Cultute Change

Title: Illusion / Liu Yushan | Credit: Tsinghua University | Source: Ars Electronica | License: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Telling it Like it Isn’t

“The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.” —Leonardo da Vinci We recently drove from Asheville, North Carolina to San Diego, California—about 36 hours of driving time. I was pleasantly surprised not to hit a single pothole. The roads were in excellent shape from coast to coast. Thank you, President Obama, for your stimulus package.  The bump-less ride made me think of the broad assault Trump has made on the Obama legacy by Read More

Title: Ghost Cell / Antoine Delacharlery (FR) | Author: Antoine Delacharlery | Source: Ars Electronica | License: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Care, Connect, Contribute

In 1938, Sir Nicholas Winton started rescuing children from certain death in the Nazi concentration camps. He singlehandedly brought 669 children from Czechoslovakia to Britain and connected them with families there. Most of their families perished in Auschwitz. He never told a soul about his efforts and kept it a secret for 50 years until his wife found a notebook with the names and pictures of all the children he had saved. Sir Winton cared Read More

Title: Codex for the 21st Century | Author: Ruben Trejo | Source: Smithsonian American Art Museum

Identity and Unity

I was listening to a Krista Tippett podcast on a recent 8-hour car ride. Krista was interviewing Nikki Giovanni, a world-renowned, African-American poet, activist and educator. Ms. Giovanni was discussing the poem she delivered at Virginia Tech after the horrible shooting tragedy there in which 32 innocent people were killed by a troubled loner. I was struck by the power of her words and their relevance to where we are today – particularly after Orlando Read More

(Left: Title: Shoes taken off of the Jews-Holocaust Museum | Author: rpavich | Source: rpavich | License: CC BY 2.0) (Right: Berlin Holocaust Memorial)

The Menace of Mendacity

Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters. —Albert Einstein There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting. —Buddha Truth is not a trivial thing. Words matter. Being accurate requires curiosity, diligence, and rigor. I know that everyone has a different idea about what is truth. Much of the debate started when Pontius Pilate asked Read More

Photos by Mike Wilson and Ky0n Cheng

Inspiration and Aspiration

“To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to.”  —Khalil Gibran, The Madman I once worked for a company that aspired to be a $10B corporation. I said to the executives at that time, “That may be a good goal but it surely isn’t a compelling vision, and it does nothing to inspire me.” I left the company after two years. Part Read More

Artwork by Do-Ho Suh | Photographer: Carol M. Highsmith | Source: Library of Congress

The Masses and the Margins

“And the soul is like the eye: when resting upon that on which truth and being shine, the soul perceives and understands and is radiant with intelligence; but when turned towards the twilight of becoming and perishing, then she has opinion only, and goes blinking about, and is first of one opinion and then of another, and seems to have no intelligence.” —Plato, Republic, VI, 508 I worked in inmate rehabilitation for eight years in Read More

Featured Author: George Yancy

On June 19th in the New York Times, George Yancy published a Stone article entitled “Is Your God Dead?” I was so inspired by the power and prose of his piece that I am turning the microphone over today to this brilliant scholar will not only give you a break from my endless ranting, but will hopefully rekindle your outrage and stoke your passion for justice. After I read this piece for the third time (yes, Read More

Title: Nulle chose ne peut être détruite | Author: Bruno Malfondet | License: CC0

Disruption, Destruction, and Distraction

Independence Day 2017 “Power can be very addictive, and it can be corrosive. And it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere.” —George W. Bush, 2017 Disruption can be for better for worse. Luckily for me, the two major disruptions in my life turned out for the better. In 1968, at age 23, I was sent to Vietnam as a soldier in Military Read More

"A Humument p190: Silence & Stars" | Artist: Tom Phillips| Source: www.humument.com | License: © Tom Phillips

Nouns and Norms

I have always loved new ideas and embraced them enthusiastically. I have read an enormous amount about a ton of concepts, and I have accumulated a large repertoire of nouns in my vocabulary. But nouns require action verbs to make them real.

As Bucky Fuller said, God is a verb.

Title: orange | Author: Bob May | Source: alternative_illustrations on Flickr | License: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Balance and Unity

“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. Corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.” —Abraham Lincoln, Nov. Read More

Title: Cnidaria, MultiView Light Sheet Microscopy (3 of 4) | Author: Helena Parra | Source: ZEISS Microscopy | License: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Evolution of Consciousness

My wife sometimes accuses me of selective engagement. She says I am much more open to conversation with people whom I find physically attractive, intellectually stimulating, emotionally responsive, or spiritually evolved.

Guilty as charged. As it turns out, the idea of selective engagement goes back 500 million years.

Image Credit: Eleanor Caves and Claire Spottiswoode | Source: African Cuckoos

Shams and Shame

In the book, Mark Twain and the Art of the Tall Tale, Henry Wonham quotes Twain as saying, “the moral responsibility of the American humorist is ‘the deriding of shams, the exposure of pretentious falsities,’ and ‘the laughing of stupid superstitions out of existence.’” Thus, he said, “the humorist is the natural enemy of royalties, nobilities, privileges, and all kindred swindles, and is the natural friend of human rights and liberties.” Twain offered high praise Read More

"February 22, 2016," by David Gabriel Fischer, www.thezendiary.com (License: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The Timeless and the Timely

It’s hard to find elevated and elevating messages these days. It seems to me that we keep looking for quick and easy solutions to complex problems that require deep debate, creative thinking, and thoughtful analysis.

In this post, I revisit some sources of ancient wisdom, finding timeless principles that can help us deal with today’s challenges.

Title: Window of St. Mary’s Cathedral in linz | Author: Magdalena Sick-Leitner | Source: Ars Electronica | License: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Sin and Spin

There is no greater sin than desire, No greater curse than discontent, No greater misfortune than wanting something for oneself. Therefore he who knows that enough is enough will always have enough. —Tao Te Ching, Chapter 46 It seems to me that religions focus too much on sin; and politics focuses too much on spin. They may both be guilty of the sin of spin and the spin on sin. Religions specifically call out the Read More

Illustration for the ‘Mansion. Mizgir.’ fairy tales (1910), by Heorhiy Narbut

Experience and Expression

Spending 8 years in juvies and jails certainly changed my perspective on what it feels like to have all your values violated. Fortunately, I was serving time as a counselor for incarcerated inmates in county jails and juvenile delinquency “homes” — not as a convicted felon in a federal prison. I had no trouble responding to inmates’ experiences and helping them find more constructive ways to express themselves. These days I’m wondering if we are really jailing the right people.

Title: Naturalization Ceremony September 7, 2016 | Author: Yellowstone National Park / yellowstoneps | Source: Flickr | License: CC0

Reciprocity

Are the facts you think you know about immigration in the U.S. actually myths?–and what does the psychological concept of reciprocity have to do with the concept of being an American?

Credt: David Gabriel Fischer | www.thezendiary.com | License: CC BY-NC-ND

The Sacred and the Significant

“Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.” —Joseph Campbell

In her role as a Pretend Princess dressed in her frilly yellow gown complete with a crown on her head, my 5 year old granddaughter imperiously issued a solemn proclamation to her constituency: “Be kind, be truthful, and stay alive.”

"Chess in the rain," by Kelvin Pulker

Imagination and Identification

One of my favorite writers is Philip Roth. I loved all of his books, but American Pastoral tops the list. The book seems eerily relevant now. In American Pastoral, Roth follows the life of a successful Jewish businessman and high school star athlete from Newark, New Jersey, whose upper middle class life is ruined by the domestic social and political turmoil of the 1960s when American went “berserk.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Gross Domestic Spirit

In 2016, our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) exceeded 18 Trillion Dollars – a record high.

In my mind, we need to measure not only our GDP, but also our GDS – Gross Domestic Spirit. Spirit is a force we need to grow and measure if we are going to thrive and prosper as a society. Deep spirit is a powerful experience.

facade | Author: mitchell haindfield | Flickr | | License: Attribution 2.0 Generic

Bubbles, Beliefs, and Behaviors

I grew up in a bubble. It was a very common bubble for a lot of folks in our country: Mid-western, white, Christian, republican, working class, conservative, and rural. I had very little understanding about the lives of people outside my bubble and no awareness that I was even in a bubble.

My first bubble was burst in 1968 when I served in Vietnam with Army Intelligence.

line dancing

2020 World Culture Vision

The TV show “Downton Abbey” demonstrates as well as anything I have ever read or seen how an all-pervasive cultural code can produce strange and incomprehensible behaviors in people. People will do abnormal things to look “normal” by complying with the unwritten rules of the game.

Just as financial reports need to be audited, so also do the norms and values of the culture.

"Isaac Newton vs. Rube Goldberg" http://www.2dhouse.com/rubegoldbergmachines.php

Fear, Fantasy, Faith, and Facts

In the face of fear, most people either substitute fantasy for reality, cling more tightly to their faith, or distort the facts. It appears to me like a chain reaction: fear leads to fantasy that is then expressed in faith which creates its own convoluted “truth” or faux facts. With fear levels at unprecedented heights, we need to explore the components of this reaction more closely.

Animal Locomotion; Eadweard J. Muybridge (American, born England, 1830 - 1904); 1887; Collotype; 17.8 x 39.4 cm (7 x 15 1/2 in.); 84.XM.628.49. Courtesy of The Getty Museum

Thinking about Thinking

My wife often asks me, “What were you thinking?!!!” My response is usually, “I have no idea!”

But thinking about the way we think is a crucial part of making our lives, and the world around us, better.