May 312012
 

Most of us have heard the phrase “sustainable development” and perhaps a little about United Nations and other initiatives related to sustainable development such as Agenda 21 and the Earth Charter.  Some of our communities are exploring these principals in the hopes of heading off, or at least moderating, future catastrophes.

The concept of organized sustainable development is described by critics as a massive international conspiracy to deprive you of individual and commercial rights. Yep, that’s pretty much how it is. This threat is so outrageous that I thought I would take this opportunity to speak out [with tongue firmly in cheek] in defense of UN-organized and UN-sustainable development.

[Our] people are guaranteed freedom and liberty.  These should not be trampled on, limited, or regulated regardless of consequences to others. We should be allowed to do whatever we want.

All natural resources are given by God to man to own, subdue, and have dominion over (Genesis 1:28).  Further man was given the physical and mental powers to accomplish this. This same scripture instructed him to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth – with no mention of limits.

Automobiles, the open road, and cheap gasoline are as quintessentially American as baseball and apple pie. A gas guzzling vehicle is not only larger and safer for its occupants but a public symbol of status and achievement. Free public roads are the right of every citizen. We should all have unlimited choice to live, work, play, shop, commute, and just drive around at will.

Trees are for lumber; just ask the long-missing inhabitants of Easter Island. They left behind mysterious rock statues, but no growing wood. Trees are also for burning; and when trees become scarce, one can always make more children to go out and forage for sticks.

Insecticides and pesticides are good for crops and lawns – to say nothing of bees, frogs, birds, fish, and shallow wells. But, who needs all that buzzing and chirping anyway? And do we really need water? I never drink water anyway ‘cause there’s plenty of beer.

We have lots of coal and it’s cheap, so we should be allowed to use as much of it as we want to generate as much electricity as we want. Never mind acid rain, millions of children with respiratory problems, or atmospheric heat retention from rising carbon dioxide levels.

Besides, I’m okay now and I don’t give a rip about my grandchildren or anybody else either. Speaking of which, I also don’t care about neutering pets, soil erosion, toxic waste, or even famine. Other people have those problems, not me… so far.

©2012, David Satterlee

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Apr 102012
 

I was discussing the concept of  “developmental levels of worldview” with a friend. She keep wanting to imagine that my description of a hierarchical, predictable sequence of developmental stages suggested increasing “smartness” or “betterness.” I was having trouble getting across the ideas that any worldview stage is perfectly fine so long as it serves the needs of your current circumstances and does not oppress others.

Eventually, I suggested that progressive developmental levels was like a progressive experience of elephants:
[This does not accurately represent my belief system; it’s just an imaginary hierarchy of experience.]

  • What’s an elpherbunt? (simply no clue)
  • I have heard of elephants.
  • I have read a story about elephants. (unable to independently anticipate the experience of an elephant’s subsonic rumbles)
  • I have seen an elephant at the circus.
  • I have watched elephants at the zoo. (the most common limit to likely developmental stages)
  • I have lived with elephants in the wild. (few people would even imagine that anything more was possible)
  • I have memories of being an elephant.
  • I have always been an elephant. (few elephants would even imagine that anything more was possible)
  • I am the race memory of all elephants.
  • I Am that I Am. (God’s description of himself in Exodus)

Each stage is adequate for the needs of certain individuals in certain circumstances.

At each stage, some greater [effort or] involvement has been achieved to have had a larger understanding.

At each stage, it is difficult to explain the experience adequately to some who has not been there.

At each stage, it is difficult to imagine the richness of knowing involved in additional stages.

I’m not suggesting that all of these stages are actually plausible for an individual. But, then again, how could you actually be certain of that unless you were I Am?

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Dec 242010
 

Stages of Consciousness and Culture

The 19th century German philosopher, Georg Hegel, noted that conflict enables transformation to higher states of organization. This idea was reinforced by research in the 20th century; particularly in Developmental Psychology. These states have developed sequentially through human history as increasingly organized world views—for both individuals and cultures.

As we develop through childhood we experience this transformation and change as our thoughts and feelings become more complex. Developmental psychology demonstrates that this kind of staged development continues through adulthood. Leading researchers have supported this concept of developmental stages: Jean Piaget, Lawrence Kohlberg, Jane Loevinger, Abraham Maslow, and Robert Kegan.

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Feb 082010
 

The concept of savoring is not so much “stopping to smell the roses” or making time once a day to appreciate something and log the exceptional event. Savoring should be the usual experience of pleasure that comes from a meaningful life lived in mindfulness and gratitude – an ongoing positive subjective experience.

Seligman’s research into character strengths includes “Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence,” which is important to obtaining the most satisfaction from opportunities for savoring. Although “living in the moment” (being mindful of now and savoring current experience) it seems likely that past savoring can set the stage for, and enhance, present appreciations in a self-reinforcing spiral of positivity and sense of well-being and rightfulness. I doubt that holding positive memories or positive expectations prevents our living in the moment; it would be only dwelling negatively on past regrets or future fears that is damaging.

Fred Bryant in “Savoring” points out that savoring can be enjoyed in three temporal forms. We can anticipate the future, enjoy the present moment, and reminisce over past satisfactions. I first noticed this principal while growing up in my parents’ home. My father married late and struggled with an 8th grade education and a learning disability. Nonetheless, he was a skilled craftsman at his work and sacrificed himself at hard labor into his late 60’s to support his family. Dad’s indulgence was to take a long driving vacation into the Rocky Mountains every two years. He would regularly put aside small amounts into a vacation fund for those two years. He would spend a full year planning and anticipating the next trip, indulge himself (and us with him) in whitewater rafting, remote camping, and excursion rides and, after returning home, spend the next year pulling out pictures and telling friends about the trip.

Jan 122010
 

Source: “Pursuing Human Strengths,” Martin Bolt, Introduction

“Choice” reflects our freedom to strive for self-determination. We all have the experience of considering options, choosing a behavior, and experiencing the consequences. The American culture is structured around the concept of freedom. We cherish the concept, nurture the capacity, and defend the right to make choices. We are more likely to sign petitions if someone has tried to coerce us into not doing so. Like Romeo and Juliet, we may become more passionate about an option that we feel is being denied to us. The concept of “reverse psychology” depends upon related principles.

Autonomy, acting with a sense of true choice, may be considered a “fundamental human need.” A sense of autonomy increases or interest in and commitment to the things we do. Conversely, restricting choice decreases our interest in an activity. Our sense of autonomy, our human freedom of choice, increases are commitment, ability to achieve, and level of satisfaction.