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Archive for the ‘human learning’ Category

Unfortunately due to human nature and the forces of the economic system where we are all imprisoned, we just cannot afford to wait and win the hearts and minds of people before we can conveniently and democratically shift to sustainability.

I fully agree with Bill’s analysis regarding the individual and collective dynamics of motivation and persuasion. However Bill left out a critical element, most likely for lack of time. What Mr. Rees missed and what I think is the big elephant in his analysis is the actual System which nourishes not just our body but let’s be honest, our very own mind and spirit. We are lead to believe we have a freedom based democracy where we make our own choices but it is actually a corporate oligarchy where the choices are already pre-selected for us.

We are physically, emotionally, intellectually and culturally plugged into The System in the same way that a patient is hooked to an intravenous (IV) system. And it will take nothing short of a cataclysmic disruption to remove from our vanes the serum of Global Capitalism and allow the transition to a truly free, healthy and sustainable civilization.

 

 

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Internal view of the Stanford torus

Internal view of the Stanford torus. Source: Wikipedia.

From all the modern crises we face and suffer, there is one no one suspects of. It is the big elephant in the room of our challenging future ahead. I am referring to the unsuspected crisis of imagination. Since I was a child it bothered me and bored me why adults would not stop until they managed to strip away our dearest fantasies, imaginative ideas and any dreams that would not fit into the pathetically tiny box of possibilities for supposedly a successful career and life like doctor, layer, salesman and a just a few other professions. If we did not aspire to any of those limited possibilities, we were considered immature and childish, or living in La La Land.

Imagination is a word that has often become pejorative in our highly manipulated society as it often associated with kids or adults who cannot be taken seriously and therefore are pushed away from society being regarded as naïve, unrealistic or crazy.

We lose half of our humanity as we grow up and expose ourselves to the conditioning that annihilates our precious boundless and connecting child mind. Family, society and school make sure those ideas and attitudes that represent a threat to society’s narrow and fragile order are eradicated quite often ridiculing, marginalizing and even physically abusing those who dare to think outside the box, let alone those who question the system and the status quo. I know this not so much because of the dozens of passages where I have read about it, but because I have lived this painful truth in my own being.

Let’s be honest. Creativity is rewarded in just a relatively few exclusive circles, most of them not even available to the public at large. A few folks in the arts are allowed and even encouraged to think more creatively than anyone else but even then they are often subject to the same prejudice, criticism and antagonism as everyone else who dares to question The Establishment.

Even when creativity is made available to the public such as through activities like arts, crafts and cultural events, such creativity represents a mere narrow band in the vastly wide spectrum of possibilities available to re-define and re-live reality, and quite often such activities are nothing but an embellished repackaging of traditional outdated cultural icons and views thus offering a false and deceiving creative outlet.

A big inhibitor of creativity is the prevailing prejudice that creative activities are secondary in importance. They are generally thought of as a good hobby, a way to relax. They are usually played down by parents, teachers and neighbors as respectable career paths as an engineer or a sales executive are, simply because they are not perceived as ‘bread earners’.

A bigger detractor of creativity which reaches the rank of malicious is the prejudice and mental hijacking exerted by religious and political ideologies. These preconceived views of reality are mental strait jackets that keep individuals in a highly reduced universe whose limits cannot even be defined because they cannot even be imagined. The manipulative nature of these ideologies is so potent that it keeps the minds of the subjected believers unable to consider any idea outside their mandated conception of reality.

In this day and age creativity is still not taken seriously enough. The irony is that it will be our creativity, not traditional thinking, what will allow us to survive and thrive in this brave new world. No, this is not just a minor nuisance or even a loss of talent and potential but a cause of complacency, ignorance and ultimately inaction regarding the global crises we face including climate change, environmental degradation, resource depletion, food and water scarcity risks, world financial and economic instability, and all the other global challenges ahead.

Our lack of imagination to (1) conceive an alternative healthier world and (2) develop an alternative sustainable way to relate to ourselves, our species and the earth, results in our lack of ability and will to take the action. And of course I am referring to the action required to correct our accelerating collision course with the planet.

Source: Inhabitat

 

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THE HUMAN WORLD AND THE REMAINING LIVING WORLD CANNOT BE PROPERLY EXPLAINED THROUGH CLASSICAL MECHANICS. IT IS TIME TO REPLACE THE OUTDATED 17TH CENTURY NEWTONIAN VIEW WITH THE ECOLOGICAL VIEW OF REALITY.

This subject should be taught in schools and everywhere with the same emphasis than Newtonian mechanics has been taught. When we are young we have an amazing ability to see the world as a complex web of interrelationship, as a holistic continuum. Such ability is stripped away from us through schooling and education. Our minds are programmed with a simplistic mechanistic world view that reduces reality to isolated objects and linear causation. Reality and specially the living world are much accurately explained through complexity theory where the universe is an infinite dynamic web of interrelations. I strongly believe than in order to understand Nature and to become truly sustainable, humans will need to shift their perception of reality from the mechanistic view to the complex systems or eco-systemic view. This report does a good job of describing complex dynamical systems theory.

 

 

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Anyone would think this is a scene from a sci-fi or James Bond film but the scary thing about it is that this gentleman is no actor and he represents a growing fundamentalist movement called trans-humanism set to harness human evolution through technology to ultimately become God. This particular character is very serious about his plan to become God. He says “if you’re going to interfere with me becoming God, we’ll have big trouble. Then we’ll have warfare”.

I think the threat posed by this new religious worship and absolute belief in the almighty power of technology is more serious and far greater than global terrorism, global warming or global financial meltdown. We are dealing with what is after all a religious fanaticism far more dangerous than any militant religious extremist group or ideology.  What makes this extreme faction of the so called  trans-humanism movement such a concern is the very acceptance of the movement – even its radical elements. Such acceptance is won because modern society sees trans-humanism as mere science and that is enough to make it legitimate and unlikely to be questioned.  So much for Homeland Security when we have such a threat well rooted inside our borders brainwashing our very own populations. Their technique is extremely powerful and subtle: to hook the public with luring promises such as human perfection and eternal youth.

Let’s examine where this techno-dogma comes from. The mission of trans-humanism’s is the development of the next stage of human evolution called post-human or neo-human. Writer and globalization expert Carl Teichrib describes the premises of trans-humanism:

“1. DNA: Now that we are unlocking the secrets of DNA, we can alter our genetic makeup to augment desirable traits and block negative characteristics. It’s hoped such a move will bring longevity and eradicate diseases. Other possible outcomes include the production of designer babies in the womb, and even introducing DNA from other species into the human code; thus building a ‘Human Plus’ equipped with advanced physical and cognitive traits. Such a trans-human/hybrid would be ‘transgenic’, in other words a human Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) just like corn or soy.

“2. Computer Interfacing and AI: As the secrets of the brain are discovered, it is anticipated that a time will arrive when the mind is efficiently interfaced with cyber-space. It is believed that in such a scenario the brain, once ‘plugged-in,’ could allow the mind to surf the network, download and upload from the web, receive memory upgrades, and converge with a global mind-to-machine-to mind community—forming a type of cyber-hive. Or, according to some cybernetic purists, to allow one’s consciousness to completely leave the bounds of flesh and enter cyber-space as an electronic entity. After all the brain, it’s argued, is an electrochemical organ. This mind uploading, it’s believed, could culminate in what the Catholic mystic, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin called the noosphere: the emergence of a living, global consciousness. The web would thus ‘come alive’.”

The objectives stated above have been used by sci-fi literature and films to warn us about the potential for the future to become a horrible nightmare, but guess what? I am wide awake and by looking at the news I can only realize the plan for this nightmarish future is already under way, and apparently with no one willing or able to stop it. Despite the risks and horrific consequences the misuse of technology can bring such as that  posed by Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) destabilizing the fragile balance of natural ecosystems, I take comfort in the fact that the core believes held by transhumanists are false. We humans are not machines and consciousness is not a computer algorythm.

Those two facts alone make the trans-humanist agenda a childish fantasy which nonetheless can cause great irreversible damage to humans and planet. Thus the activities of these people still need to be closely monitored and controlled. Alongside the supervision by those institutions whose role is to enforce bioethics and safety on the use of technology, we need to counter trans-humanism with a new humanism driven by core timeless human values. It is the removal of values from science that has allowed science to run unchecked, unquestioned and ironically become the greatest threat to civilization and the planet, despite all the benefits it has also brought to humanity. Deep ecology illustrates the true nature of human beings and the life honoring values which were upheld by our indigenous ancestors and that we urgently need to restore.

I am not against progress. Man must not give up on his inherent nature to develop science and technology. It is his right and duty. However after  four centuries of reckless exploitation of planet and people in the name of science and progress, man needs to retake responsibility for his power by re-infusing  science and technology as well as all his activities and his very own perception of reality with the mentioned human values and overall sensibility. We must contain our human progress within the domain the human of human values and ensuring we will not disrupt the fragile order of the natural world who we are not even close to fully understand due to its enormous complexity and the limitations of our scientific knowledge.

Let’s continue honoring our inherently human ambition for growing human knowledge and bringing progress, but let’s ensure we do it in a responsible, safe and ultimate sustainable manner.

 

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DSC00789We would not damage the environment if we realized it is a part of us in the same way we will avoid hurting our hands as they are part of us.  Humans need to expand their identity beyond the levels of individual, social group, and even species. The day we learn we are one with the rest of the Biosphere and learn anything else alive is after all a cousin, we will reconnect with Nature.

What barriers do we need to remove at the psyche’s level to understand the fact that we are still an element of the Natural Ecosystem? One of the most erroneous and deeply held believes is our socio-technical environment being separated and autonomous from the natural world. Despite the comfort, convenience and resources our manmade environments may offer, they all result from our life-sustaining system, Nature.

If we saw the myriad of interactions between our man-made environment and the natural environment such as the air we all breathe and the food we eat, we would realize the notion of separation is nothing but an illusion. But our Western cultural heritage makes us believe we are isolated egos fighting and surviving a world outside of us. Such notion is not just unhealthy but false. We are connected by blood, ethnicity, faith, ideology and other cultural bonds. Those who were at the Occupy movement protests in New York this year experienced something that cannot be reduced to a mere collection of individuals but far more than that: a collective psyche emerging from the interaction of the crowd and its protesting leaders.

Unfortunately despite how popular protests are in the environmental movement, they are still a long way from enabling humans to reconnect with Nature. The fact is that the same connecting factors that connect us in groups are ironically the very same ones that create the fragmentation that separate us from other human beings that belong to opposing groups. We make the old emotional and intellectual error illustrated by the expression ‘you are either with us or against us’. But in Nature and by default, in the outside reality beyond the human drama, it seldom is ‘either or’. Most times it is ‘both’ and ‘many’. Reality is a highly complex, multi-dimensional and interdependent living system where each one of us has something to share and build with every other human and non-human being.

Disciplines such as deep ecology and eco-psychology use the facts above as premises for their work raising (environmental) consciousness.

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Have shallow ecology, the fragmentation and inefficiency of market driven sustainability and overall green washing turn you into an skeptic?

I do not blame you. You can however survive such skepticism: going to the essence and the origin of sustainability: DEEP ECOLOGY. I will be writing more on this subject on my next blogs.

The_Earth_seen_from_Apollo_17

Titled ‘Blue Marble’ the photograph above taken from Apollo 17 was one the first shots capturing the whole planet from space. These powerful pictures helped coalesce the modern environmental movement as it conveyed the fragility of Planet Earth. Today ‘Blue Marble’ is one of the symbols of Deep Ecology.

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Most of us have been educated in a primarily competitive environment emphasizing criticism of the areas where we would score low. Society propagates this same dynamic from the classroom into the cultural, social and working spaces which will ultimately nourish us intellectually, emotionally and even physically providing the finances to obtain the food, a roof over our head and other life necessities.

We are led to believe we have imperfections or deficiencies in our learning, our school and job performance. In turn many of us tend to internalize this judgment and believe that there is actually something wrong with us, our intelligence, even our character, because we are not scoring as high as other peers. Our school, society, political and economic system reinforce the perception of us having flaws that it need to be corrected. Many people experience a degradation of their self-esteem and low sense of worth that can dangerously result in depression and apathy while interfering with the individual’s personal and professional development.

But some of us have had the strength to overcome that downward spiral of judgment and low self esteem, and decide to correct our academic and professional ‘weaknesses’. We then have dedicated hard work as well as valuable financial and time resources into fixing such imperfections. Unfortunately research shows however that billions of dollars invested annually by companies to improve employee performance primarily through training is mostly a waste.

People are born with diverse talents and preferences. Our brains are individually wired to excel in certain disciplines most of which interestingly enough we dismiss because they bring us joy and pleasure, something that our traditional schooling and culture often sees as indulgence and a distraction from our duties. While most of us possess great aptitudes we are also mediocre and even poor at certain roles and activities.

But the mechanistic traditional educational and societal credo pushes its authoritative ‘one size fits all’ developmental approach. Such mandate based on the old and worshiped assembly plant model forces us into a sterile, uniform and controlled environment which is regrettably as fragile as the single-crop agriculture yielding most of our food today.  As the system ignore  that like our food we are unique diverse fertile living systems, we students and workers  feel inadequate by failing to meet the standardized system performance metrics.

It is then imperative we realize our living complex nature provides most of us with the gift of unique intelligences, abilities, and conditions that drive our individual learning, expression and performance. However this scientifically proven reality is except for a few exceptions, a dangerous revolutionary idea in school and society, and subsequently something to resist.

My advice then is to teach and inspire our students and workers to consider their so called mistakes and low scores as learning opportunities and indicators to find their calling in life, but at the same time, to teach them to defy criticism, judgment and low self esteem for not meeting the scores expected by school or society.

Let us consider a student who is inspired by and talented with languages but has scores too low to even meet the requirements needed for high school graduation, without which he will not be able to start his degree and career in Foreign Language Studies. He will have to correct this situation and raise his grade just enough to pass the math classes so that he can graduate. Should he feel like a failure because his math skills are below average or worse than his peers? No, because math is irrelevant to what he should be pursuing, his passion, talent and career goal, in this case, foreign languages. His low score should not transcend the realm of a few prejudiced minds and therefore remain inconsequential.

Let’s help our students and workers take a peep at the boundless world of possibilities that emerges when “I” no longer care about such destructive and judgmental criticism toward “my persona”, either from “myself” or from the outside. I soon realize I tend to forget about my weaknesses giving myself the chance to focus on my strengths which I am pleasantly surprised to discover and rediscover.

As I progress working on my strengths, I suddenly realize I am feeling better about myself, with myself, needing less to be approved by others. My sense of self-worth starts to generate from the inside as opposed to the outside as it used to be. As my self-worth raises, my self-confidence grows, and with it the perception of my potential.

The cultivation of my strengths is destined to create a complex system loop of learning and interactions which translates into emerging growth in me, my sphere of influence and eventually the environment beyond. A self-reinforcing feedback loop which ultimately allows me to shift my focus from my ego filled with self-limiting believes, petty worries and discontents, to an exciting opportunity filled world right in front of me.

My new focus becomes how I can indulge cultivating my talents and passions that will in turn foster my unique self-realization and by default, my greatest contribution to humankind and the environment? Once we make such shift the consequences of our actions and interactions multiply in a feedback loop fashion, i.e., exponentially.

I strongly believe this realization is the key to make the universal impact that some of us have for so long and so desperately been seeking. An exponential impact generated by countless individual self realizations generating an equal amount of feedback loops which can propagate around the world with same speed as bacterial growth or a pandemic but with a constructive transformative effect.

Such realization as it enables self-actualization, can play a major role in raising human awareness and in our potential to assure a sustainable future.  Many of us have long searched for the magic formula to timely reach the critical mass of human awareness that will allow us to tip the balance of our fate.  I am convinced the answer starts with finding a way to make this self-realization viral.

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