Thursday, June 27, 2013

Mom's Place

Slipping through the air with artificial
lights to guide me.  Pulling courage
from spots I place my feet.  Traveling
alone by foot through life. 

Listened to the Governor say, "We need 
to clean up the river to maintain
our sense of place."  This is our place.
Who speaks for any place?

Only a poet?  Each person votes 
with their feet and the decisions they make every day.
What decisions do I make when I write?

Roll me up in a ball with the golden
thread.  Take me on a journey through words
of time and space to Mom's place.

Problem Description

John Locke had a DIY fantasy about the future and a profound influence on the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. In addition, he defined private property in a way that today we have embed in our Constitutions and laws. Robert Nozick coined the phrase “Lockean Proviso” based on Locke’s Second Treatise of Government, Chapter V, paragraph 33. Many political philosophers have written about this phrase but I am not here to argue philosophy.

Locke envisioned a future of privatized resources from land and water assuming what remained was not depleted so that someone else was deprived of that resource. The Lockean Proviso is true when there is enough left in common for others or the quality is good enough so that others are not deprived of the use of the common resource.

“Nobody could think himself injured by the drinking of another man, though he took a good draught, who had a whole river of the same water left him to quench his thirst. And the case of land and water, where there is enough of both, is perfectly the same.”

The basic human problem of the 21st Century is that we each live a substitute life in our adult mind causing us to behave as if the Lockean Proviso will remain true in the future. We believe we can continue polluting the common land, water and air as if the quantity and quality of those resources were unlimited. An unsustainable world is when the Lockean Proviso is not true.

Growth means there is a surplus. Humans have had a surplus of land, water, air, oil, electricity, food and many other things. We continue to grow, using the surplus, as the demands of the population increase and the number of people increases. Some people use fear, uncertainty and doubt to scare people into thinking there is a limit to growth because of a limit in the surplus of these things. This creates a conflict with our belief that the Lockean Proviso is true.

However there are many examples of renewable resources that can be substituted for resources that might not be available in the future in sufficient quantities. An unsustainable world is not when the quantity element of the Lockean Proviso is not true. An unsustainable world is when the quality of the commons is depleted so that someone in the future is deprived of that resource.

The Lockean Proviso will not be true when the quality of the commons is not good enough so that others are deprived of the use of the common resource. Therefore, a sustainable world is when the quality of the commons is not depleted so that future generations are deprived of that resource.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Meditation and Centering Prayer

The Breath

The heart of Zen is focusing on the breath during meditation. Whether you use the basic sitting meditation (zazen), walking meditation, or many other forms, practicing meditation involves focusing on each inhale and each exhale.  Count each inhale and each exhale. Count to four and then start over, or count to 100 and then backwards. Sitting meditation might be 15 or 20 minutes. A walking meditation might be an hour.

When the mind wanders or thoughts intrude, mindfulness is when we return our attention to counting each breath. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) scientific research “suggest that participation in MBSR is associated with changes in gray matter concentration in brain regions involved in learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective taking.”
Reference: H√∂lzel, Britta K. et. al.  "Mindfulness Practice Leads to Increases in Regional Brain Gray Matter Density." Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging 140.1 (2005): 36-43.

Thomas Keating has helped many Christians discover Christianity's own version of zazen, Centering Prayer. As in Zen, the repetition of a word or phrase can quiet the tumult in our minds and open us to insight and spiritual growth. Basil Pennington, one of the best known proponents of the centering prayer technique, has delineated the guidelines for centering prayer:
  1. Sit comfortably with your eyes closed, relax, and quiet yourself. Be in love and faith to God.
  2. Choose a sacred word that best supports your sincere intention to be in the Lord's presence and open to His divine action within you (i.e. "Jesus", "Lord," "God," "Savior," "Abba," "Divine," "Shalom," "Spirit," "Love," etc.).
  3. Let that word be gently present as your symbol of your sincere intention to be in the Lord's presence and open to His divine action within you. (Thomas Keating advises that the word remain unspoken.)
  4. Whenever you become aware of anything (thoughts, feelings, perceptions, images, associations, etc.), simply return to your sacred word, your anchor.
Reference: M. Basil Pennington (1986), "Centering Prayer: Refining the Rules," "Review for Religious," 45:3, 386-393.

Beginners Mind

The phrase is used in the title of the book Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind by the Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki. He wrote about the approach to Zen practice: “In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few.”

Saadat A. Khan suggests that "Beginner's mind embodies the highest emotional qualities such as enthusiasm, creativity, zeal, and optimism. If the reader reflects briefly on the opposites of these qualities, it is clear to see that quality of life requires living with beginner's mind. With beginner's mind, there is boundlessness, limitlessness, an infinite wealth."

Matthew 18:3 NIV
And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

A child has a beginner’s mind. What are the qualities of little children? Enthusiasm, creativity, zeal, optimism, openness, humility, boundless possibilities, eager to learn.

Christianity and Zen encourage living like little children with a beginner’s mind. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Goal 2020 Net Zero

The time has come for each person to act in support of everyone else instead of only their own self-interest.  This means forming a social contract with future generations.  In my remaining lifetime, I choose to change my lifestyle, how I manage my wealth, what I do with my time and money so that I am acting to support a sustainable society.

By 2020, we will be at net zero. That means we will be producing and capturing carbon so that our net contribution to the atmosphere is zero.
  1. reduce our use of electrical energy from non-renewable sources to zero.
  2. manage our money using local financial institutions
  3. use our land to grow as much of our own food as possible
  4. buy locally grown food or grown in Oregon
  5. reduce, reuse and recycle
  6. decrease our waste stream
  7. manage water use to conserve during dry months
Energy: electricity, transportation, purchases

Food: grow or buy local, support global sustainable practices by buying food that meet sustainable criteria.

Transportation: energy efficient, hybrid or electric, future?

Clothes: turn over wardrobe to support sustainable businesses

Legacy:  Use wealth to support the next generation.

Strategic Plan
What are the weaknesses of the current social system, government and capitalist system?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Justice and Sustainability

Feeling stressed about the coming breakdown of society and consequences of climate change on your family?  I'm not a doomsday preparation obsessed survivalist. Surprising that many just regular people are feeling a change in the direction of society. Accepting our feelings and taking action in the present to deal with our own thoughts and our relationships has the best benefit.

I have a deep grief over what we are losing, what we have already lost and feeling anxious about how much we are going to losing in the near future. Life as we have known it is coming to an end.

The primary illusion that needs to be debunked is the multi-national industrial corporation's extractive economy based on privatizing property and making environmental and social costs a public responsibility.

"Apocalypse" from Greek means a lifting of the veil, a disclosure of something hidden, a coming to clarity. Just as we all know that someday we will die and yet still we get out of bed every day, an honest account of planetary reality need not paralyze us.

Justice and sustainability are worth the effort of attempting projects that may fail.

Technological fundamentalism - the quasi-religious belief that the use of advanced technology will save the world - is an empty promise just like other fundamentalist beliefs.

Yes! Magazine, Summer 2013, "Why Radical is the New Normal: Get Apocalyptic" by Robert Jensen, page 25-27.
"Mainstream politicians will continue to protect existing systems of power, corporate executives will continue to maximize profit without concern, and the majority of people will continue to avoid these questions."

I am a husband, father and grandfather with neighbors and family that do not share my values or analysis, yet I continue to fulfill my roles. I am a nerd or geek, or weirdo, or techie person that others confess they don't understand what I am talking about. They especially don't like me talking about the apocalypse in the near future.

What is a clear strategy for promoting justice and sustainability?  Given my lack of access to other people willing to discuss the future in a meaningful way, I am reaching out online to others.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Market Failure

The key assumption to define Market Failure is Pareto Efficiency: the allocation of resources where it is impossible to make any one individual better off without making at least one individual worse off. Pareto efficiency is a minimal notion of efficiency and does not necessarily result in a socially desirable distribution of resources: it makes no statement about equality, or the overall well-being of a society. Pareto Optimal is the state where the total available resource is allocated efficiently.

Market failure is a concept within economic theory describing when the allocation of goods and services by a free market is not efficient. That is, there exists another conceivable outcome where a market participant may be made better-off without making someone else worse-off. (The outcome is not Pareto optimal.)

Economists, especially micro-economists, are often concerned with the causes of market failure and possible means of correction. Such analysis plays an important role in many types of public policy decisions and studies. However, some types of government policy interventions, such as taxes, subsidies, bailouts, wage and price controls, and regulations, including attempts to correct market failure, may also lead to an inefficient allocation of resources, sometimes called government failure. (Wikipedia).

Consider Possible Historic Market Failures and Consequences

The US Constitution was the consequence of a market failure. The capitalism practiced by England was exploiting the colonies. The Declaration of Independence stated the dilemma of whether to remain loyal to England and recognize the authority of the King or to fight for a broader vision of civilization that included the moral principles that were written into the US Constitution. The Revolutionary War resolved the dilemma and the market failure.

Slavery was a market failure. The capitalism practiced by the slave owners was exploiting people and creating inequities between North and South. The conflict between the industrial North and the agricultural South resolved the dilemma and the market failure when the Civil War was won by the North.

After World War I, the major economic powers in Europe caused a market failure in Germany because of the conditions in the peace treaty. This lead to Germany starting World War II that resolved the dilemma created by the market failure of the economic powers in Europe.

Considering Possible Current Market Failure

In each of the three market failures there is a pattern. The evidence in 2013, shows that we are beginning to experience the consequences of another market failure. Each time in the past there was a major migration of people, significant chaos and destruction, and the death of many people. In 2013, we can envision that climate change will result in a significant migration of people, the collapse of governments, civil chaos, destruction and death for many people starting within 10 years.

For decades, vehicles, coal plants and the burning of natural gas by humans have allowed our common atmosphere to become transformed into a threat to civilization.  Energy companies have been allowed to keep costs down by externalizing the waste discharge cost. They have privatized profits and shifted costs for waste and pollutants to society. The failure of the market to account for pollution of our common atmosphere has resulted in a threat to civilization.

The consequences include property damage, loss of property, mass migrations north in Asia and North America, drought causing food shortages, and weak governments collapsing. These will result in wildfires, the spread of disease and death to a billion people across the globe. Just like the three American historic crises listed above, this dilemma will be resolved by a global coalition of civil institutions that create a new set of standards for civilization. Just like the three prior resolutions listed above, by 2030, the world will be organized very differently than it is in 2013.

The Transition to 2030

From about 2020, +/- 2 years, America will become engaged in a global ending of an era and the beginning of a new era. Shutting down the fossil fuel industry, and the mass migration of people because of the consequences of climate change will be a great disruption across the world.

In 2013, we are like the people on Easter Island, when they did not have a regeneration rate high enough to sustain the forest resource necessary for survival on the island. We are not regenerating a sustainable global atmosphere sufficient for survival on the earth. We are allowing the concentration of greenhouse gases to rise too high to sustain civilization as presently structured.


Transcendence happens when practicing inquiry and introspection of dualistic concepts epitomized in Zen Koans that act like an obstacle or wall to insight. Practicing with insight transcends limits, obstacles and denial, and leaps ahead of goals, objectives and strategy. Meditating while focusing on a Zen Koan practices gaining insight into alternatives and goes beyond duality.