The best time to have planted a tree was twenty years ago. The next best time is today.
We are always operating in a "next best" environment, and the only time we have is "now."
We live, simultaneously, in two different worlds. Ultimately, we live in the World of Nature, a world that we did not create and the world upon which all life depends. Most immediately, we inhabit a "human world" that we create ourselves. Because our human world is the result of our own choices and actions, we can say, quite properly, that we live, most immediately, in a “political world.” In this blog, I hope to explore the interaction of these two worlds that we call home.
The best time to have planted a tree was twenty years ago. The next best time is today.
The first thing you notice in comparing the Chance and Swift songs is the difference between a person and a brand. A lot of young people I know talk about “working on their brand,” and sometimes I wish that word had never been invented.A person has a soul, which is what Chance is worrying about. A brand has a reputation, which is the title of Swift’s next album. A person has private dignity. A brand is a creation for an audience. “I’ll be the actress starring in your bad dreams,” is how Swift puts it.
What will it profit you to gain the whole world, if you forfeit your soul?
The American empire is coming to an end. The U.S. economy is being drained by wars in the Middle East and vast military expansion around the globe. It is burdened by growing deficits, along with the devastating effects of deindustrialization and global trade agreements. Our democracy has been captured and destroyed by corporations that steadily demand more tax cuts, more deregulation and impunity from prosecution for massive acts of financial fraud, all the while looting trillions from the U.S. treasury in the form of bailouts. The nation has lost the power and respect needed to induce allies in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa to do its bidding. Add to this the mounting destruction caused by climate change and you have a recipe for an emerging dystopia. Overseeing this descent at the highest levels of the federal and state governments is a motley collection of imbeciles, con artists, thieves, opportunists and warmongering generals. And to be clear, I am speaking about Democrats, too.
Short of a sudden and widespread popular revolt, which does not seem likely, the death spiral appears unstoppable, meaning the United States as we know it will no longer exist within a decade or, at most, two. The global vacuum we leave behind will be filled by China, already establishing itself as an economic and military juggernaut, or perhaps there will be a multipolar world carved up among Russia, China, India, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa and a few other states. Or maybe the void will be filled, as the historian Alfred W. McCoy writes in his book “In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power,” by “a coalition of transnational corporations, multilateral military forces like NATO, and an international financial leadership self-selected at Davos and Bilderberg” that will “forge a supranational nexus to supersede any nation or empire.”
During the Obama era, their carefully cultivated bipartisanship gave way to a withering critique of the Republican Party. Instead of blaming both sides for gridlock in Washington and extremism in American politics, as so many commentators did, they squarely held Republicans responsible.
I am so sick of having to constantly contact my representatives. There are people who will tell you that this opinion reeks of privilege—and anyway, don’t you know that direct participation is the bread and butter of democracy? They’ll say that when you live in a democracy your rights come along with civic duties. If anything, they’ll smugly remind you direct contact with representatives shows the system is working.
I think it shows that something is rotten in the United States.
Call me lazy, but you shouldn’t have to call your representatives every week to remind them not to vote for a bill that the vast majority of their constituents disagree with.
In a functioning democracy, you shouldn’t have to check your inbox and Twitter feed daily in order to see whether or not some basic rights are about to be ripped away. And you certainly shouldn’t have to worry about your representative actually voting for such an abomination. In a democracy, you should conceivably be able to vote a representative into office and broadly trust that he or she would not require a barrage of emails and calls to vote in line with their constituents’ values ...
Today our politicians are in no way blind to our preferences. They are focus-grouped up to their eyeballs. And they have pollsters constantly working the field for them. They know what you think and why you think it.
The fact is our politicians largely don’t care.
Naqoyqatsi: Life as War (2002)
A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it's not too late
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
‘Hear and hear, but do not understand;
see and see, but do not perceive.’
10 Make the heart of this people fat,
and their ears heavy,
and shut their eyes;
lest they see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”
“Until cities lie waste
and houses without men,
and the land is utterly desolate,
12 and the Lord removes men far away,
and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.
13 And though a tenth remain in it,
it will be burned again,
like a terebinth or an oak,
whose stump remains standing
when it is felled.”
The holy seed is its stump.
I remember a game I used to play as a toddler, when someone in my family or my relatives would ask the question How Big? The automatic response I gave, was to throw my arms up in the air, in a state of joy, and everyone around me would shout sooooo big! Little did I know, that particular “how big” question and its implications for life would reappear over and over again throughout my lifetime, but in a wider and expanded variety of contexts ... Over time, as both my age and understanding has expanded, sooooo big has taken on a completely new set of meanings. The great news is, that there is an entire “world” of the SELF inside us to discover. We are sooooo big that we can unfold this world over our lifetime and still have room for more of our full potential.
A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling separated from the rest, a kind of optical illusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
|Members of a commune located about 20 miles from Madison, pose for a 'family' portrait outside the barn where they conduct a flourishing candle business 10/23/1969-Cross Plains, Wisconsin.|
All of those social deviants of the 1960s and 1970s counterculture, by taking a nonviolent, extreme position, managed to pull the culture closer to them. The once-conservative German society now has very low marriage rates, a blasé attitude toward single parenting, and an innovative and successful educational system—all areas the Kommune and similar groups were experimenting with.
The Left defines itself mostly by what it is against—white supremacy, misogyny, capitalism—but is vague on what it is for ... It seems we’ve resigned ourselves to neoliberalism, rapacious capitalism and endless war. The most radical suggestion anyone ever comes up with to deal with the housing shortages in every major city around the world is maybe to build some more rent-controlled housing. Where are the champions of socialized housing, communal living with private quarters but shared domestic spaces (co-housing), single-sex communities, or even large-scale occupation of the increasing amount of vacant real estate bought only as investment? Our relentlessly profit-driven healthcare system is one of the most expensive and ineffective in the world, but the dominant progressive fix is to expand private insurance coverage. What about nationalizing the pharmaceutical industry, forbidding religious orders from running hospitals, and revamping the mental health system to prioritize holistic treatment over drugging patients into stupors? Marriage remains a support system for the patriarchy, but no one even talks about abolishing marriage anymore (except for maybe me, inappropriately, at parties, after a couple martinis). It’s as though we've decided this world is inevitable and we must adjust ourselves to it, rather than adjust the world to better suit us.
As Czech political dissident-turned-president Václav Havel noted, politics follows culture, so there will be no revolution or improvement in our condition coming down through the legislature. To believe otherwise, to legislate cultural issues through politics and ignore the will of the people, is to support tyranny [emphasis added].
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.
Late one afternoon nearly two decades ago, having made my way down the length of Manhattan’s west side, I met my grandfather at a quaint Italian restaurant in the West Village. He greeted me in the vestibule, gave me a hug, and asked how I’d thought to recommend this particular trattoria. I explained that an old buddy who’d grown up in New York had suggested it, but I quickly added that in the near future neither of us would have to depend on personal recommendations. That same friend had recently offered me a demonstration of Vindigo (a precursor to Yelp, the social networking site that rates local businesses). Once installed on a Palm Pilot (a precursor to the iPhone), the app would list all the restaurants near any given Manhattan intersection, sorted by cuisine. After a user selected the restaurant, Vindigo would offer walking directions.
I’d expected my grandfather to guffaw—oh, the wonders of modern technology! Instead, he frowned. “Marc, when I was a young salesman traveling between hosiery mills in the small towns of North Carolina, I’d get off a train with nothing but a suitcase and make my way over to a friendly looking stranger. ‘Is there a good place to eat around here?’ More often than not, that guy would direct me to a hole in the wall or a diner a few blocks away. With some frequency, we’d strike up a conversation—sometimes he would join me for the meal. He’d tell me when he served in the war and share some of the local folklore. After a few minutes we’d invariably be talking about our families. That’s how I got to understand the world—by talking to strangers.
In a massive conflict of interest between greedy top corporate executives and their own company, CEO-driven stock buybacks extract capital from corporations instead of contributing capital for corporate needs, as the capitalist theory would dictate.
Yes, due to the malicious, toady SEC “business judgement” rule, CEOs can take trillions of dollars away from productive pursuits without even having to ask the companies’ owners—the shareholders—for approval.