[posted to the Wheeled Migration Yahoo Group on December 12, 2004]
Hi, folks! I saw another chiropractor last week, and he helped tremendously... My joints are feeling much better, and I'm riding every day again, just running errands around the neighborhood. So any doubts about whether I'd be able to continue the tour can be put away now.
Some of you may have wondered about my e-mail address at "workscited.net," and some may have investigated that site and found a big red "out of order" notice on it. It was out of order for more than a year because it was programmed in a language that, as linguists would say, died... and I didn't have the spare time before the trip to translate its several thousand lines of rather inefficient code.
Well, guess what? I've had some spare time in the last 3 weeks, and WorksCited.Net is back up and running... mostly. The search function and a few other bells and whistles still need my attention, and I'm sure there are still plenty of bugs lurking in the corners. But it's now possible to view all the quotes in the database and add more! [2014 update: due to lack of interest in the site, I let the domain name lapse, so it's inaccessible again, but I'm pasting the referenced quotes below with links to Amazon.]
I'm telling you this because I read a lot of really interesting books in the months before my trip began, and I went ahead and compiled nifty quotes from them even though I knew I wouldn't be able to enter them in the database for a long time, and I've just now entered them, and I think you might enjoy them. So without further laborious explanation, here are my favorite quotes from my pre-tour reading:
There is an urge to just walk into the desert, away from the road, and be done with it. There is also an urge to have some ice cream with chocolate sauce. Life is what we patch together between those competing desires.
Perhaps what I had done in taking this long walk in the wilderness was a kind of shoving of my old self out on the ice to see if I would please die, or if I would please be reborn into something new, forged in service to my deepest beliefs. In either case, I knew that my old life had run its course.
We were hiking now through rolling hills and rainy green pastures set off by rail fences. Horses clopped over through the mud to see what was going on as we walked by. At one little farm, a dog and a goat, obviously old friends, came out together to take a look at us. They were joined a few minutes later by a pig. I had a feeling that their spider friend was back in the barn, spelling out something.
When you take on some leadership responsibility in the world, you must accept the fact that you will change lives. Your intention is to do good for everyone. But you will change lives in ways you cannot fully control, and sometimes things will go terribly wrong. The hard part is to stay at it and not give up trying to do good in the world. But my, it is hard when tragedy and defeat come visiting, as they do. If love is your motivation, and if you respect the people you serve as your moral equals, you will do more good than harm over a lifetime -- by far. But you will do some harm, and it may haunt you when you take a walk in your old age.
If you are wondering whether or not I think I make it rain and snow by making a speech, I certainly do not. That is not the way it works. When you are doing the right thing, it just so happens that you arrive just when certain things are happening anyway. Moses had wonderful timing, is what I mean. We all have a little bit of that when we are in our soul's right groove. And, when praying for such help, it is less rude, I think, to pray for some special help in fitting in, rather than to ask God to scrap and revise all His plans for the day -- He, of course, knew you were going to ask anyway and would already have made arrangements if that was proper.
A career, in the end, is a much smaller part of our lives than we can possibly imagine at the time. Our career distracts us from our real work, so we must learn to see past the limits of that blinkered world.
Never be discouraged from being an activist because people tell you that you'll not succeed. You have already succeeded if you're out there representing truth or justice or compassion or fairness or love. You already have your victory because you have changed the world; you have changed the status quo by you; you have changed the chemistry of things. And changes will spread from you, will be easier to happen again in others because of you, because, believe it or not, you are the center of the world.
No outward thing -- nothing, nobody from without -- can hurt me inside, psychologically. I recognized that I could only be hurt psychologically by my own wrong actions, which I have control over; by my own wrong reactions (they are tricky, but I have control over them too); or by my own inaction in some situations, like the present world situation, that need action from me. When I recognized all this how free I felt! And I just stopped hurting myself.
When you approach others in judgment they will be on the defensive. When you are able to approach them in a kindly, loving manner without judgment they will tend to judge themselves and be transformed.
There is a power greater than ourselves which manifests itself within us as well as everywhere else in the universe. This I call God. ... To know God is to feel peace within -- a calmness, a serenity, an unshakeableness which enables you to face any situation.
Who is Jesus? Jesus was a great spiritual teacher who walked the earth. His life was governed by the indwelling Christ (the God-centered nature, the divine nature). He taught us ours could be too.
Are science and religion irreconcilable? You might say that science operates pragmatically and religion by divine guidance. If valid, they would reach the same conclusions but science would take a lot longer.
The Dream of the Earth by Thomas Berry
We might sometimes reflect and recall that the purpose of all our science, technology, industry, manufacturing, commerce, and all finance is celebration, planetary celebration. That is what moves the stars through the heavens and the earth through its seasons. The final norm of judgment concerning the success or failure of our technologies is the extent to which they enable us to participate more fully in this grand festival.
[Our] mythic commitment to continuing economic growth is such that none of our major newspapers or newsweeklies considers having an ecological section equivalent to the sports section or the financial section or the comic section or the entertainment section, although ecological issues are more important than any of those, even more important than the daily national and international political news. The real history that is being made is interspecies and human-earth history, not nation or internation history. The real threat is from the retaliatory powers of the abused earth, not from other nations.
Just as the doctrine of divine transcendence took away the pervasive divine presence to the natural world, so the millennial vision of a blessed future left all present modes of existence in a degraded status. All things were in an unholy condition. Everything needed to be transformed. This meant that anything unused was to be used if the very purpose of its existence was to be realized. Nothing in its natural state was acceptable.
It is clear that the primordial intention of the universe is to produce variety in all things, from atomic structures to the living world of plant and animal forms, to the appearance of humans, where individuals differ from one another more extensively than in any other realm of known reality. This difference can be seen not only in individuals, but also in social structures and in historical periods of our development.
The earth is our best model for any commercial venture. It carries out its operations with an economy and a productivity far beyond that of human institutions. It also runs its system with a minimum of entropy. There is in nature none of that sterile or toxic waste or nondecomposing litter such as is made by humans.
We can recognize the earth as a privileged planet and see the whole as evolving out of some cosmic imaginative process. Any significant thought or speech about the universe finds its expression through such imaginative powers. Even our scientific terms have a highly mythic content -- such words as energy, life, matter, form, universe, gravitation, evolution. Even such terms as atom, nucleus, electron, molecule, cell, organism. Each of these terms spills over into metaphor and mystery as soon as it is taken seriously.
When the absurdity of progress through exponential growth was indicated a few years ago in a work entitled The Limits to Growth, a general outcry could be heard across the country. That outcry was more than a justified criticism of the specific data or the time scale of future events. It was resentment against the indication that the dynamism of our consumer society was the supreme pathology of all history. ... the change that is taking place in the present is not simply another historical transition or another cultural transformation. Its order of magnitude is immensely more significant in its nature and in its consequences. We are indeed closing down the major life systems of the planet.
These consequences [of our attitude that we are too good for the natural world] are now becoming manifest. The day of reckoning has come. In this disintegrating phase of our industrial society, we now see ourselves not as the splendor of creation, but as the most pernicious mode of earthly being. We are the termination, not the fulfillment of the earth process. If there were a parliament of creatures, its first decision might well be to vote the humans out of the community, too deadly a presence to tolerate any further. We are the affliction of the world, its demonic presence. We are the violation of earth's most sacred aspects.
The Great Work: Our Way Into the Future by Thomas Berry
The Great Work before us, the task of moving modern industrial civilization from its present devastating influence on the Earth to a more benign mode of presence, is not a role that we have chosen. It is a role given to us, beyond any consultation with ourselves. We did not choose. We were chosen by some power beyond ourselves for this historical task. We do not choose the moment of our birth, who our parents will be, our particular culture or the historical moment when we will be born. We do not choose the status of spiritual insight or political or economic conditions that will be the context of our lives. We are, as it were, thrown into existence with a challenge and a role that is beyond any personal choice. The nobility of our lives, however, depends upon the manner in which we come to understand and fulfill our assigned role.
We initiate our children into an economic order based on exploitation of the natural life systems of the planet. To achieve this attitude we must first make our children unfeeling in their relation to the natural world. This occurs quite simply since we ourselves have become insensitive toward the natural world and do not realize just what we are doing. Yet if we observe our children closely in their early years we see how they are instinctively attracted to profound experiences of the natural world. We also see additional stresses, emotional disruptions, and learning disabilities that seem to originate in the toxic environment and processed food that we provide for them.
We will recover our sense of wonder and our sense of the sacred only if we appreciate the universe beyond ourselves as a revelatory experience of that numinous presence whence all things come into being. Indeed, the universe is the primary sacred reality. We become sacred by our participation in this more sublime dimension of the world about us.
These four symbols -- the Journey, the Great Mother, the Cosmic Tree, and the Death-Rebirth symbol -- experienced now in a time-developmental rather than a spatial mode of consciousness, constitute a psychic resource of enormous import for establishing ourselves as a viable species in a viable life system on the Earth.
If the religious experience were simply some naive impression of the uninformed it would not have resulted in such intellectual insight, such spiritual exaltation, such spectacular religious ritual, or in the immense volume of song and poetry and literature and dance that humans have produced.
Ecology is not a course or a program. Rather it is the foundation of all courses, all programs, and all professions because ecology is a functional cosmology. Ecology is not a part of medicine; medicine is an extension of ecology. Ecology is not a part of law; law is an extension of ecology. So too, in their own way, the same can be said of economics and even the humanities.
We are so impatient with our given place in the universe that some persons are totally committed to discovering how we can get beyond Earth. We have indeed been out in space, but some are under the impression that we have been off Earth. In reality humans have never been off Earth. We have always been on a piece of Earth in space. We survive only as long as we can breathe the air of Earth, drink its waters, and be nourished by its foods. There is no indication that humans will ever live anywhere else in the universe.
There seems to be little awareness that government, independent of corporation pressure, is the most powerful force the people have to offset the immense size of the corporations individually and in their combined influence over a nation's affairs. Big corporations require big government -- unless the people are willing to accept the corporations as the government.
Among the primary evils of contemporary industry is that it is founded on uniform, standardized processes. This is especially devastating in agribusiness, which demands uniformity in its products. Nature abhors uniformity. Nature not only produces species diversity but also individual diversity. Nature produces individuals. No two days are the same, no two snowflakes, no two flowers, trees, or any other of the infinite number of life forms. Since monoculture and standardization are violations of both the universe covenant and the Earth covenant, we need to foster a new sense of the organic world over the merely mechanical world.
One great advantage in the modern European contact with the indigenous peoples of the world is the perspective that it has provided people of Western European civilization with an occasion to reflect on the inherent consequences of the civilizational process itself. For the first time, in the beginning of the colonial period, Western civilization could be seen as being weakened, both physically and morally, precisely through the civilization process itself.
Women are also revealing Western civilization to itself. Without this newly assertive consciousness of women, Western civilization might have continued indefinitely on its destructive path without ever coming to a realization of just what has been happening in the exclusion of women from full participation in the human project.
Radical Simplicity: Small Footprints on a Finite Earth by Jim Merkel
Currently the world's wealthiest one billion people alone consume the equivalent of the Earth's entire sustainable yield. All six billion people are consuming at a level that is 20 percent over sustainable yield.
The four phases of a vision quest: 1) To separate from one's daily routine and go into the wilderness. 2) To embark on an epic journey, either metaphorical or real. 3) To allow for a ceremonial death and rebirth -- a death of ideas, actions, or beliefs no longer appropriate for one's new world. 4) To integrate one's reborn self back into the community.
Imagine this scenario. What would happen if every worker were to offer their services at a price as close to the average global income as practical given their particularities, such as family size, geographic location, etc.? In essence, this means setting the price for one's products or services according to their needs, instead of attempting to maximize profits (what the market would bear or as high of a salary as you can negotiate). Costs would come down. Each household could work just enough to support their basic needs, including a reasonable level of long-term security. By having lower incomes, individuals would consume less. As product prices fall, others can work less and earn less. The entire economy would gently slow down, yet everyone would still have their needs met. It simply takes each person limiting how much income they take and how much they consume. I'm not really suggesting communism. But I am suggesting a voluntary taming of the appetite.
Although there are infinite ways to share, the easiest is simply to take less. We take less (or share more) when we: earn less, taking less of the available work; consume less; make wiser choices; and purchase local products. You may be tempted to enthusiastically consume more than your share of available work and money and become a philanthropist, all for the joy of giving it away. But this path is loaded with pitfalls, in terms of power dynamics and inner motivation.
Figure 6-4, Ecological Footprints as they Correlate to Income.
$100,000 and up: 40 to 60 acres
$50,000 to $100,000: 30 to 50 acres
$30,000 to $50,000: 25 to 40 acres
$30,000 and up (Europe and Japan): 15 acres and up
$25,000 to $30,000: 20 to 30 acres
$20,000 to $25,000: 18 to 22 acres
$15,000 to $20,000: 14 to 20 acres
$10,000 to $15,000: 12 to 18 acres
$5,000 to $10,000: 5 to 15 acres
$2,500 to $5,000: 3 to 13 acres
$1,000 to $2,500: 2.5 to 6 acres
$500 to $1,000: 2 to 5 acres
$100 to $500: 1.5 to 4 acres
What would be the ecological footprint to travel across America once a year by plane, bus, train, car, bike or horse? Assume the journey is 6,000 miles round trip... Plane (economy class): 1.3 acres. Bus: 0.4 acres. Train: 1.8 acres. Car (20 mpg): 2.6 acres. Car (50 mpg): 1 acre. Bicycle: 0.22 acres. Horse: 1.8 acres.
On average, people spend almost one day a week (or about an hour and a half a day) working to pay for their vehicles. You could work four days a week, commute up to ten miles each way by bike, and still save time.
Couples must remain free to choose their family size. For this [one-hundred-year] plan to succeed, it has to be: Fully voluntary; Aimed at alleviating poverty; Fully supported by government; Locally driven; Bioregionally focused; Accomplished through education; and Dynamic.
The 100-year plan offers a clear win-win scenario. If humanity chooses one-child families for the next 100 years, a footprint goal of six acres is achievable without sustainability heroics. The high-income individuals, who now have the most privilege, need to step up to the plate and reduce footprints as an initial gesture of goodwill. Then, after sustained, documentable reductions have been made, they will have the credibility to ask low-income countries to reduce population.
God's Debris: A Thought Experiment by Scott Adams
If you believe a truck is coming toward you, you will jump out of the way. That is belief in the reality of the truck. If you tell people you fear the truck but do nothing to get out of the way, that is not belief in the truck. Likewise, it is not belief to say God exists and then continue sinning and hoarding your wealth while innocent people die of starvation. When belief does not control your most important decisions, it is not belief in the underlying reality, it is belief in the usefulness of believing.
"Are you saying we're evolving into God?"
"I'm saying we're the building blocks of God, in the early stages of reassembling."
"I think I'd know it if we were part of an omnipotent being," I said.
"Would you? Your skin cells are not aware that they are part of a human being. Skin cells are not equipped for that knowledge. They are equipped to do what they do and nothing more. Likewise, if we humans -- and all the plants and animals and dirt and rocks -- were components of God, would we have the capacity to know it?"
"Does God have consciousness yet? Does he know he's reassembling himself?"
"He does. Otherwise you could not have asked the question, and I could not have answered."
Light is analogous to the horizon. It is a boundary that gives the illusion of being a physical thing. Like the horizon, it appears to move away from you at a constant speed no matter how fast you are moving. We observe things that we believe are light, like the searchlight in the night sky, the cloud-red sunset. But those things are not light; they are merely boundaries between different probabilities.
The so-called speed of light is simply the limit to how far a particle can pop into existence from its original location.
Ideas are the only things that can change the world. The rest is
"Walking Through Fear" by Frances Moore Lappe, in YES! a Journal of Positive Futures, June 2004
I think we are in a new evolutionary stage. We evolved in tight-knit tribes in which we faced death if we didn't have the support of the rest of the tribe. So little wonder that it can seem unthinkable to say "no, thanks" to the modern-day equivalent of our tribe -- our fear-driven culture. The problem is that our whole tribe -- if you will, the larger community of humanity itself -- is on a death march ecologically and in terms of the intensification of violence and conflict. So breaking with the pack may be *exactly* what we should be doing. Saying "no" to the dominant culture that is trapping us in destructive ways of living might be the most life-serving thing we can do. Fear doesn't necessarily mean that we have to stop. It doesn't mean that we are failures. It doesn't mean that we are cowards. It means that we are human beings walking into the unknown, and that we are risking breaking with others for something we believe in.