perspective

Between the Lines

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

peace forum icon

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!

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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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…)

Free to Explore

Vixra: A potentially valuable source of stimulating ideasknowledge-exchange

Continuing the “decentralization” theme that was largely the focus of a recent post, consider Vixra.org as a resource you might find useful (or at least entertaining).  Vixra is “an e-print archive set up as an alternative to the popular arXiv.org service owned by Cornell University. Vixra was founded and is maintained by scientists who found they were unable to submit their articles to arXiv.org because of Cornell University’s policy of endorsements and moderation designed to filter articles considered by the editorial staff as “inappropriate.”

Vixra provides free access to well over 20,000 electronic documents which can be read online or downloaded as PDFs.  Access is free, with no subscription required.  Available articles cover a wide range of topics falling under the general categories: physics, mathematics, computational science, biology, chemistry, humanities, and academics.  While the general idea is to present articles on “science and mathematics”, you might be surprised by the wide range of topics that appear. Each of these major categories contains multiple subcategories such as Mind Science, Religion and Spirituality, Quantitative Biology, Education & Didactics, Condensed Matter, Mathematical Physics and Relativity & Cosmology, and many others.  (more…)

Big

Small and big_HORIZONTAL_shutterstock copy

Sometimes, size matters.  Sometimes, we can only accurately define “size” within specific contexts. Most times, the situation is not about “size” per se but something considerably more profound. This post is a bit different from what usually appears on this blog.  It is meant to be heuristic rather than specifically informative. This is to suggest, that as you work through the superficially different videos below, ideally, you will come away with an integrated idea that no one video presents on its own.  Hopefully, you will develop ideas regarding large and small actions in the world, actions which uniquely apply to your own life situations. As always, as has been a major orientation of this blog, indoctrination is not the goal, but rather, expanding opportunities for personal enablement through information and imagination. So imagine this … (more…)

Exploring Morality

MORPHOLOGICAL ANALYSIS Word Tag Cloud Design

Multiple times in the since mid-2017, this blog have made reference or presented ideas relative to Moral Foundations Theory (MFT).  While we do not wholly agree with all of the proposals of the theory, while we have found the “universality” of its proposals somewhat wanting and while we have questioned the motivations of its founder, Jonathan Haidt, we do believe the framework presents a worthwhile configuration of morality categories, if only for its heuristic value.  Apparently, a blogger who writes under the moniker “Moral Navigator” shares an interest in this set of ideas.  Check out one of his recent posts called “Which Moral Foundations Do You Value?

The seekingGood blog addresses a wide range of topics.  Out of deference to a known portion of our readers, often, we fall short of the depth we might prefer as well as the academic rigor with which we are more comfortable (the language of which we must actively—sometimes unsuccessfully—resist).  Moral Navigator’s blog appears to reflect no such limitations, focusing on morality topics written in a learned yet very readable style (complete with multiple references).  Take a look at his blog.  You might find a new home.

Democracy That Isn’t

Antidemocracy does not take the form of overt attacks upon the idea of government by the people. Instead, politically it means encouraging …“civic demobilization,” conditioning an electorate to being aroused for a brief spell, controlling its attention span, and then encouraging distraction or apathy.  ~Sheldon Wolin from Democracy, Inc.

Demacracy as Fraud and Illiberal.pngIf we remain faithful to the cause of “democracy” as we know it, will everything turn out alright? Maybe? But maybe not. According to David Frum and others, we are beginning to experience what to the average mind appears as the unexpected fragility of democracy and democratic systems. Most of us feel this vulnerability as a “wrongness” within the current sociopolitical situation. To be sure, we differ on what is wrong and how to fix it, but most of us feel that our society is “off” in some way. Regardless of our current sociopolitical perspectives, Sheldon Wolin’s notion of “inverted totalitarianism” is most likely at the root of our troubles. Whether by its direct effects or the structures necessary to sustain it, our society has been skewed in various ways, skewed away from the revolutionary Thomas Paine’s notion of “democracy” and “freedom”.

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