“The world is not just about business and the economy. You should have room to develop love… You don’t have to live in a hurry. You don’t have to rush. Please enjoy the joy of life little-by-little every day. Don’t drown in greed… Turn that passion into love. For friends, children and loved ones. Because life without love is meaningless.” -Jose Mujica
This is a speech by José Mujica, given during a Japanese high school entrance ceremony, on April 5, 2017. An English translation is shared below. His excellent HUMAN Interview (with English subtitles) can be found here. The 40th former president of Uruguay, Jose Mujica was known as the “poorest president in the world.” During his presidency, he did not live in the luxurious presidential palace, but donated most of his salary to live on a suburban farm.
“Young people, let me thank you from the far south corner on the other side of the globe. It was a great experience to visit Japan and get a glimpse of its history.
You are now at the beginning of your life. Remember, humans are social animals that live in groups. We can’t live alone. That is why humans have built civilizations. Civilization is the greatest legacy left by our predecessors.
Education gives us hints. It is a hint to receive the civilization built by the ancestors and the seeds that have been sown. Now it’s our turn to mature through education and leave some seeds behind. For the future of the earth and future generations..
Life is accompanied by a fight against one’s ego. You need an ego to protect yourself and your loved ones, but don’t forget, that humans need society and cannot live without others. And remember… that the miracle of living is the greatest happiness. Life must be cherished and protected.
Live as hard as you can every day. The beauty of life does not fade even with pain and trials. Living is the accumulation of falling, standing up, and moving forward. Living is also a struggle for freedom. It’s not as explosive as the French Revolution, we need a more instinctive and modest freedom. In other words, you are free to spend a certain amount of time in your life, as you like.
The world is not just about business and the economy. You should have room to develop love. For loved ones and friends. You don’t have to live in a hurry. You don’t have to rush. Please enjoy the joy of life little-by-little every day. Don’t drown in greed. People are born naked and die naked. Turn that passion into love. For friends, children and loved ones. Because life without love is meaningless.
On the other hand, we are under pressure from the market. The market drives us to buy things one after another. And takes away our time. You don’t pay for money. It’s the precious time in your life that is spent to make that money.
So be sensible and modest and don’t think only about money. That way you won’t lose your free time in life. This idea is also found in some ancient Greek maxims, from around the 6th century BC. “Nothing in excess” (don’t ask for too much).
History gives us many hints. There must be lessons to look back on in Japanese history. This is because your country, which has been around since ancient times, has a lot of wisdom and unique history. The trouble is that human beings have difficulty learning even if they are told directly. Wisdom is something that you must actually experience to finally learn.
Japan is a very modern and technologically advanced country. But robots don’t have the emotions of humans. That is why you should spend your school life and your time meaningfully. The important thing is to learn how to learn. As we get older, we learn a lot.
Every day I realize it. No matter how much I learn, I have more to learn. There is a limit to what you can learn in your lifetime. Unfortunately, human life is limited, but love is unlimited. Therefore, I want to spread this to the world.
Human abilities aren’t just about building huge buildings, going to the moon, diving into the bottom of the deep ocean, and manipulating genes. The world can be changed if we are more deeply aware of it and help each other.
No matter how difficult it may be, we can build a better world, a world without hatred and war. To do so, remove severe poverty from the world. And stop wasting things. These problems are the result of repeated wasteful spending without knowing what humans really need to be doing.
In the world, as much as $ 2 million per minute is spent on military spending. Yet, Africa’s hunger is neglected, saying it has no money. It is a shameful behavior, such as abandoning Africa, the birthplace of humankind. So, everyone, please study hard and use that knowledge for humankind. Not just for yourself, but for everyone.
“The most interesting and important thing I learned from this class is “system thinking.” Through this way of thinking, I learned that everything, for example humans, nature and society, is connected. These days, human beings tend to ignore the surrounding nature and environment. We first should realize that we humans are a part of nature.” ~ Japanese University student
The following is a replica of the second of three units of an Integrated English course presented online via Moodle forums and Zoom meetings, for first year students at Kyushu University during the second semester of 2020, in Fukuoka, Japan. There is a lot of information here, which the students had about one month to research, discuss together and then write about individually. I am sharing this curriculum publicly, as many students felt this was the most interesting and important material that they studied during the semester. ~Christopher Chase, 2021
Part One – The Challenge of Building a Unified Systems Science
In the 21st century, the human species faces both great crisis and opportunity. The problems of climate change and environmental destruction have been getting worse decade-by-decade. War and poverty still destroy millions of people’s lives. The corona virus is a much smaller crisis, but is unique in history. In 2020, all human beings have been challenged to think creatively and take action locally together to solve a global problem we all face. The crisis is providing us with a unique “educational” opportunity, I believe, to understand the importance of creativity, teamwork, human intelligence, systems science and systems thinking. So these are the ideas that I will introduce here, as the final class topic.
First, let me introduce the main “systems” topics, then I will present several key ideas in detail. Systems science is an attempt by scientists and educators to connect all the fields of science together into one unified model. Systems theories are ideas about how nature works, general principles that apply to all sciences. Systems thinking (システムズシンキング) is when we understand how various systems in the universe are connected and work together as unified wholes. “システムシンキングでは、全体のシステムを構成する要素間のつながりと相互作用に注目し、その上で、全体の振る舞いに洞察を与える.”
While systems science and theory have been known for decades it is not commonly taught yet in most schools. Here is a drawing I made in 2003, while teaching at Seinan and Kyushu University, to represent various complex systems in our universe. Usually in school you are taught about each of these systems separately. Also, scientists study each field separately, but in reality all the systems in Nature and the Universe are connected together and influence each other. Einstein understood this and encouraged all of us to use our imaginations to connect knowledge together. Systems science is focused on creating a unified model of all systems, so that human beings can understand how everything is interconnected and how various systems effect each other.
Part Two – Systems Thinking & Visual Intelligence (Imagination)
Below is another drawing I made. I drew this in 1993, while working as a research assistant, helping a junior high science teacher instruct her classes in California. The students were about 12 years old, studying plant and human biology and earth science. They were learning the names of all the parts of cells, biology systems, plants and ecosystems but there were no illustrations in their text books that showed how all these structures were connected together and serve as a transport system for solar energy from the sun.
When I showed this picture to the class they were amazed. They did not realize how we are solar powered, or how all these systems they had studied are connected together. They had studied the names of the different parts and systems for tests, but didn’t have a full understanding of the interconnections. This is systems thinking, using our imaginations (visual intelligence) to understand how all systems in Nature and our Universe are connected and interact together as unified wholes.
Please watch this video of MIT professor Peter Senge. He explains why systems science and thinking is so important, especially in the 21st century. I highly recommend watching his videos and reading his books when you have time in the future.
I have been interested in systems science since I was your age and studied art in college. Many systems theorists and researchers around the world approach the topic with a focus on mathematics and computer modeling. If you like mathematics this can be interesting, but my focus is more on creativity and education, helping people understand complex natural systems with their imaginations (visual intelligence).
Computers and mathematics are very helpful for systems research and modeling, but I believe imagination and creativity are most helpful for systems education and learning. If we want to help billions of people on our planet to become creative systems thinkers and effective problem solvers, I believe that Einstein was right, the human imagination is our greatest tool. When you have a unified understanding of systems relationships in your head its like having a personal GPS system that guides your decisions about what to do in situations.
I believe that visual intelligence is the primary knowledge representation system of most animals and insects and may be the primary system used for future A.I. that are built. All animals that have eyes or other spatial intelligences (like bat radar, dolphin sonar) are able to use their imagination to construct complex visual maps of their surrounding environments. These multi-dimensional maps then function like an intelligent GPS system that guides them. In truth, we are all a part of Nature, one community of life that has evolved on this planet together. By using your imagination effectively (and wisely) it becomes easier to think like Nature.
My own interest started with art, nature and creativity, not science. Below, is a drawing I did in 1986, while living in Amakusa, Japan (more artwork here). Since my childhood I have wanted to be an artist or illustrator. I was taught that creative talent is rare, that most people are not very creative. However, over time I began to believe that everyone has the potential to be an artist, and that most important for human society is to help people understand the power of our imagination for representing reality effectively and accurately. It’s not just a human power, it’s something many of Nature’s living creations share.
As Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
Part Three – What is Systems Theory?
Systems Theory is concerned with ideas that describe common characteristics of complex systems in Nature and the Universe. The idea of interdependence (相互依存) is the understanding that all systems are composed of many parts that are connected together. For example, there are many systems in your body (digestive, muscular, circulatory, respiratory, immune, etc.) that work together interdependently, as a unified whole. The same is true of a basketball team, an ecosystem, a computer, a business or rock band (like the Beatles). There are many kinds of Creative Systems in our Universe that are connected together, interdependently, and make new things.
Every system that you touch and see has a connection with both the past and present. Your body, for example, has an evolutionary heritage, that goes back billions of years, with the history of life on our planet. There is also a cultural history to all the buildings and technologies you use, the fashion you wear and language you speak. Everything has a unique history that stretches back through time.
You also are also connected to the history of the Universe. Most of the atoms in your body are billions of years old, many created in stars which existed before our solar system was born. Moreover, the energy that spins as those atoms has a history going back further to the Big Bang, when our Universe began. While your body is new and young, your atoms are ancient, very very very very very very very very very very very very very old.
Your relationships with systems go back through time to the past, and outward in the present, connecting you with the whole planet. The air you breathe, water you drink and the food you eat come to you from the trees, the clouds, rain and plants in our world. Life on our planet is a complex web of transactions, exchanges and relationships.
This is the wisdom indigenous peoples have, and is why the ecological problems we face now are so dangerous. People who lived in Nature observed and connected directly with ecological systems every day, understanding that if one part of the world dies, everything may begin to die. As Severn Suzuki & Michael Jackson expressed, we need this kind of indigenous wisdom and ecological consciousness for all humanity, now.
When various parts of a system work together as a whole we call this principle synergy (相乗効果). So complexity, interdependence, creativity and synergy are all examples of natural systems principles. Another important system principle is the concept of self-organization. Your body, our solar system, a galaxy, hurricane and forest are all self-organizing.
Actually, most systems in Nature and the Universe are both self-organizing and self-constructing. Nature’s systems organize and build themselves. That makes these systems very different from tools and machines built by humans, which do not create themselves.
The study of Nature’s mathematics is very old. The golden ratio and fibonacci sequence (フィボナッチ数) are examples of organic mathematics. Human science, architecture and technology has focused more on math that helps us create buildings and machines, but does not explain the living structures that Nature has created and that regenerate (自然治癒力) themselves.
New fields and ideas in science that study natural systems are biomimicry, chaos theory and the Gaia Hypothesis. Biomimicry looks at natural patterns, biological engineering and mathematics to help design human structures and technology. Chaos theory studies how self-organizing systems break down or transform. Finally, the Gaia Hypothesis (ガイア理論) views the entire Earth (Nature) as a self-organizing system which has maintained and evolved life on our planet for over a billion years.
A number of science fiction movies (such as Avatar, 風の谷のナウシカ, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and もののけ姫) have explored related themes, that Nature is a highly intelligent being, and that humans need to evolve our intelligence to live in balance and harmony with the wisdom of the Earth.
Part Four – The Incredible Butterfly Effect!!
Probably the most well known systems theory is The Butterfly Effect (バタフライ効果), an idea from chaos theory. Because everything in Nature is connected interdependently a small action in one place can have a huge impact on other systems around it and on the future. A similar idea exists in traditional Japanese culture – that any event can bring about a big effect in an unexpected way（かぜがふけばおけやがもうかる）.
An example would be how the corona virus can kill someone and has affected human civilization (maybe soon crashing our economy). Or how the video of George Floyd went “viral” and started demonstrations against racism all over the world. When the actions or ideas of one person (like Buddha, Einstein, Hitler) changes the world a butterfly effect has been set in motion.
Butterfly effects are not just BIG events, they happen at all levels, all the time. In the 1920’s, my grandparents met because my grandma Alice was walking in New York City and a small piece of dust blew into her eye. She was right in front of my grandfather Moe’s flower shop at that moment and stopped walking. He had a chair in front of his shop and invited her to sit down. Moe took the dust out of her eye with a handkerchief and immediately fell in love with Alice (he thought she was very beautiful). If the dust had not blown into her eye she would never have stopped, they would not have met, and my mother, aunt, cousins, sons (and their cousins) and I would not exist. THAT is the power of the butterfly effect!!
Here’s the Japanese Youtuber Naokiman talking about the butterfly effect:
Many science fiction films that focus on time travel show how butterfly effects happen constantly and influence our lives. Examples would be the movies Back to the Future, Avengers Endgame, About Time and The Butterfly Effect.
Part Five: Your Brain is a Creative Learning System!
While I have a long interest in science and creativity, my primary field of study in graduate school was education. After living in Japan a few years (and meeting my wife, Hiroko) we returned to the United States and moved to California, where I studied child development, psychology and education at Stanford University, from 1988-1993.
One really interesting thing I learned is that the human brain is essentially a creative learning device, with powerful potential. When you were born your mind was empty, you knew nothing, but over time (as you interacted with the world around you) your brain built memories, beliefs, knowledge, values, behavior patterns and many, many, many skills.
An analogy would be that when we are born our brain is like a super computer without software, with the power to build software for ourselves as we interacted with the world. A machine can be constructed by others, but our brain is self-constructing because we each must build skills by ourselves. That is what makes human beings different from robots and computers. We use sensory input from our lives, cultures and experiences to create new skills and understandings (in our brains) by our own observation, practice and effort.
Think about how you learned to ride a bicycle, play a musical instrument or master a sport. Mastery is when we become highly skillful at something. At first you knew nothing, but as you practiced the guitar, practiced riding a bike or practiced playing a sport, you gained more skill over time. Your brain is a creative self-constructing system, meaning that only you can build new skills and knowledge. The people and conditions around you are also very important. If you don’t give practice time and attention to something (and are not given the opportunity by adults) you cannot build new skills.
Another interesting thing I learned at Stanford is that every human being has at least 8 different types of intelligence that we have the potential to develop. The psychologist Howard Gardner calls this MI theory, the Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Your brain is like a creative super computer with multiple intelligences, a variety of learning potentials designed by Nature over hundreds of millions of years of evolution.
Many of these intelligences are shared by other animal species. Social and emotionalintelligences help us build close relationships with others. They are the most important skills for experiencing happiness, creating a family, making friendships and working together with others. Linguistic(language) intelligence is what allows for communication, also essential for building relationships and community. Mathematicalintelligence is essential for science and economics.
Ecological and spatial intelligences are two forms of visual intelligence that use the imagination, as I talked about before. Your imagination is essential for creativity and the arts, but also for representing knowledge, as scientists such as Richard Feynman and Albert Einstein have talked about.
Finally, musical and physical intelligence are closely connected with your body. Einstein was a skilled musician, and said his imagination and musical intelligence worked together synergistically with his understanding of mathematics to help him understand the laws of physics. So although these various intelligences are each different, we need to use them together creatively to be successful in our lives.
“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music… I get most joy in life out of music.” -Albert Einstein
Over your lifetime your brain will build thousands of different skill patterns. Each pattern is unique, with specific areas of your brain working together in harmony, like musicians in a band or muscles in your body. Each new skill (like playing the piano) is composed of hundreds of sub-patterns (like specific songs) that can take years to grow and develop, as you gain mastery. The human brain is the most complex and creative learning device on our planet, but without years of practice and experience (and opportunity) your brain cannot master new skills!
Part Six – Creative Systems Thinking
Now that I’ve explained about your brain and multiple intelligences I’d like to return to the topic of systems thinking. I believe that human wisdom and creativity are two examples of systems thinking and that (as Einstein said) our imagination is most important. If you listen to wise people they often talk about how everything is connected in reality. Systems thinkers use their visual intelligence to represent the connections and relationships of systems in the world.
Even children have powerful systems thinking potential. The 12 year old students that I taught science in California were able to understand the complex relationship between our biological systems and Nature when I showed them a visual illustration. Severn Suzuki was also 12 years old but could understand with her imagination (better than most adults) how the global economy, poverty, consumer culture and environmental destruction are all connected. She also demonstrates social and emotional intelligence as well as language intelligence. She is using multiple intelligences together during her speech.
Wise people throughout history have used their imaginations (together with other intelligences) to help them understand how everything in the Universe is connected together. Leonardo da Vinci, Buddha, Einstein, Jesus and Lao Tsu (道德经) were systems thinkers, in my opinion. We can find examples of systems thinking in all cultures, because wisdom and creativity have always been essential for human success and survival.
Here below are examples of systems thinking by two men- Mikhail Gorbachev and Steven Jobs. Gorbachev talks about the need for a new global economy that is ecological, balanced with nature instead of being destructive. So he is demonstrating spatial and ecological intelligence. Steve Jobs talks about how people need to work together in teams. He is expressing social and visual intelligence together.
Usually people think of Martin Luther King, Jr as a spiritual leader, but if you listen to him talk in this video I made (below) you can see how he uses his social, emotional, language and visual intelligences synergistically to explain how everything is connected. He says that, “It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality.”
Part Seven – Creative, Regenerative and Destructive Potentials of Nature
Human beings and all living systems are highly creative. Your brain is creative, but also your body. When your parents’ DNA joined together your life as a unique individual began. Thanks to love, they created you! But that was just the beginning. For 9 months you grew your biological systems inside your mother. This was your first creative act, slowly building your body with the DNA information from your parents. Then after you were born you continued to grow, and your brain began to create all the skills and knowledge you have today. This is the miracle of life, interdependence and our natural creativity. Both your body and brain are creative self-organizing self-constructing systems!
Along with being creative, Nature’s systems are also regenerative (自然治癒力). Regeneration is another essential systems principle. It means that a living system (body, brain, community, ecosystem) will preserve and maintain its organization and healthy functioning, that it is sustainable (持続可能性) over time.
Life is self-organizing, interdependent and self-sustaining. The drawing of how your body is solar powered shows this. We are connected to everything around us. Your brain uses five senses to take in information. Your body takes in oxygen, energy, water and other materials from your environment to maintain and “regenerate” your biological systems. This is similar to how the economy works, which is also a self-organizing system. All animals, plants and ecosystems must regenerate, we require constant transactions with our environment to maintain our structures and existence.
Of course, a part of life is death. Living systems can regenerate for a long time, but at some point they will collapse and break down, especially if they lack the materials they need to survive. This process is called degeneration.
Throughout history, many human cultures had an understanding of these 3 key processes of Nature, where creation, regeneration (maintenance) and degeneration all function together. In India, the Hindu culture developed the idea of trimūrti (Japanese: 三神一体, Sanskrit: त्रिमूर्ति), three Gods that represent the creative, regenerative and degenerative powers of the Universe. 「ブラフマー、ヴィシュヌ、シヴァの3柱は、宇宙の創造、維持、破壊という3つの機能が3人組という形で神格化されたものであるとする。」
In order to survive, many human cultures developed myths and religious ideas that encouraged systems thinking, helping them to live in harmony with Nature’s laws and principles. Nowadays, our global high technology civilization is rapidly destroying the regenerative potential of Nature. We describe this as being un-sustainable, reducing sustainability, the maintenance function of ecological systems. Most environmental problems are examples of Nature’s regenerative power being damaged by the industrialized economy and mass consumption of human beings.
Throughout human history, our species has lived in harmony with Nature. I believe this is because ancient people used their imaginations creatively and understood the relationship of humans to Nature better. Their myths and religions were not just fantasy, they were creative cultural stories (like modern movies) that helped people understand fundamental systems processes and principles.
Part Eight – Why is Our Modern Economic System So Out of Balance with Nature?
Currently, our global human civilization’s relationship with Nature is degenerative and parasitic rather than mutualistic and regenerative. We have been living out of balance with Nature. Many modern people don’t even understand that we are a part of Nature, they believe we are superior to all the animals.
When you watched Severn Suzuki‘s 1992 presentation in Rio de Janeiro, did you wonder why was 12 year old Severn so smart? It’s probably thanks to her father, David Suzuki, a Japanese-Canadian scientist and environmentalist. David Suzuki has been concerned about how many modern economists ignore the effects of industrialization on the environment. Some economists call the impact of the economy on nature externalities (something corporations don’t have to worry about). Suzuki feels this thinking is crazy and calls modern economics brain damage.
What scientists are now learning is that human economic activity is responsible for most of the damage we are experiencing with nature. Climate change, sea levels rising, pollution, species extinctions, deserts growing, water shortages, fires in Australia, floods in Japan and other dangers that are getting worse require that the understandings of economics and ecology are brought together. As David Suzuki puts it, we have to “put the ECO back into economics.”
Unfortunately, most business and government leaders are primarily focused on creating profits (money) rather than caring for Nature’s regenerative potential and restoration for future generations. They understand the importance of economic transactions but not ecological transactions.
This is what Greta Thunberg and Severn Suzuki tried to explain, and why millions of young people are angry now. If Nature is not managed well and restored your generation (and all future generations) may experience crisis after crisis in the future.
Our modern civilization has been focused on technological advances, material wealth and entertainment (movies, music, television, games), while ignoring our destructive impact on (and connection to) Nature. If the creative and regenerative powers of living systems are not supported then degenerative processes of chaos will increase and entire ecosystems will collapse.
We see this with the corona virus. It is causing problems now because it can damage the regenerative potential of human bodies, leading to death. Also, if the economy collapses from debts it means a degenerative economic stage will begin.
Yet even more dangerous are the effects of pollution and climate change, which could lead to the extinction of many species and the collapse of human civilization. Many science fiction movies and stories have warned about this, and now that fiction is becoming our reality.
The wisdom of indigenous peoples and systems thinking is understanding that all living systems in our universe have creative (generative), regenerative (self-sustaining) and destructive (degenerative) potential. If we support the creative and regenerative potential of natural systems they will be strong, successful and thrive. If we do not, then systems will start to degenerate and collapse.
All living systems must collapse eventually, but the genius of Nature and evolution is that life can continue to regenerate and evolve even after collapse. And the genius of human beings is that we have the highest creative potential on the planet. Buckminster Fuller, a great systems thinker, said that when something humans have designed is not working the best approach is to design a new model that is more effective.
THAT is the challenge for human beings in the 21st century, I think. We need to all work together, be creative and redesign everything. Economic systems, education, government, energy, technology, transportation, agriculture. All of these systems can be evolved and improved, so that human beings can once again live in harmony with Nature.
Part Nine – The Powerful Potential of Regenerative Agriculture
Although our situation is dangerous now, I am actually very optimistic. There are many creative solutions we can implement and new ones that can be invented. We just need to all be creative systems thinkers, like people were in the past. As an example, for thousands of years most human farming was regenerative, meaning that humans grew food in harmony with Nature. As the video below explains, regenerative agriculture views farming as an ecosystem.
Unfortunately, industrial farming is part of a globalized business system run by large corporations that care more about money and profit than Nature or human health. The methods of industrial farming are toxic, wasteful and degenerative, farmers kill insect species and destroy the health of the soil, putting massive amounts of CO2 into the air and contributing to global warming. Most large companies that sell food spray chemicals on their products and ship it far away to other countries instead of growing food locally.
As David Suzuki has explained, they are not using their imaginations and thinking about externalities, the impact of their actions on the environment around us. This has contributed to climate change, uses a lot of energy and has caused great damage to Nature. Regenerative agriculture can transform human food production into something helpful rather than harmful, acting as global carbon sinks.
Eventually the industrial approach will collapse (if changes are not made), we won’t have enough water and healthy soil to grow food for everyone. That would mean mass human starvation and global species extinctions. Please read these links (in Japanese) to understand better: 次世代農業を展望する & 工業化された農業によって地球は「第六の大量絶滅期」を迎えると科学者が警鐘を鳴らす
A well known type of regenerative agriculture in Japan is natural farming (自然農法), an ecological farming approach established by Masanobu Fukuoka福岡正信 (1913–2008), who introduced these ideas in his book The One-Straw Revolution. Fukuoka described his way of farming as 自然農法 (shizen nōhō). It is also referred to as “the Fukuoka Method”, “the natural way of farming” or “do-nothing farming”.
Masanobu Fukuoka’s natural farming is similar to organic farming, sustainable agriculture, agroforestry, ecoagriculture and permaculture. There are many different regenerative methods. By working together with Nature, not fighting and destroying Nature, they can increase biodiversity, returning carbon and water to the soil. The most important thing is for every community to focus on growing as much of its own food as possible, locally.
Part Ten – Shifting from Globalization to More Local Economics
As we have seen, the industrial global economy creates huge profits and wealth for only a few people. It also wastes resources, uses much energy and destroys the natural environment. Local economics is community centered, focusing on maximizing the creative and regenerative potential of nature and people in every location.
It’s similar to how your body cares for all cells equally. If you do not have healthy cells everywhere in your body you will become sick. Indigenous cultures all take this approach, focusing on keeping a balance between Nature and community, and thinking about future generations. The old economic systems of Asia were similar, actually, such as the Satoyama culture of Japan.
Our global economy uses destructive methods to grow food quickly, in order to mass produce things and make a lot of money for business investors. Cheap labor is needed so people around the world are kept poor as they grow crops like cocoa, coffee, bananas and cotton to export to wealthier people in rich nations.
Why is our global economy designed this way, keeping billions very poor but making a small number of human beings very wealthy? The modern period we are in now is sometimes called the age of globalization, but it has its roots in colonialism, as well as racism and slavery. Every system that exists has a long history, with our global economic system going back thousands of years to the beginning of large human empire civilizations.
Please watch the first 7 minutes of this video (in English with Japanese subtitles). They describe how slavery began as a way to find cheap labor for mass the production of products. The purpose was to use people to increase the economic prosperity of wealthy nations.
After World War 2 ended, the wealthiest nations of Asia, Europe and North America experienced greater peace within their countries. Unfortunately, militarism is still very strong and wars have continued in poor parts of the world with great resources, such as the Middle East and Africa. This situation is sometimes called the North-South Divide.
Most of the strongest economic powers right now are former colonial empires, like Japan, France, England, Germany, America and Russia. We’ve been able to keep our relationships peaceful and our interconnected global economy strong, while still allowing wars and poverty to continue in less rich and powerful nations. How has this been done?
Nowadays, slavery is illegal, but still billions of poor people in Africa (and around the world) are used as “cheap labor” for the mass production of foods like cocoa and to produce metals and diamonds. They do not unite because wars (using weapons supplied by Northern nations) create social chaos. Meanwhile, poor people are working hard to provide us with a convenient life.
Why is the global economy so destructive towards poor people, often treating workers very badly, especially the primary producers who grow crops or work in factories? A documentary film called The Corporation (ザ・コーポレーション) looked at these questions:
After watching these videos please do some research on these topics. Do you agree or disagree that our modern global economy is a new form of colonialism? Do you believe that the whistleblower John Perkins is truthfully describing what he witnessed? What is your opinion of the perspectives shared here?
Part Eleven – How to Become Wiser as a Species, How to Align with the Laws of Nature?
In order to make these changes we have looked at, big shifts in thinking and culture are needed. Why aren’t these ideas being shared more widely in schools? Why aren’t more children encouraged to develop all their multiple intelligences and use their imagination as Einstein suggested?
Currently most education is highly compartmentalized. Teachers are responsible for only one topic and students study that topic alone, without learning about connections. Children’s multiple intelligences are usually ignored. The goal for students is to memorize information for tests, but it’s difficult to remember because the focus is mostly on words and numbers (linguistic and mathematical intelligence). There is little emphasis on using your imagination (visual intelligence) to understand how everything in history, nature and the universe fits together and is interrelated.
My view is that most problems in the world (such as war, racism, economic collapse, environmental destruction, drug addiction, suicide, poverty) exist because modern human civilizations (and our education systems) teach us to ignore the way everything (and everyone) on our planet is connected. They teach us to compartmentalize (separate) knowledge in our heads rather than how to use our imaginations to connect all knowledge together. They don’t teach how we are connected to human history, Nature, our solar system and the Universe.
Most people also believe that imagination and visual intelligence are rare strengths of artists, not a common human potential we all must develop to understand reality better. I wanted to be an artist because I thought my skills were rare but decided to focus on education and science because I believe that all children have great creative potential.
I love scientists like Albert Einstein and Richard Feynman, and Leonardo Da Vinci who describe the interconnections and beauty of our Universe. All of them shared the idea that your imagination is essential to help you understand how everything that exists is connected together and exists as a unified whole. Modern artist Josephine Wall created this painting to express that same idea.
I believe that the best way to help children become wiser and more creative is for education to focus more on art and music, developing social intelligence, emotional intelligence and enjoying learning as a community. Everyone has unknown potentials, each of us is unique in a different way. Children should spend more time outside in forests and on beaches, learning from Nature directly, as indigenous people do. We should also study how everything in history and nature is connected. If we use our imaginations wisely we can come up with local solutions to complex problems, such as the racism, poverty and environmental destruction that is happening now.
For the last hundred years education systems around the world have focused too much on testing and measuring children. Students spend too much time in classrooms with books, and now with technology. It’s often boring and very competitive, and does not give children enough chance to be creative.
When I was in graduate school, I worked on a school reform project that focused on the equal education of every child in a community. We encouraged children to be creative and learn outside the classroom. To help a community improve its potential every child must be given a chance to to develop multiple intelligences, skills and talents. Please watch this video showing this type of project:
The goal with this form of education is make schools like a community, to help children develop their multiple intelligences and creative potential, so they can understand how everything (and everyone) is connected together. By focusing on interesting experiences and creative learning children will be better prepared to solve complex problems and build strong social relationships, enjoying their lives and hopefully feeling grateful for this mysterious Universe and beautiful planet that we live upon.
Nature’s wisdom can be shared with children. Nature’s wisdom is inside all children. We are Nature! The key for good education is connecting knowledge with imagination and compassion (love). When we bring love (social and emotional intelligence), imagination (visual intelligence) and knowledge (linguistic, mathematical intelligence) together creatively (as David Suzuki helped his daughter Severn to do) even children can become highly skilled and very wise.
If we learn directly from Nature, learn to use our heart and imagination together, we will all begin to think more like Albert Einstein. This is the great challenge and opportunity of our time!
Because of our advanced technology, many modern humans think of themselves as more intelligent than Nature. Many believe humans are the most intelligent life. Yet we are the most destructive species! We look at Indigenous cultures and call them “primitive” but don’t realize the wisdom they had, that we need.
Why are modern humans the most powerful species on the planet?Please watch this TED Talk (with Japanese subtitles) by Yuval Harari, an Israeli researcher. He talks about why humans have been such a successful species, but also why we have so many problems. Harari believes that our power comes from cooperation skills and imagination. With our imaginations (and language skills) humans have created powerful cultures that can unite large numbers of us together, including the cultures of nationalism, religions, colonialism, empires and globalization.
Harari calls this a “fiction” because human beliefs (like racial superiority, nationalism, even money) are like stories in our minds that groups of people share and see as truth. Sometimes these stories can be very helpful but sometimes they can become a kind of brainwashing or mind control, like with Nazi Germany or North Korea.
Wisdom may require an open mind and open heart, where we don’t believe everything our culture tells us is true. With compassion and wisdom, we become careful about what we believe and try to connect more directly with “objective” reality.
One way to think about this is that Nature gave us our hardware (biology, multiple intelligences, social community) but culture is like software. The recent “ego-logic” of empire civilizations is something new, that we have the power to change. We cannot change our biology or the laws of Nature, but we can change our cultures and the human systems (political, economic, military, industrial, educational, technological) that we have created.
Nature took over a billion years to design countless species using creative, regenerative (and degenerative) processes. Our own species is rather young. We spread out from Africa over a hundred thousand years ago and now we have come together again. It’s a miracle that we are here, but we need to unite together and change how we think and act if we want to create a happy future.
Especially right now, as we face many potential crisis, I believe that human beings need to change how we think and live. We need to become wiser as a species, we need to evolve our cultures and redesign our human systems. By valuing imagination, learning, love, local community and Nature’s wisdom (more than technology and money) we have a better chance of fixing our problems and living in harmony with Mother Earth. If you want to be happy the most important thing is to share love and to love your life. Please see Alan Watts ideas (in English with Japanese translations) about this below:
We are all connected to Nature and each other. It is your true human potential to be creative, wise and loving. We need to love Nature and take care of all other animals, like we are one family. If modern humans value and develop that potential we will be happy. If we don’t, the future will bring much unhappiness. Indigenous wisdom tells us this, and so does modern science. Systems thinking has guided human beings for tens of thousands of years.
Butterfly effects can create chaos, but they can also regenerate and transform global systems. With imagination and love we can evolve our cultures and the whole world. We need to re-design our current economic system, to make it regenerative instead of destructive. We have a big debt to Nature, we must pay back that debt. We can BE a Global Butterfly Effect. Let’s work together, all future generations are depending on us!
“The most interesting thing I learned from this class is that we need to use both creativity and wisdom. I have been taught a lot of knowledge since I entered an elementary school. To be honest, the education was boring to me because we were required to gain knowledge efficiently without realizing how to use it. However, after taking this class, I realized that what we needed in education was creativity in our mind and wisdom from the ancestors. They are useful and help us understand and tackle what is happening in the world correctly. In order for everyone to use them naturally, we need to adopt the educational system to one where creativity and wisdom are thought to be the most important factors.” ~Japanese student providing feedback about this class
The following is a replica of the first of three units of an Integrated English course presented online via Moodle forums and Zoom meetings, for Science students at Kyushu University during the second semester of 2020, in Fukuoka, Japan. Most of the videos are in English, with Japanese subtitles. I did not create the images or youtube videos, only the text below and arrangement of topics. Anyone who wishes to adapt or use any part of this for educational purposes has my permission, I would only ask that you link to this page, as the source. ~Christopher Chase, 2021
Life on Earth is amazing and beautiful. Unfortunately, we are facing a large number of environmental problems in the 21st Century. Please watch all these videos, read the information and then share your opinion about the 12 topics, 100+ words for each topic.
Topic 1 – Rising Global CO2 Levels – This graph from NASA below shows the rise in carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere over the last 100 years. In 2013 (when this graph was made) the level was about 394ppm. This year, it is at 411ppm, a rise of over 15 ppm in 7 years. The levels go up and down each month, but the trend is rising.
If the Earth’s CO2 levels continue to rise the planet will get hotter. In order to protect life on our planet in the 21st Century we need to reduce the amount of CO2 in the air, and not allow a temperature rise above 1.5 or 2.0 degrees.
Unfortunately, most governments and businesses have not taken effective action to do this. The reason is that it will require reducing our energy use and slowing down the global economy. The situation is very similar to the corona virus crisis. In order to flatten the curve of CO2 levels, all human beings must act together. We all must change our life styles and reduce our carbon footprint.
Topic 2 – Severn Suzuki’s Speech in Rio – In 1992, a 12 year old Japanese-Canadian girl named Severn Suzuki made a powerful speech about the world’s environmental crisis to adults in Rio de Janeiro. This video is short, with Japanese subtitles. What is your opinion about Severn’s speech? Do you feel that business and government leaders listened to her and made changes?
Topic 3 – Here are 2 videos from BBC News that provide a lot of information about the Environmental Crisis– A global temperature rise above 1.5 – 2.0 degrees will melt ice sheets, raise ocean water levels, create more forest fires, bring drought (which could damage farming and reduce food supplies) and create water shortages. It could also lead to a sixth mass extinction of animals, insects and plants. What is your opinion about the information in these two videos?
Topic 4– In 1995, Michael Jackson wrote a song for our Planet Earth and made this music video: Earth Song. You can read the English lyrics here with Japanese translation here. The message of his video is similar to Severn Suzuki’s speech. He shows the destruction modern humans have done to Nature, indigenous peoples, and also with our wars. What is your opinion about his song and video?
Topic 5 – Michael Jackson’s video included indigenous people from South America and Africa. Please watch this video: 母なる大地、アメリカ先住民族の想. For indigenous peoples, Nature is seen as our Mother and an Intelligent Living Spirit. We are all the children of Nature, so indigenous peoples feel we must love Nature and care for her. They see clean water, food and air as gifts from our Mother Earth. They feel responsible to all future generations and don’t understand why modern people care more about technology, economics and money than our beautiful planet. What is your opinion of their traditional cultures and ideas? Why don’t more modern people in high technology cultures think and feel the same way? Can you think of any films you have seen that share this same message?
Topic 6 – 気候変動の知られざる影響とは？ 世界が称賛し国連が泣いた日系マーシャル人スピーチ！ This powerful speech was made in 2014, by Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, at the United Nations. She talked about climate change and how it will effect the future for her children and millions of others.What is your opinion about her speech?
Topic 7 – The Climate Strike Movement Spreads Globally in 2019 – Last year, Climate Strike Demonstrations begun by a 16 year old girl named Greta Thunberg were held all over the world. Here is another video, of a small demonstration of students in Japan: 学生らの気候変動デモ「温暖化は自分たちの問題だ」国会前に20人 – What is your opinion of this youth movement? Why do you think young people around the world are more active than adults?
Topic 8 – Greta vs. Trump! As Greta Thunberg and Climate Strikes became more active, President Trump started to make comments about them. Please watch these two videos. In September, young Greta traveled from Sweden to the United States. She became angry at a UN conference, because the adults appeared to be ignoring both scientists and protesters. CO2 levels keep rising each year, with UN projections for a 3-5 degree rise, which would mean a global disaster. Greta is usually very calm when she speaks, and may have been angered after seeing President Trump, who talked about her on twitter but ignored her that day. What is your opinion about this?Do you think Greta is too angry or can you understand her feelings?
Topic 9 – Please watch these videos about the 2019 & 2020 wildfires in Australia and the United States: “まるで火星”焼失拡大続く カリフォルニア州山火事 & オーストラリアの希少動物が危機. As the planet gets hotter some places are experiencing more or less rain. In Japan and East Asia we are having more floods, but in Australia, Africa and the West Coast of America they are having terrible wildfires. This year and last year some places experienced the worst wildfires in human history. Did you know about these fires? What is your opinion about this?
Topic 10 – Sustainable Development Goals, Planetary Boundaries & Climate Tipping Points. In 2015, the United Nations adopted 17 SDGs (17 持続可能な開発目標) for the world to reach by 2030. In 2018, Swedish scientist Johan Rockström explained we may have difficulty reaching these goals (持続可能な世界を築 – please watch first 4 minutes) because many countries focus more on Goal 8 (Economic Growth).
Recently, Prime Minister Suga announced that Japan plans to become carbon neutral by 2050, but do we have that much time?Many scientists believe world government and business leaders are moving dangerously slow, because they worry too much about the economy.
After you have discussed together and understand these issues, please share your opinion about the SDGs, Planetary Boundaries and Tipping Points.
Topic 11 (Solutions) – The Power of Consumer Consciousness & Education – Many of these problems are really really serious, so what can we do? The first step is to educate ourselves and our friends. Please watch these videos. Most of these problems are caused by our global economic system that has poorer nations produce things cheaply to sell to people in the wealthiest nations. What is your opinion about this?
Topic 12 (Solutions) – The POWER of Global Action in 2020. This year, every person and country on earth took strong action together to try and “flatten the curve” and stop the corona virus. Nothing like this has ever happened before in human history!!! Unfortunately, with environmental problems, for over 30 years human action has been too slow and very limited. I think a big reason is most modern people don’t know how much destruction wealthy nations cause for indigenous peoples, poor nations and Nature. Johan Rockström shares some of his ideas about how we can influence big changes and take action.What do you think of his suggestions? Do you think after the corona virus crisis humans may change and become more organized and active about the environmental crisis? What can we do to help?
Topic 13 (Solutions) – Creating a New Economic System for the Earth & People: From Globalization to Localization. In order to reverse climate change, save Nature & help future generations, our global economy may need to become much more localized, where the value of human well-being and local community is the focus, instead of valuing large corporate profits, manufactured goods and money. In Japan this is called 地産地消 (chi san chi shou), local production for local consumption. Please watch these two videos, they explain these ideas well: 幸せの経済学（短縮版）& ヴァンダナ・シヴァの いのちの種を抱きしめて– What do you think about these ideas?
“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.” ― Albert Einstein
Right now two starkly different visions of “personalized learning” are being put forward by education reformers around the world. One model has the development of Artificial Intelligence at the center, creating A.I. programs to teach children one-to-one via computers.
Schools and teachers that take the M.I. approach are aligned with how children naturally learn, focusing on developing children’s creative skills and interacting with one’s local community. The goal is to help each child actualize their unique human potential and Multiple Intelligences (a mix of social, emotional, linguistic, mathematical, musical, physical, ecological and visual arts capabilities).
This requires that children sing, dance, paint, communicate, read for pleasure, play freely, collaborate on projects, solve real-world problems, build strong relationships and connect meaningfully with the natural world.
On the other hand (as this BBC video below shows), the A.I. approach being designed by Silicon Valley pioneers provides a way to have students learn primarily from increased screen time with computers. Professional teachers don’t need to be physically present with the children. There is much less social interaction, less art focus, reduced communication and very little group learning.
The A.I. teaching system is expensive to produce but very effective for raising test scores. Students will be observed by cameras. Private data is collected for each learner, to be stored off site and analyzed.
The goal of this model is for tech companies to collect “big data” from children, developing algorithms to construct A.I. that can one day teach millions of students at their own pace, simultaneously. It’s called personalized learning, but actually its not very personal. The students’ main teacher will be a computer program.
The second model of “learner-centered” M.I. education has been in development for hundreds if not thousands of years, rooted in apprenticeship learning approaches. It is more community focused, with more communication and mastery learning alongside adults and peers.
The focus is simultaneously on group learning and each child’s growth and development, helping each learner’s multiple intelligences to grow and thrive while building strong relationships with others.
The M.I. approach is related to the model Maria Montessori pioneered over a century ago, which has shown great success in Finland. Not much technology is needed, as human relationships, self-directed learning and real world interactions are central. Not much data is collected. But children learn to work together creatively, collaborate, grow their skills and experience a sense of community. This video from the Mission Hill project shows how such an approach works.
These two models could be available to all children in the very near future. While very different in approach, both support a transition away from high-stakes testing, along with teacher and text book centered education.
With direct A.I. “hyper-personalized” instruction via computers, testing and data collection will now happen constantly, every day. Children are no longer compared with each other, thereby reducing test taking anxiety. They will probably do well on standardized tests with all that daily practice.
With an M.I. and local community focus tests are not even considered very important. Developing each child’s creativity and unique potential is the focus. Test scores will rise naturally, but many of the skills young people develop can not be easily measured.
Another example of the M.I. approach (video above), Boston Arts Academy provides a mix of academic and arts classes. The high school’s graduates do well on tests, and are valued both by colleges and employers. I worked on a similar project in the early 1990s, at Stanford University.
Unfortunately, for the last two decades most nations have put more emphasis on computers and test scores than creativity, community learning and whole child development. If we want our children to develop their full potential we need to think deeply about the kinds of learning tasks, environments and opportunities we provide for them.
Over the past 100 years, the view of science has undergone a major shift that can be called the “Systems Revolution”. It originated in feedback theory in engineering, developed in the fields of quantum mechanics and biology of physics, and now permeates cognitive behavioral science and social science. This scientific view is based on the dynamic “living system” theory, not the static “mechanical system theory”.
In the Newtonian view, the world is made up of things. In [the unified] scientific view called “New Science” [or Systems Science], when you know the reality of systems, you pay attention to “relationships” rather than “things”.
Substances that make up human hands are completely replaced in a few months, and the human body is also replaced in a few years. It can be said that people are not things, but always a process or ability to continue to regenerate, the human body is like a river, and we are “things” by looking at snapshots of structures that are always flowing.
However, a substance basically results from relationships. For this reason, biologists say that “living systems” are self-generating. “Living systems” all have the ability to create themselves, so that they can self-organize and perceive the environment—where life can find its meaning. It is a process.
The view of the world of “living systems” does not deny the Newtonian view but includes it. The problem lies in our implicit habit of trying to understand everything through the Newtonian ideas of “things” and “machines”.
When we re-examine school education as a “living system”, the learning process comes “alive”.
Learner-centered learning occurs, not teacher-centered.
Diversity is encouraged, not uniformity—multiple intelligence and learning style.
Understand the world as interdependence and change, instead of memorizing “lists of facts and correct answers.”
Search for “use theory” (practical logic to be used in reality) of all people involved in the education process.
Reintegrate education within a social network of friends, family, and local communities
If you think of school as a “living system”, you can see that it is constantly evolving. It is the question of the learner who participates in helping the evolution. Also, teachers’ jobs are the same, and it is important to support the learning process that children have naturally.
学習する組織は、上記の５つのディシプリンを中核とおくものの、その他の学習コンセプトも取り入れている。例えば、「多様な知性(multiple intelligence)」、「思考の習慣(habits of mind)」などがその例である。
A “learning school” can be considered at the level of at least three systems.
・Community to learn
・Both residents and schools need to be aware of the interdependence between schools and communities.
・The school is also a good place to promote learning for all ages, and has the role of creating an environment for promoting lifelong learning for local “lifelong learners”.
The concept of “learning organization”, which has already achieved results in the business world, is the backbone of the “learning school” program.
“Learning Organization” is an organizational and human resource development approach integrated by Peter Senge, senior lecturer at MIT Sloan Business School. Ford, GE, Shell, BP, and many other companies around the world Introduced in executive training.
“Learning organization” refers to “an organization that continues to improve the ability and awareness of teams to effectively achieve their goals”. The “5 disciplines” (the total of wisdom and skills to learn and acquire) listed in the learning organization are as follows.
1) Mental model – “Mental model” is the “premise of people and things in the world” that each person has, including mindsets and paradigms. Pay attention to your mental model and its consequences, and if it doesn’t work, look for the defects in your mental model, rather than seeking the cause outside.
2) Team learning / communication – “Team learning” is a process of exploring their mental model and the whole picture of problems through dialogue with people inside and outside the team and organization, and matching the intentions of the parties concerned. Above all, the “dialog” is a series of methods that focus on “speaking with real intentions” and searching the true cause and purpose of the problem by raising the state of awareness in the group.
3) Systems thinking – “Systems thinking” is a way of looking at things as a series of connected elements and focusing on the quality and interaction of the connections. It is often applied as a method for global optimization and complex problem solving. It is also the idea that forms the basis of the “living system” theory.
4) Self-mastery – “Self-mastery” means having a clear vision of “how you want to be” and “what you want to create”, changing the tension between vision and reality into creative power, This is an intrinsic motivation process.
5) Shared vision – “Shared vision” is the process of creating a vision that can be shared and permeated as an organization by superimposing the visions of management and members. Once a vision is shared, it shows the organization’s behavior, results, and learning guidelines as a compass.
Of these five disciplines, 1) and 2) are “capabilities of co-creative dialogue”, 3) are “capabilities of understanding complexity”, and 4) and 5) are “capabilities of nurturing will” In an organized learning organization, it is important to develop these three abilities in a balanced manner.
The learning organization has the above five disciplines at its core, but incorporates other learning concepts. For example, “multiple intelligence”, “habits of mind”, and the like.
“The true prison is not surrounded by barbed wire, or electrical fences, the real prisons do not have guards. The real prison is up here. And we all got it.. True freedom is dropping down out of that mind. And what my wife has taught me is to drop into your hearts..” ~Sean Stephenson
I’m trying to compose my blog post for tonight, and I’m thinking it sounds really believable that I went to prison and hugged a bunch of really nice prisoners, while I DJed busy, threw on some records, and Richard Branson told me where I can score some free heroin. True story.
Lesson number 1: Never believe a prediction that doesn’t empower you. When I was born, the doctors told my parents that I would be dead within the first 24 hours of my life.
35 years later, all those doctors are dead and I am the only doctor that remains.
Never believe a prediction that doesn’t empower you. How many predictions have been thrown at you your whole life? If you believe predictions that do not empower you, you will wither away and die, either physically die or your spirit will die as you just walk around the world like a carcass that is just following the masses.
You will be given a lot of titles in your life. You will be told so many different things. You must only listen to that which empowers you. I have a belief that has served me in my life, and that is that everyone is rooting for me to win, even those that do not know it.
And I’m not here today to tell you that I’ve had adversity in my life and so therefore, I know what you are going through. I don’t have a clue what any of you are going through in your lives. I did not grow up in your neighborhoods more than likely. I did not have your set of parents, nor do I live in your body. I’ve not had the events that you’ve had happened to you.
I can tell you I am only an expert on one thing, and that’s how to be me, and I do it well. But it’s not come easily.
I’ve gone through things that I don’t wish upon anyone in this room. I’ve had metal rods pulled out of bone marrow while I was awake. I’ve had jaw infections where teeth had to be extracted and I can no longer chew my own food. I have to get up every day and be showered and cared for physically by another human being. Fortunately, she is a gorgeous woman that I married.
I get stared at everywhere I go, and the moment people meet me, if they don’t know a thing about my résumé, they automatically, just by the human nature, think to themselves: “Oh, it must be so difficult to be that man!”
If somebody pities me, they’re wasting their time, because I have chosen a life of strength, and I am here to help you choose a life of strength, but I’m going to tell you, we’ve talked about drugs here. You know what the worst drug that ever hit the human race is? Pity.
The moment you feel sorry for another person, or the moment you feel sorry for yourself, you’re hosed. You’re totally, completely frozen in potential.
We cannot pity ourselves, we cannot pity you. Yes, I get to go home today. Yes, I get to have what many would call freedom, but I’m going to talk to you about freedom, about what I really choose to see freedom as. Because like I said, you cannot believe predictions that do not empower you.
The second lesson today is: you are not your condition.
You’re not. I’m not disabled. Sure, I’ll take the handicapped parking privileges but that does not define me as a man. Not able? I’ve been looked at and treated my whole life as if I am not able. I have had to rise above and show people that the only disability is one’s refusal to adapt. You have to adapt to whatever environment you’re in, even if it’s prison.
And what does adaption look like? I think it looks like celebration. Because when you meet people that are celebrating their life, you want to be around them, you want to learn from them, you want to do business with them, you want to hire them.
Look! If you do not want to be seen as a prisoner or a convict when you get out of this, or even while you’re in this, that is an attitude — it is a belief in yourself that you bring value to the human race, no matter what your current condition, title, or stature is.
Because if I believe that I am disabled, I would wither up, I would be shy, I would be insecure, I would be afraid, I would act like I need your help. And the rest of humanity would be OK with that.
But I choose something else. I choose to be strong, I choose to be a leader, I choose to have words to move this planet. I’ll tell you why I was born. And I hope it inspires you to find out why you were born.
I was born to rid this world of insecurity. Because when a human being is insecure, they do stupid stuff. When we feel like we’re not enough, we chase external validation, and external objects to try to tell us we’re enough. Thank you.
You are enough. I’ll tell you I’ve made a pledge as a therapist to love all human beings, no matter what they’ve done. Because deep down inside, I’ve found that every human being just wants to be loved, even if they’re tough, even if they’re scary, even if they’re viscous. You get them in the right position, at the right time, they’ll tell you the truth. They just want to be loved.
Do you know who they want the love from the most? Not their moms, not their dads, not their wardens. None of these people. They want to be able to look in the mirror and love themselves. And if you can figure that out, then you’re going somewhere.
But you cannot feel sorry for yourself. When you feel sorry for yourself, you will wither. But there’s a contradiction to feeling sorry for yourself, it’s the opposite of extreme, it’s what I call ‘bullying yourself, beating yourself up, being your own enemy and telling yourself that all those predictions, those negative opinions, they’re true, they’re right, you’re washed up, failure. You’re not going to amount to anything.
Bullying yourself is the most dangerous thing that you could do. You cannot afford to pity yourself, you cannot afford to bully yourself, you have to love yourself.
Because the last lesson that I’m going to share with you today, that is I’m going to teach you what the real prison is. It’s not surrounded by barbed wire, or electrical fences, the real prisons do not have guards. The real prison is up here. And we all got it. We all have a mind that chatters, so often won’t stop chattering.
Do you know where your salvation is? It’s not outside these walls. I’ve met so many people (that are so extremely successful and famous) that are in prison, because they’re stuck in their minds, bullying themselves, pitying themselves.
True freedom is dropping down out of that mind. And what my wife has taught me is to drop into your hearts, into mastering this beating thing that is more than just sending blood to the extremities.
What is it doing? It’s sending emotional possibilities, infinite possibilities of choice in our behavior, in our life, in our attitude. When you love yourself, whether you’re sleeping on a prison cot, or in a mansion, whether you have food in your belly, or you don’t know when your next meal is coming, when you love yourself, when you learn to master your emotions, then and only then are you free.
I love you, each and every one of you, and I wish you freedom within these walls.
“People normally cut reality into compartments, and so are unable to see the interdependence of all phenomena. To see one in all and all in one is to break through the great barrier which narrows one’s perception of reality..” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
“I think the difficulty is this fragmentation. All thought is broken up into bits. Like this nation, this country, this industry, this profession and so on… And they can’t meet. Wholeness is a kind of attitude or approach to the whole of life. If we can have a coherent approach to reality then reality will respond coherently to us.” ~David Bohm
Modern educational institutions were designed to train children to see and experience the world divided up into parts, thereby disconnecting them from the unified whole (of nature, community, universe) that in truth we all belong to.
Science, art, history, literature, math, music are presented to children as being completely separate from one another. They don’t learn how these are in truth interdependently connected. Children are tested, measured (and compared with each other) for how well they can remember what they were taught. This creates a further sense of alienation and disconnection.
Over time, our consciousness compartmentalises, so that by adulthood we come to see ourselves as individuals separate from the universe. We learn to experience life and see the world divided up into parts, as fed by the media and taught when we were institutionalized (as children).
Think about that. Let it sink in. Most of us were institutionalized as children.
And so civilization’s people have been trained to disconnect from the wisdom of our bodies, our spirit, our creative intuitions and Nature. Alienated from our deeper selves (and the world around us) many feel dissatisfied, fearful and lonely.
This is how we were programmed to think, act and be. To imitate, regurgitate, fear and obey. Then to fill the void within us by fitting into social molds, doing meaningless work for those with more power (and money) and consuming, endlessly consuming…
Wars, violence, nationalism, ecological destruction, consumerism, racism, suicide, school shootings, religious extremism, widespread addictions to cell phones, pornography, food, drugs, work, guns, superficial sex, career status, alcohol and shopping are all attempts to fill the emptiness in our hearts.
Being out of touch with the interrelated structure of reality creates a spiritual void and perceptual blindness, as Martin Luther King, Jr. has described. It’s a delusion we must awaken from, because, “It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality.”
Much of the chaos and destruction we see reported in the media is rooted in how billions of compartmentalized human minds are responding to the alienation, standardization, ignorance and division that has become normalized with our high-tech civilization.
People are reacting fearfully to the experience of not being fully whole, not fully connected to our communities, to this incredible Universe and the wider Community of Nature that supports us (and in truth brought each of us into being).
“We live in an age where the delusions and ignorance of modern civilizations have become the global norm. Most of the problems in our world stem from how “civilized” humans have compartmentalized life in such a way as to hide reality from ourselves and other people. A fantasy view of reality, what Buddhists call samsara, has been packaged, marketed and sold to the masses by those in positions of influence and power.
This has been done on purpose, has been the “operating code” of hierarchical human civilizations for thousands of years. Our leaders don’t want us to know what is really going on, with anything. This was as true of pharaohs and kings in the past as it is of large corporations, governments, billionaires, military leaders and media elites now.
The compartmentalization of knowledge and intentional hiding of facts is how those in power maintain control. They hide how food is produced, how wars create future terrorists (and civilian casualties), how education is being intentionally dumbed down, how the earth’s ecosystems are being destroyed, how politicians are corrupt, how democracy has been rigged, how debt enslaves people and wealth is accumulated unfairly.” Source: Awakening from the Cult of Ignorance
How then to awaken from this compartmentalization of our consciousness? How to more deeply experience the beauty of our existence, understanding how we are embedded in a miraculous ever evolving and living cosmos?
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.” ~Albert Einstein
“A basic principle of the indigenous world view is that all things in the universe are connected. We believe that we are a part of everything and that everything in the natural world is alive—conscious—even the stones, the Earth, the stars. Westerners seem to isolate themselves and think they are separate from their environment. They believe that portions of creation can be isolated from other parts; that one set of people is separate from another set; or that people are different from the animals. In the Western view, it doesn’t matter what happens to animals because we’re apart from them; superior, actually. In the indigenous world view—or what I would call “reality”—we are all a part of creation. The universe is unified. It’s inaccurate to think you can separate pieces out. Human beings are the only species who have forgotten that. When we remember, we live in balance and strive for harmony with all things. That is the most fundamental difference between the Western and indigenous world view. ~Spencer Martin (Se Olum)
“I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.
I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street.
I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested.
Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.” 
“WAR is a racket. It always has been.
It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.
A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.
In the World War I a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.
How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?
Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few — the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.
And what is this bill?
This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.
For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion that war was a racket; not until I retired to civil life did I fully realize it. Now that I see the international war clouds gathering, as they are today, I must face it and speak out..” 
Smedley Darlington Butler (July 30, 1881 – June 21, 1940) was a United States Marine Corpsmajor general, the highest rank authorized at that time, and at the time of his death the most decorated Marine in U.S. history. During his 34-year career as a Marine, he participated in military actions in the Philippines, China, in Central America and the Caribbean during the Banana Wars, and France in World War I. Butler later became an outspoken critic of U.S. wars and their consequences, as well as exposing the Business Plot, an alleged plan to overthrow the U.S. government.
“The incompetence is mind numbing,” Chelsea Clinton told her parents. “The UN people I encountered were frequently out of touch … anachronistic in their thinking at best and arrogant and incompetent at worst.. There is NO accountability in the UN system or international humanitarian system.”
Looking back now, the US-led response to Haiti’s earthquake on January 12, 2010 was a disaster from which Haitians have never recovered. But at the time the U.S. media presented it as a great success.
That perception was not by accident. In 2015, secret e-mails released by the Obama State Department revealed that top officials had mounted a successful media campaign to counter negative stories, while a brutally honest review by Secretary Clinton’s daughter Chelsea was kept quiet…
“We waged a very successful campaign against the negative stories concerning our involvement in Haiti,” Judith McHale, the under-secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, wrote on February 26, 2010…
But one person even closer to [Secretary of State Clinton] was singing a different tune—very, very quietly. On February 22, after a four-day visit to the quake zone, Chelsea Clinton authored a seven-page memo which she addressed to “Dad, Mom,” and copied their chief aides…
Chelsea Clinton was blunt in her report, confident the recipients would respect her request in the memo’s introduction to remain an “invisible soldier.”
She had first come to the quake zone six days after the disaster with her father and then-fiancé, Mark Mezvinsky. Now she was returning with the medical aid group Partners in Health, whose co-founder, Dr. Paul Farmer, was her father’s deputy in his Office of the UN Special Envoy for Haiti. What she saw profoundly disturbed her.
Five weeks after the earthquake, international responders were still in relief mode: U.S. soldiers roamed Port-au-Prince streets on alert for signs of social breakdown, while aid groups held daily coordination meetings inside a heavily guarded UN compound ordinary Haitian couldn’t enter.
But Haitians had long since moved on into their own recovery mode, many in displacement camps they had set up themselves, as responders who rarely even spoke the language, Kreyòl, worked around them, oblivious to their efforts.
“The incompetence is mind numbing,” she told her parents. “The UN people I encountered were frequently out of touch … anachronistic in their thinking at best and arrogant and incompetent at worst.” “There is NO accountability in the UN system or international humanitarian system.”
The weak Haitian government, which had lost buildings and staff in the disaster, had something of a plan, she noted. Yet because it had failed to articulate its wishes quickly enough, foreigners rushed forward with a “proliferation of ad hoc efforts by the UN and INGOs [international nongovernmental organizations] to ‘help,’ some of which have helped … some of which have hurt … and some which have not happened at all.”
The former first daughter recognized something that scores of other foreigners had missed: that Haitians were not just sitting around waiting for others to do the work.
“Haitians in the settlements are very much organizing themselves … Fairly nuanced settlement governance structures have already developed,” she wrote, giving the example of camp home to 40,000 displaced quake survivors who had established a governing committee and a series of sub-committees overseeing security, sanitation, women’s needs and other issues.
“They wanted to help themselves, and they wanted reliability and accountability from their partners,” Chelsea Clinton wrote. But that help was not coming. The aid groups had ignored requests for T-shirts, flashlights and pay for the security committee, and the U.S. military had apparently passed on the committee’s back-up plan that they provide security themselves.
“The settlements’ governing bodies—as they shared with me—are beginning to experience UN/INGO fatigue given how often they articulate their needs, willingness to work—and how little is coming their way.”
That analysis went beyond what some observers have taken years to understand, and many others still haven’t: that disaster survivors are best positioned to take charge of their own recovery, yet often get pushed aside by outside authorities who think, wrongly, that they know better…
“For the next few months I continued to visit my father every day, and he taught me more about the Great Perfection. Often times we wouldn’t talk at all as we sat together. My father (Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche) would simply sit in front of the large window and gaze off into the sky as I sat quietly by his side and tried to meditate.
I desperately wanted his approval, so I always did my best imitation of what I thought a good meditator should do. I sat bolt upright and tried to make it look like I was absorbed in some deep experience, while in actuality I was just repeating a mantra in my mind and trying not to get lost in thought.
Occasionally, I would open my eyes and peek up at my father, hoping that he had noticed my good meditation posture and ability to sit still for so long.
One day, as we sat together in silence, I glanced up at him in the middle of my meditation and was surprised to find him gazing down at me. “Are you meditating, son?” he asked.
“Yes, sir,” I said proudly, filled with joy that he had finally noticed. My answer seemed to amuse him greatly. He paused for a few moments and then said gently, “Don’t meditate.”
My pride vanished. For months, I’d been doing my best to copy all the other meditators who came to be with my father. I learned some short prayers, sat in the right posture, and tried hard to still my turbulent mind. “I thought I was supposed to meditate,” I said with a shaky voice.
“Meditation is a lie,” he said. “When we try to control the mind or hold on to an experience, we don’t see the innate perfection of the present moment.”
Pointing out through the window, he continued, “Look out into the blue sky. Pure awareness is like space, boundless and open. It’s always here. You don’t have to make it up. All you have to do is rest in that.”
For a moment, all of my hopes and expectations about meditation dropped away and I experienced a glimpse of timeless awareness.
A few minutes later he continued, “Once you’ve recognised awareness, there’s nothing to do. You don’t have to meditate or try to change your mind in any way.”
“If there’s nothing to do,” I asked, “Does that mean that we don’t have to practice?”
“Although there’s nothing to do, you do need to familiarise yourself with this recognition. You also need to cultivate bodhichitta and devotion, and always seal your practice by dedicating the merit so that all beings may recognise their own true nature too.
The reason we still need to practice is that at first we only have an understanding of the mind’s true nature. By familiarising ourselves with this understanding again and again, however, it eventually transforms into direct experience.
Yet even then we still need to practice. Experience is unstable, so if we don’t continue to familiarise ourselves with pure awareness we can lose sight of it and get caught up in our thoughts and emotions again.
On the other hand, if we are diligent in practice, this experience will transform into a realisation that can never be lost. This is the path of the Great Perfection.”
With these words, he stopped talking and we both continued to rest in pure awareness, gazing off into the deep blue sky above the Kathmandu Valley.”