Tag: Alex Jones

The Joy of Caring.

Things prosper when cared for and loved.

This is a repost of what appeared over on Alex Jones’ blog Liberated Way last Thursday. It resonated so wonderfully with all the young plants and trees around us here at home in Merlin, and the numerous oak saplings making their way into the world! Republished with Alex’s kind permission.

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Things prosper when cared for!

The joy of caring for something.

These oak saplings prosper because of care.
These oak saplings prosper because of care.

Today, I moved my eight oak saplings into the full sun, added a new layer of quality compost to their pots, and watered them. In their second year of life these oak saplings prosper because of care.

Caring for something means one must pay attention to the small details. For instance, I remove the caterpillars from the oak leaves, and the weeds that grow in the pots. If I did not concentrate on the small details, the little problems could grow into larger problems, the caterpillars destroying the oak saplings, the weeds stealing their nutrients in the pots.

Also, the individual spends time on the thing cared about, establishing regular activities, such as in my case, watering the oak saplings every few days. The individual looks for ways that the cared for thing might benefit, just as I moved my oak saplings into the full sun, added new compost to them, and infected them with a type of symbiotic fungus that aids oak sapling growth.

The thing cared for becomes special, for instance there are millions of oak trees in Britain, but only eight of those, my saplings, are special to me. In such a caring relationship, both sides come to depend upon the other. My oak saplings need my care and attention to survive, I need my oak saplings to feel good about myself when life is hard.

If the individual has nothing to care for, their life becomes empty and meaningless. I love the book by Antoine De Saint-Exupery called The Little Prince, which explores ideas around friendship and caring for things. In The Little Prince is the following beautiful quote:

You are beautiful, but you are empty. One could not die for you. To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looked just like you — the rose that belongs to me. But in herself alone she is more important than all the hundreds of you other roses: because it is she that I have watered; because it is she that I have put under the glass globe; because it is she that I have sheltered behind the screen; because it is for her that I have killed the caterpillars; because it is she that I have listened to, when she grumbled, or boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing. Because she is my rose.”

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Can’t recommend too highly you dropping in on Alex’s blog Liberated Way – even signing up as a ‘follower’!

Seeing the bigger picture.

Look beyond appearance and prejudice.

I had in mind to republish a recent George Monbiot essay but then saw this post from Alex Jones’ blog The Liberated Way.  It seemed a perfect follow-on to yesterday’s Picture parade ninety.  It is republished with Alex’s kind permission.

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Look beyond appearance and prejudice

Everything in nature is good says the philosopher Heraclitus. Humans love to divide everything into good and bad, thus missing the beauty of what nature offers in the blindness of their prejudices.
Everything in nature is good says the philosopher Heraclitus. Humans love to divide everything into good and bad, thus missing the beauty of what nature offers in the blindness of their prejudices.

A few years ago, I intervened to save a baby crow from traffic and school children, taking it to a veterinarian surgery, who had the contacts of people who could look after it. The receptionist annoyed me on seeing the bird describing it as “evil.”

In fact, if people can look beyond the superstitious nonsense surrounding these black feathered birds, there is an intelligent empathy lurking inside these beautiful corvids. If humans, dolphins and octopuses are in the top division of “intelligent” animals, the corvids, including magpies, jackdaws, ravens, crows, choughs and rooks, are in the same division. The corvids use tools, play, can problem-solve, express empathy and have a rudimentary sense of self based on experiments showing they recognise themselves in a mirror. The BBC recently reported how a child had developed a close relationship with crows she was feeding in the garden, birds that were leaving her gifts. A flood of feedback by readers revealed that gift-giving by corvids to those showing kindness to them was common around the world.

The symbol of my town port is the raven. My business carries the logo of the raven, a symbol for me of its intelligence. The stories of various archetypes such as Apollo, the Celtic Mercury and Odin had ravens as their messenger birds, who symbolised memory, thought, wisdom, intelligence, and the gathering or delivery of knowledge.

The sad situation is that most people blind themselves to the beauty of a living thing like a crow or raven, based on appearance and prejudice, so that they will do it harm, even though it might manifest the very qualities of intelligence and empathy that humans admire but often appear to lack.

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There was a recent TED Talk that fits very nicely with today’s theme. It’s just fifteen minutes long. Enjoy.

What do you call a veterinarian that can only take care of one species? A physician. In this short and fascinating talk, Barbara Natterson-Horowitz shares how a species-spanning approach to health can improve medical care of the human animal — particularly when it comes to mental health.

Tomorrow things on Learning from Dogs are going to change for a spell. More details in twenty-four hours!

Alba an Aigh or Scotland the Brave.

My hope for a ‘yes’ vote for Scottish Independence.

Alba an Aigh” is Scottish Gaelic for the Scottish patriotic song, Scotland the Brave. It was one of several songs considered an unofficial national anthem of Scotland.

Before the main purpose of today’s post, I want to republish three comments to a recent post from Patrice Ayme, Free Scotland From Thieves.

First Alex Jones, he of The Liberated Way, commented:

I hope that “yes” is the outcome in the Scottish vote. I believe Scotland is part of a trend away from globalism and centralism to a new devolved form of localism.

To which I added:

Delighted to agree with Alex and for exactly the reasons he offers. All around the globe we are seeing countless examples of the failure, to put it mildly, of BIG GOVERNMENT.

Just as much in my new home country as it was in my old one.

On Sunday evening, neighbours Janell and Larry threw a short-notice BBQ. Thirty minutes after Larry’s phone call, we walked across our fields to their place, to join three other neighbours. It was a wonderful evening and the majority of the talk was about local issues: when is it going to rain, we are all short of hay, that sort of stuff.

Towards the end, there was a general rant about the state of the world. I hesitated, aware of my ‘new boy’ status, and then quietly remarked that Jean and I were overwhelmed by the friendship and cooperation of all those living nearby. And went on to add that the contrast between how our community worked and how the American government failed to work was stark.

Everyone signalled by grunts, words and body language their agreement.

Bon chance, New Scotland.

Patrice then offered:

Dear Paul: 100% agree. The strength of the USA is that the average state is 6 million people. The state of Massachusetts has excellent results on the PISA tests, in stark distinction with most of Euramerica. That’s entirely due to localism.

In my more or less native Bay Area, governance is extremely local, and there is the secret of Silicon Valley: most deals are made with handshakes, or people who argue with each other, while knowing they will have to keep on living with each other. Silicon Valley exists, because it’s 3,000 miles from Washington and New York.

They signaled with grunts and body language because of these low PISA tests, but, right now in the Bay Area, the PISA rising movement is engaged (having a 4 year old, I am in the middle of it).

Bonne Chance Scotland, indeed. Independence (from London’s plutocracy) ought to be easy as pie for Scotland.

BTW, the “City” is technically a plutocracy: voting there depends upon the money…

So it’s already clear where I stand!

As is the stance from The Automatic Earth Please Scotland, Blow Up The EU.  Or try The London School of Economics: The ‘domino effect’ from Scotland’s referendum is increasing demands for independence in Italian regions. Then The Daily Telegraph weighs in with Britain faces storm as giant global investors awaken to break-up dangers.  All great fun!

However, the most eloquent and powerful argument read in recent days comes from George Monbiot in his essay Someone Else’s Story.  It is republished here with Mr. Monbiot’s kind permission.

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Someone Else’s Story

September 2, 2014

Scots voting no to independence would be an astonishing act of self-harm

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 3rd September 2014

Imagine that the question was posed the other way round. An independent nation is asked to decide whether to surrender its sovereignty to a larger union. It would be allowed a measure of autonomy, but key aspects of its governance would be handed to another nation. It would be used as a military base by the dominant power and yoked to an economy over which it had no control.

It would have to be bloody desperate. Only a nation in which the institutions of governance had collapsed, which had been ruined economically, which was threatened by invasion or civil war or famine might contemplate this drastic step. Most nations faced even with such catastrophes choose to retain their independence – in fact will fight to preserve it – rather than surrender to a dominant foreign power.

So what would you say about a country that sacrificed its sovereignty without collapse or compulsion? That had no obvious enemies, a basically sound economy and a broadly functional democracy, and chose to swap it for remote governance by the hereditary elite of another nation, beholden to a corrupt financial centre?(1)

What would you say about a country that exchanged an economy based on enterprise and distribution for one based on speculation and rent?(2) That chose obeisance to a government which spies on its own citizens, uses the planet as its dustbin, governs on behalf of a transnational elite which owes loyalty to no nation, cedes public services to corporations, forces terminally ill people to work(3) and can’t be trusted with a box of fireworks, let alone a fleet of nuclear submarines? You would conclude that it had lost its senses.

So what’s the difference? How is the argument altered by the fact that Scotland is considering whether to gain independence, rather than whether to lose it? It’s not. Those who would vote no – now, a new poll suggests, a rapidly diminishing majority(4) – could be suffering from system justification.

System justification is defined as the “process by which existing social arrangements are legitimised, even at the expense of personal and group interest”(5). It consists of a desire to defend the status quo, regardless of its impacts. It has been demonstrated in a large body of experimental work, which has produced the following surprising results.

System justification becomes stronger when social and economic inequality is more extreme. This is because people try to rationalise their disadvantage by seeking legitimate reasons for their position(6). In some cases disadvantaged people are more likely than the privileged to support the status quo. One study found that US citizens on low incomes were more likely than those on high incomes to believe that economic inequality is legitimate and necessary(7).

It explains why women in experimental studies pay themselves less than men, why people in low status jobs believe their work is worth less than those in high status jobs, even when they’re performing the same task, and why people accept domination by another group(8). It might help to explain why so many people in Scotland are inclined to vote no.

The fears the no campaigners have worked so hard to stoke are – by comparison to what the Scots are being asked to lose – mere shadows. As Adam Ramsay points out in his treatise Forty-Two Reasons to Support Scottish Independence, there are plenty of nations smaller than Scotland which possess their own currencies and thrive(9). Most of the world’s prosperous nations are small: there are no inherent disadvantages to downsizing(10).

Remaining in the UK carries as much risk and uncertainty as leaving. England’s housing bubble could blow at any time. We might leave the EU. Some of the most determined no campaigners would take us out: witness Ukip’s intention to stage a “pro-Union rally” in Glasgow on September 12(11). The Union in question, of course, is the UK, not Europe. This reminds us of a crashing contradiction in the politics of such groups: if our membership of the EU represents an appalling and intolerable loss of sovereignty, why is the far greater loss Scotland is being asked to accept deemed tolerable and necessary?

The Scots are told they will have no control over their own currency if they leave the UK. But they have none today. The monetary policy committee is based in London and bows to the banks. The pound’s strength, which damages the manufacturing Scotland seeks to promote, reflects the interests of the City(12).

To vote no is to choose to live under a political system that sustains one of the rich world’s highest levels of inequality and deprivation. This is a system in which all major parties are complicit, which offers no obvious exit from a model that privileges neoliberal economics over other aspirations(13). It treats the natural world, civic life, equality, public health and effective public services as dispensable luxuries, and the freedom of the rich to exploit the poor as non-negotiable.

Its lack of a codified constitution permits numberless abuses of power. It has failed to reform the House of Lords, royal prerogative, campaign finance(14) and first-past-the-post voting (another triumph for the no brigade). It is dominated by a media owned by tax exiles, who, instructing their editors from their distant chateaux, play the patriotism card at every opportunity. The concerns of swing voters in marginal constituencies outweigh those of the majority; the concerns of corporations with no lasting stake in the country outweigh everything. Broken, corrupt, dysfunctional, retentive: you want to be part of this?

Independence, as more Scots are beginning to see, offers people an opportunity to rewrite the political rules. To create a written constitution, the very process of which is engaging and transformative. To build an economy of benefit to everyone. To promote cohesion, social justice, the defence of the living planet and an end to wars of choice(15).

To deny this to yourself, to remain subject to the whims of a distant and uncaring elite, to succumb to the bleak, deferential negativity of the no campaign; to accept other people’s myths in place of your own story: that would be an astonishing act of self-repudiation and self-harm. Consider yourselves independent and work backwards from there, then ask why you would sacrifice that freedom.

www.monbiot.com

References:

1. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/oct/31/corporation-london-city-medieval

2. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/29/rich-wealth-good-inequality-green-party

3. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/feb/28/minister-apologise-woman-coma-find-work

4. http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/sep/02/scottish-independence-yes-campaign-poll-boost

5. John T. Jost and Mahzarin R. Banaji, 1994. The role of stereotyping in system-justification and the production of false consciousness. British Journal of Social Psychology, 33, 1–27.

6. John T. Jost, Mahzarin R. Banaji and Brian A. Nosek, 2004. A Decade of System Justification Theory: Accumulated Evidence of Conscious and Unconscious Bolstering of the Status Quo . Political Psychology, Vol. 25, No. 6, 2004. http://www.psych.nyu.edu/jost/Jost,%20Banaji,%20&%20Nosek%20%282004%29%20A%20Decade%20of%20System%20Justificati.pdf

7. John T. Jost et al, 2003. Social inequality and the reduction of ideological dissonance on behalf of the system: evidence of enhanced system justification among the disadvantaged. European Journal of Social Psychology, 33, 13–36.

8. John T. Jost, Mahzarin R. Banaji and Brian A. Nosek, 2004, see above.

9. http://commonwealth-publishing.com/?p=255

10. http://www.english.plaidcymru.org/uploads/downloads/Flotilla_Effect_-_Adam_Price_and_Ben_Levinger.pdf

11. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-29003017

12. See also, on these questions, the Common Weal report by the Jimmy Reid Foundation: http://reidfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/The-Common-Weal.pdf

13. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/05/neoliberalism-mental-health-rich-poverty-economy

14. http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/jul/01/-sp-tory-summer-party-drew-super-rich-supporters-with-total-wealth-of-11bn

15. There’s more on all this at http://commonwealth-publishing.com/?p=255

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Since preparing this post, I see that George Monbiot has published a second essay on the subject of the Scottish referendum. I’m pondering republishing that second essay next Monday.

Wisdom, nature and philosophy.

The hidden gifts of nature.

I have been a follower of Alex Jones’ blog The Liberated Way for many months; possibly much longer. Frequently, I republish one of Alex’s posts here.

Nearly six months ago, I read a lovely essay of his and made a mental note to republish that in the next few days.  Then the world overtook me and now April 30th, when Alex published this piece, has become September 8th!

Yet it hasn’t lost a heartbeat of meaning.

Read on and you will agree.

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The hidden gifts of nature.

The western education system ignores nature.

Nature is all around us with its gifts of philosophy, wisdom and creativity; qualities the West devalues at its loss.
Nature is all around us with its gifts of philosophy, wisdom and creativity; qualities the West devalues at its loss.

The holidays are over in the UK, the students return to school, some to their exams. I reflect upon the sad treatment of creativity, wisdom, nature and natural philosophy in education, and in Western society as a whole, treated as worthless and unworthy of consideration.

On most days I walk past the former home of William Gilbert, some consider the father of electricity and magnetism. Born to a wealthy merchant family in my town of Colchester, Gilbert invested his personal wealth in an extensive study of magnetism with view to assisting the explorers of the Elizabethan age when Britain was building an empire in a period of great prosperity and confidence. Gilbert invented the term electricity. Gilbert wrote De Magnete, considered possibly the first work using the scientific method. In addition to being a scientist, a doctor to Elizabeth I, Gilbert was also a natural philosopher who used the empirical method of observation, demonstration and experience of nature to form his theories.

Each day I watch and interact with nature, like Gilbert I am a natural philosopher, and this forms the basis of my business ideas, my scientific understanding and my personal philosophies. Rather than a worthless study nature opens the door to the philosophy of the understanding of self, the world, and the relationship of self to the world. Wisdom is born of action and experience, the interactions with nature gives birth to wisdom. Nature encourages people to do new things in new ways, so rerouting electric signals in the brain causing new connections to form of creativity. The philosophy emerges from nature by causing the mind to question, observe and experiment, the basis of science and success in any discipline.

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Colchester, in the English county of Essex, goes way back to Roman times when the town was called Camulodunon (which was latinised as Camulodunum). That name is believed to date back to the Celtic fortress of “Camulodunon”, meaning Stronghold of Camulos. It served as the first capital of Roman Britain making a claim to be the oldest town in Britain.

It is where Alex Jones lives, the author of The Liberated Way, and where during the 1980’s I ran a business under the name of Dataview Ltd.  In fact, the business was located in a very old, listed building known as The Portreeve’s House.  It was at the bottom of town near Hythe Quay on the River Colne and the name “Portreeve” is old English for harbour master, i.e. it was originally the harbour master’s house.

The timber-framed building at 1–2 East Bay, Colchester, known as the Portreeve’s House (TM00552525), is situated on the main eastern approach to the town centre. The building is on the junction of Brook Street and East Bay (FIG. 1) and is 375 metres east of the former position of East Gate and 150 metres west of East Bridge, the river Colne and East Mill.
The timber-framed building at 1–2 East Bay, Colchester, known as the Portreeve’s House is situated on the main eastern approach to the town centre. The building is on the junction of Brook Street and East Bay and is 375 metres east of the former position of East Gate and 150 metres west of East Bridge, the river Colne and East Mill.  The building is believed to date back to the 16th Century.

All seems a long way from Southern Oregon!

Empathy and bonding.

Who would have thought that yawning revealed so much more than one’s tonsils!

Alex Jones, he of the blog The Liberated Way, recently posted You need room to grow. On reading the post a section stood out for me:

The human eye needs the stimulation of sunlight and the outdoors to develop properly. The BBC [Ed: Massive rise in Asian eye damage] reports that a recent study of students in South Asian cities found 90% of the samples were short-sighted, a condition called myopia that needs glasses. Modern South Asian students spend a large part of their lives indoors studying or involved with electronic technology such as the internet. Young children in the UK are rapidly getting myopia as young as three because of being indoors and on computers for long periods of time according to the Daily Mail.

That got me thinking about both the ‘old’ and ‘new’ styles of social bonding.  In defence of our digital world, there is no question that social media programs (apps?) such as Facebook, Linked-In and Twitter are incredible means of communicating with people that one doesn’t know directly.  Even the funny old world of blogging delivers that. I would have stopped writing for Learning from Dogs years ago if it weren’t for the many ‘friends’ that have been made across the ‘blogosphere’!

But (and you knew there was a ‘but’ coming, didn’t you!), social intimacy, as in being able to rub shoulders with people, is the vital core to how we ‘wear’ the world around us.

That was brought home to me by a recent article on the Smithsonian website, an article that I am taking the liberty of republishing in this place. The article is about the contagious nature of yawning; not just for us humans but for wolves.

Note: there were many links to other content in the article making it almost impossible to replicate. So please go to the original to follow up those links.

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Yawning Spreads Like a Plague in Wolves

Evidence of contagious yawning in chimps, dogs and now wolves suggests that the behavior is linked to a mammalian sense of empathy

By Helen Thompson smithsonian.com
August 27, 2014

Chimps do it, birds do it, even you and I do it. Once you see someone yawn, you are compelled to do the same. Now it seems that wolves can be added to the list of animals known to spread yawns like a contagion.

Among humans, even thinking about yawning can trigger the reflex, leading some to suspect that catching a yawn is linked to our ability to empathize with other humans. For instance, contagious yawning activates the same parts of the brain that govern empathy and social know-how. And some studies have shown that humans with more fine-tuned social skills are more likely to catch a yawn.

Similarly, chimpanzees, baboons and bonobos often yawn when they see other members of their species yawning. Chimps (Pan troglodytes) can catch yawns from humans, even virtual ones, as seen in the video below. At least in primates, contagious yawning seems to require an emotional connection and may function as a demonstration of empathy. Beyond primates, though, the trends are less clear-cut. One study found evidence of contagious yawning in birds but didn’t connect it to empathy. A 2008 study showed that dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) could catch yawns from humans, and another showed that dogs were more likely to catch the yawn of a familiar human rather than a stranger. But efforts to see if dogs catch yawns from each other and to replicate the results with humans have so far had no luck.

Now a study published today in PLOS ONE reports the first evidence of contagious yawning in wolves (Canis lupus lupus). “We showed that the wolves were able to yawn contagiously, and this is affected by the emotional bond between individuals, which suggests that familiarity and social bonds matter in these animals the same way as it does in humans,” says study co-author Teresa Romero, who studies animal behavior at the University of Tokyo.

The prevalence of contagious yawning in primates and other mammals could give us some clues to the evolution of empathy—that’s in part what makes the phenomenon so interesting and so controversial. If dogs can catch yawns from humans, did they pick up the behavior because of domestication, or does the trait run deeper into evolutionary history?

The Tokyo team took a stab at those questions by looking at contagious yawning in dog’s closest relatives, wolves. For 254 hours over five months, they observed twelve wolves (six males and six females) at the Tama Zoological Park in Tokyo. They kept tabs on the who, what, when, where, how many and how long of every yawn, then separated out data for yawns in relaxed settings, to minimize the influence of external stimuli.

Next, they statistically analyzed the data and looked for trends. They found that wolves were much more likely to yawn in response to another’s yawn rather than not, which suggests that contagious yawning is at play.

Smithyawning
In image A, an individual (right) yawned during a resting period, and a few seconds later, image B shows the subject (on the left) yawned contagiously. (Teresa Romero)

Wolves were more likely to catch the yawn if they were friends with the yawner. Females were also quicker on the yawn uptake when watching the yawns of those around them—possibly because they’re more attuned to social cues, but with such a small group it’s hard to say for sure.

The results seem to add to the case for empathy as the primary function of contagious yawning. “We have the strongest responses to our family, then our friends, then acquaintances, and so on and so forth,” says Matt Campbell, a psychologist at California State University, Channel Islands. “That contagious yawning works along the same social dimension supports the idea that the mechanism that allows us to copy the smiles, frowns and fear of others also allows us to copy their yawns.”

Empathy likely originated as an ancestral trait in mammals, and that’s why it emerges in such disparate species as wolves and humans. “More and more research is supporting this idea that basic forms of empathy are very ancient, and they are present in a wide number of species, at least in mammals,” says Romero. Elephants, for example, comfort their upset friends. Even rats exhibit a basic helping behavior toward other friendly rodents.

Why does contagious yawning between members of the same species show up in wolves and not dogs? The difference probably comes down to study design, not biology. “Most likely, dogs also catch yawns from [other dogs], as now shown for wolves,” says Elaine Madsen, a cognitive zoologist at Lund University in Sweden. Further studies might reveal the extent to which human interaction has affected present-day dogs’ susceptibility to catching another species’ yawns, she says.

It’s impossible to say what true function contagious yawning serves in wolves, but the researchers argue that such behavior could cultivate social bonds. “If an individual is not in sync with its group, it risks being left behind. That is not good,” says Campbell. Just watching wolves yawn can’t definitively prove that empathy drove the behavior, but it’s certainly compelling evidence that wolves might feel for their fellow lupines.

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Fascinating. As too is an article also on the Smithsonian website about dogs yawning.  Going to republish that in a few days.

However, this post was prompted by the reminder that there is no substitute for social bonding with others who we meet physically. That is why the Smithsonian essay seemed such an important reminder.  As was written (my emphasis):

Among humans, even thinking about yawning can trigger the reflex, leading some to suspect that catching a yawn is linked to our ability to empathize with other humans. For instance, contagious yawning activates the same parts of the brain that govern empathy and social know-how. And some studies have shown that humans with more fine-tuned social skills are more likely to catch a yawn.

Time for an afternoon nap!
Time for an afternoon nap!

Vive la différence.

It is the differences between us that are to be praised.

On the 10th August, Alex Jones, he of The Liberated Way, published a post under the title of Wisdom comes out of calm.  I read it and approved of the sentiments expressed.  Here’s a flavour of what Alex wrote:

My attitude towards dogs, and everything I do, is it is better to act in harmony with my world than impose violent control upon it. Nature is my teacher, and calm is one of its teachings. Calm is the sister of patience and tolerance, letting nature flow at its own pace and in its own way. When I planted acorns, I was unable to force them to grow, they acted in their own timing, at their own pace. I am like a parent rather than the master of eight strong oak saplings. I provide my saplings with opportunity through water, sun and good soil; protecting them from caterpillar and fungus; they follow their own nature in becoming fast growing little trees.

Then dear Patrice, he (or is it she?) of the blog Patrice Ayme’s Thoughts went on to write his own essay Calmly Thinking Up A Storm reflecting on Alex’s musings. One of the comments to me was:

Well, Paul, the entire essay answered why it’s wrong to equate calm with wisdom, as Alex does. If it was only him, it would be an interesting quirk. However, it’s pretty much a mass mood.

That philosophy of boiled vegetable leaves the plutocrats free to do a home run, home being, for them, hell. Part of the program is biospheric annihilation.

I didn’t agree with Patrice and my immediate reaction was try and take sides. Yet both writers were the authors of many fine essays. What to do?  As I expressed to Alex:

I have read both posts and, frankly, are bemused. It feels as though each is describing something utterly different to the other. I have a number of hours of electrical work today but will also give the matter a ‘coating of thought’ while working and offer my humble conclusions later on.

Serendipitously, the answered then arrived.

I’m about a third of the way through an audio course on Building Great Sentences delivered by Professor Brooks Landon, Professor at the University of Iowa English Department. Professor Landon talks about style and how difficult it is to define a particular author’s style.

It was at that moment that a flashbulb went off in my mind.  Wouldn’t literature be incredibly plain and boring if there were no real differences in the styles of all the many authors; past and present!

It brought me back to Patrice and Alex and, by default, hundreds of other authors of blogs right across the ‘blogosphere’.  Of course they express themselves differently! Of course they hold different opinions! It is those differences that are critical, utterly so, to each and every reader coming to their own conclusions; conclusions to a wide range of subjects and topics.

This was hammered home to me as I watched our dogs playing so well together.  The differences in each dog’s backgrounds and experiences contributed to the wonderful, unconditional way that they played and lived together.  The power of their unconditional love.

It is those differences that offer us insight into our own beliefs and prejudices.  It is those differences that allow us, and dogs, to make sense of ourselves. One might argue that it is the differences that deliver truth.

That feels much better! 🙂

New communities.

A highly pertinent post from Alex Jones.

I have written previously on Learning from Dogs about the future having to be local if we are to stand any chance of coping with what is ahead.  So it was a delight to read this post from Alex’s blog The Liberated Way.  In my opinion, Alex is spot on the mark.

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The rise of localism

Posted on August 6, 2014

Globalism and central control is coming to an end.

Bees are localised, sustainable and self-reliant, something humanity will learn the hard way.
Bees are localised, sustainable and self-reliant, something humanity will learn the hard way.

The first of a series of debates on Scottish independence from the UK took place yesterday, the vote for independence takes place next month. The campaign for Scottish independence is part of a larger paradigm shift away from globalism to localism around the world. Cornwall, Wales, Mercia, Yorkshire and Wessex are all campaigning for independence in the UK. Even in my town of Colchester we want to take back control of highways from external authorities.

The European elections this year resulted in a surge in anti-EU nationalistic parties doing well. UKIP which wants the UK to leave the EU was the clear winner in the UK in the European elections. The UN is increasingly seen as ineffective in the face of international crisis, often used by a few powerful nations, and ignored by practically everyone. Israel recently expressed the contempt nations now have for the UN by bombing UN schools in Gaza.

The USSR has broken up into small nations, as has Yugoslavia. Sudan split into two and Georgia into three nations. There is talk of California in the USA breaking into six states, and a growing but still small movements for other states breaking away from the Union altogether. The fighting in East Ukraine is as much about local Russians wanting to determine their own future as the international games of chess between the superpowers.

Flanders is seeking to break from Belgium; Catalonia and the Basque Country want to break from Spain; the city of Venice wants to break from Italy; Quebec is looking to break from Canada; Kurdistan and many other Peoples are seeking to form their own nation states out of the chaos of Iraq, Syria and Libya.

New forms of local currency such as the Totnes pound and electronic currencies such as Bitcoin challenge the bankers. Until recently my local council Essex Council was talking about creating its own bank for local people. Corporates such as Starbucks are considering creating their own currencies, in effect becoming their own banks. Multiple non-banking payment systems such as PayPal are now part of internet commerce. In the face of sanctions Russia has created their own version of VISA for citizens to pay their bills.

The internet has helped to break up the power of information monopolies where the citizen blogger is as effective as a journalist in the New York Times. The internet places greater power in the hands of the individual on the local level.

Water, energy, food and debt are the four great forces now driving the world politically, economically and socially. The many chasing a diminishing amount of resources drives people to fight or conserve their resources. Huge growing public and private debt is destroying nation states, driving the momentum to think local rather than global. The Greek economic crisis drove local people back to the land, to become self-sufficient, and create systems of trade outside of the global financial system.

I support localism, and I designed my business with localism in mind. The growing international crisis will force people to become local, sustainable and self-reliant. As the money runs out nations, communities and individuals will quickly learn that it is down to themselves to live or die.

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Couldn’t agree more.

We are all connected.

Such a fundamental aspect of all conscious life on Planet Earth.

As many of you know, weekend posts on Learning from Dogs are usually pretty innocuous.  But two things came together to make me want to offer today’s central thoughts while they were fresh and clear in my mind.

The first thing flowed from good friend, John Hurlburt. Together with Jon Lavin, John had helped me develop my Statement of Purpose for my book.  It was John who proposed a chapter under the heading of “The biological interconnectedness of all conscious earthly life“; a proposal I embraced with open arms.

The second thing was that Alex Jones, he of the blog The Liberated Way, published a post yesterday that, succinctly and beautifully, supported John Hurlburt’s thesis.

What do we mean by the idea that all of us are connected? (…. and ignoring the many of you who wonder why the question even has to be asked.)

I’m going to answer that most fundamental of all questions in this rather roundabout manner.

As someone who in previous times has been a glider pilot (aka sailplane in US speak), and a long-distance sailor (Tradewind 33), the weather about me was very much part of my life. Long ago I came to love clouds.  Yesterday morning we had to take puppy Oliver to the vet and, unusually for this time of year in Southern Oregon, overhead there were beautiful grey stratus clouds covering 90% of the sky.  There wasn’t the time to grab my camera but the following stock photograph found on the web is close to what we saw.

Still en-route in answer to the question, take a look at the next photograph; also from the web.

clouds animals lions 3277x2048 wallpaper_www.wallpaperfo.com_49

Now to the next photograph. (Hang on in there!)

stratocumulus

See how the road, a man-made road stretching away to the horizon, is such an intimate part of the landscape and the sky.

Now to my final photograph.

Watch-the-Lion-Whisperer-Hug-and-Play-with-Animals-in-the-WIld

I see a strong and clear theme behind these four beautiful images. A theme that answers the question of what we mean by the idea that all of us are connected.

It is this.

Our planet’s atmosphere gives us all that we need to live.  All the oxygen and water and other essentials for all of life. Over millions of years it has provided all that life has needed to evolve and grow.

The land prospered. Beautiful animals arrived. Then came man and over time he left his mark on the lands of the planet. For aeons of time, man and animals shared their lives upon the land. Indeed, man and animals frequently demonstrated they had the capacity to love each other without denying the fact that both man and animals, in many cases, were also meat-eaters. To state the obvious, the beauty of the obvious, is to say that everything on this planet is connected under Nature. Man, animals, lands: all part of that same Nature.

Loving each other: woman and dog!
Loving each other: woman and dog!

Let me close by republishing with Alex’s permission his post from yesterday.

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One in nature

The joy of knowing nature and self are one.

The butterfly and I enjoyed a common connection in the sun on a fallen tree – we became one.
The butterfly and I enjoyed a common connection in the sun on a fallen tree – we became one.

Sitting upon a fallen dead tree, one that could have but did not kill me when it fell in the storms last year, an orange butterfly flew and settled next to me. Here we were, butterfly and I, enjoying the warm sun sitting on the same tree trunk like two people on a park bench. The butterfly would after a time fly away returning later to sit next to me. In this moment I shared something in common with this butterfly, different species, but living on and coming from the same planet earth.

Another day it is raining, I huddle under the garden conifers eating raspberries, watching the clouds empty their water upon a thirsty garden, my cat Pebbles sitting at my feet. Out of the fallen branches two little mice played, oblivious to me and the cat, which did not seem to notice them.

For many people there are degrees of separation from nature, us and them. For some like me, Ubuntu, I am because we are. There is only connection, the animals and I are one.

Camping in the rain, a knocking at the tent door. I looked out of the tent, I looked into the eyes of a frog, which then vanished into the rainy darkness.

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Last words from John.

1. Competition is a natural result of evolution.

2. Population growth intensifies competition.

3. Nature maintains our equilibrium.

4. Denying Nature is a sure path to extinction.

The Natural order – life and death.

Nature imposes herself on us humans in absolute terms.

I do not believe in any form of life after death.  Jean is uncertain.  Many good people do believe in some form of spiritual afterlife.

However, one thing is sure. Our living mind and body will die.

These few words are an introduction to the first essay under the broad title of The Natural order. On the 23rd April I introduced the idea of writing a regular essay “about the past, present and future of man’s relationship with Nature.

Thus it did seem entirely appropriate to ‘kick off’ the essays with reflections about life and death.

Alex Jones of The Liberated Way blog recently wrote a post under the title of ‘The circle of life and death‘.  I am republishing it in full with Alex’s kind permission.

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The circle of life and death

Posted on April 27, 2014 |
Nature reminds me life and death is a circle.

The circle of life and death.
The circle of life and death.

I visit a house, the noise of hungry little birds emanating from a nest hidden in the roof, busy parents flying in and out feeding their brood. Less than a week before summer (1st May) I encounter life all about me, like a vast fountain of creativity, as plant and animal erupt into growth and creation. I feel a sense of joy at the life all about me, like dipping my feet in crystal clear spring waters.

Amongst this carnival of life a reminder that with life there is also death. Helix our cat is an effective hunter, a blue tit is found dead upon the ground. I feel no sadness for the death, it is a natural part of the cycle of nature, my animistic viewpoint is of a small spirit returning to the source, and from then renewing. No anger for Helix, since this is the nature of cats, despite being fed, a cat must follow the primal instinct of its nature to hunt. I carry the dead blue tit to an overgrown spot of trees and grass, here I place the blue tit to decay and thus become part of the life of plant and animal of that place, such is the circle of life and death.

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There can’t be a single person on this planet who does not understand that our human life is finite.

Life span of early man: Until fairly recently, little information existed about how long prehistoric people lived. Too few fossilized human remains made it tough for historians to estimate the demographics of any population. Anthropology professors Rachel Caspari and Sang-Hee Lee chose instead to analyze the relative ages of skeletons found in archeological digs in eastern and southern Africa, Europe, and elsewhere. Comparing the proportion of those who died young, with those who died at an older age, the team concluded that longevity only began to significantly increase (that is, past the age of 30 or so) about 30,000 years ago – quite late in the span of human evolution.

In an article published in 2011 in Scientific American, Caspari calls the shift the “evolution of grandparents”, as it marks the first time in human history that three generations might have co-existed. ( Source: Longevity Throughout History.)

Thus given that living much past the age of thirty years is a relatively recent experience, it baffles me beyond comprehension that we, as in mankind, have become so short-sighted about reinvesting in the one and only natural planet that sustains us.

Beautifully expressed in another wonderful essay from John Hurlburt.

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 Notes on the Human Dilemma

The metanexus of Faith, Nature and Science form an integral vision of the reality in which we exist. We are components of Creation living in an emerging universe. As consciously aware life forms we are each and all responsible to the Nature of God in a steadily emerging universe. Change is both constant and inevitable. Species that don’t adapt, do not survive.

Our human problems are obvious.

The essential growth of human conscious awareness remains questionable.

There is a blatant disregard for Nature. The rate of Natural disasters is increasing everywhere on Earth

Civil unrest is bordering on a second Civil War and is already in that state in many other nations of the world.

Imminent economic collapse remains probable as long our world economy is based on a foundation that has been leveraged at least twenty-five times above any realistic material foundation on Earth.

Are we a moral species?

A steady increase in natural disasters worldwide is inevitable until we change in response to Nature’s warnings or become extinct. The collapse of morality threatens the existence of global civilization.

The virtual extinction of the human race in its present state is all but assured within the next century unless we adapt to the Reality we presently blithely ignore or chose to vilify.

We still have a choice.

Our alternative to what has been euphemistically referred to as “new reality” is the process of education, reformation and transformation on a personal level. The objectives are an obvious need to adapt to constant natural change and create a species renaissance in harmony with the reality of God, Nature and Science.

There is clearly a need for a global economy that is based on our primal need for clean air, clean water, clean food and clean energy. We need to maintain our balance through gratitude for the blessings of the life we share and equal justice for all. We need to remember that we are not in charge of anything except our responsibilities to God, Nature and each other.

Under these simple guidelines, a healthy, growing future remains possible as we prepare to migrate from our home planet and relieve the consumptive consequences of an exponentially growing and ravenous demographic ruled by the artificial symbol of Money.

Sound impossible? Au contraire…

The world is being forced to re-evaluate its economic premises. Here are a few proven solutions to help create a naturally invigorated economy.

We can cut air pollution dramatically overnight by converting commercial diesel engines to far more cost-effective bio-fuels without a single change to the diesel mechanisms.

Bio-diesel distillation plants can filter and recycle the clean water we need to live.

We are capable of growing our own food with recycled organic fertilizers.

We have begun the process of harnessing the limitless clean renewable energy provided by the sun, the wind and hydraulic power.

Electric cars that may be fueled by solar energy are winning world class races.

The list of what we are capable of doing is only limited by our imaginations.

The questions to ask ourselves are:

 

Are we at the beginning of a new world or at the end of an old world?

 

Are we a part of the problem or part of a realistic solution?”

 

What will be the harvest of our lives?”

 

an old lamplighter

 

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Life’s changes.

Sometimes life has a way of offering a new path.

*** If you are not into introspection, then look away and come back tomorrow! 😉 ***

Regular readers will know that quite frequently I write under a topic heading that could be regarded as within the classification of key subjects of our time.  You know, such subjects as big government, big money, big power, and even climate change! 😉

Why has this been the case?

Well, because, a) most of my life I’ve tried to stay abreast of ‘current affairs’ and, b) within the broad label of ‘integrity’ it’s relevant to this blog.  The sub-heading of the blog is after all: “Dogs are integrous animals. We have much to learn from them.”  (Yes, I do know ‘integrous’ isn’t grammatically accurate! – Any suggestions for an alternative word?)

Stay with that while I go elsewhere.

Yesterday (Tuesday) a number of events ended up having a profound effect on me. On the face of it, utterly disconnected events.

The first was a post from Alex Jones on his blog The Liberated Way.  The only common ground between Alex and me is that we both know Colchester in Essex, England.  Alex because he lives there today, me because I used to have a business in Colchester in previous times.  Other than that just a couple of bloggers separated by thousands of miles.

Anyway, the post was this one: Cycle of Life. Alex wrote:

Life seems like a cycle of birth, living and death.

I have the honour of following awesome bloggers on WordPress.  I learn inspirational teachings from their intimate life experiences that they share with their readers.  The cycle, for in my belief everything moves in cycles, of birth, life and death is if we are attentive to living life something we will often be reminded of in our interactions with others and nature.

Then later, adding:

Lijiun is a Buddhist who shares daily experiences from their own life with a Buddhist theme running through their blog.  Lijiun has a cat called Little White who often acts as a teacher to them about the meaning of life and a reminder of Buddhist teachings.  Little White two weeks ago brought home a stray kitten, which it adopted as like a surrogate parent.  Yesterday Adik the kitten died, and a beautiful blog post by Lijiun in memory of Adik reminds us life is impermanent.

Almost absent-mindedly, I clicked on the link about the death of Adik and …… was shaken to my core; shaken by the power of the truth.  I want to give you more than a link to the post – want to share some of the beautiful words.

IN MEMORY OF “ADIK”…

In memory of our little Kitten, “adik”….
In memory of our little Kitten, “adik”….

Every moment in life is full of changes, this is a law of nature.

However, sometimes we might assume that everything unchanged.

“Adik”- Our stray kitten, so far, she was not showing a sign of sickness. Yesterday, in the evening, I discovered she was laid down under my neighbor car, not moving at all and look severe sick. We checked through her little body, no physical injuries and we tried our best to feed her water and Cat food. She refuse to take.

We need to send her to Veterinarian immediately as her condition was critical, however during Sunday, especially evening time. Most of the Veterinarian clinic is closed. We did our best to check through internet, we were able to locate one of the Vet and we rushed over.

In the journey, we played Mantra Chanting to our little kitten, We reached to the vet clinic, “Adik” was alive but in agony…. she was struggling for life. The only thing we can help was to keep chanting mantra, our only aspiration are for her to relieve from suffering, not to reborn in 3 lower realm, able to follow spiritual practice and attain enlightenment in the coming life.

“Adik” passed away in peace even before the Veterinarian came to treat her.

Then Lijiun went on to write that “This incident gave me a very clear insight on “death”  and offered more of that insight: (These are extracts: Please read the full post.)

1. Impermanence Of life

Nothing is permanence , we need to live at now, not past or future.

When Death approached, no bargain time at all whether you are rich or poor, you are ready or not, you are healthy or sick, …

Do all good deeds when you are still alive, Follow spiritual path whenever you can, don’t give excuses that “I’ve plenty of time, I’ll do it when I am “FREE”? When You are Free, you might not able to do it…

2. Young or old…

Some of us, might assume that people died in old age. As such, we’ve a long journey in life.

Is It true???

I learned from “Adik” Sudden death – that death will happen in any age.

“Coffin is not meant for elderly people….” This is so profound.

Spend time with your family members, be filial piety to your parent, Pursuit your dream, Don’t wait until later day…. We are unsure we can survive until later day!

3. Breathing in & Out

Treasure every breath in & breath out…

Life is just in between Breath in & out.

Be Mindfulness in life!

4. What Can you bring???

What can you bring after death, “NOTHING”.

No matter, how much wealth, how much money, how many cars, how many bungalow, how high is your position, how lovely is your family… you can’t bring anything..

Ask yourself, “What is the purpose of life?”, “What do you want?”

5. Alone..

You, yourself need to face the death moment…

Nobody can help you… Don’t avoid the topic and say, “It’ll not happen to me so soon”..

Just get ready.

6. Love

“Adik” passed away at 8:30 pm.. according to my mom, Little White, Our lovely cat was “Meowing” loudly at home. He can sense that “Adik” was not longer around. Animals are just like us, they are loving. Please treat all beings well, no differentiation on form.

We are so touched that “Adik” came home before her death and spend her last moment with us.

Before we sent “Adik” to Vet, She “Meow” loudly to my mom as a good-bye & gratitude to my mom for taking care of her. It’s so touching!

Thank you to “Adik” for celebrating 16 happy day with us and leave behind a great lesson to us.

May “Adik” be relieved from suffering, not reborn in 3 lower realm and find the lasting happiness!

May all beings be Well and Happy!

Then also yesterday, I was chatting to someone who lives close to us; he and his partner-lady have become good friends.  He was bemoaning the corruption of so much of his fine country and went on to say that the only way that he could function was to turn away from the big stuff, have no TV, ignore the constant news of this and that, the endless trials and tribulations in this world of ours.  I listened in silence, only to find later that the words must have left a mark on me.

My dear friend, Dan Gomez, has known me for over 40 years.  He was my Best Man at my wedding to Jean in November, 2010.  He and I have been exchanging emails about the truth of the role of man in the raising of the temperature of the planet.  I sent Dan the link to the death of Adik, the kitten.  It seemed so much more important than the emails we had been exchanging about the ‘big’ subjects in life.

Then something happened overnight (Tuesday/Wednesday) because not long after I got to my PC this morning, I sent this email to Dan.

Dear Dan,

Yesterday was one of those days, one of those rare days I should have said, where my view of life was radically changed.

Partly because I’m still adjusting to Corinne’s death [my sister], partly because of something I read elsewhere, and other stuff best left for a phone call.

In essence, despite my anger at what is going on around us (big government, big money, big power, even climate change!) I want to retreat from these areas and focus on what is most valuable to me.

Aspects of my life such as love, friendship with ‘old’ travelers, the natural world, being in the present, community, our animals (especially Pharaoh who is over 10), my writings, my book, our small world here at 4000 Hugo; you get my drift!

I’m 70 in November, 2014. Corinne died in her 80th year. Time goes so quickly. No, life goes so quickly. Jean and I met 6 years ago this next December. I must turn away from the things over which I have little or no control and embrace the present. Just what dogs do so well. Live in the present.

It’s all about endeavouring to come to the end of one’s life hearing those immortal words of Edith Piaf, “Je regret rien.”

So dear reader of Learning from Dogs, if you are still ‘on frequency’ – Well done! You have stuck with my very long ramble!

Back to what gets written about in this place.  If integrity means anything, it means I’m going to drop all the ‘big’ topics and focus entirely on what man can learn, nay, has to learn from dogs.  Indeed, will close by republishing the full ‘home’ page below.

Pharaoh – just being a dog!

Dogs live in the present – they just are!  Dogs make the best of each moment uncluttered by the sorts of complex fears and feelings that we humans have. They don’t judge, they simply take the world around them at face value.  Yet they have been part of man’s world for an unimaginable time, at least 30,000 years.  That makes the domesticated dog the longest animal companion to man, by far!

As man’s companion, protector and helper, history suggests that dogs were critically important in man achieving success as a hunter-gatherer.  Dogs ‘teaching’ man to be so successful a hunter enabled evolution, some 20,000 years later, to farming,  thence the long journey to modern man.  But in the last, say 100 years, that farming spirit has become corrupted to the point where we see the planet’s plant and mineral resources as infinite.  Mankind is close to the edge of extinction, literally and spiritually.

Dogs know better, much better!  Time again for man to learn from dogs!

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