I hasten to add that I am not the author of these wonderful words; just been aware of them for many years.
OK, to the muse!
I subscribe to Christine’s excellent blog 350 or bust. Last Friday, Christine published a post that she called: Despite Pleas In Doha, Our Governments Have Failed Us & Our Children.
In that post, Christine included this video,
The lead negotiator for the Philippines at the Climate Conference in Doha, Naderev Saño, could not keep back the tears as he made a passionate appeal for real action on climate change.
“I appeal to all, please, no more delays, no more excuses. Please, let Doha be remembered as the place where we found the political will to turn things around…
The outcome of our work is not about what our political masters want. It is about what is demanded of us by 7 billion people…
I ask of all of us here, if not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?”
Christine also included a short video of 19-year-old Syrian-American student Munira Sibai addressing the delegates.
“So let me now speak beyond the negotiators in this room to the people who I represent. Your governments are failing you. They are afraid that offering visionary pathways to low-carbon economies will make them look foolish, that taking responsibility will make them look weak, that standing up to the money and power of polluters will cost them political support. Unchecked, this cowardice will cost lives. Here in the halls of the United Nations, the voices of global citizens are limited, regulated and relegated to these short, symbolic statements. Outside these walls, these walls, there is a global movement, growing up from the grassroots, calling for climate justice. Join us.”
So young Munira Sibai offered the answer to Naderev Saño’s plea, “I ask of all of us here, if not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?” That answer being so beautifully encompassed in the opening self-affirmation. Stay with me a little longer.
Many of you readers know that a little over 5 weeks ago Jean and I and our 11 dogs and 5 cats moved from Payson in Arizona up to Merlin, Southern Oregon. The reason I refer to Payson is that not long before we left, a group concerned about the environment and climate change decided to form Transition Town Payson.
If you go to the ‘About‘ page of their website, you will see this beautiful photograph.
It’s a view from the Mogollon Rim Trail that would inspire anyone to want to care for our planet. The trail passes close to Payson and is a very popular walking area.
Back to TTP. If you go to their website and start browsing the articles and seeing what information is already there, you get a clear idea of what a group of people can do. That key word ‘DO‘!
Last Thursday, I offered a reflection on Learning from Dogs about what feels like a new world order. The penultimate paragraph offered this:
I sense that we, as in the peoples on this planet, are well into a period of such change that even by the end of 2013, a little over 50 weeks away, the precipice for humanity will be within sight. I hold out zero hope that any time soon our leaders and politicians will stop ‘playing games’ and focus on doing what’s right. The time for truth, for integrity, for sound debate is NOW!
However, all the truth, integrity and debate in the world comes to nothing without ACTION.
Today, Jean and I together with our 11 dogs and 5 cats start the 1,200 mile journey to Merlin, Oregon. While we have only lived in Payson since February, 2010, it has been a time of fantastic experiences. I had to work through the long process of getting a fiancee visa from the American Embassy in London. Until that was issued my ‘residence’ in Payson was that of a British tourist with me having to leave the USA every 90 days.
The visa was issued in October, 2010 and I flew immediately to Arizona. On the 8th November, 2010 Jean and I were issued with a Marriage License Certificate and we were married on the 20th November at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Payson.
We have made many very dear friends here in Payson but Oregon feels like the start of our home in every sense of the word, not just because it is the first home that Jean and I have bought jointly.
One of those dear friends here in Payson has been John Hurlburt, a devoutly spiritual man. A little over a week ago, he sent me a very thoughtful essay and I wanted to include it today as a guest post in recognition of the way that John and many, many others have embraced these couple of Brits over the last 32 months. Thank you all.
Everything fits together
The species of animals we know as human beings is a part of everything that exists. We are a very young consciously-aware species that does not begin to know all the answers. What little we do know has a Natural pattern. It would seem that there’s a lamplighter and a navigator in all of us. The lamplighter is our fundamental awareness of being and provides nature’s guidance along life’s pathways.
Our natural navigator is designed for evolutionary competition. There’s a biological survival kit in our DNA. Extreme demand for limited resources generates deadly combat; both within and between species. As a result of competition taken to wretched excess, our global economy is leveraged 22 times beyond any earthly foundation. The unspoken intent to destroy each other over what remains of our planet is becoming increasingly evident.
The human species is engaged in a global war over money, ideals and disappearing finite resources. Ninety-seven percent of the world scientific community has confirmed that the natural effects of heat and discharges generated by human machines and related human activities are the primary cause of recent rapid climate change.
These dedicated scientists are opposed in the media by three percent of their corporate energy-financed peers. An oppressive worldwide network of often offensive politicians is similarly supported and managed accordingly. Nature couldn’t care less about politics, emotions or idealistic arguments.
Human squabbles mean very little in the totality of universal life. The drumbeat of local natural disasters increases steadily. There are no two ways about it. No amount of human ifs or buts can or will change reality. Our human species is in deep serious trouble.
It has been six million years since the first humanoids emerged and two million years since the rise of human civilization. What a sorrow it is to realize what we have done to the earth in just the past two hundred and fifty years. We’ve reached the moon and are exploring Mars. It’s well past time to clean house and re-grow our local garden.
As an old navigator, there’s a sense of urgency regarding the course life on earth has taken. For those who continue to care about facts, the prognosis is not encouraging. We have the know-how for an alternative. We can avoid the perfect storm of going over the edge of an economic cliff and the crush of an environmental crisis in the midst of a war-fuelled, profit-driven, global, corporate fight to the end. The alternative is that we have the know-how to transition rapidly to a reality-based economy and a way of living that’s gentle to the earth. The solution is global, it’s industrial, it’s natural and it’s our best hope. It may well be our only hope. It’s time to light some lamps.
Conscious human awareness emerges as we relax, contemplate, meditate, and communicate openly. These are levels of awareness beyond the limits of our daily human musings. The wisdom which flows from enlightened awareness embraces humility, experience, knowledge, understanding, and faith. Life has never been easy. We’re fragile biological beings. Our mutual growth is the result of sustained efforts over millions of years.
Yet despite attaining a higher level of conscious awareness our human culture continues to operate on a material basis rather than a moral basis. We have become confused by our own importance or the apparent lack thereof. We all too often retreat into a rut, furnish it and turn on the electronics.
By definition, natural processes support species growth in harmony with all natural life. Those natural processes are indistinguishable from the planetary support systems within which all life interacts. Human interaction is local. We spend much of our lives unaware that we are unaware; initially as infants and throughout our lives in deep sleep. When caught up in the pressures of our daily lives, it’s easy to be unaware of being unaware.
It’s time to wake up. Cosmology is an eternal spring from which the waters of the earth still flow. When we turn ourselves inside-out and achieve higher awareness, we discover who, what and where we really and truly are. In a trinity of spirituality, nature and science, we’re cosmically energized beings; spiritual beings sharing a transitory human existence.
Ninety-eight percent of the human population believes in a power beyond species and self. The simplest understanding of this belief is that we humans did not originally create ourselves. All human wisdom and understanding leads to the conclusion that human beings don’t own the earth. We’re caretakers and we’re only passing through. Given that we have a systemic crisis, what do we have to work with?
We have a species that’s squabbling over diminishing resources, an environment and an infrastructure which both desperately require attention, a sustaining objective of equitable global employment, a world economy that’s about to collapse for lack of any real foundation, a burgeoning population which further strains the system and the clear need for a unifying purpose.
Put it all together and what do we have? The navigator is our guide to growth. The navigator shares our wholeness. The lamplighter is our guide to unity. Everything fits together. Each of us is a part of the unity of life. Unity has a natural purpose. It’s time to build a life boat.
John Hurlburt is a former U.S. Navy aviator and successful corporate executive who presently serves as a senior Christian educator and a founding member of an international Transition Town in Payson, Arizona.
Don’t know about you, dear reader, but I find those incredibly powerful words. Words that provide the truth. A truth the whole world needs. John set out in a personal email to me the three simple fundamentals of our lives. Just a few more words to sum up the truth.
“There’s an environmental crisis. There’s an inevitable global economic abyss touching us all on a daily basis. The need for a green economic transformation is obvious.“
Perhaps ancient man is still alive and well in all of us.
Two delightful events have provided the fuel for today’s post which, I warn you, is much more the personal mental ramble than the usual daily post on Learning from Dogs. So, health warning, continue reading at your own risk, or be safe and switch off now!
Before getting in to my perambulations, just a word of thanks to you for your support. Last month, there were 31,291 viewers of Learning from Dogs and 71 of you have chosen to subscribe. I am humbled by your interest. Don’t ever hesitate to give me feedback or, if you prefer, comment to a specific post.
OK, to the theme of today.
On Wednesday I had an enjoyable lunch with a friend from here in Payson, Dennis L. Sitting in the Crosswinds restaurant at Payson airport is one of the most beautiful eating spots in terms of the view from the window. So it’s a very conducive place to relax and try put the world to rights! Conversation ranged across a variety of topics but frequently touched on the lunacy of so many things to do with man, especially when it comes to the government of peoples.
Dennis and I also acknowledged that entering politics with a set of passionate ideals, as we were sure many persons did, would quickly run up against the skein of vested interests that must permeate governments from top to bottom.
That programme underlined, far better than anything else, how governments most probably work in reality.
Dennis and I were clear, as so many millions of other global citizens must be, that the complexity of commerce, politics, national interests, global finance, and more, had created ‘systems’ of decision making that were utterly disconnected with the needs of mankind having a long and stable future on the only finite home around, Planet Earth.
Then today (Thursday), Jean and I attended our regular weekly gardening course at the local college in Payson. Today’s subject was Arizona’s Climate and the tutor, Mike C., was a professional climatologist and meteorologist. It was fascinating, indeed, totally absorbing. Mike’s graphs and slides about the climate, some showing data for the last 1,000 years, underlined the incredible complexity and interconnectedness of the processes that made up the global climate system.
Once again that use of the word ‘complexity’. He confirmed that there was no scientific doubt that the world was warming as a result of changes to the Earth’s atmosphere, science certain most of it is caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases produced by human activities such as deforestation and burning fossil fuels.
Mike closed the session with an interesting reflection. He reminded the audience that mankind is still essentially wired, in evolutionary terms, to know how to react to an attacking tiger or similar wild beast, as in the fight or flee response, than know how to deal with such complex, despite intellectually obvious, threats as global climate change, rising sea levels and many other totally unsustainable practices. Mike held the view that only when man had the threat in his face equivalent to that of the attacking tiger would there be a wholesale change.
On the home page of this blog, I write,
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.
In the context of homo sapiens, Latin for “wise man” or “knowing man”, then we know that modern man, anatomically, originated in Africa about 200,000 years ago. Modern man only evolved from hunter/gatherer to farmer around 10,000 years ago, a tiny proportion of H. sapiens existence and, in evolutionary terms, no time at all.
The DNA of the domesticated dog separated from that of the wolf around 100,000 years ago. No one knows for sure when man and dog came together but there is archaeological evidence of dogs being buried in mens’ graves around 30,000 years ago. That’s an association over a huge time period.
Dennis and Mike, between them, triggered in my mind something fundamental. Perhaps modern society, with all it’s bizarre behaviours and so many totally illogical practises (especially, in terms of a long-term relationship with our planet), could be understood. Understood from the perspective of our social behaviours, built so much on technology, having raced far on to the point where they are now practically out of sight of our instinctive evolutionary behaviours. We really don’t know how to change those core behaviours.
In contrast, dogs have remained much more stable with regard to their evolutionary progress and their external world. Consider that the last big change for the domesticated dog was the association with man and that is at least three times as long ago as man becoming farming man. No wonder when we curl up with our dog it has echoes of a time thousands of years before we could even spell the word, ‘politician’. Echoes of a stability that seems now so way beyond reach.
I’m taking a little gamble that the owners of the copyright in the following article will not mind the complete re-publishing of this piece.
While I have practically zero knowledge of the geology of much of the USA living here close to the Mogollon Rim makes it almost impossible not to sense the ageless beauty of the surrounding hills and mountains. Anyway, this article was found on the Arizona Geology website. It is called Putting Earth Science Back in its Place, written by STEVEN SEMKEN of ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY.
One of the most universal and fundamental things that humans do is to make places. We do this by sensing and experiencing the space around us, and attaching meanings to parts of it: here is a beautiful mountain, here is where my house is, here is where we have found copper, here is where my ancestors lived. The meanings that we affix to places can be aesthetic, ceremonial, historic, practical, and mythical, as well as scientific. Humans develop emotional attachments to meaningful places, sometimes to the point of making significant personal sacrifices to preserve or protect them. The combination of meanings and attachments that connect us to places is called the sense of place.
We study and teach about Earth through its places. From Monument Valley to Organ Pipe, the landscapes of Arizona are set with places that are not only great geological exemplars, but meaningful to people for all kinds of reasons. It is only human for us to become interested in these diverse place meanings even as we explore our surroundings scientifically. Our students may also have, or can be encouraged to develop, rich senses of these places—particularly ones that are relevant to their personal interests, family experiences, or cultural backgrounds. This is the nature ofplace-based teaching, which encourages students to explore, and become involved in, local environments and communities. Urban places are just as meaningful, and can be just as instructive, as rural or remote places.
It is not simply teaching about the geology of a place such as Grand Canyon or the Río Salado Valley. It is finding ways for your students to experience the place: if possible by bringing them there, but alternatively by bringing them local rock specimens, images, maps, and readings to investigate, or enabling them to explore virtually using Google Earth. It is also helping them to become moreinvested in local places: by being able to explain how they get their weather, drinking water, fuel, and electrical power; by doing a community-service project; by creating art that celebrates the beauty of land and environment. And authentically place-based teaching and learning are as trans-disciplinary as place meanings themselves are. Here are reason and motivation for Earth science teachers to collaborate with their colleagues in life sciences, geography, history, language, literature, and so on, to develop ways to explore and understand the natural and cultural landscapes of Arizona across the curriculum.
Why is this important? On one hand, cultural forces such as the pervasiveness and popularity of digital entertainment and the homogenizing effects of global commerce conspire against student and community interest in local places and concerns. There is mounting research and anecdotal evidence that children and families spend less time outdoors. To be oblivious to the importance of local places is to forego opportunities to learn from them and protect them from environmental and cultural degradation. On the other hand, right here in Arizona we are already faced with a number of what many scientists and policymakers have labeled “grand challenges” to sustainability if not human existence, including depletion of water resources, lessened biodiversity, declining air quality, continued dependence on fossil energy, and climate change. Place-based teaching is an appropriate response. And it is intellectually and emotionally delightful to reacquaint yourself and your students with the places of home.
SELECTED, RECOMMENDED READINGS
ONE PLACE-BASED TEACHING AND LEARNING:
Gruenewald, D. A., & Smith, G. A. (Eds.). (2008). Place-Based Education In The Global Age: Local Diversity.
New York: Lawrence Erlbaum. ISBN 978-0-8058-5864-8.
Sobel, D. (2004). Place-Based Education: Connecting Classrooms And Communities.
Great Barrington, MA: The Orion Society. ISBN 0-913098-54-X.
ON THE MANY PLACE MEANINGS OF ARIZONA AND THE SOUTHWEST: Basso, K. H. (1996). Wisdom Sits In Places: Landscape And Language Among The Western Apache.
Albuquerque, NM: University Of New Mexico Press. ISBN 0-8263-1724-3.
Ffolliott, P. F., & Davis, O. K. (2008). Natural Environments Of Arizona: From Deserts To Mountains.
Tucson, AZ: University Of Arizona Press. ISBN 978-0-8165-2697-0.
Granger, B.H. (1982). Will C. Barnes’s Arizona Place Names, Facsimile Edition.
Tucson, AZ: University Of Arizona Press. ISBN 0-8165-0729-5.
Kamilli, R. J., & Richard, S. M. (Eds.). (1998). Geologic Highway Map Of Arizona, Map M-33.
Tucson, AZ: Arizona Geological Society And Arizona Geological Survey. ISBN 1-891924-00-1.
McNamee, G. (1993). Named In Stone And Sky: An Arizona Anthology. Tucson, AZ: University Of Arizona Press. ISBN 0-8165-1348-1.
Nations, D., & Stump, E. (1996). Geology Of Arizona, Second Edition.
Dubuque, IA: Kendall-Hunt Publishing. ISBN 0-7872-2525-8.
Trimble, M. (1986). Roadside History Of Arizona.
Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. ISBN 978-0-8784-2198-5.
Wiewandt, T., & Wilks, M. (2001). The Southwest Inside Out: An Illustrated Guide To The Land And Its History.
Tucson, Arizona: Wild Horizons Publishing. ISBN 1-879728-03-6.
“It is better to travel well than to arrive.” Buddhist quote.
Those of you who are regular readers of Learning from Dogs, and I am flattered at how many there are now, will recall that on March 8th I posted an announcement of the Rev. Terry Hershey coming to Payson to give a couple of seminars based around his best-selling book, Soul Gardening. Jean and I had the honour of having Terry stay with us for a couple of nights.
Anyway, on Monday morning, the day Terry was to give his talks, four of us took a couple of hours off in the morning to take a walk around the majestic granite boulders, a couple of miles on from our house. These great boulders give rise to the name of the road that we live on; Granite Dells Rd. Most afternoons, Jean and I take Pharaoh and his little pack of dogs for this three-mile walk so today was no different other than the walk being in the morning.
However, one of the benefits of having Terry with us on the walk was that he pointed out something really obvious that, so far, Jean and I had just taken for granted, i.e. missed!
It’s this. That dogs, when out for a walk off-leash, never travel the same journey, however many times they go on the same walk. All dog-owners will be aware of this.
Dogs are all over the place, scurrying here and there, following sweet scents, totally absorbed in the intimacy of their relationship with their immediate experience. There’s no ‘purpose’ to their behaviour, there’s no ‘clock’ running in their head as to what time it is and when they have to be somewhere else. It is the epitome of travelling well, as from the quote at the start of this article.
The metaphor of how dogs journey as a comparison to how so many of us humans travel with eyes closed, never stopping to smell the roses, was mentioned by Terry when we stopped for group photo towards the end of the walk. Terry also touched on the importance of living in the present, as dogs do so very, very well, many times during his later talks.
As soon as we make our happiness conditional on ‘getting’ somewhere in the future, our journey rather becomes pointless.
Obviously only relevant to all those that are within reach of Payson, AZ. Apologies to my other readers.
Nationally Known Speaker and Writer will offer Free Seminars on March 14
Terry Hershey will visit Payson on Monday, March 14, to speak at Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church beginning at 2:00 p.m. and at the First Church of the Nazarene beginning at 7:00 p.m.
Mr. Hershey is an inspirational speaker, humorist and author who has been featured on The Hallmark Channel, CNN, and PBS. He holds a mirror up to our fast-forward, disconnected lives, and invites us to share the wisdom of taking an intentional moment to help regain our personal and spiritual balance.
Terry lives, writes and teaches with passion, purpose, heart and grace. He captivates his audience with the motto: “Do less, live more”. He creates an environment where we are given permission to become involved in the world around us, to want what we already have, to be embraced by moments of grace, to allow the child in us to play under a wide sky, to understand that laughter is a type of prayer and to take delight in our friends.
Terry Hershey is the author of ten books. The one that will be the focus of his inspirational presentation in Payson is “Soul Gardening”; winner of a “Book of the Year” award in 2010. Terry’s stories will nurture your soul and renew your sense of what it means to live fully alive. To hear Terry speak is a life-affirming experience. Everywhere he appears, the feedback has been unanimously positive. For example:
Terry Hershey was truly humorous, enlightening and inspiring to one and all. He gave us permission to be embraced by grace.
He was truly the highlight of our year!
Terry’s lectures and books inspire one to see that happiness is already inside.
Terry Hershey will be speaking as follows:
Monday afternoon, March 14:
From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church parish hall, located at 1000 N. Easy Street, in Payson at the corner of Sherwood Drive. Note that seating and parking at St Paul’s is limited to about 50 people. If you plan to attend the afternoon session, please call 474-3834 to leave a message reserving a space.
Monday evening, March 14:
From 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the First Church of the Nazarene, 200 East Tyler Parkway, located at the northeast corner of Beeline Highway in northern Payson across from the Home Depot. The parish hall will comfortably accommodate up to 200 people. Please call 474-5890 to leave a message reserving a space.
These events are open to everyone at no charge. Refreshments will be available at both sessions. Please plan to bring a friend with you.
On February 26th Jean and I, and a caravan of dogs and cats, arrived at our new home in Payson, Arizona.
We chose Payson simply because we wanted seasons. Payson is about an hour NE of Phoenix up at 5,000 feet and has very distinct seasons!
Both of us for different reasons thought we knew America pretty well. Jean was married to an American for nearly 30 years and I had been doing business in the US for a long time, even having my own (small) US company based in New Jersey.
But what neither of us anticipated was the wonderful warmth and friendliness of the Payson inhabitants. Despite the fact that Payson is hurting big time as a result of the economic situation, the majority of people that we met were happy, smiling and wonderfully accepting of a couple of Brits turning up in their town.
Indeed, Jean spoke to this stranger in the local supermarket, a tall guy complete with the boots and Stetson hat, and asked simply, “Why are so many people in Payson smiling?”
His reply was simply, “Ma’am, it’s only a small cow town!”
Well here’s a couple of newcomers to this small cow town who like it!