Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Human World in Disarray

As the number of human beings populating planet earth continues to grow resulting in greater pressure placed upon the resources necessary to sustain twenty-first century human existence; as the climate of the earth is changing and deteriorating as a direct result of human activity and as human wealth continues to be concentrated in the hands of a very few of the world’s people, acts of irrational and crazed violence are growing at an alarming rate.

Living in the so-called, “developed world,” we have become accustomed to expect that life will provide us with a wide range of comforts and ever-expanding opportunities for enjoyment and fulfillment that is far in excess of the expectations of billions of our fellow humans. 

Primarily due to the time and place of birth, vast numbers of our species are subjected to a life of constant turmoil, violence and hardship denied access to the essentials that we naturally take for granted.  Within the limited boundaries of such an existence lies a trying and shortened existence. 

The peoples of the developed world choose to remain oblivious to the price their affluence is exacting upon those less fortunate by siphoning both wealth and resources from much of world.  Ironically, the most telling example of this is the fact that in order to sustain the lifestyle we have grown accustomed to we are producing an over-abundance of greenhouse gases that will ultimately negatively impact the entire human population regardless of place of origin or economic status.

Unfortunately, and tragically, all of this extreme suffering is unnecessary.  Life is a fleeting experience and one that should be cherished and appreciated.  Nonetheless it is all too often squandered in the myopic pursuit of self-interest at the expense of the common good.  We could live in a peaceful and harmonious world if only we could regard everyone as our equals and deserving of meaningful and fulfilling existence.  After all, there is certainly an abundance of intelligence, resourcefulness, creativity, ingenuity and skill within the human community to confront and overcome the problems that we all face as human beings on this most remarkable planet.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Plea for Sanity

I am deeply unsettled by events that are unfolding here and around this deeply troubled human world.  As a people, we seem to be gravitating towards a darker era of the nation’s past – a time when power was deeply entrenched within the domain of white males.  We seem to be revisiting a time when corporate power controlled all aspects of American life; when the central government played no role in regulating the influence, policies and reach of the powerful; when the natural environment was not considered in the formulation of public policy; when diverse opinions were regarded as essentially irrelevant; when civil rights and human rights had no place in the national discourse and when keeping the population as ignorant as possible - especially in the realm of science - was seen as a necessary tool of governance.

This new federal administration seems to be more than willing to engage in bigoted and demeaning speech and to offer credence to xenophobia through both words and divisive actions in a country that has been deeply enriched by a remarkable degree of diversity that serves us all well.

For the most powerful nation on the planet to move in such a direction in the 21st century is an astounding prospect and is very disturbing.
In the meantime, the striving of all of humanity is overshadowed by the indisputable reality of climate change dangerously accelerated by human activity that can only be countered by collective and sustained effort.  In spite of this reality, the humans on planet earth – our only home – remain mired in debilitating conflicts and seemingly endless struggles over politics, religion and economics.  As a result, a great many humans endure suffering often of the most extreme kind.

This is not the way it has to be.  As human beings, we are quite capable of so much more.  I know that we can create a world in which love, compassion, intelligence, reason, and generosity of spirit are the values that inform our politics and our behavior. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

A Wistful Song

Will humans ever discard
incessant and ancient calls to hatred
subdue the chaotic winds of war
relentless stupidity of the lower brain.

Will humans ever awaken
to the essential joy of living
fall into the blissful and awaiting
embrace of love.

Will humans ever find release
within the fiery storm of consciousness
surrender at last to the reality of
death’s encompassing presence.

Will humans ever bury
the blighted harvest that only
greed can promise.

Will humans ever embrace
everyone as family
put an end
to all the needless suffering.

Will humans ever ascend
the golden staircase
into that terrain
enfolded by the sweet enveloping breath
of boundless peace.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A View Towards the Future

Currently (circa 2016), human societies are in a state of disarray around the planet; many of these societies are in an apparent state of severe crisis engulfed in wars of aggression.  These disturbing developments have no simple explanations: the history of humanity cannot be summed by using some Star Wars-like analogy where it is simply a universal struggle between good and evil.  Usually, those who propose such a simplistic explanation conveniently find themselves on the side of the good and never consorting with “bad guys.”

Historic developments are shaped over time and ultimately reflect the internal struggle that confronts all individuals – the fragile and volatile nature of human consciousness as it navigates through the real world and attempts to make sense out of reality and find a suitable place within it.  This internal struggle involves the tenuous integration between two aspects of consciousness that are embedded within the architecture of the human brain – the lower brain that is the seat of the stark and explosive emotions and the upper brain that is the source of intelligence, the capacity to reason, the ability to analyze complex situations, the inclination towards love, compassion and harmony and ultimately the drive to find solutions and to progress.

Worldwide it appears that human societies are highly conflicted and that the apparent differences between peoples have been so magnified and amplified that violence and senseless aggression are commonplace.  This reality has, of course, been a common denominator throughout human history and is more the rule than the exception.

Overshadowing this unfortunate aspect of the human condition, however, is a far more ominous reality and that is the ineluctable unfolding of the consequences of climate change.  This should be the pivotal concern of the human species; for it will ultimately determine the survivability of humans on planet earth.

In my mind, the choice is clear.  Either humans begin to perceive themselves as individuals of the same species that spans all countries and continents and become determined to work together to salvage the natural environment we all depend upon or choose to remain mired in the differences we impose upon ourselves and others concerning religious, racial, ethnic, political and economic differences.

This choice will determine the future of humanity  No amount of wishful thinking or religious sentiment or allegiance to any particular economic or social system will temper the natural environment as human activity continues to upset the delicate balance that has permitted humanity to live and prosper for thousands of years.  To remain fractured by differences, to squander way too much precious conscious time within the restricted and confining prison of the lower brain is to consign future generations to a dark and ominous future.

Currently, the possibility that the human species will save itself through united action motivated by the desire to compromise, collaborate and find intelligent solutions to real world problems seems rather unlikely; we do seem to be hopelessly inclined towards petty and trivial pursuits, confined by oppressive and self-defeating belief systems and inured to violent aggression as a means to settle differences.

But, change is always possible even of the seemingly radical variety.  There are a multitude of voices in the world that constantly attempt to remind us of what we, as a species, are truly capable of if only we would awaken to the better aspects of ourselves.

I remain hopeful that we will collectively come to our senses and rediscover the majesty and magnificence of this place called home and will become enlivened to action and make this transient journey called life all that it can be for everyone.

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Human Brain - A Truly Marvelous Organ

I would like to spend some time talking about the marvelous organ we all possess and reliably take for granted – the human brain.  On average the human brain weighs between 1300 and 1400 grams (about 3 pounds).

This marvel of neuronal circuitry.  possesses about 90 billion neurons – those remarkably specialized cells designed to carry information through electrical impulses.  It has been demonstrated that the brain consumes nearly a quarter of all the energy the body produces in order to keep it functioning.

The Neuron

It is within this organ that consciousness arose during the course of  human evolution.    This profoundly organized structure is the site where all our perceptions arise and is the origin of our personal identity and our personality.   This brain is the site not only of our often unruly emotions but also of all the elemental qualities that make us sentient beings – our intellect, our ability to reason, to learn, to think, to analyze the world around us, to problem solve, as well as our creativity and our judgment.  It is also the center of our moral and ethical universe.
My point is that this marvelous organ that we possess is capable of so much more than we seem able to utilize.  With this amazing organic wonder, we can certainly fashion a better and more sustainable world than the one we have created to date.  Collectively, we have done an abysmal job at fashioning viable and enduring habitats for the globally far flung members of our species.  Instead, we have allowed short-sited and often emotionally-charged visions of our world to dominate our thinking and shape our misguided perceptions as to what constitutes successful living.  We have allowed the darker elements of our psyche - embedded within the lower brain - such as fear, vanity, violence and greed to dominate our thinking and sculpt our existence.
We are quite capable of transforming the world of humans into one in which all people can prosper and develop into individuals that actively discover and realize their full capabilities and potential.  We are quite capable of creating a world where hunger and war and needless suffering are effectively eliminated and one in which the future holds promise for everyone.  We are quite capable of finally and irrevocably removing ourselves from the endless cycle of violence and retribution that we have endured for millennia.

Why we continue to fail so miserably at realizing what we already possess is a mystery that continues to haunt me and will most certainly pursue me to my grave.