Saturday, March 31, 2012


Teacher Seeks Pupil: Must have an earnest desire to save the world.  Apply in person.


This story is a must for anyone interested in shifting the dominant mindset of the world.  Ishmael helps us to see our sometimes ignorant or human-centric ways providing examples and explanations for how humans came to be the dominant, what Quinn refers to as Takers, on the planet.  The book was stock full of insights and left the reader truly seeing the world in a new light and inspired to take on the task of adjusting the way others see the world in what Quinn says we need to teach/show others one at time what the world could look like and that our current practice of man over nature and believing that the world was made for man are simply wrong.  

One of Quinn's great insights towards a new story would be humans able to look around in a billion years and state what a great role model humans became for living on the planet and also leaving some of the planet for other species.  Currently if you use the Rees and Wackernagel Ecological Footprint Calculator, Canadians would need 4.5 planets to support our lifestyle, leaving absolutely nothing for other species, let alone other humans...  

Quinn also believes and points to literature that supports the notion that what he refers to as Leavers and we know as hunter-gatherer societies would commonly work two to three hours per day and leave the rest for play, conversation, community, dance, song, etc.  Sounds like a pretty great work day to me.  Quinn hypothesizes that one of our tragic errors was to believe that we needed more than we could consume and that this would reduce stress from our lives, he makes some convincing arguments that the world of hunter gatherers didn't mean that people went hungry because there were no grocery stores, it meant that people lived more in balance with natural systems, and controlled their own population much better than today.  Quinn argues that this idea of growing more food usually by plowing more forest area to feed the hungry is simply not working it falsely causes populations to grow that are simply not sustainable.  Quinn states for three million years there were no grocery stores yet somehow humans survived.  He argues that humans are cunning and ingenuitive and omnivores and when the going gets tough (drought, flood, etc) humans would not be the first to go hungry.

I could go on and on, Ishmael is the equivalent of what the DaVinci Code was for the one main religious story that we tell ourselves in North America.  This book is worth the three or four nights of reading, and I believe that everyone will take something a little different from it.  It's even kind of like a boy named Sue, you will come away with a different point of view, seeing how the story we tell ourselves about how we should live and looking for the one right way to live, and that humans are above all other animals on importance scale will not help our long term chances on this planet.  We need a new way of seeing ourselves in the world.  This story is a great step in that direction, thank you Daniel Quinn, bring on the Story of B.  

The world was made for man and man was made to conquer and rule it has outlived its time...  We had a great example of this in my recent school semester in Victoria, our instructor had a string with the evolution of live on it and each centimeter represented an era/period of species on the planet.  Humans had the final two centimeters and the string was 50 meters, let's become role models so that our legacy can move a few more centimeters down the line, :)  


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

An enticing new story

Continuing with the thoughts from the last post.  What is a new and enticing story for us to start telling that does not involve destroying the planet and as many species including each other as fast as we can...???

I have polled a few friends about this and also have just finished reading Ishmael by Daniel Quinn (more about this in my next post, it is brilliant) which dives into this subject.  Some of the answers from my friends I would like to share: we need to move towards a more service based economy, so as some friends have said we can continue to do more we just need to redefine what more is.  More art, yoga, music, games, home made food, time with family and friends and maybe less plane tickets around the world, burning of hydrocarbons to the tune of 90 million barrels per day and war...  to be extremely general and trivial.  Another friend suggests to help people become more aware with their emotional needs and that money does not fill this need.  The Beatles sang something about money and love I think...  Another friend shared this: a Regina Spector song ( people are just people, you'd think the world was ending right now, maybe you should just drink less coffee and never watch the 10oclock news...  :).  Super cute.  People are just people.  If you are looking for a little lift I recommend watching these!  Simple, poetic in an off key kind of way, and beautiful.  Finally another friend said it is very important that this new story excites people and is about a world that is amazing and that people could not envision living any other way...

When I think about sustainability and a new story to tell ourselves, maybe one where humans don't dominate over nature, one where humans live and respect natural rules and boundaries of the earth and ecosystems and consider supply and demand and all the other species when making decisions, one where ecosystem services are valued, when I think about this I get really overwhelmed, how do we move away from the ideas we have been born with and constantly told and tell new stories and what should these stories begin to look like...  

What stories are being told in our workplaces, on our televisions, in our news, in our schools, on the internet, and on the radio?  What are people talking about in the lunchroom, the change room at the YMCA, and other public places?  What dialogue are we having about these important issues and who is involved in it?  I have often wondered the feasibility of a "good news for a change (borrowed from Suzuki)" news channel from around the world that covers issues like: Pay it Forward, children at play, ducks being rescued from sewer grates, stories about first romances and not from celebrities, stories about grandparents, gardening, salsa'ing (both the dance and the act of harvesting tomatoes from your garden and preparing them into salsa with family and friends) and all the wonderful things that are happening every moment all around us, why is that stuff not news worthy, what impact would some "good news for a change" on the o'clock news have on the world??  I know in Saskatchewan if the Rough-riders win there is a distinct positive mood in the province, I know when the NHL missed a season their was a small baby boom (not because we need a baby boom, but love is certainly a good thing.)

I know I rambled, I usually do, more on Ishmael next post, read it, also as a minimum the song link is worth watching, :)