Between the Lines

The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Peace and Progress

The above quote was famously delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was apparently often quoted by President Barack Obama.  But it was probably originally written by slave abolitionist, and Unitarian church minister Theodore Parker on the eve of the American Civil War.   All three men were suggesting hope as a hallmark of our days on earth. Do we still believe this quote?  Are we justified in such a belief?

Zakaria 4.PNG“History is not a Hollywood movie.”

On CNN’s GPS (Global Public Square) program, Fareed Zakaria interviewed French President Emanuel Maron. However, in the linked introduction above, before the actual interview with President Macron, Mr. Zakaria delivers a verbal opinion editorial on the state of the world with projections about what might be in store for us as a global community.  Does the universe really bend toward justice? Is “progress” inevitable as somewhat indicated by Steven Pinker in his book Enlightenment Now?  Does the world continue to move forward toward what we generally might agree is “”good” life?  Or, as Mr. Zakara tentatively suggestions, we might be in a permanent slide towards a life few of us actually want to live?

The Law of Attraction folks are fond of phrases such as “you attract what you focus on”.  Such belief systems aside, experience tells us that where we direct our attention significantly influences our experience of EveryDayLife. Even beyond the ontology of each moment, beyond what is “actually” going on at any given time, our experience of each instance of “reality” is largely shaped and shaded by that toward which we have chosen to direct our conscious attention. This phenomenon plays out individually and collectively. As such, consider this.

Experience and Focus

We live in an age of economic and political dominance by transnational corporations, in a time when ground wars have become obsolete and inefficient to strongly influence little more than local disputes.  This state of affairs coupled with an ever more enmeshed interconnectivity within the cyber world, we, as a nation and a world must address a new approach to “world peace”, to our attempts to make things “work out”. At a time when the acting chief executive of United States attempts to focus public attention on a border wall (to protect the country against physical presence of other people), on immigration and asylum seekers (again, protection from physical bodies) and a general political, economic (and some would say racial) protectionism, the rest of the world is focusing on ways we might find common ground in the manner in which we are actually most connected–in the cyber world.

Macron at Peace Forum(from the first Paris Peace Forum led by French President Emanuel Macron)

Peace is not just the suspension of war. It is made up of all the solutions that help minimize international tensions: cooperation to fight climate change and resource scarcity, institutions to channel power rivalries and administer global public goods, justice to assuage grievances and frustration, regulation to address inequalities and abuses of power. ~The Paris Peace Forum

If we are to truly “progress”, if we are to repeatedly step closer to what we could all call a “good life, the process must focus on that which is effective at achieving true peace and prosperity, not separation and isolation. Within a true global community, the patriarchal paradigm of dominance has become antiquated and untenable. As expressed during the Paris Peace Forum, that focus must at least include if not derive its primary impetus from cyber concerns (in transcendence of nationalist notions about immigration and such).

If we fail in such a focus, if our collective (national or international) attention is siphoned off by a desire to guard against “those others” beyond our borders or “those others” who wear a differently shaded political cap, can we ever hope to truly progress?  Can that misused phrase “make America great again” ever possess any true meaning beyond partisan sloganism?

Make It Real

Making America Great Again (blurred)

Can we save the world? Most of us are not in a position to significantly impact the national focus.  However, what news outlets do you frequent? What news stories do you follow? What is the focus of your normal water cooler chats or the heart of family conversations?  Toward what do you direct your attention?  What are you attracting into your experience?

Food for thought.  Dig in!

Proof of Truth

Once a country is habituated to liars, it takes generations to bring the truth back.
~Gore Vidal

What are we trying to do when we say something is “true”? On what basis do we make such statements (with a straight face, believing these notions to be justified)?

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AI News?

On the frontier of artificial intelligence journalism

AI News Title II

In an era when venerable news publications such as the New York Times and the Washington Post are being maligned by key societal figures accusing them of “leftist” bias, when publications such as Breitbart or similar media sources often deemed “conservative” unabashedly present stories slanted to reflect political views far right of the majority of public sentiment in the country and when a significant portion of the general public acquires its “facts” about the nature of world events from Twitter, Facebook and a network that used to fly a banner emblazoned with the words “fair and balanced”, bias both inadvertent and intentional has become an insurmountable impediment to attaining the “truth” about what is going on around us. In the face of such a large, sprawling situation, we sometimes get lost, failing to understand the meaning of our daily encounters and  the most appropriate intent we should seek regarding any of these events. Enter knowherenews.com.  This website proposes that computer software can filter reports of world events and effectively sanitize them of ideological bias.

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Truth Matters

“Like it or not, people will have to acquire their own news to a certain extent and must therefore learn journalistic techniques and various tricks of the trade”
~Bruce Bartlett

In the current era of “fake news” and a general mood of “alternate fact” inaccuracies and slights of hand, many of us who truly seek the positive in life—“Good” and “Truth”, for instance—we sometimes can feel overwhelmed by a lack of reliable sources of information about the world.  Bruce Bartlett has written a book—The Truth Matters–to partially address this situation.

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A Place to Stand

the truth will set you free…

leverage - croppedIs it true?  Whatever “it” is, can we be certain “it” represents truth?  How do we know? When we act in the world, when we make choices and, perhaps most important, when we establish relationships between ourselves and others, are we sure that “truth” we use as a basis of that relationship is trustworthy? “There’s a sucker born every minute.”  While American showperson P.T. Barnum might not have made such a statement as is often assumed, he certainly could have. In her book, The Death of Truth, Michiko Kakutani describes Mr. Barnum and his orientation to manipulation this way:

…a self-proclaimed ‘prince of humbugs’ whose ‘great discovery was not how easy it was to deceive the public but rather how much the public enjoyed being deceived’ as long as it was being entertained.’ And as verisimilitude replaced truth as a measurement, ‘the socially rewarded art’ became that of making things seem true’; no wonder that the new masters of the universe in the early 1960s were the Mad Men of Madison Avenue. (p.83)

How do we ever know if we are proceeding through EveryDayLife based on genuine truth or when we, like puppets, are being controlled by the serendipity of others? Where is the anchor point from which we leverage our understanding of the world?

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Words Like Water…

Where is Truth?

FCC Thomfollery 2“Free market” is an idea often associated with labels like “Libertarians” and “Republicans”. However, thinking rationally about the concept (rather than merely reacting to it) should cause no one to grab up the children and head for shelter when such ideas are floated within public discourse. Trading freely represents an extension of the same freedom most of us want to believe in (if only for ourselves…and maybe for our loved ones). But do these notions about “free” this and “free” that actually present true freedom or something else? (more…)