive path.  Our many life choices are critical: whether choosing to drive a hybrid car, live in a tiny home, or travel locally, each decision add to powerful positive effect on the environment. Far too often individuals purchase things because it is their "right" to buy anything they  want,without considering the "responsibility" that goes into choosing to consume that item.

The choice of food we eat is the archetype example, if only because we do it so frequently while thriving on the act of eating both sensually and nutritionally. The average American eats a meal three times a day 365 days a year.  Add in a couple daily snacks, and we are talking upwards of 1500 times a year we decide what food will cross our lips. If we want to make a large positive impact on environmental impact, the hands down best choice is a plant-based food lifestyle.

The environment benefits immensely when more of us eat more grains, vegetables, and fruits, primarily because the food is much more efficient to produce. Producing animal products and by-products (particularly meat, milk and eggs) are significantly more damaging to the environment, simply because the trillions of food animals raised, caught and killed annually need more space to inefficiently consume large amounts of plants.  A small percentage of an equivalent amount of plants would feed human civilization fully.   But because of our inherited human culture, particularly profit mindedness, resource investment in animal products continues, creating substantially more deforestation, pesticide and fertilizer use and sewage runoff, not to mention significantly greater greenhouse gas production than plant food production alone would.

Even when it comes to capturing wild animals for food, especially sea creatures, the natural balance of ecosystems is greatly disturbed.  Maybe there was an era thousands of years ago when primitive human predation could be absorbed by natural replenishing cycles, but with billions of humans choosing to remove trillions of creatures from wild oceans and lands, nature cannot keep up.  The sensible choice is to reduce these highly inefficient food sources for the good of the planet.

Of course there are other factors involved which should contribute to our mindful consumption behaviors other than environment.  The humaneness, personal health and aesthetic joyfulness of consuming will each will be discussed in subsequent articles.  Yet, based on environmental impact alone, if we want to keep Earth's environment healthy, we can all make a difference.

Take the time to consider how your choices impact the environment. The Earth, of which you and everyone you know and do not know, are a part, will thank you!

Saturday, May 28, 2016


Just a quickie this week to highlight the obvious: plan your life for great outcomes!
Make Your Schedule of Doom BLOOM!

Sure, it's great to have unscheduled freetime to organically wander in the great outdoors of nature or in the great indoors of stories.  Still, one of the best progressive strategies is to lead, seek out and participate in events that bring together positive change, social connection and healthy exploration!

I won't linger on the minutia this week, but rather by example here share a handful of near future events (mostly in PA) that I find worth sharing out to the world.  Catch the meme and share these or other events you find worthy within the inner circles of your friends or the outer circles of social media.  And most importantly get out there and volunteer, be active, and converse; participate always generously with heart and mind engaged!

Concerts are a great way to channel mindfulness, social fun, progressive fundraising, not to mention just let go and dance to the rhythms: X-Fest (June 10, 11 at Country Creek Winery in Telford, PA) and Piggypalooza (June 18 at Ross Mill Farm in Jamison, PA) are two great outdoor concert events hitting the countryside this summer!

If you're seeking out those who share a positive world view The Humanist Association of Greater Philadelphia (based out of Willow Grove, PA) and The Lehigh Valley Humanists (based out of Allentown, PA) are two humanist groups near me that have great gatherings, including book and movie discussions and picnic social gatherings.

Of course, seek out groups that are local to you to integrate positive activity into your life and augment, as you can, your likely very busy calendar. is probably the most prolific event website out there for finding great activities from boardgaming to rock climbing.  It's also a great place to meet new and like-minded people in your area as well as start your own activity centric group toward positive progressive change!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Invoke Your Inner Detective

Praise the Lord of Thoughtful Investigation
One of the most beautiful things about the human mind is its ability to consider and reconsider.  Such is the heart of critical thinking in everyday life.  Moments of genius and intuition will occur, but to base our daily decisions on these leaves our actions and their impact on the world at risk.  To be effective thinkers and doers in this world we need to ratchet up our investigative humility to eleven!

Research, reflect, reconsider, remark, repeat!

Sherlock and Jesus; Batman and the Buddha; their stories can motivate us and guide us to mindful places, but living in reality takes more than contrived tales of wisdom.  Only by patiently and kindly questioning everything can we refine our world views to reach higher ethical summits, summits which we as humanity can set and reset for the good of all.

Research, reflect, reconsider, remark, repeat!

Rather than teach our children and peers absolutes, we ought to teach them gentle consideration and mindful reconsideration that straddles cradle and grave, that transcends internal and universal, that unites heart and head.  And within that paradigm we must also always be open to be taught ourselves.

Research, reflect, reconsider, remark, repeat!


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

All That Is Golden Does Not Glitter

The Golden Rule is often touted to be at the altruistic heart of modern ethics.  In my christian upbringing and even in my subsequent atheist and secular humanist transformation, this "self evident" adage surfaced repeatedly.  Which begs the question: is there a heartfelt, mindful truth to doing unto others as you would have done unto yourself?

Delicious Ethical Contemplation!
At first blush the principle seems promising, particularly given it's precious metal namesake.  Gold is the archetype valuable substance. No matter that platinum, rhino horn, heroin and anti-matter all weigh in at a higher cost per gram than gold in the modern era.

The principle inherent in the Golden Rule rides on the assumption that treating others as you would like to be treated would be overall and in the long term good for the individual, community and world.  So if I would like a delicious, vegan, multi-grain scone with a side of granny smith apples served to me for breakfast, then offering up such goodness to others ought to encourage similar happiness and satisfaction.

And therein lies the rub.  How accurately does my internal desire reflect the desire of another individual, let alone the well being of the community and the world.  Some people cannot stand the crisp texture of granny smiths, while others (though quite few in reality) have allergies to gluten in wheat flour.  And when it comes to all things vegan (a simple synonym for humanely-sourced materials) unbelievably more than 97% of the world still have a negative response to that goodness imbued descriptor.

So it seems the Golden Rule stance has its problems.  In effect, it reflects the somewhat misguided belief that each individual has an internal sense of goodness, and that implementing that awesomeness on the world would benefit all.  The primary flaw in this self-reflecting, altruistic rationale is the uncertainty in knowing the inner thoughts and feelings of others and the needs of the greater community and environment.

Thankfully, thousands of years of civilization has refined tools that transcend simple personal judgement to guide choices for personal, community and global lifestyles. In particular, diverse scientific methods and multi-faceted ethical standards are at the golden heart of ratcheting up future global well being.  Through these rational, thoughtful means, the efforts and legacy of those who have come before can contribute to a gradualistic improvement for all, if only we engage our minds with alacrity and behave correspondingly.

So perhaps we need a revised Golden Rule, perhaps forged with anti-matter, or at the very least platinum instead of gold.  A Platinum Rule ought to convey this complexity of mindfully generating well-being, while rolling off the tongue eloquently.

"Do unto the world as creates goodness for all!" is one rephrasing which captures the essence of striving for idealistic ends with realistic expectations.

One might also aver "Goodness First!"