Friday, February 24, 2012

Do No Harm

Primum non nocere: Do no harm. Do no harm to others means not expressing negative emotions or blaming others.  Do no harm to yourself means not suppressing negative emotions or blaming yourself.  So then what do you do with anger, fear and doubt?
There is a third way: to experience your emotions. What do you do in order to experience your emotions without expressing or suppressing them?  You practice proper breathing and as you sit quietly breathing, you let your emotions arise, peak and dissipate. Meditation is not passive.  Meditation requires active mental processing of emotions and thoughts.
The challenge is to find time to practice.  While driving in the car, in the evening just before bedtime instead of watching TV and first thing in the morning as you are waking up and as you are getting going in the morning.
The first step is to practice proper breathing.  Practice focusing on each inhale and exhale slowing down your breathing and using your stomach to push air in and out of your lungs.  Practice counting to eight on each inhale, hold for count of eight, exhale and then don’t inhale for a count of eight.  Do this no more than three times then return to regular breathing.
Practice thought labeling while breathing.  As each thought comes into your mind, give it a name: a past event, a person, a feeling, a thought, an emotion, etc.  Notice how they arise, peak and then fade away.  Like a random slideshow or soundbites. Emotions are the ones that feel like they are going to take over our mind and body.  Let them arise, peak and fade away.  Practice labeling thoughts and emotions.
Practice with a specific emotion.  Practice with anger.  As you focus on your breathing, remember a specific time when you felt really angry.  Let that emotion arise, peak and fade away.  Repeat this process, observing your body responding to the emotion.  Remember another specific time when you felt really angry.  Practice with that event.  Remember a person in your life who you feel anger towards.  Practice with your anger by letting anger arise, peak and fade away.
The practice of thought labeling and practicing with emotions are ways of experiencing.  We are not expressing our emotions nor are we suppressing our emotions.  We are experiencing.

Return here after reviewing the first blog in this series “What is the basic human problem?” (
Source: Bayda, Ezra. Being Zen: Bringing Meditation to Life. Boston.: Shambhala, 2002. Print.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Overcoming Resistance to Change

The general ability of people to detect political deception must increase in order to have politicians racing to  improve the common good.  Politicians have been getting away with so much money from corporations and rich donors that they don't view their behavior as corruption. Politicians continue to deceive the general public about why they vote the way they do.

Understanding cause and affect supports people learning how to detect political deception.  Politicians have been playing the "Pull my Finger" joke on the public. They trick people into thinking that what they say makes sense and people believe what they say.  However, learning about how systems work will improve people's ability to detect political deception.

The book "Merchants of Doubt" has demonstrated how many different ways deception has been used to discredit global warming science and science in general.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Substitute Life

“Our emotional reactions are always tied to our substitute life and to our core decisions about what life is supposed to be” (Bayda 2002).
We all have expectations and requirements of ourselves and others.  When they are not met we experience disappointment and sometimes anger.  In our substitute life we have strategies that are based on our reactions.  Our reactions are based on our expectations.  All of these things make up the fabric of our substitute life.  Our decisions, strategies, expectations and reactions are our substitute life.
For example, a strategy might be “My mate should entertain me.” The disappointment comes from the basic setup of the expectation. When we take ten minutes to sit down in a quiet place and focus on our normal breathing, we can practice with our expectations and reactions.  We welcome our thoughts and label each as a decision, expectation or memory.  We can label each one as “believed thought” to keep things simple.

When we expect our mate to entertain us but they don’t, we are disappointed and might get angry.  By not expressing our anger, we do no harm to others.  By not suppressing our anger we do no harm to ourselves.  We use our practice life to experience our anger, welcome anger, feel the peak and let anger dissipate. By practicing with memories of anger, we can let go of the past.
When we practice with anger, we might find below that grief, loss or sadness.  Staying with our feelings we might be able to touch on the fear under all of these.  Much of our emotional experience is based on fear.  Being afraid is a strategy that keeps us in our substitute life.  Practice every day by finding a quiet place to sit for ten minutes and welcome fear, let fear rise up, peak and release. Label your believed thoughts about fear and being afraid.
Practice is not some romantic way to become silent like a monk.  Practice is about experiencing. Practice is taking action to experience our suffering.  When we realize that our path in life is to experience life then we can stop wasting our energy on the substitute life.  When we experience our most negative thoughts about ourselves and realize that they are not us then we come to experience life.
We are not broken and we were never broken.  We don’t need to be fixed! We just need to practice every day by finding a quiet place to sit for ten minutes and experience our thoughts and emotions.  Our practice will help us see through the boundaries we maintain that keep us a prisoner in our substitute life.

Next blog post in this series.: "Do No Harm"
Source: Bayda, Ezra. Being Zen: Bringing Meditation to Life. Boston.: Shambhala, 2002. Print.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

System Dynamics (SD)

The public school system is the primary obstacle to students using System Dynamics (SD).  The entrenched paradigms are the foundation for education institutions that teach what and how from K12 through university doctorate programs.  Educators and students are evaluated based on what they know and how to use what they know.  SD enables us to understand why systems work they way they do.
To use SD requires a new definition of learning: Learning is improving the quality of our mental models.  The current public school system does not attempt to improve the quality of student’s mental models. 
To learn more about K12 System Dynamics go to Creative Learning Exchange

Heartland Institute

The Heartland Institute was founded in Chicago in 1984 with a mission to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems.  However, social and economic problems are defined as failures of the free market system.  Using the same theory to find a solution to a problem caused originally by that theory is not going to work.
Heartland is "pursuing a proposal from Dr. David Wojick to produce a global warming curriculum for K-12 schools." According to the Heartland Institute, “His effort will focus on providing curriculum that shows that the topic of climate change is controversial and uncertain -- two key points that are effective at dissuading teachers from teaching science.”
So, now we know what Heartland is really attempting to do is send us back the Dark Ages before science.  Heartland wants students to not learn science. Heartland’s real goal is to continue to get donations from large corporations and private donors focused on protecting their investments in fossil fuel energy dependent businesses.
They are not sending out this propaganda because they believe it.  They are getting paid just like any other PR firm to send out a message and get paid.  This is a job and way to make a living wage.  They don’t care about science or teachers or a free market economy.  They just want to get paid.
More reading:  Huffington Post Article

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Green Economy and Low-Carbon Economy

British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the United Kingdom needs to start acting quickly in the renewable energy sector as it faces challenges from China, India, South Korea and Brazil for green capital.
"In today's world the savviest states understand that going for growth means going green," he said. "Low-carbon markets are the next frontier in the battle for global pre-eminence."

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Liberty to Pollute

Conservatives quote the U.S. Constitution saying they are working to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” as stated in the Preamble to the Constitution.  There is a dialogue of reason, justification and meaning constructed by Conservatives to support an individual’s right to live without government interference.  The legacy of WWII focuses on liberty and the liberation of Europe from the Nazis.  
Since the 24th Century BC, over 4,372 years ago, people have looked to governance to combat corruption and establish a legal code to protect freedom and liberty. Specifically a legal code designed to protect citizens from the rich and powerful.

However, Conservatives focus on a modern, materialistic definition of economic liberty where the individual has the right to operate in a market free of constraint.  The ideal of the market operating without corruption and injustice is assumed.
In the 21st Century, Conservatives have extended the idea of liberty to corporations and allowed them to externalize costs.  For example, corporations have the liberty to pollute the air, water and land that the public uses unless the government represents the public good and steps in to limit or stop the pollution.  Then corporations have to internalize the costs and that is criticized as an infringement on liberty.
Conservatives have decided that science is being used to infringe on liberty by limiting the freedom of free enterprise.  They are fighting for the liberty to pollute the commons.  They are fighting for the liberty of individuals and corporations to externalize waste to keep costs down.  Science has shown that the liberty to pollute is limiting the freedom of the public to clean air, clean water and clean land.  Science is working to secure the blessings of liberty for everyone.  Conservatives are working to secure the blessings of liberty to a select few individuals and businesses.
Externalizing waste is a market failure that can be balanced by government regulation of pollution to correct for “negative externalities” and bring those costs into the market system.

1 "Urukagina." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 05 Feb. 2012. <>.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Regulation of Pollution Creates Jobs

Conservatives and Republican politicians claim that government regulations destroy jobs and hurt economic growth.  However this is a fallacy that promotes the agenda of their corporate backers funding them. Regulation of pollution creates jobs and grows the economy.
Conservative think tank (for example, George C. Marshall Institute, The Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute) economists publish claims that regulations, especially EPA rules, cause job losses and shrink the economy.  Their primary statistical tool is called correlation.  When two or more characteristics of a group of items show a tendency to vary together then you have a statistical correlation. Correlation is suppose to indicate that two things are related in time and space.
Correlation is like the “pull my finger” joke.  The pull is not really causing the sound.  When economists use correlation to justify eliminating environmental regulations, they are tricking us with the “pull my finger” joke.  Fox News and Republican politicians use correlation to justify economic policies that are “pull my finger” jokes.  They are all relating two or more things together as if they were cause and effect, and close together in space and time, to trick people into believing one caused the other.
For example, Fox News John Stossel wrote on his blog, November 14, 2011:
“The truth is that regulations kill jobs.  The Clean Air Act provides a clear example.  The Act's rules were toughest on American counties with the most pollution. Economist Michael Greenstone found that those counties lost more jobs than other counties. They lost:
... approximately 590,000 jobs, $37 billion in capital stock, and $75 billion (1987$) of output in pollution intensive industries.”

Stossel is claiming a correlation between counties with the highest pollution, and job and economic losses.  This is a “pull my finger” joke on readers.  The paper studied plant observations from the Census of Manufactures and focused on polluting industries that were clearly the focus of the Clean Air Act and amendments.  Stossel cherry picked a study and then misinformed readers of the interpretation of the results.  Correlating job and economic losses with the Clean Air Act is a “pull my finger” joke.
Pollution flows into the public commons affecting everyone.  Regulations focus on the source of the pollution and create demand in the market for ways to produce goods and services, energy and food without polluting the public commons.  There are costs to implementing pollution controls and economic studies support the need to deal with the loss of jobs and economic losses by documenting the impact on counties most in need of government support.
Pollution reduction methods require investment and create jobs however those new investments and jobs might not locate in the same counties as where the jobs losses occur.  Because of the market system that Conservatives and Republican politicians support, some counties might experience a decline and others might experience an increase in jobs and economic growth.
Reference: Stossel, John. "Regulations Create Jobs?" Fox Business. Web. 02 Feb. 2012. <>.