Category Archives: society

Are We Up for Handling Climate Change

Will 195 Independent Nations Solve Climate Change?

Written by Gary Janosz and published in

Our World

The Earth is divided into 195 independent nations and 39 dependencies. Those nations are further complicated by 6,500 languages. There are 4,300 religions practiced around the world, the two largest Christianity and Islam appear to hate one another. Both are actively cheering for the end of the world. They are fundamentally in opposition to one another, so somebody’s got it dead wrong — the ultimate Biggest Loser.

What about the remainder of humanity who are not rooting for Armageddon? Can we pull it together to stave off climate change?

Is there any chance for us? Is there any hope that reason and science might prevail? What about a bit of worldwide cooperation? How do we bring this diverse world together to solve our global problems? It’s a bigger problem than any one country can face on its own. Without a united effort, we are doomed to whatever ravages of climate change has in store for us.

Could the United States Take the Lead in the Fight Against Climate Change?

The country that was once the leader of the free world is leading the world in new COVID cases. It feels like we are being pulled into a reincarnation of the Dark Ages. Superstition and conspiracies seem more commanding than scientific reason. Look at how many in the US latched on to the QAnon Conspiracy Theory. QAnon has become more popular than some major religions. Look at how quickly a large percentage of our population dismissed the results of the presidential election — in the absence of any supporting evidence.

Even though the US was first with the COVID vaccine, we languish at a forty-nine percent vaccination rate. Instead of trusting the nation’s scientific experts, many Americans turn to Facebook for their medical advice. Ivermectin is a popular alternative pushed by America’s Frontline Doctors.

Ivermectin is a medication typically used to treat parasitic worms in livestock, but it’s touted as a “safe and effective treatment” for COVID-19 according to America’s Frontline Doctors

Who are America’s Frontline Doctors? They appear to be a group of physicians who practice medicine on social media. In the most advanced nation in the world, citizens would rather use a treatment for parasitic worms in animals than trusting our scientific community to recommend the most effective safest course of action.

For four years we were led by an imbecile president who suggested that drinking chlorine bleach might be effective in killing the virus. He belittled the pandemic from the onset and made ignoring mask mandates a political statement. Now he’ll likely be elected for another four-year term.

If we don’t trust our scientific experts to battle a public health crisis, how do we ever trust them to solve our global climate problem?

At a critical time, the supposed world leader is crippled by ignorance and paralyzed by greed. As Americans, we consume more than the rest of the world, much more than our share and we are not about to give that up. Our corporations will fight tooth and nail to rape every last resource from the Earth while squeezing every remaining penny of profit. Corporate America will never be satisfied. Capitalism is an insatiable beast. It demands growth, ever-expanding markets, endless consumer spending, and the constant desire for more.

Trash this phone because the new one with the cool features comes out tomorrow — endless fodder for the nation’s dumps

Between our ignorance, our greed, and total lack of leadership the US is a hopeless candidate to lead the fight against climate change. Clearly, the US is the biggest obstacle blocking any meaningful changes that could make a difference.

Given the size and power of America’s economy coupled with the might of our military, it’s probably game over right now unless Americans rise up in mass and demand change — very unlikely.

If the World’s Foremost Superpower Won’t Take the Lead, What Choices Remain?

Perhaps a coalition of the largest progressive countries could lead the charge. If enough world leaders began to make the sacrifices necessary to actually make a difference maybe they could guilt the rest of the world into following along.

The biggest obstacle is competition, countries are fighting for a slice of the world economy for the benefit of their own citizens. There is no mechanism that moves nations toward cooperation, while there is a long history of nations looking out for its own best interests. As our population continues to grow unchecked nations are left to compete for the Earth’s remaining finite resources. Basic necessities like water are being relocated globally by climate change. Some areas have suffered years of drought while others are slogging through unseasonable rains. As equatorial regions become uninhabitable vast numbers will migrate to less affected areas of Earth.

How do 195 independent nations deal with global problems while they are all looking out for their own best interests? We have not evolved that far from warring tribes — war and conflict are our default solutions to everything. There are many in the US eager to build a wall to keep everyone out. I suppose we can devolve into warring city-states as resources dwindle, each building higher walls to insulate ourselves from the others.

If climate change is as dire as predicted, walls are just a stop-gap measure forestalling the end, ensuring the comfort of some while the majority suffer. Isolation and exclusion are will not solve the long-term problems, they are just selfish means to continue our unsustainable practices.

The Solution is Worldwide Cooperation

But cooperation is so foreign, so alien that it’s almost incomprehensible. I can visualize the anger engendered at the very idea. Dominate, conquer, invade control, force, coerce are all options immensely preferable to cooperation. The concept of one world, one people, one common purpose, that’s unthinkable. That means we’d have to give something up, to make a sacrifice, to cede control and that’s just never going to happen.

Yet when you look at the immensity of the problem, what other solution is there? The rich nations, fat and happy behind a big wall while everyone else suffers — doable but it does not fix a thing. It draws out some people’s comfort and other people’s agony, but the end is the same.

“We couldn’t save our own life sustaining environment because we failed to make the sacrifices — in the end we were far too selfish” — the Earth’s final epitaph?

We have a governing body, the United Nations, we have the science — but we must submit to the solution. Sacred cows will be gored. Fossil fuel use needs to be curtailed. If that’s the basket that holds all your eggs, you should have diversified long ago. We can no longer drive and fly around the planet as we please. We can no longer eat as much meat as we want. We can no longer use as much energy as we choose. It’s time for sacrifice and drastic change, change that will never happen on a voluntary basis. We need to strictly ration items that ensure humanity’s survival— water, food, fuel, energy, and meat at levels that will guarantee a global impact to heal our planet.

Instead, resistance will mount. Climate change is not that dire. We have time. We need our automobiles. We need to fly. Nobody can tell me what to eat!

We can’t even stay focused on the problem. “Biden blunders destroy America,” climate change blunders, no, ending 20 years of senseless fighting in Afghanistan, ruining our economy, allowing unchecked immigration. “Idaho Has Started to Ration Medical Care,” we can’t bring an end to a pandemic because our population prefers death over a simple shot. “United States Civil War II,” many in the US would prefer civil war to cooperation within our own borders.

I’d like to end on an optimistic note, but it seems the logical solutions are contrary to human nature. We need to join hands, one planet, one people, one overriding common purpose, but laugh out loud at the absurdity — we just don’t have it in us.

Can our differences bring us together?

If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships – the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world at peace.
~Franklin D. Roosevelt~


Does this seem like a strange question? We usually try to think of ways to get along with others despite our differences not because of them.  Or you might decide to dismiss those who disagree with you in order to avoid having to deal with conflict. Is it possible to use our differences as a way to relate to each other?
What if everyone thought the same way? Wouldn’t this create a bland and boring world? We would soon become complacent and accept everything as it is, ignoring the possibility that changes might be needed or even possible. But maybe the world is perfect already. This is not likely given the evidence before us on a daily basis. This is not the case now and it will not come about by chance.
The only way to live peacefully in the world we have now is to stop thinking and wondering to ourselves whether things could be better and do what we can to help create a better world. It would presume that everyone is equal and is treated as such.

Many of us share the same dreams. We would like to live in peace, have decent living space, enough food, be able to provide for our children and prepare them to eventually make their own way in life. No argument there. I can’t imagine that anyone would consciously try to prevent someone else from pursuing these goals.
Yet we are not all the same. Some of us are born into families with parents who know how to work together raising us to live satisfying and productive lives and have the resources to do so. Others have parents who have struggled to survive or may not have learned what it means to be a good parent. Some parents grew up in the shadow of violence or deprivation. It is all they can do to survive themselves.
Some of us learned from their parents that we are all responsible for each other. Others have learned that it is everyone for themselves and that you have to fight for what you want. Still others see the world’s resources as limited and that you have to grab what you want before others get there first.
These observations highlight the differences in how we view life. If you see life as a joint venture, it is much easier to work together toward all of us meeting our needs. If you have been deprived of the necessities, not to mention the joys of life, you might find it hard to think about others’ needs. It may seem like all you can do is take care of yourself.
How do we come together or help each other with our lives if we are all so different? I think we need to start by understanding what past and current life circumstances have been like for each other. It is easier to relate to others with experiences are similar to our own. Getting to know others whose lives have been very different from ours will help us appreciate their struggles. Despite these differences, I think it is the rare person who has not had some times of struggle and challenge making life difficult. The key is to find ways in which our conflicts are similar to those of others and learn about their differing circumstances.
I think the greatest challenge is to understand others who are angry about their misfortune. It will be even harder if you are one of them since you then have your own anger to contend with. Understanding these people might help you appreciate the blessings in your own life or might help you see how others cope with their difficulties. How others cope might provide some lessons for own struggles.
There are some specific ways we can use our differences to come together. I will address these in my next article. Stay tuned.       

If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships – the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world at peace.
~Franklin D. Roosevelt~

Brain Mush? Review of Lukianoff and Haidt’s “The Coddling of the American Mind”


Several years ago when I worked as a psychologist I met a woman in her early thirties. She came to see me because she felt overwhelmed by current life challenges. I asked her how she had handled difficult times in the past. She told me that could not think of any such times in her life. Now that she finally faced a challenge she had no idea where to start in dealing with it.

This is the theme of the book. Our children from their first years through college have often been overprotected (coddled) to the point where they have little resilience when faced with challenges which are an inevitable part of life. The authors present three untruths which have gotten us into trouble. These are as follows:

  1. What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker.
  2. Always trust your feelings.
  3. Life is a battle between good and evil.

Together these myths lead us to being fragile in the face of difficulty, relying on our emotions when we should think rationally and seeing life as a battle between us (good) and them (evil).

By coddling the authors mean over concern about emotional safety. By protecting our children from any emotional unpleasantness, we make them less resilient in the face of difficulty. They are not suggesting that reasonable care in the face of danger is unwise. But they do hold that children and adults learn to be resilient by facing challenges and learning to manage them rather than be overprotected from them. They also suggest that be seeing potential enemies as less than human it is extremely difficult to find mutually agreeable solutions to our differences.

Much of the book addresses the nature of our conflicts with each other, how false ideas keep us apart and trends in society which reduce our ability to become resilient.

To address these negative and unhelpful trends, the authors suggest ways to reverse them. Among these approaches is preparing children for life rather than trying to smooth out every bump in their life’s path. A second approach is learning how to evaluate the usefulness of our own thoughts which can harm us even more than others can when we take them at face value. Napoleon Hill would have asked what evidence you have for what you believe. Another is to refrain from seeing everyone as good or evil by giving people the benefit of the doubt and practicing emotional humility. Finally we need to help our children become resilient by giving them opportunities to learn problem solving and conflict resolution by not protecting them from anything unpleasant.

Finally they see education as not just an exercise in memorizing facts. It should also be a laboratory for students to learn how to manage their difficulties and conflicts and to learn to challenge their own thoughts and emotions. This also includes learning to understand others and to negotiate resolution of our differences.    

I found this to be a comprehensive treatment of the mistakes we make in judging our own thoughts and emotions and how we get stuck in our differences with others. They also suggest clear paths to learning how to deal with others in a compassionate way and how to teach these values to our children. They also present the principles of cognitive behavior therapy which we can use to evaluate our own thoughts and emotions and replace them with more rational beliefs when necessary. If this becomes too difficult to manage alone, they suggest approaching a therapist who can help you think more clearly for the sake of your own life and your relationships.  

My review of Johann Hari’s book, Chasing the Scream

The opposite of addiction is not sobriety–it is connection

~Johann Hari~

I discovered the existence of this book several days after a certain president announced his opinion that drug dealers should be executed. He would have felt a kinship with Harry Anslinger, the chief architect and champion of the war on drugs which took root in the 1930’s. His opinion was that illegal drugs were evil and so were people who sold and used them. Both sets of people and drugs themselves became his targets for eradication.

Hari writes extensively about Anslinger and the army he headed as well as about Billie Holliday the renowned jazz singer who died of a heroin overdose and Arnold Rothstein, an early drugpin. During the course of the book, Hari also gives thorough coverage to drug users, drug dealers, police, people who work with drug users, and researchers. He also documents research findings, and alternatives to a war on drugs.

Hari admits that it was difficult for him to let go of the traditional wisdom regarding the evils of drugs and of those who use them. He also struggled with the idea that drug eradication is the only effective way to approach the problem. I must admit that it was initially also difficult for me as a reader to imagine viewing drugs in any but the traditional manner.

The author documents the burdens to society imposed by the war on drugs making the problem for society much worse than it was when drugs were legal. He points out clearly how little we learned from alcohol prohibition. Crime increased significantly with the advent of prohibition and decreased with the end of prohibition. Yet we saw the best way to deal with the problem of illegal drugs as following the same path we took with alcohol. Although the subtitle of Hari’s book is “The first and last days of the war on drugs,” it does not appear to me that the last days are in clear sight.

Yet research and social experiments suggest that there are rational alternatives. Research with animals and later with people discovered that addiction is not primarily due to the nature of the substances ingested. A much greater contribution to addiction is lack of a sense of worth, lack of social connection and the feeling of not being useful to society. As Gabor Maté puts it, “The core of addiction doesn’t lie in what you swallow or inject–it’s the pain you feel in your head.” Hari also brings in the effects of institutional racism leading to greater drug use by people of color.

The author also details the success of programs in countries such as Switzerland and Portugal and efforts in the states of Colorado and Washington to bring about legalization of drugs in various ways. Such approaches often involve supervised use of drugs paired with counseling to help users improve their sense of self, start to feel human again and find a way to contribute to society.

The book is presented in a narrative manner leaving you with a sense of knowing the individuals on all sides of this problem. It might be difficult for you to change your thinking about drugs, drug use and users after the extremely long tradition of seeing this as a problem to be eradicated. Approaching it this way has led to a drain on society socially as well as economically. I would suggest you give this book a try. You can always go back to your old way of thinking if you choose but if you have any humanitarian leanings, I have a feeling you will learn to think differently about this problem.

America: Corporation or Society

Integrity is essential and irreplaceable. It is the most valuable asset
for a person, a company, or a society seeking to build and progress.

~Rex Tillerson~

For several centuries America has worked to become a society in the sense of being a community with common laws and customs. We have made progress toward this ideal over the years although we have always had more to do to “form a more perfect union.” This was our goal stated in the preamble to our constitution. Our country has always had more to offer to people of wealth and power than to those less fortunate. We have had times of progress toward meeting the needs of all or citizens and times when the needs and wishes of the few outweighed the needs of the many.

We find ourselves in a time when many of the safeguards to our well­being are being dismantled piece by piece on a daily basis. Those in power act in the interest of themselves and of their powerful allies. Protection of the environment, providing for our health, provision of the basic necessities including clean air and water are now being undermined or discarded outright. Years of work to develop positive relationships with other nations is being undermined or simply cast aside. The idea of cooperation with other countries is being discarded in the interest of America first. Efforts are underway to cleanse America from immigrants whose presence and contributions made us so successful in the first place.

The Corporation Project of the Frank Bold law firm describes the purpose of a corporation first stated in the 1970’s as being to maximize shareholder value. All other goals were seen as secondary to the extent that they were considered at all. I don’t mean to suggest that all corporations are so callous. There are quite a few which have served to enrich society as well as their financial holdings. Yet the corporate culture has focused largely on short term gains with all other considerations becoming secondary at best.

In my opinion, those leading our country at present show a clear corporate mentality about our country in the sense of putting money first. The welfare of our country, our planet, our environment and our global community have all been relegated to secondary consideration with financial gain as the chief focus. In the process, wealth, resources and power become concentrated in fewer hands as the process of corporatizing America continues.

History has shown repeatedly that a course of events such as the one we find propelling us now eventually leads to revolution and overthrow of the few left at the top. Those who are there now are betting that their course will be sustainable in the near future which is their chief frame of reference rather than the greater good of all the world’s citizens which requires a much broader outlook.

Those in power will be happy to continue on their merry way as long as they are allowed to do so. We are currently seeing rumblings of a groundswell of dissent questioning the status quo which I see as unsustainable. The options are evolution of thought and mutual cooperation toward a national and global society or revolution when dissent reaches the tipping point. The choice is ours. What do you choose?

How Should Our Society Deal With People Who Use Drugs?

The war on drugs is a cruel joke. The U.S. spends more than $50 billion a year on the “war on drugs” with the goal of creating a “drug-free society” – yet there has never been a “drug-free society” in the history of civilization. Virtually all of us take drugs every single day.  Caffeine, sugar, alcohol, marijuana, Prozac, Ritalin, opiates and nicotine are just some of the substances that Americans use on a regular basis.

(Excerpt from Tony Newman’s post on Drug Policy Alliance website- read more)

Criminal Justice?

How silly of us to think that we can prepare men for social life by reversing the ordinary process of socialization- silence for the only animal with speech; repressive regimentation of men who are in prison because they need to learn how to exercise their activities in constructive ways; outward conformity to rules which repress all efforts at constructive expression.

~Karl Menninger~

What if we had a training program to teach people how to become better criminals? We do, you know. In his 1966 book, The Crime of Punishment, the psychiatrist Karl Menninger wrote a critical review of the system for treating (punishing) criminals. Here is one conclusion he drew from his study, “The idea of punishment as the law interprets it seems to be that inasmuch as a man has offended society, society must officially offend him.” In other words the main goal of criminal justice is to exact revenge in proportion to the perceived offense.

In this country we have a criminal justice system which includes law enforcement, the courts and corrections system. Although these titles sound good, in reality what mostly exists is a punishment system. In theory, the system is supposed to make sure that citizens act in accordance with societal standards which are enforced by our laws. In practice, the system mainly provides vengeance on behalf of society on perpetrators of crimes.

All too often in recent times we see police officers engaging in the same violent behavior which they are paid to protect us from. More often than not, they are given the benefit of the doubt and not held accountable when they engage in violent behavior, despite the evidence against them. Courts were designed to help maintain a civil society by isolating criminals from society or seeking programs for them which might correct their behavior. In reality, sentencing is more about what the criminal “deserves” rather than what would change his or her behavior. The corrections system has largely given up on correcting criminals. Instead they are the agency which administers punishment corresponding to their offenses.

Menninger pointed out that there is little effort put into understanding the criminal, “No distinction is made in the degree of punishment for the dangerous, the docile, the stupid, the shrewd, the wistful, the confused or the desperate on the basis of these characteristics.” Instead the courts follow guidelines for various crimes with little consideration of who the criminal is as a person.  The main motivation for the system is to exact vengeance on the perpetrator to satisfy society. He also defines punishment as “the deliberate infliction of pain in addition to or in lieu of penalty.”

He noted that prisoners are treated like children, “the prisoner is clothed, housed, fed, cared for, told what to do and what not to do, where to go and where to stay.” We take people who do not seem to know how to act in society and take away all their opportunities to decide anything for years at a time, and then expect them to be able to function in society when they are eventually released.

Menninger also pointed out that it is silly of society to try to re-socialize a convict by “reversing the ordinary process of socializaton.” Prisoners are required to follow a rigid routine with little opportunity to learn how to make better decisions or to exercise any decision making. There is little opportunity to learn how to express themselves in light of strict rules which do not all allow for the opportunity to learn and practice socially appropriate behavior

Researchers long ago concluded that punishment does not usually change behavior, at least for the better. It makes those punished more likely to commit further criminal acts. They learn to become better criminals during their time in prison with little constructive activity available. They often become motivated to seek vengeance for being punished in prison. Punishment can bring to a person’s attention that his or her behavior is not acceptable. Yet many incarcerated individuals have no idea what alternatives are available to them. Menninger sees the appropriate role of corrections to help offenders regain their self respect and learn to be productive members of society.

Menninger did not suggest that society should just ignore criminal behavior. Indeed he sees it as society’s obligation to respond, but in a different manner than seeking revenge.  He quotes the 1870 American Correction Association principle, “The aim of the prison should be to make industrious free men rather than orderly and obedient prisoners.” This principle seems to have been long forgotten. Yet it would seem more helpful and appropriate to help prisoners learn how to function as better citizens rather than to beat them over the head for not being good citizens.

Perhaps partially in response to Menninger’s work and also in the context of the civil rights movement, our society and government started looking at the criminal justice system and moving toward more rational alternatives. Alternatives to incarceration such as mediation, mental health treatment in jails and prisons, educational and job training programs as well as follow-up programs such as half-way houses and on the job training arose as we took a reasoned look at the problem of crime. In particular, racism and poverty began to be addressed in a rational way.

Despite this trend, many people resented “pampering” of inmates and saw them as being mollycoddled by do-gooders. The focus of efforts that did exist was mainly on those who had already become prisoners. Despite some prisoners learning from their experience with prison and making changes in their lives, recidivism remains high. In recent years, between two thirds and seventy-five percent of criminals eventually wind up back in prison within five years of release. The common perception is “once a criminal, always a criminal.”  People and governments began to see efforts at reforming prisoners as a lost cause and our society swung to a punishment system without much concern for the possibility of change.

In my opinion, efforts at reform have not gone far enough. Changing the criminal culture will not take place based on draconian laws and harsher punishment. The roots of crime lie in poverty and racism with some people seeing no viable options for them other than turning to crime. The real challenge is to change our prejudices and find a way for everyone to have viable options to survival other than those provided by the criminal route.

The myth that more punitive approaches to criminals would make them more inclined to reform themselves too precedence and our prisons began to expand and fill with more prisoners than any other place on earth. Psychological studies have shown that punishment does not generally improve deviant behavior. Incarceration as it stands now is chiefly a school for crime and a place for fledgling criminals to hone their criminal skills.

Some police departments have as their motto, “to protect and to serve.” Living up to this motto is a challenge, especially as cities have grown and become partitioned into enclaves for people of varying social classes. The war on poverty developed in the 1960’s morphed into the war on crime. Yet “war” remained central. Over the years police have been militarized and now are often seen as armies to control the poor. Institutional racism has also pervaded many of the police departments in large inner city communities.

Initially, programs were developed such as those in New York City to empower local leaders involvement in troubled communities develop programs responsive to the needs of residents in these communities. These were soon abandoned and efforts turned to heavily arming the police so they could better control restive poor people.

Have you ever stopped to consider where criminals come from? Poverty, racism and experience with violence as victims all take their place as contributors to violent behavior. All of these apply to the majority of people who wind up in the justice system.  If all we do is punish them for a while in an environment entirely populated by others in the same boat, how can we expect them to emerge from prison any better than they were when they were convicted?

Part of the answer lies outside the criminal justice system. Poverty and racism in society as well as their effects on people who experience them cannot be changed by the criminal justice system alone. This is a charge to society as a whole. We need to learn how to respect people as individuals, help them learn ways to emerge from poverty by gaining job skills and then stop discriminating against them because of their poverty or race. It would also help if the administration and officers in the criminal justice system stopped treating their charges as less than human.

I don’t mean by that treating them like animals. One of the characteristics of people prone to violence is cruelty to animals. Perhaps one approach to working with criminals is to give them options to care for animals of the earth as well as for the earth itself. This approach has been shown to work in a few programs focused on those caught in the web of drug abuse. Many of those incarcerated also struggle with chemicals.

What if we taught prisoners how to make good decisions, to anticipate consequences of their actions, how to negotiate with others, cooperate on common goals and compromise so that others can also reach their goals? Does this seem unrealistic to you? Efforts in this regard have taken place in jails and prisons but are not the main thrust of the corrections system which remains more focused on punishment than encouraging changes in the behavior of those identified as criminals.

I am not suggesting that nothing has changed since the days when Menninger wrote his book. Communities at the court, jail and prison levels have developed programs to help prisoners become educated, learn job skills, address chemical dependency and anger issues, learn about society and relationships, as well as transition back into the community. It has been my sense that such efforts have not ever become a major focus of the criminal justice system where criminals are looked at more as animals to be contained rather than fellow humans to be helped to find their way again. That is our challenge.

(Excerpt from my forthcoming book, From Rage and Violence to and Peace and Harmony.)

You Know What I Mean? Finding Commonality Across the Gap

Expert Author Scott Marcus

In L.A.’s school district, when I was a kid, Health was a required class taken in junior high – eighth grade to be specific.

We were taught the basics of course, on how our bodies were changing and even the appropriate methods to shower and dress. And yes, there was that awkward period where our knowledge of the “bird and bees” was clarified – in great detail I might add. As almost-adults, we already pretty much knew the nuts and bolts but my memories are that it was an extremely uncomfortable week, especially since boys and girls were not separated. We were beyond the phase of snickering (at least in class) but everyone sat board straight upright, careful not to make eye contact with anyone else in the room.

I don’t know if it was a required part of the course but one thing I most remember was Mr. Hubbard took us beyond the basics and engaged us in discussions about politics, the economy, and relationships. One could rightly argue that he was as concerned with our societal health as he was with our physical health. Good for him.

Excerpt from Scott Marcus’s column in Ezine- read more

The Great Work

In reality, there is a single integral community of the Earth that includes all its component members whether human or other than human.

~Thomas Berry~

In my recent travels, I visited the Passionist Earth and Spirit Center in Louisville Kentucky. It is based on the thoughts and writings of Thomas Berry, a priest who helped me find a new phase of my life in 1965. He went on to become a significant voice for the Earth and for the community of living things which inhabits the Earth.

During the past several centuries, humans have come to see the Earth as a collection of commodities for us to use and consume. We have come to see ourselves as the top of the heap with all the earth’s resources at our disposal without any obligation to respect the Earth in the process.  During earlier periods of civilization and indigenous cultures before what we see as civilization, the earth was viewed with reverence and wonder bits indigenous peoples.

Our recent history has led us to see ourselves primarily as consumers of what we want from the earth’s treasures, dumping what we don’t want in ever increasing piles of trash. Thomas Berry invited us to rediscover the Earth as our home. If we continue to destroy it as we have been doing, there will be no viable place for us to live.

This might sound alarmist, a Chicken Little complaint. When foreign settlers came to our continent, they viewed it as a vast inexhaustible supply of land, water, and all the other resources just lying around for the taking. They often ignored or laughed at the views of indigenous peoples that the Earth is a sacred place which needs to be respected. In exchange for giving us what we need, these peoples felt an obligation to care for the Earth in return. Otherwise it is like using the walls of your home for firewood. Soon there is nothing left and no place to live.

For many years, traditional cultures across the world continued their rituals and customs revolving around respect for the Earth. In more recent times, our consumer approach has spread to the far reaches of the globe and contaminated their traditional ways. In many ways the Earth and its resources is now seen as grist for the mills of global corporations, chiefly concerned with profit, despite the cost to mankind or to the earth itself.

We have gone quite a distance down the commercialization path. Whether we as humans can survive the damage we have done to the Earth in the name of profit remains to be seen. Continuing down this path may well make the Earth inhospitable to the lives of other species of animals and plants in addition to our own.

It is very difficult to give up immediate rewards of acting as predators of our planet. There are other ways to live. They involve taking a different approach in which we consider the well-being of the planet as well as our own immediate needs and wishes. Are you ready to do your part?

Life Lab Lessons

  • Study the history of how we have treated the Earth.
  • Spend some time communing with the wonders of the Earth.
  • Set aside time to watch a sunrise or sunset.
  • Meet some of the plants, birds, fish and animals which share the Earth with us.
  • Decide how you can respect the Earth and then try it.

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Prejudice: A Dangerous Defense Mechanism

“Prejudice is a great time saver: You can form opinions without having to get the facts.” — E. B. White

Prejudice is described as an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason. For its many negative outcomes, it can also be seen as a universal trait tied to our very human instinct to survive.

By nature, we are attracted to our own kind and more inclined to perceive the “other” as bad or frightening. The challenge is to recognize this impulse and determine if fear or negative judgment is justified.

Excerpt from Jane Simon’s blog in the Huffington Post- Read more