Jun 042013
 

In this highly-rated series of audio clips, Ken Wilber offers his own thoughts about futurism and future studies, the fabled “integral tipping point”, and how we need to really come together as a community in order to begin paving the way to a better and more integral tomorrow.

  • Part 1 – Integrating the Future (mp3) 14:52
    With all the emphasis we see in spiritual communities about the importance of being in the NOW, it can be easy to forget how important it is to keep a careful eye on the future. After all, aren’t our thoughts about the future just another way to distract ourselves from connecting to our “true self” in this present moment? Here’s what Ken has to say:“The way you approach the present isn’t just determined by the way you approach the past, but by the way you approach the future. The richer conception of the future you have, the richer your life in the present becomes.”Ken sorts out the various schools of futurism, what each has to offer from an integral view, and how it’s just as important for us to integrate the future in our awareness as it is to integrate the past and present.
  • Part 2 – The State of the “We” (mp3) 9:20Ken Wilber offers his own view of the “we space” shared by the integral community, which he sees as being more fragmented than it needs to be. Healing this fragmentation is one of our most important goals, or else we risk diminishing our potential impact upon a world that’s increasingly in need of integral perspectives, insights, and solutions.
  • Part 3 – Are We Approaching a Cultural Tipping Point? (mp3) 14:53
    If the Integral worldview is now emerging as a new stage of human consciousness and culture, are we at some point going to see an integral cultural rennaissance such as we did in the late Sixties? If so, how do we get there?Ken Wilber offers his own thoughts, pointing out what is truly amazing about the rapid emergence of the Integral worldview, and why it’s so hard to predict when it will reach the fabled tipping point of 10% of the population.

Selected from http://integrallife.com/ken-wilber-dialogues/integrating-future 

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Jun 022013
 

Ayn Rand and the real parasites
Have you swallowed the big fat lie?

Ayn Rand, in Atlas Shrugged, promotes the idea that, “The man at the top of the intellectual pyramid contributes the most to all those below him. … The man at the bottom who, left to himself, would starve in his hopeless ineptitude, contributes nothing to those above him, but receives the bonus of all their brains.” Really? And, are the richest businessmen the real “job creators?” No, and you’ve been told a whopper. Over and over, you’ve been told a big fat lie.

Do you remember company towns and company stores? Do you believe that the company was just creating jobs and looking out for the best interests of their employees? Do you believe that your niece, struggling to pay her bills with a part-time minimum-wage job, is too stupid to do any better? Is she so ignorant, irresponsible, and inept that she is incapable of contributing to the welfare of her family and community?

Do you believe that feudal lords or plantation owners were the praiseworthy “job creators” for the serfs and slaves of their time? Do you believe that the character of those who acquire money and power with no sufficient end has changed recently? Of course, we all have the responsibility to work hard and do our best. Some will always do better than others and they should be able to keep a healthy cut of their earnings. But, there is no excuse for perpetually enriching yourself by increasing the burden and misery of others.

As communities, and as a nation, we all have the duty to pay a fair share of taxes. Ideally, we pay according to our sufficiency. In turn, we all receive benefits from our government that are intended to enable us to prosper and protect us from exceptional loss. We expect fair laws and just courts. We expect a clean environment, fairly-priced utilities, and for good schools, roads, parks, and other public commons to be openly available. And, according to our need, we hope for the temporary support that may be required to lift ourselves out of difficult circumstances.

In America, it is a foundational belief that God loves all of his children and that all men are created equal. We believe that, as fellow citizens, we should all have access to a fair position in our society from which to climb and to earn the reward that is due for all of our hard work. In practical terms, we believe in fairness under the law. It is just wrong to buy justice, privileges, and exemptions. So why do we tolerate such unjust gain by some of those among us?

Even worse: Why do we embrace those who maneuver to drive us increasingly down? Why do we accept this mushrooming inequality and embrace the authority of tyrants? Why do we act against the best interests of ourselves and our children? Have we simply failed to recognize the big fat lies that we are now choking on?

Our danger is not from government itself. The proper function of our representative democracy is to enable and protect all citizens fairly. Our danger is from those who would take control of our government from us (the public) in order to privately enrich themselves at our expense.

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Jul 252012
 

I got a lot of interesting reactions today, sitting with a “Christie Vilsack for Congress” sign while about ten thousand bicycle-across-Iowa folks peddled past my front yard in a small, rural town.

RAGBRAI stands for “[Des Moines] Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa.” This is not a competition. It’s just thousands of people out for up to seven days in our insane summer heat, enjoying the camaraderie of “the oldest, largest and longest bicycle touring event in the world.” Christie Vilsack is Iowa’s former First Lady and a Democrat running for the U.S. Congress in Iowa’s  4th District. She is opposing Republican incumbent Steve King, an “outspoken conservative who is a nationwide favorite of tea party activists.” My little town of Dayton, Iowa (population 837) is half-way through today’s 84-mile segment.

Today was a microcosm of the liberal ideals of community, fellowship, and social involvement. My 1880’s “workman’s Victorian” house was right on the route, just after the downtown events that included food concessions, a live band, and a dunking tank. As the bicyclists accelerated down a 1-block incline and past me, in my wheelchair by the curb with a political sign, I still had plenty of interactions.

Also, because my house fronts Main Street with a shade-tree-packed double lot, dozens of riders at a time stopped to take a break before heading down the long and hot road to Lehigh. My wife, Dianna, sent out a mostly-full pan of yesterday’s brownies. Everybody was so incredulous and thankful that she went back inside, cranked up her oven and made an additional five dozen large Snicker doodle cookies from scratch.

On the street, most riders smiled and waved or added a “good morning.” I figure I got a fair ration of exercise just sitting and waving back. Until the worst of the afternoon sun started taking its toll, most of these folks were having fun and were in an expansive and gregarious mood. You can’t have much of a conversation, passing by at 12 miles per hour, but you can share your good will and wave or call out a “good morning,” “hey,” “great hat,” or “thank-you” as appropriate to the moment.

Only four people in the six hours I was out were negative. It was nothing too strong – just an occasional “Obama is a socialist” or “I hope she loses.” It seemed fair enough; I was actually expecting more. Maybe this crowd was composed, more than usual, of people whose mommas had taught them that “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” You got to where you could see the people who glanced at the sign, clenched their jaw, and just starred sternly and unhappily ahead as they rolled by.

On the other hand, I got a LOT of approving finger-points, thumb-ups, smiles, “thank-yous,” and bell rings. I used to have a bell on my bike in the 1950s but this was unexpected at first. Two dings signal approval and come with a big smile. I liked to respond with a big wave, a big smile, and my own loud “thank-you.”

As the day wore on, there were even more thank-yous tossed my way. The expressions seemed more general than political. Having just enjoyed a church hospitality tent, a cold beer, and/or a dunk in a big water tank, the riders seemed to be taking me as an unexpected final representative of the city’s welcoming spirit as they headed out and onward. They seemed grateful to have someone to let know that they had been treated well and that they appreciated it.

I had a few short political conversations with the people taking a break under my trees. I wanted to stay low-key and didn’t shout out “Vote for Vilsack” or any such thing. Still, when you talk to someone in the grass, the sign suggests an obvious topic.

While I was passing out the first batch of fresh cookies and offering the last one on the pan, the fellow glanced at my sign and then asked, “I’m a Republican. Is it still okay to take it?” I just smiled and let him in on the secret, “Of course. Democrats believe that ‘we’re all in this together,’ that we’re all neighbors, and that we should all care about each other.” Maybe I shouldn’t have rubbed it in so pointedly, but he took his cookie, rolled his eyes, moaned a little, and told me to be sure to tell my wife that they were really, really good.

When the next batch of cookies came out, I took up where I’d left off. The next fellow under the tree, having had some time to think about the situation, took his snicker doodle, turned to the first fellow and said, “This is the kind of thing we’re thinking about when you call us socialists.”

As the day went on, the goodness of community just kept on as well. And, I’m not just patting myself on the back for getting out the water hose or fetching the kitchen trash can (which seemed to be particularly appreciated). People helped each other change punctured inner tubes. Someone made a detour to the first-aid station to get help for a stranger who had been weakened by the heat. People were at ease getting to know each other, telling stories, and exchanging ideas without getting cranky.

I’ve heard Christy Vilsack speak. She likes to tell a story about a small town where she lived. There was a well-used intersection that didn’t have stop or yield signs in any direction. She appreciated that neighbors just slowed down, took in the situation, and waved one or the other on through. Like most stories, it holds meaning and recommends future behavior. Such a story reflects on where her heart is and how she would govern.

I grieve for those who only care to look out for just themselves and for those they see as part of a limited “us.” However, I take heart on days like this, where so many people open an inclusive heart, accepting that we are all neighbors worthy of respect, concern, and support. What kind of candidate do you want representing you? What kind of representative will you vote for?

© 2012, David Satterlee

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Feb 042012
 

It occurred to me a while back that the conservative ideal of “individual freedom,” taken to its logical end, promotes anarchy. If everybody does only what appeals to them as being in the best interests of themselves, their family, or their tribe, it prevents them from fully engaging in the interests of broader civic and societal responsibility. If you are primarily looking out for yourself, you aren’t being a good citizen.

Of course, it also occurred to me that the liberal ideal of “common good,” taken to its logical end, promotes totalitarianism communism… or maybe the kind of selfless love of neighbor that Jesus endorsed. None of these extremes seem practical for America at this point in history.

Isn’t there some balance, some moderate center ground where we can meet and agree to compromise if not find consensus? If you consider American political history during the last few decades, an interesting dynamic appears. It used to be that both the Democratic and Republican parties had their liberal and conservative wings. However, increasingly, the Republican party has been swinging more and more to the radical right and adopting rigidly-held extreme positions and an unwillingness to compromise. At the same time, the Democratic party has been edging more and more toward a moderate center and adopting positions that already have compromise built in.

But, I digress. It seems that the Republican party is structured for divisiveness and conflict rather than constructive citizenship. They are a loose coalition of conservative interest groups, each tightly focused on their own subset of specific issues. They lack unity on almost every philosophy except “leave me alone.” Commentators have described these factions, giving them names such as: traditionalists, conservatives, neoconservatives, paleoconservatives, fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, moderates, and libertarians.

For example, there is the religious right that doesn’t want to have anyone disagree with their [conservative Christian] religious convictions while insisting that they press their values on others. There is the individual-liberties right that just doesn’t want to be told what to do about anything, such as register their guns or wear a motorcycle helmet. There is a blue-collar economic right that doesn’t want to have taxes collected that benefit anybody but themselves. There is the elite financial right that doesn’t want anyone to interfere with their pursuit of short-term profits. Each of these positions seems to make sense if repeated often enough and without a discussion of broader context and consequences.

This conservative disposition tends toward “Leave me alone, I’ll take care of myself and you take care of yourself,” or simply “fuck you.” (Witness the audience’s unsympathetic reactions during the GOP debates to the hard consequences on disadvantaged citizens of some candidates’ policies.) The moderate liberal center, however, tends toward “we’re all in this together.” Oddly, while this conservative position pointedly rejects the interests of others, the liberal position embraces and empathizes with the interests of others including, ironically, conservatives.

Why would the kind of conservatives described above want to get involved with any civic sacrifice that didn’t promote the interests of themselves or someone who is part of the limited group that they consider to be “us.” The difference is that liberals have a broader perception of “us.” While liberals can still embrace an appreciation for personal liberties, the moral benefits of religious faith, and the importance of family values, they are more likely to also feel heightened responsibilities for the needs of their communities, their overall nation, and others with whom they share this planet.

Very few Americans want “communism” as practiced in the former Soviet Union or in China under Chairman Mao. Nore are there very many Americans who want the kind of “cradle to grave socialism” of some European countries (despite the recent name calling against liberals by conservative candidates). But, as Albert Einstein, and generations of Complex Systems and Developmental researchers have pointed out, the significant problems that we face can not be solved at the same level on which they were created. We must come together to solve problems that are bigger than ourselves. That is why we form communities and that is why we need government. That is why we should (and do) sacrifice individual liberties for the greater good of ever-larger populations. That is why we give governments limited power to regulate our affairs and tax us so as to act for our collective welfare.

The bottom line is that, between impractical extremes, there is an important place for layers of community and government. In the balance between individual liberties and and the state’s ownership of all means of production, there exists a range of options that allow for our pursuit of happiness while remaining interested and involved in our common good. It is the urge to active citizenship. It is the position of empathy, moderation, compromise, and consensus.  It is the sweet spot of the modern American Democratic Party.

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Oct 282011
 

By David Satterlee

Published in the Dayton Review, September 28, 2011 – Front page, above the fold, with picture

Community news

Read the entire article at:

http://www.iowanewspapersonline.com/story.asp?sty_ID=5512&lstNewsPaper=90

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Oct 272010
 

The Two Heroes of Thompsonville

by David Satterlee

Thompsonville was nowhere. It was a town of modest size and not completely isolated, but mostly self-sufficient with its own traditions and community standards. The railroads had passed it by during the great expansion. The express highways had passed it by as well. It was too hilly for a canal – it was too flat for a reservoir. No native son ever grew up to be a governor or general. No one ever started a museum of tiny carved furniture or old farm implements. It was just a nice out-of-the-way place to live. As a matter of fact, it was a nice place to grow old and die if you didn’t wander off in search of something-or-other first.

Labith didn’t just wander off. He hit the road with a vengeance. He had loved his childhood sweetheart, Roatrine for as long as he could remember. They had played together as babies, studied together in school and, in the course of time, come to know each other very, very well. How could Roatrine refuse to marry him now? Why would she invent such a trivial excuse to cut off their friendship? Her parents, Robance and Rosatrine, weren’t the problem; they had always liked him and had given their enthusiastic approval when Labith had asked to formally court their daughter.

Labith was inconsolable. He wandered the hills and found no comfort. He immersed himself in the labor of clearing a new field and found no distraction. Roatrine possessed his heart and haunted his mind. Her ready smile and quick wit filled his thoughts while her silken skin and flowing hair filled his dreams. His mother, Salabith, advised him to be patient and he was. His father, Robance, eventually encouraged him to renew his affections with gifts and sweet words and he did. But, nothing he could think of could change his true love’s mind. “Do you love me?” “Yes.” “Will you marry me?” “I’m sorry, No!”

Some people would have eventually given up and resigned themselves to their fate. But for Labith, there was nothing else to do but keep on seeking. He couldn’t stand the pain of always seeing his beloved around town each day. He couldn’t not always watch for her either. Who else walked with such grace and poise? Who else shared his joys and values? Only Roatrine. And so, Labith, filled with the urgency of intolerable desperation, left. He left his family and his friends and his community. He left their traditions and … well, he left the life he knew behind.

It is truly a big world and Labith, stunned to the core of his soul, traveled. He met people. He read books. He questioned authority. Labith pondered the nature of reality and law and truth. Assailed by ideas and forces that were new to him he found himself, in many ways, even more desperate and alienated than before he left. But, being a man of courage and character, he transcended his previous limits and views. His transformation brought freedom of thought and action. He now knew what he had to do.

People in Thompsonville welcomed Labith back, but watched him with unabashed curiosity. Naturally, he sought out his beloved Roatrine straight away. They walked down by the water path and sat under their favorite tree and they talked. Labith told her where he had gone and what he had learned. He told her how much he loved her and that he still wanted to raise a family with her. Labith told her that if they had a girl, it wouldn’t have to be named Latrine but that they could call her Becky or Marge or something else. “Oh!” said Roatrine, “What a good idea! This changes everything!”

I hadn’t been writing for a while following a move to our dream home in the woods. It was time to get into harness. It was exercise time. I sat down with no agenda and no plot; just the intent to write a short story. My fingers typed “Thompsonville.” Okay, that’s a start. I started describing the town. Then a character jumped in and so did his angst. In the middle of it all, I remembered recently talking to a customer service representative on the telephone. Her name was Latrina. I had pointed it out to my wife: “What parents would name their daughter “Latrina?” We were aware that it has become popular to name children using parts of their parent’s names. Now, what if it were a fixed, immutable, unchallenged tradition in this town?

You DID notice that the names were a conjugation of the first part of the father’s name and the last part of the mother’s name. Curiously, the name of the town is built using a different set of rules.

I have deliberately used pairs of thoughts and pairs of adjectives in the structure of this story. It was intended to be a reflection of how all the names were composed of two parts.

Copyright 2009, 2010 David Satterlee

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License, which essentially says that you are free to share the work under the conditions that you attribute it fully, do not use it for commercial purposes, and do not alter it.