Posts Tagged ‘Hope’
A moving, insightful postscript to the life of the late Ernest Callenbach.
This is a continuation of the republication of a recent TomDispatch Tomgram. As I explained in Part One published yesterday I have been a follower of Tom Dispatch for some time and frequently find the essays most interesting. However, reading the words of Ernest Callenbach touched me in many ways, some of which are still evolving. Callenbach was clearly a man who many years ago not only foresaw how our world was heading but via his writings was able to articulate the solutions. Today, as the video at the end of the Post so clearly exemplifies, those solutions are spot on.
The other point that strikes me is that in leaving this ‘message’ on his computer asking for it to be released after his death, Callenbach isn’t trying to prove anything. We are reading the words of a person who feels so strongly about the fate of mankind that he wants those words to be his epitaph for ever more. Trust me. When you read the words below you will be as touched as I was, indeed still continue to be. It is a rare privilege to republish them.
Epistle to the Ecotopians
To all brothers and sisters who hold the dream in their hearts of a future world in which humans and all other beings live in harmony and mutual support — a world of sustainability, stability, and confidence. A world something like the one I described, so long ago, in Ecotopia and Ecotopia Emerging.
As I survey my life, which is coming near its end, I want to set down a few thoughts that might be useful to those coming after. It will soon be time for me to give back to Gaia the nutrients that I have used during a long, busy, and happy life. I am not bitter or resentful at the approaching end; I have been one of the extraordinarily lucky ones. So it behooves me here to gather together some thoughts and attitudes that may prove useful in the dark times we are facing: a century or more of exceedingly difficult times.
How will those who survive manage it? What can we teach our friends, our children, our communities? Although we may not be capable of changing history, how can we equip ourselves to survive it?I contemplate these questions in the full consciousness of my own mortality. Being offered an actual number of likely months to live, even though the estimate is uncertain, mightily focuses the mind. On personal things, of course, on loved ones and even loved things, but also on the Big Picture.
But let us begin with last things first, for a change. The analysis will come later, for those who wish it.
Hope. Children exude hope, even under the most terrible conditions, and that must inspire us as our conditions get worse. Hopeful patients recover better. Hopeful test candidates score better. Hopeful builders construct better buildings. Hopeful parents produce secure and resilient children. In groups, an atmosphere of hope is essential to shared successful effort: “Yes, we can!” is not an empty slogan, but a mantra for people who intend to do something together — whether it is rescuing victims of hurricanes, rebuilding flood-damaged buildings on higher ground, helping wounded people through first aid, or inventing new social structures (perhaps one in which only people are “persons,” not corporations). We cannot know what threats we will face. But ingenuity against adversity is one of our species’ built-in resources. We cope, and faith in our coping capacity is perhaps our biggest resource of all.
Mutual support. The people who do best at basic survival tasks (we know this experimentally, as well as intuitively) are cooperative, good at teamwork, often altruistic, mindful of the common good. In drastic emergencies like hurricanes or earthquakes, people surprise us by their sacrifices — of food, of shelter, even sometimes of life itself. Those who survive social or economic collapse, or wars, or pandemics, or starvation, will be those who manage scarce resources fairly; hoarders and dominators win only in the short run, and end up dead, exiled, or friendless. So, in every way we can we need to help each other, and our children, learn to be cooperative rather than competitive; to be helpful rather than hurtful; to look out for the communities of which we are a part, and on which we ultimately depend.
Practical skills. With the movement into cities of the U.S. population, and much of the rest of the world’s people, we have had a massive de-skilling in how to do practical tasks. When I was a boy in the country, all of us knew how to build a tree house, or construct a small hut, or raise chickens, or grow beans, or screw pipes together to deliver water. It was a sexist world, of course, so when some of my chums in eighth grade said we wanted to learn girls’ “home ec” skills like making bread or boiling eggs, the teachers were shocked, but we got to do it. There was widespread competence in fixing things — impossible with most modern contrivances, of course, but still reasonable for the basic tools of survival: pots and pans, bicycles, quilts, tents, storage boxes.
We all need to learn, or relearn, how we would keep the rudiments of life going if there were no paid specialists around, or means to pay them. Every child should learn elementary carpentry, from layout and sawing to driving nails. Everybody should know how to chop wood safely, and build a fire. Everybody should know what to do if dangers appear from fire, flood, electric wires down, and the like. Taking care of each other is one practical step at a time, most of them requiring help from at least one other person; survival is a team sport.
Organize. Much of the American ideology, our shared and usually unspoken assumptions, is hyper-individualistic. We like to imagine that heroes are solitary, have super powers, and glory in violence, and that if our work lives and business lives seem tamer, underneath they are still struggles red in blood and claw. We have sought solitude on the prairies, as cowboys on the range, in our dependence on media (rather than real people), and even in our cars, armored cabins of solitude. We have an uneasy and doubting attitude about government, as if we all reserve the right to be outlaws. But of course human society, like ecological webs, is a complex dance of mutual support and restraint, and if we are lucky it operates by laws openly arrived at and approved by the populace.
If the teetering structure of corporate domination, with its monetary control of Congress and our other institutions, should collapse of its own greed, and the government be unable to rescue it, we will have to reorganize a government that suits the people. We will have to know how to organize groups, how to compromise with other groups, how to argue in public for our positions. It turns out that “brainstorming,” a totally noncritical process in which people just throw out ideas wildly, doesn’t produce workable ideas. In particular, it doesn’t work as well as groups in which ideas are proposed, critiqued, improved, debated. But like any group process, this must be protected from domination by powerful people and also over-talkative people. When the group recognizes its group power, it can limit these distortions. Thinking together is enormously creative; it has huge survival value.
Learn to live with contradictions. These are dark times, these are bright times. We are implacably making the planet less habitable. Every time a new oil field is discovered, the press cheers: “Hooray, there is more fuel for the self-destroying machines!” We are turning more land into deserts and parking lots. We are wiping out innumerable species that are not only wondrous and beautiful, but might be useful to us. We are multiplying to the point where our needs and our wastes outweigh the capacities of the biosphere to produce and absorb them. And yet, despite the bloody headlines and the rocketing military budgets, we are also, unbelievably, killing fewer of each other proportionately than in earlier centuries. We have mobilized enormous global intelligence and mutual curiosity, through the Internet and outside it. We have even evolved, spottily, a global understanding that democracy is better than tyranny, that love and tolerance are better than hate, that hope is better than rage and despair, that we are prone, especially in catastrophes, to be astonishingly helpful and cooperative.
We may even have begun to share an understanding that while the dark times may continue for generations, in time new growth and regeneration will begin. In the biological process called “succession,” a desolate, disturbed area is gradually, by a predictable sequence of returning plants, restored to ecological continuity and durability. When old institutions and habits break down or consume themselves, new experimental shoots begin to appear, and people explore and test and share new and better ways to survive together.
It is never easy or simple. But already we see, under the crumbling surface of the conventional world, promising developments: new ways of organizing economic activity (cooperatives, worker-owned companies, nonprofits, trusts), new ways of using low-impact technology to capture solar energy, to sequester carbon dioxide, new ways of building compact, congenial cities that are low (or even self-sufficient) in energy use, low in waste production, high in recycling of almost everything. A vision of sustainability that sometimes shockingly resembles Ecotopia is tremulously coming into existence at the hands of people who never heard of the book.
Now in principle, the Big Picture seems simple enough, though devilishly complex in the details. We live in the declining years of what is still the biggest economy in the world, where a looter elite has fastened itself upon the decaying carcass of the empire. It is intent on speedily and relentlessly extracting the maximum wealth from that carcass, impoverishing our former working middle class. But this maggot class does not invest its profits here. By law and by stock-market pressures, corporations must seek their highest possible profits, no matter the social or national consequences — which means moving capital and resources abroad, wherever profit potential is larger. As Karl Marx darkly remarked, “Capital has no country,” and in the conditions of globalization his meaning has come clear.
The looter elite systematically exports jobs, skills, knowledge, technology, retaining at home chiefly financial manipulation expertise: highly profitable, but not of actual productive value. Through “productivity gains” and speedups, it extracts maximum profit from domestic employees; then, firing the surplus, it claims surprise that the great mass of people lack purchasing power to buy up what the economy can still produce (or import).
Here again Marx had a telling phrase: “Crisis of under-consumption.” When you maximize unemployment and depress wages, people have to cut back. When they cut back, businesses they formerly supported have to shrink or fail, adding their own employees to the ranks of the jobless, and depressing wages still further. End result: something like Mexico, where a small, filthy rich plutocracy rules over an impoverished mass of desperate, uneducated, and hopeless people.
Barring unprecedented revolutionary pressures, this is the actual future we face in the United States, too. As we know from history, such societies can stand a long time, supported by police and military control, manipulation of media, surveillance and dirty tricks of all kinds. It seems likely that a few parts of the world (Germany, with its worker-council variant of capitalism, New Zealand with its relative equality, Japan with its social solidarity, and some others) will remain fairly democratic.
The U.S., which has a long history of violent plutocratic rule unknown to the textbook-fed, will stand out as the best-armed Third World country, its population ill-fed, ill-housed, ill-educated, ill-cared for in health, and increasingly poverty-stricken: even Social Security may be whittled down, impoverishing tens of millions of the elderly.
As empires decline, their leaders become increasingly incompetent — petulant, ignorant, gifted only with PR skills of posturing and spinning, and prone to the appointment of loyal idiots to important government positions. Comedy thrives; indeed writers are hardly needed to invent outrageous events.
We live, then, in a dark time here on our tiny precious planet. Ecological devastation, political and economic collapse, irreconcilable ideological and religious conflict, poverty, famine: the end of the overshoot of cheap-oil-based consumer capitalist expansionism.
If you don’t know where you’ve been, you have small chance of understanding where you might be headed. So let me offer a capsule history for those who, like most of us, got little help from textbook history.
At 82, my life has included a surprisingly substantial slice of American history. In the century or so up until my boyhood in Appalachian central Pennsylvania, the vast majority of Americans subsisted as farmers on the land. Most, like people elsewhere in the world, were poor, barely literate, ill-informed, short-lived. Millions had been slaves. Meanwhile in the cities, vast immigrant armies were mobilized by ruthless and often violent “robber baron” capitalists to build vast industries that made things: steel, railroads, ships, cars, skyscrapers.
Then, when I was in grade school, came World War II. America built the greatest armaments industry the world had ever seen, and when the war ended with most other industrial countries in ruins, we had a run of unprecedented productivity and prosperity. Thanks to strong unions and a sympathetic government, this prosperity was widely shared: a huge working middle class evolved — tens of millions of people could afford (on one wage) a modest house, a car, perhaps sending a child to college. This era peaked around 1973, when wages stagnated, the Vietnam War took a terrible toll in blood and money, and the country began sliding rightward.
In the next epoch, which we are still in and which may be our last as a great nation, capitalists who grew rich and powerful by making things gave way to a new breed: financiers who grasped that you could make even more money by manipulating money. (And by persuading Congress to subsidize them — the system should have been called Subsidism, not Capitalism.) They had no concern for the productivity of the nation or the welfare of its people; with religious fervor, they believed in maximizing profit as the absolute economic goal. They recognized that, by capturing the government through the election finance system and removing government regulation, they could turn the financial system into a giant casino.
Little by little, they hollowed the country out, until it was helplessly dependent on other nations for almost all its necessities. We had to import significant steel components from China or Japan. We came to pay for our oil imports by exporting food (i.e., our soil). Our media and our educational system withered. Our wars became chronic and endless and stupefyingly expensive. Our diets became suicidal, and our medical system faltered; life expectancies began to fall.
And so we have returned, in a sort of terrible circle, to something like my boyhood years, when President Roosevelt spoke in anger of “one third of a nation ill-housed, ill-fed, ill-clothed.” A large and militant contingent of white, mostly elderly, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant right wingers, mortally threatened by their impending minority status and pretending to be liberty-lovers, desperately seek to return us still further back.
Americans like to think of ours as an exceptional country, immune through geographical isolation and some kind of special virtue to the tides of history. Through the distorted lens of our corporate media, we possess only a distorted view of what the country is really like now. In the next decades, we shall see whether we indeed possess the intelligence, the strength, and the mutual courage to break through to another positive era.
No futurist can foresee the possibilities. As empires decay, their civilian leaderships become increasingly crazed, corrupt, and incompetent, and often the military (which is after all a parasite of the whole nation, and has no independent financial base like the looter class) takes over. Another possible scenario is that if the theocratic red center of the country prevails in Washington, the relatively progressive and prosperous coastal areas will secede in self-defense.
Ecotopia is a novel, and secession was its dominant metaphor: how would a relatively rational part of the country save itself ecologically if it was on its own? AsEcotopia Emerging puts it, Ecotopia aspired to be a beacon for the rest of the world. And so it may prove, in the very, very long run, because the general outlines of Ecotopia are those of any possible future sustainable society.
The “ecology in one country” argument was an echo of an actual early Soviet argument, as to whether “socialism in one country” was possible. In both cases, it now seems to me, the answer must be no. We are now fatally interconnected, in climate change, ocean impoverishment, agricultural soil loss, etc., etc., etc. International consumer capitalism is a self-destroying machine, and as long as it remains the dominant social form, we are headed for catastrophe; indeed, like rafters first entering the “tongue” of a great rapid, we are already embarked on it.
When disasters strike and institutions falter, as at the end of empires, it does not mean that the buildings all fall down and everybody dies. Life goes on, and in particular, the remaining people fashion new institutions that they hope will better ensure their survival.
So I look to a long-term process of “succession,” as the biological concept has it, where “disturbances” kill off an ecosystem, but little by little new plants colonize the devastated area, prepare the soil for larger and more complex plants (and the other beings who depend on them), and finally the process achieves a flourishing, resilient, complex state — not necessarily what was there before, but durable and richly productive. In a similar way, experiments under way now, all over the world, are exploring how sustainability can in fact be achieved locally. Technically, socially, economically — since it is quite true, as ecologists know, that everything is connected to everything else, and you can never just do one thing by itself.
Since I wrote Ecotopia, I have become less confident of humans’ political ability to act on commonsense, shared values. Our era has become one of spectacular polarization, with folly multiplying on every hand. That is the way empires crumble: they are taken over by looter elites, who sooner or later cause collapse. But then new games become possible, and with luck Ecotopia might be among them.
Humans tend to try to manage things: land, structures, even rivers. We spend enormous amounts of time, energy, and treasure in imposing our will on nature, on preexisting or inherited structures, dreaming of permanent solutions, monuments to our ambitions and dreams. But in periods of slack, decline, or collapse, our abilities no longer suffice for all this management. We have to let things go.
All things “go” somewhere: they evolve, with or without us, into new forms. So as the decades pass, we should try not always to futilely fight these transformations. As the Japanese know, there is much unnoticed beauty in wabi-sabi – the old, the worn, the tumble-down, those things beginning their transformation into something else. We can embrace this process of devolution: embellish it when strength avails, learn to love it.
There is beauty in weathered and unpainted wood, in orchards overgrown, even in abandoned cars being incorporated into the earth. Let us learn, like the Forest Service sometimes does, to put unwise or unneeded roads “to bed,” help a little in the healing of the natural contours, the re-vegetation by native plants. Let us embrace decay, for it is the source of all new life and growth.
Ernest Callenbach, author of the classic environmental novel Ecotopiaamong other works, founded and edited the internationally known journal Film Quarterly. He died at 83 on April 16th, leaving behind this document on his computer.
Copyright Ernest Callenbach 2012
The above video is 56 minutes long. It consists of Ernest Callenbach and Harvey Wasserman chatting together in front of a camera. But please don’t let that put you off watching it. The video is deeply fascinating. In it Ernest Callenbach (ECOTOPIA, 1975) and Harvey Wasserman (SOLARTOPIA, 2007) discuss the role of the visionary novelist in opening public discourse to ‘outside the box’ possibilities. They look at the many elements of Callenbach’s Ecotopian vision that have actually come into being (and some that haven’t yet) and explore the catalytic power of realistic hope to shape the present and the future. They agree the time has come to democratically enlarge our vision of sustainable society from local, national and regional spheres to the planetary context.
Finally, I was delighted to come across a review recently written in The New York Times that is recommended to you. Here’s how NYT author Mark Bittman closed that review:
Callenbach, who grew up in central Pennsylvania and lived to be 83, led a life as “American” — whatever that means — as any of us. The messages I take from him are these: hope is necessary, organizing is imperative, and a government by and for the vast majority of the people must not be considered impossible.
Hope is so necessary.
Even today, still an amazing film
Jean and I watched this film the other evening. I have seen it a number of times but Jean just once before when it first was released in 1968! Yes, over 40 years ago!
What struck me watching it today was how beautifully slow the film was. I mean in the sense of camera and scene changes. I had forgotten just how beautiful the film was from a technical perspective. It held the eye and brain in a way that seemed so foreign to the way that films have been made in the last so many years.
WikiPedia has a very good summary of the film.
And there are more summaries on the INDB website, here’s an example:
“2001″ is a story of evolution. Sometime in the distant past, someone or something nudged evolution by placing a monolith on Earth (presumably elsewhere throughout the universe as well). Evolution then enabled humankind to reach the moon’s surface, where yet another monolith is found, one that signals the monolith placers that humankind has evolved that far. Now a race begins between computers (HAL) and human (Bowman) to reach the monolith placers. The winner will achieve the next step in evolution, whatever that may be.
What is just as interesting is remembering the feelings that I had when I first saw the film, probably in 1968 or 1969, when I was living out in Australia, aged mid-twenties!
I was incredibly fascinated by the US expeditions out to the moon with the actual landing in July 1969. Indeed, I rented a TV and took a complete week’s holiday from work just to watch every minute of this historical event.
So the film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, seemed to capture, for me anyway, the feelings and mood of a brave new world reaching out beyond Planet Earth. The year 2001 felt like aeons away. It was obvious that when we eventually got to the 21st century, mankind would be unbelievably advanced in many exciting and positive ways.
Ah, the dreams of the naive young!
Now here we are heading towards the year 2011 and the world, I mean mankind, seems to be going where? Here’s Jon Lavin’s rather sombre view:
Have been musing about the part failure of the Russian grain harvest and the resultant speculation, that has forced the grain price up astronomically, the impact on bread/food/beer etc., evidence of the same mentality that kicked the banks/investments recession off.
Also, the fact that Lloyds TSB are 43% owned by the British people and are charging interest on non-approved loans of 165% and have a bonus fund of half billion pounds that certainly they have not asked my permission about.
This continuing lack of integrity, in the face of food shortages, untold hardship for millions of people, just goes to show that until an absolute calamity strikes to stop the whole of mankind in our tracks, it’s business as usual for the financially-led people and get-rich-on-the-back-of-anything-and-anybody crowd.
Are we still at consciousness level 204 or have we crossed back below the threshold, back below integrity 200, where falsehood rules?
The answer is to retain faith in the future, faith in the power of love and compassion, and faith in the fact that being the best that we can be today, now, in the present, just as dogs are so wonderful at doing, will bring us the better tomorrows we all dreamed about in 1968. Here’s a reminder:
By Paul Handover
P.S. Serendipity at work. Saw this from the BBC less than 5 minutes after completing this Post!
Removing the fear of the unknown
I’ve been working with most of my clients recently through painful transformations brought about by the economic downturn.
An interesting metaphor really because since the first wave of uncertainty triggered panic, first noticed in the UK banking system, I have been picking up on that uncertainty that feels like it’s stalking the globe at the moment.
Interestingly, I, too, have been aware of an underlying fear that was difficult either to name or source.
It has been rather like a deep river in that whilst the surface feels slow moving, currents are moving things powerfully below.
So this ‘fear’ has caused a few household changes.
We now are the proud owners of 9 chickens. Our youngest son, Sami, and I have dug up the back lawn and planted vegetables and built a poly-tunnel.
We have also installed a wood burning cooker. Right back down to the base of Maslow’s triangle really!
These feelings have brought about such change everywhere and I wonder seriously whether we will ever return to what was; indeed would we want to?
I might not have mentioned it in previous blogs but as well as an engineering background, in latter years, I have focused on how interpersonal success in business is linked directly to relationships, integrity and vitally, self-awareness.
To inform this, some 7 years ago, I embarked on an MA in Core Process Psychotherapy, primarily to work on myself so that I could be the best I could be in my relationships, in and out of work.
The point I’m trying to make is that the same panic I notice in many of the companies I work in, and in me, is based on fear of the unknown and on a lack of trust in all its forms. I’ve deliberately underlined that last phrase because it is so incredibly important.
The truth is that we get more of what we focus on.
So we can choose to focus on the constant news of more difficulties, hardship and redundancies, or we can focus on what is working.
In the workplace this positive focus has been pulling people together across functions and sites and pooling resources and ideas.
When we realise we’re not doing this alone it’s amazing how much lighter a load can feel and how much more inspired we feel.
I also notice how humour begins to flow and what a powerful antidote for doom and gloom that is.
Transformation is never easy but the rewards far exceed the effort put in ten fold.
So what is it going to be? Are we all going to bow down to the god of Doom & Gloom, fear and anxiety, heaping more and more gifts around it, or are we going to start noticing and focusing on the other neglected god – that of relationship, joy, trust, abundance and lightness?
Whatever the future holds for us all a belief in our inherent ability to adapt and change and focus on the greater good rather than fear, anxiety, greed and selfishness is the only sustainable way forward.
[If you have been affected by this Post and would like to contact Jon, he would be delighted to hear from you. Ed.]
… David Cameron and Nick Clegg represent real positive change for the UK.
Another amazing day for British politics as Gordon Brown tendered his resignation to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and in less than an hour the Queen asked David Cameron if he would form a Government.
That wonderful unwritten constitution dealing with a change of Prime Minister in such a beautiful and dignified manner.
All I want to say is that these two men have my prayers and best wishes for delivering what so many millions want – a better and fairer way of running a modern democracy.
By Paul Handover
Pharaoh – from whom I have learnt so much.
I am your dog and have something I would love to whisper in your ear.
I know that you humans lead very busy lives. Some have to work, some have children to raise, some have to do this alone. It always seems like you are running here and there, often too fast, never noticing the truly grand things in life.
Look down at me now. Stop looking at your computer and look at me. See the way my dark, brown eyes look at yours.
You smile at me. I see love in your eyes.
What do you see in mine? Do you see a spirit? A soul inside who loves you as no other could in the world? A spirit that would forgive all trespasses of prior wrong doing for just a single moment of your time? That is all I ask. To slow down, if even for a few minutes, to be with me.
So many times you are saddened by others of my kind passing on. Sometimes we die young and, oh, so quickly, so suddenly that it wrenches your heart out of your throat.
Sometimes, we age slowly before your eyes that you may not even seem to know until the very end, when we look at you with grizzled muzzles and cataract-clouded eyes. Still the love is always there even when we must take that last, long sleep dreaming of running free in a distant, open land.
I may not be here tomorrow. I may not be here next week. Someday you will shed the water from your eyes, that humans have when grief fills their souls, and you will mourn the loss of just ‘one more day’ with me.
Because I love you so, this future sorrow even now touches my spirit and grieves me. I read you in so many ways that you cannot even start to contemplate.
We have now together. So come and sit next to me here on the floor and look deep into my eyes. What do you see? Do you see how if you look deeply at me we can talk, you and I, heart to heart. Come not to me as my owner but as a living soul. Stroke my fur and let us look deep into the other’s eyes and talk with our hearts.
I may tell you something about the fun of working the scents in the woods where you and I go. Or I may tell you something profound about myself or how we dogs see life in general.
I know you decided to have me in your life because you wanted a soul to share things with. I know how much you have cared for me and always stood up for me even when others have been against me. I know how hard you have worked to help me be the teacher that I was born to be. That gift from you has been very precious to me. I know too that you have been through troubled times and I have been there to guard you, to protect you and to be there always for you. I am very different to you but here I am. I am a dog but just as alive as you.
I feel emotion. I feel physical senses. I can revel in the differences of our spirits and souls. I do not think of you as a dog on two feet; I know what you are. You are human, in all your quirkiness, and I love you still.
So, come and sit with me. Enter my world and let time slow down if only for a few minutes. Look deep into my eyes and whisper in my ears. Speak with your heart and I will know your true self. We may not have tomorrow but we do have now.
(Based on an article sent to me, unfortunately from an unknown author, and modified to reflect the special relationship that I have with my 6 year old German Shepherd, Pharaoh.)
By Paul Handover
How many remember this?
Very early on in the life of this Blog, indeed on the second day, I wrote a short article about the NASA mission to the moon, some 40 years after the event. You see, for me that has been the historic event of my lifetime.
I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important in the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.
That speech before Congress by President Kennedy was on the 25th May, 1961. I was 16 and was enthralled by the idea of being alive when man first set foot on another planetary body. That came about on July 20th, 1969 at which time I was living and working in Sydney, Australia. I took three days off work, rented a TV and watched every minute of the event.
Exploration is a core need of man. By pushing out the boundaries of our knowledge we continue to offer hope to mankind.
So it is with great disappointment that it has been announced by President Obama that the manned mission programs to the moon are to be severely curtailed – that sounds terribly like political speak for cancelled!
As Eugene Cernan (last astronaut to set foot on the moon) said:
I’m quite disappointed that I’m still the last man on the Moon. I thought we’d have gone back long before now.
I think America has a responsibility to maintain its leadership in technology and its moral leadership… to seek knowledge. Curiosity’s the essence of human existence.
Curiosity is indeed the essence of human existence.
That curiosity and the investment in space exploration by NASA on behalf of the whole world has shown us some remarkable findings about Saturn and it’s majestic rings. Just watch the video segments in this piece from the BBC.
The one-time cost of Cassini-Huygens mission was $3.26 billion. Just 0.3% of the cost of one year’s expenditure on U.S. defense spending.
Science missions like Cassini enhance cooperation between nations, and greatly contribute to scientific progress which benefits everyone.
Perhaps the big Banks would like to pick up the cost of further manned missions to the Moon?
By Paul Handover
The difference that makes the difference!
As a follow-up to my last Post on Learning from Dogs “Managing in a mad world“, I got to thinking about the so called “Law of Attraction“.
I say that because I beginning to believe that this ‘Law’ is more about what we think about and focus our attention on than anything that has a tangible force of attraction. But it is well known that the brain (to protect our sanity!) filters out on a huge scale so this ‘attraction’ may be our minds remaining receptive or, as it were, allowing us to ‘resonate’ with others sharing our ideas and emotions.
Again, I notice this common ground between my psychotherapy clients and my business clients. Successful people tend to focus on the positive and usually have a strong belief in themselves and their abilities, and unsuccessful people who have suffered any sort of difficulty for an extended time, tend to be preoccupied with focussing on the negative and tend to have a negative self-view.
Naturally, we become orientated around our belief systems. This, I believe is where good, consistent parenting comes in because many of our beliefs are taken on from our parents. Even if the parenting style has been ‘tough’ as long as there’s consistency, balance is maintained and there is a solid reference point for the youngster to come away from.
Management styles resemble parenting styles, and why shouldn’t they, as the higher qualities of facilitating structured learning in a safe environment is exactly what good management is all about. Delegating is about empowering and confidence building. Parenting styles that are loose or have little or no structure or that are overbearing and dictatorial tend to be damaging.
Of course, there are no hard and fast rules here, just tendencies but it’s interesting how these are played out everywhere, in every situation where we are in relationship with others. Even more interesting in a recession where companies are really struggling!
How fascinating to clock the number of companies struggling badly who have an autocratic management style, where staff are told what to do and there is little empowerment, and then compare them to ones where the opposite is true and people are free to interact, communicate, feel they’re reasonably empowered and work together in an environment of mutual trust.
The correlation in this part of the South West UK where I mainly work is significant. It’s as if when we feel empowered and we’re working together with a group of like-minded people, all problems and challenges are solvable, because our self-belief is high and we visualise success. Also, adversity is seen as a challenge and one that can be mastered.
We certainly are living in interesting times!
By Jon Lavin
In the end, it really is a finite number of days!
Ever since I can remember, the biblical life span has always been three score years plus ten, and 70 sounds quite old to me !
Sometimes if people attempt to guess my age, older folks might be generous and say something kind with a built in feel good factor, children on the other hand will come up with huge numbers, which might be not so much of a joke !
In reality the above is just a simple sum of 365 x 70 = 25,550 plus some 15 to 19 days to cover leap years, lets say 25,570 days in all.
For me it is currently 365 x 12 plus the few days to my birthday, plus 3 leap year days, which if all goes well is 4,425 days left. This I have found to be somewhat sobering, but it has also helped me to become focused, something which until recently has never been the case. [Not as sobering as the 1,730 left for the editor!]
I try and make use of each day, being more careful to enjoy the time, exercise, keep up to date with tasks, and make headway with things that count. My priorities have changed, and now spending time with the family, and not wasting
time with trivia has become my motivation.
This is not doom and gloom, it is reality, but it also helps me stick to the important things, rather than being side-tracked on something which is a waste of time.
The count down is on, and I am reminded of a little saying which used to be on the mantle piece of my Grand Parents home, which read.
Be Swift To Love.
Make Haste To Be Kind
By Bob Derham