Integrative Activism

is the business crafted to “Save the World”


Don’t Believe

Don’t believe anything. I know it may seem like an audacious injunction and it may offend a lot of people, but I’ve come to understand the profoundly pervasive and pernicious effects of belief in our cultures so I feel compelled to share these insights. 

Lots of people think that beliefs are sacred. How many times have you heard someone say that they respect other people’s beliefs? Perhaps you’ve said that yourself. You might want to think about that more thoroughly. Do you really respect the beliefs of the suicide-bombers (murderers) or other mass murderers or serial child molesters (rapists) or other psychopaths? I don’t think so, not if you are reasonable and honest. Look, we can have thoughts and beliefs about sacred stuff, but beliefs alone are not sacred.

Belief is the enchantment that renders the believer immune to reason and closed to factual evidence especially when tied to a sense of identity. It’s the magical thinking that makes demagogues appealing to authoritarians and the it is the delusional force infecting the religious right to mistake blasphemers, heretics and hypocrites for saviors.

Look at it this way; it’s not necessary to believe in numbers to count or utilize math, we just need to understand what numbers represent and how math functions. We don’t need to believe in alphabets or grammar to utilize language, we just need to understand. 

There are plenty of other words we can substitute for belief; certainty, confidence, conviction, opinion, judgment, sentiment, viewpoint…

I did claim belief to be pervasive. That’s because religious leaders have been indoctrinating people to believe doctrines for thousands of years and in modern times we have no shortage of magical thinking marketing such as the power of positive thinking. We have so much fun fooling our children into believing in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. 

Recently I received a delivery from Home Depot. Printed boldly and biggly on the box was their new advertising campaign, “BELIEVE What You Get”. Wtf?, I thought. I’m telling you, it’s ridiculous and pernicious. Hell, defenders of Trump, his Big Lie and the attempted insurrection tried for months to make a legal defense by insisting that Trump and his misguided minions really believed the election was stolen. Thank God (oops) the courts didn’t buy that!

Enough of this nonsense!

I don’t think anyone is immune to falling into belief traps. I’m a staunch apistevist and yet I still notice myself making affirmations quite frequently. “May it be so” is my favorite. I know I’m being stupidstitious which I caution against because being superstitious can bring bad luck. To be honest, I even pray even though I don’t really believe in God or gods. It’s been said that there are no atheists in foxholes. I understand that because I’m getting old and I haven’t led a very wholesome lifestyle for about all of my adult life. I even have a stent that saved me from a widow-maker heart attack. 

Maybe magical thinking and wishful thinking are subtly different than belief, but I’ll leave that for another time.

Back 20 or 30 years ago there was a lot of new-age attention given to synchronicity. These days the social scientists refer to this phenomena as frequency bias. Ya know, you suddenly become aware of something that you hadn’t noticed before and then you perceive it repeatedly in a short amount of time. 

I’m hoping that you dear reader will experience synchronicity or frequency bias regarding belief after reading this and become more aware of how often so many people use belief as an excuse for all kind of absurd things. 

Lastly, I’d like to make a point about belief regarding religion and spirituality because I’m one of those spiritual but not religious people and I strongly suspect that humanity and the biosphere would greatly benefit if we could all become more spiritual and less religious. Spirituality doesn’t require beliefs like religions do. Spirituality doesn’t rely on doctrine like religion does. I’ll write more in depth about that later though. 

Believe it if you want to…better yet, try to understand…anything and everything…

Proud and Ashamed

I am proud and ashamed in oh so many ways. Isn’t everybody? If you’re true and honest, you’ll admit that too.

As an American, I am proud and ashamed. The USA has a long list of accomplishments to be proud of. It also has a long list of things to be ashamed about. I’m not going to even attempt to list the things worthy of pride or shame done in The People’s name or by those we’ve elected. Those lists would be far too long. 

I’ll make the same basic claim as a Christian, even though I’m not really a believer (but that’s another matter, you can read more about that here). 

The reason I bring this up is because there are way too many people that live in a kind of denial that exaggerates the virtues and downplays the follies of whatever sense of identity to which they adhere and proclaim. So this is a call to reason, an avenue for greater honesty and an attempt to mitigate the sin of shameless pride.

I’m a patriot, a true patriot, so I’m proud and ashamed of the things my country has done.

I’m a Christian, a true Christian, so I’m proud and ashamed of the things that have been done in the name of Jesus Christ.

I’ve got a big Buddhist portion as part of my psyche and yes, I’m proud and ashamed of that too.

I’m a liberal, a true liberal, proud and ashamed.

I hate to admit it, but I do have a conservative side although it’s pretty damn difficult to find virtue in that until I look at the Amish…

I’m just human. I try to be true, I try to be honest. Pride and shame are just part of the package, part of the human condition.

Complimentary Impulses

    Conservative and liberal world views often seem like polar opposites and in some sense they are. It is a tragic mistake, however, to think of one as right and the other as wrong. They are mutually beneficial impulses, expressions of evolutionary forces. Each are necessary to create healthy species and cultures.

The conservative impulse is to remain rooted in traditional convention, to maintain the status quo. The result of this is to create unique and specialized versions of species and cultures. We can think of it as a divergent evolutionary mechanism. When species stay rooted in specific localities, they adapt to their environment and traits well suited to those environs become enhanced and more pronounced. Our species began in Africa and migrated to inhabit lands around the world, but as people settled, they evolved specific traits and cultures. That is why we have French, Slavic, Arab, Nordic, etc. people and cultures.

     This conservative impulse creates wonderful diversity, but if left to itself and allowed to go too far it becomes unhealthy. Inbreeding leads to genetic defects that compromise the well being of the population. Prolonged isolation can leave a population vulnerable to displacement or extinction to invasive populations. Environmental disasters can destroy entire populations of geographically specialized species. It is not simply a matter of survival of the fittest, but often it is survival of the luckier that are spared from flood, fire, volcanism or other calamity. Cultures are not immune to the excessive dangers of the conservative either. Cultural isolation can lead to stagnation, a failure to to adapt and incorporate. New technologies and opportunities may easily be missed or underdeveloped by isolated cultures leaving them prone to conquer or eradication by others.

     The liberal impulse seeks novelty and tends to spread across vast geographic distances. The liberal impulse can be an essential benefit to the conservative impulse, adding necessary genetic and cultural diversity. The liberal impulse however has its own negative side effects or dangers. A good example is mono crop culture. When we farm vast tracts of genetically pure species of crops, they become susceptible to disease and pestilence. The same dangers exist with animal husbandry. While this may at first glance appear to be the same danger as the conservative impulse, it is not. If we look at specific species, such as apples or potatoes we find that we have selected our favorite varieties and have displaced others to a dangerous point. North America once had over 17,000 variety of apples and now has perhaps less than 500. The same has happened to countless other plant and animal species. The result is a lack of genetic diversity that results in entire species prone to potential extinction.

     These evolutionary impulses may manifest in our moral minds, minds and moral tendencies that are influenced by genetics…Jonathan Haidt presents it better than this author can, so here’s the link.

Saving the Gains

Saving the Gains of Civilization and Nature is the mission of Integrative Activism. The choice of wording is deliberate and reflects more precisely what our collective perspective should be considering the state of world circumstances. It is also a paradigm shift for most people. Paradigm shifts are one of the most powerful leverage points to effect change within a system according to Donnella Meadows.

It is now the beginning of September and we are all struggling with the Corona virus pandemic. Everyone just wants to get back to normal, but that’s not really an option. The old normal was driving us to points of collapse with overpopulation, over consumption of natural resources, growing inequalities, environmental degradation, climate crisis, political destabilizations and the ongoing sixth mass extinction. We desperately need to do better and a new big picture perspective is essential to establishing better, more sustainable ways of life. We in the developed world have been spoiled and we’re going to have to make some sacrifices. That’s not something that people want to hear, read or acknowledge, but it’s the truth. The truth is that that we can’t have it all, but what we have to sacrifice really isn’t all that bad. We don’t need a lot of the stuff that we have become addicted to consuming and acquiring through the misguided beliefs that they contribute to our enduring well-being and happiness.

May we listen to Cree wisdom…Only when the last tree has been cut, the last fish caught, the last stream poisoned will we learn that we cannot eat money

The Gains and Losses of Nature

Let’s be perfectly clear about what is happening now and what that means for the future. Right now the extinction rate for species is about 1,000 times faster than the natural or background rate of extinction. That amounts to roughly 200 species becoming extinct every day. We are now in the early stage of this planet’s sixth mass extinction event. It took more than 60 million years for nature to evolve the rich diversity of life from which our species emerged about 200,000 years ago.

Some people shrug and say that species have gone extinct throughout the history of this planet and think it’s no big deal. They won’t be so glib if they are here when the food chain collapses and billions of people perish. Some people say that humans are like a virus or a cancer and the world will be better without us. That may be true, but humanity has caused the present crisis of the biosphere and humans are the only chance to mitigate the damage, unless there is an intervention by an alien race or a deity but let’s not count on that happening.

The present extinction crisis is even more under-reported than the climate crisis. These are the most important stories in history. Unfortunately, most people are completely unaware that the sixth mass extinction has even begun. If you’d like to learn more, a simple search will yield ample information or you can utilize the links and resources found throughout this site.

The Gains of Civilization

Civilization as we have known it has only existed for about five or ten thousand years according to conventional archeology. Most of us enjoy the gains of progress which include written languages, cultivated foods and an array of technological wonders. Many civilizations have flourished before collapse and we are only now beginning to understand why and how they disappeared.

Today we face an unprecedented variety of threats to our civilization; climate change, diminishing resources, overpopulation through the uses of fossil fuels for unsustainable food production, accumulating environmental degradation and toxicity, pandemics, as well as the possible political and economic destabilization that can easily lead to conflicts such as war and even nuclear war.

The unfortunate and uncomfortable reality is that we are loosing many of the gains of nature at an alarmingly dangerous rate. We simply can’t save it all. The big question is whether we can save enough, quickly enough, to prevent the complete collapse of civilization and the possible extinction of our species. We also know that the lifestyles of the developed countries are unsustainably produced and we’re going to have to give up some of the luxuries we now enjoy. We’re going to have to make some difficult choices and some sacrifices, voluntarily, or a series of unfolding and unfortunate events will strip them from us.

So there it is, the truth laid bare. Whether we are aware or not, the only sane and rational mission for humanity now, is to strive to save as many of the gains provided by civilization and nature as we possibly can. We can easily live without so many plastic bags, toys, trinkets and disposable stuff, but life and civilization can’t.

Hopefully, that simple perspective, that paradigm shift, will help us to focus our ambitions to work for what really matters. The words here were written with love, a love of life, and with hope that love and life may continue on this precious planet, our only home. The fate of so much lies in our hearts and our heads, may they be true.   

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