Monday, March 19, 2012

Musings: Dreams of Spring

As the dogs and I walked this morning, beneath that silver sliver of moon, it sure felt like spring, what with the soft air, and light at a time when not so long ago it was dark. But mostly it sounded like spring, with the birds madly twittering, trilling and tweeting, chirping, cheeping and crowing, and it smells like spring, with the fragrance of puakenikeni, spider lilies and gardenias wafting past my nose and filling the house.

And at 7:14 p.m., when the sun enters Aries, it will be spring, a time to think about what direction we want our lives to take, what kind of world we want to dream into being. Because we can do that, you know.

I've been dreaming of a world where it isn't all about money, money, money, money, money, money, money. Why are we the only species obsessed with that construct, especially when it's sowing the seeds of our destruction, both from an environmental and social perspective? A recent study published in the National Academy of Sciences found, according to the abstract, that:

[U]pper-class individuals behave more unethically than lower-class individuals. [U]pper-class individuals were more likely to break the law while driving ...exhibit unethical decision-making tendencies … take valued goods from others ... lie in a negotiation ... cheat to increase their chances of winning a prize … and endorse unethical behavior at work … than were lower-class individuals. Mediator and moderator data demonstrated that upper-class individuals’ unethical tendencies are accounted for, in part, by their more favorable attitudes toward greed.

So why does every industrialized society treat them like gods, allow them to destroy the commons that we all depend upon so that they can continue to accumulate personal wealth?

I've been dreaming of a world where women have more power. Even China, Iraq, Afghanistan and Cuba, those supposedly backward places that we're itching to “modernize and democratize,” have more women in government than we do.

More disturbing was the revelation that women comprise just 16 percent of the nation's writers, directors, editors and producers, which does a lot to explain why movies, TV and advertising are filled with violent, sexually exploitive and misogynist images that work to keep women down.

I've been dreaming of a world where plants and animals are given the consideration and respect they deserve, where it's accepted that they — gasp! — have intelligence, self-awareness, consciousness. Already a move is under way to promote a Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans, which was presented at the recent Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Vancouver, Canada, the world's biggest science conference. As Ethics expert Prof Tom White, from Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, noted:

"We're saying the science has shown that individuality - consciousness, self-awareness - is no longer a unique human property. That poses all kinds of challenges."

Yeah, like we might have to get our heads out of asses, then shut down slavery-as-entertainment places like SeaWorld and stop the Navy from dragging marine mammals into our wars.

Heck, even honeybees have personalities, according to a study done by the University of Illinois:

[Institute for Genomic Biology Director Gene] Robinson believes that insects, humans and other animals have made use of the same genetic “toolkit” in the evolution of behavior, which each species has adapted. “It looks like the same molecular pathways have been engaged repeatedly in evolution to give rise to individual differences in novelty-seeking,” he concluded.

Which prompted a friend to note:

Why oh why are we still surprised at stuff like this!! Guess it's that 'scientific proof'........

And that's why I've also been dreaming of a world where we stop treating the scientific method as the Holy Grail. Sure, it's got its place, but through my own experience I've found there's a lot more going on than can be replicated or “proven” by a method that has its own underlying biases and flaws.

Mostly, though, I've been dreaming of a world where people lose this mindset that they don't make any difference, that they can never stand up to right the wrongs, that they have to live with greed, environmental destruction, patriarchy, just because that's the way it's always been, or at least, that's how it's been for as long as we'd conveniently like to remember.

To borrow the words of Alice Walker: “The most common way that people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any.”

Arm a dream with power, and anything is possible.


Andrew Cooper said...

What else beside the scientific method? It is really the only way we have to test reality.

The scientific process is the one method we have developed that comes close to removing our very human faults from the discovery of answers. We are all biased, we see patterns where none exist, we see causation where there is none. Without a proper method to test these ideas we are howling in the wind.

Our society is replete with examples of "common knowledge" that is totally false.

The mere claim that are there are things that can not be scientifically tested is false. If it exists, we can find a way to prove it.

Is the method always properly used? Of course not. But we can aspire to the ideal. We can constantly test old answers against new data and new ideas that might explain the phenomena better.

There are many who deride the scientific method because it so often challenges dearly held beliefs. But for those who know it, we understand it to be the single most valuable tool humanity has ever created.

Anonymous said...

Lesson learned. Upper class people will cheat. Therefore, put them in jail. Period.

Anonymous said...

Ethics: do as I say, not as I do. Lessons are never learned: how else to explain mankind?

Anonymous said...

"the scientific method is the only way we have to test reality"

How did people "test reality" before science came around? Build the pyramids, etc.? Build Spiritual Kingdoms....was Christ a scientist? Sir Francis Bacon?

The scientific process can be manipulated by the researchers bias and prejudice. any one who participates in research and science knows this. More smoke and mirrors........slanting the information....depending upon who is paying for it.

The only method to test reality is getting out of your head, and into your Heart. And feel Life.

Dr Shibai

Anonymous said...

"I have a Dreamsicle!"

Observe reality, adjust to it, try to become one of the winners. Otherwise, you will be a loser.

Spoken from the perspective of a "2.5 percenter".

Anonymous said...

Continuation of above:

I'm not here to help them find gold. I'm here to sell them shovels.

Take it easy, but take it.

Anonymous said...

Women have rights?

Anonymous said...

The life I'm living ain't mine...I'm suppose to think that's fine...I didn't make the World I'm living in...and I ain't going to tow the line...Savoy

KamaKele said...

Joan you completely lost me when you said plants have intelligence, self-awareness, etc...treat them with respect? sure. But self-aware and intelligent? The last time I checked, you needed a brain for that. Or maybe that's my scientific method talking.

KamaKele said...

We have a brain to temper the impulses of our hearts, and we have a heart to soften the rigid coldness of our brains. Anyone acting with only one organ or the other is fundamentally disfunctional.

Andrew Cooper said...

"How did people "test reality" before science came around? Build the pyramids, etc.?"

Science has been here that long. Our current scientific method is a the result of a long heritage going back to the Greeks, Arab Scholarly tradition, the Egyptians, and Babylonians. Even since we have had ways of recording knowledge the tradition has allowed arrive where we are today.

Yes, science can be distorted, people can lie, science is a human process. There is an ideal, a standard to strive for. The process requires review and questioning by other scientists, replication of results, we usually discover the lies.

Getting into your heart is exactly the wrong way to discover the truth. This is when all those wonderful and misleading human biases creep in.

Anonymous said...

What science can't explain, isn't that God? Like, what happened before the Big Bang and what will happen after?

Anonymous said...

And I don't mean reruns.