OGM - Ken Homer Reflections on today's call

---------- Forwarded message --------- From: Ken Homer
Date: Thu, Apr 6, 2023
Subject: OGM Reflections on today's call
To: Open Global Mind


I was perturbed - in an uncomfortable and hopefully productive way - by today’s call.

As was mentioned on the call... we are mostly male, mostly older, mostly white, mostly inculcated into the America Dream paradigm that was dominant in the middle to late decades of the 20th C.

Despite our individual differences and our collective deep thinking and liberal mindedness, we are stuck inside a worldview that, in the grand scheme of things, is the privilege/fever dream of a tiny minority. There is no way us-OGMers are going to figure our way, let alone that of the multiplicity of others, out of the messes that dominate contemporary times and discourse and now affect all life on the planet.

Yet, it seems to me, us-OGMers all grapple with how to live well in the midst of the miracles and wonders and horrors and tragedies that we are aware of. Why? IMO, it’s because us-OGMers care. Because us-OGMers feel connected to humanity and our place in Universe and we give a damn about our impact on the future of those who will come after us. It seems that us-OGMers are each deeply concerned for the future and how to create a future where the world works for all - and I love that about us!

Doug C said something about how seductive the vision of Heaven on Earth is and how utopian that is. For me the sticking point there is the word “Heaven.” Heaven on Earth, a big project for some of the Christian faith, feels utopian to me because the images I got in Sunday School held no practical aspects, modes, or models that could be operationalized - other than people loving each other. There we are, back to the gnostic move again 🙄. Pesky thing, that move to looking at Earth as if we are already in Heaven. Seems to be part and parcel of the worldview when you make sky gods superior to Earthly deities - or deny the existence of Earthly deities altogether - it desacralizes the world with all the consequences we see around us today.

Personally however, I don’t believe that a world that works for all (which is NOT Heaven on Earth) constitutes a utopian vision. It has numerous practical applications and modes that can be operationalized. Providing for security in the areas of food, water, shelter, and personal safety chief among them. For a more complete list of what is involved see the attachment of Manfred Max-Neef’s needs and satisfiers matrix at the bottom of this document.

When I was a boy, I was fascinated by dinosaurs. The dinosaurs had the run of the planet for about 160 million years before a comet put an end to their reign. Only then, could the tiny mammals that huddled in fear and burrowed into the ground to stay safe from the bloodthirsty behemoths that shook the ground as they passed emerge to take over the niches the dinosaurs occupied. That of course eventually resulted in us-humans. For the most part, dinosaurs had brains the size of walnuts, yet they managed to flourish for what, to the human mind, is an unimaginably long time.

Humans have enormous brains yet it seems we are poised to remove ourselves from the evolutionary record after barely 3 million years of hominid presence. Why is that? Why can’t we design a world where humans and other animals flourish for millions of years? We are certainly capable of imagining it but among the obstacles to our realizing that long term vision is the privileging of our contemporary worldview as the only one capable of designing such a future. If we hold to that, we are surely doomed for that stubborn clinging is the very definition of attempting to solve a problem using the same level of thinking that created it.

The Institute for the Future advises that if you want to create a vision of the future you need to draw upon the past in equal measure. So, designing a world that works for all would involve recovering and integrating as many ancient lessons about living in harmony with each other and Earth as we can glean from those First Nations Peoples who have managed, despite genocide, cultural appropriation, and a host of other insults, to maintain a coherent identity of being over thousands of years. We have much to learn from them.

Moving forward will require, IMO, that us-humans grant legitimacy to many of the worldviews that exist in our collective consciousness that are devalued, ridiculed, belittled, and dismissed by minds tainted by modernity and post-modernity. Paraphrasing The Bard, There are more things under Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in our pale patriarchal penis people philosophies. (Ok, I blended Shakespeare and Jerry, it seems apropos 😉.)

To confront and resolve the most pressing challenges humanity faces will require the re-membering of ancient ways of being, and blending those with the contemporary scientific and technical understandings that us-humans have managed to acquire about how the world works. This ancient/new mode of working together seems to be our best chance to reinvent and redesign human presence in Earth for the long-term.

Part of those ancient ways will be to recover the practice of initiation so that adolescents learn how to be in the world. Here’s a quote from Tyson Yunkaporta on that topic - albeit on the masculine side of things - that pertains to that:

“Perhaps the transferrable wisdom here is simply that most young men need something a little meatier than mindfulness workshops to curtail the terrifying narcissism that overtakes them the moment their balls drop. Maybe then they won’t grow up to be the men who start wars in the first place.”

Tyson has a lot to say about narcissism as his cultural lineage has identified it as a primary driver of imbalance:

“All Law-breaking comes from that first evil thought, that original sin or placing yourself above the land or above other people...
Containing the excess of malignant narcissists is a team effort…

The combination of social fragmentation and lighting fast communication today, however, means that we have to deal with these crazy people alone, as individuals butting heads with narcissists in a lawless void, and they are thriving unchecked in this environment. Engaging with them alone is futile – never wrestle a pig, as the old saying goes, you both end up covered in shit and the pig likes it. The fundamental roles of human interaction don’t apply to them, although they weaponize those rules against everyone else…

The basic protocols of Aboriginal society, like most societies, include respecting and hearing all points in a yarn. Narcissists demand this right, then they refuse to allow other points of view on the grounds that it somehow infringes on their freedom of speech or is offensive. They destroy the basic social contract of reciprocity (which allows people to build a reputation of generosity based on sharing to ensure ongoing connectedness and support), shattering this framework of harmony with a few words of nasty gossip. They apply double standards and break down systems of give-and-take until every member of a social group becomes isolated, lost in a Darwinian struggle for power and dwindling resources that destroys everything. Then they move on to another place, another group. Feel free to extrapolate this pattern globally and historically …

In our traditional systems of Law we remember, however, that everyone can be an idiot from time to time. Punishment is harsh and swift, but afterward there is no criminal record, no grudge against the transgressor. Perpetrators are only criminals until they are punished, and then they may be respected again and being afresh to make a positive contribution to the group. In this way, people will not lie, and shift blame or avoid punishment by twisting rules to escape accountability. They can look forward to a clean slate and therefore be willing and equal participants in their own punishment and transformation, which is a learning process more than anything else.”

And one more that speaks to what I am pointing towards:

“Solutions to complex problems take many dissimilar minds and points of view to design, so we have to do that together, linking up with as many other us-twos as we can to form networks of dynamic interaction. I’m not offering expert answers, only different questions, and ways of looking at things.”
~ Tyson Yunkaporta – Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World

I don’t have answers either… I do have a couple of different ways of looking at things and a few questions that are probably out of the norm for most folks, and we need way more diversity of experience and thinking if we are to make the kind of dent in the world that I sense most of us would like to see happen.

The table below is taken from a rather dense but also astoundingly thought-provoking paper by Manfred Max-Neef:

an image with no alt text max-neef: PDF Document · 867 KB

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