The Very Idea of Humanity

Gus Mantel As man advances in civilization, and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all the members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him. This point being once reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races. If, indeed, such men are separated from him by great differences in appearance or habits, experience unfortunately shews us how long it is, before we look at them as our fellow-creatures…The very idea of humanity, as far as I could observe, was new to most of the Gauchos of the Pampas. This virtue, one of the noblest with which man is endowed, seems to arise incidentally from our sympathies becoming more tender and more widely diffused, until they are extended to all sentient beings. As soon as this virtue is honoured and practised by some few men, it spreads through instruction and example to the young, and eventually becomes incorporated in public opinion.  – Charles  

Consent of the Networked

Excellent TEDTalk by Rebecca MacKinnon on keeping the Internet free from corporate and political sub-interests. MacKinnon argues that the Magna Carta was a breakthrough in limiting the power of kings, followed by a radical experiment called “consent of the governed” in America’s founding. She argues convincingly that it’s time for a third paradigm shift she calls Consent of the Networked. She shows how no country is immune from using its policing powers to stifle speech it considers inappropriate to its “national interests.” She extends her arguments to U.S. corporations which effectively gate-keep today’s Internet (Facebook, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, etc.). Without certain essential unalienable virtual freedoms, the Internet becomes a tool of control rather than a tool of liberation from control. MacKinnon has given a powerful, prophetic TEDTalk. Humanity moving forward will be shaped largely by our degree of freedom in  

Communication Wants to be Free

From TED’ster David Pogue at today’s New York Times, on Google’s new Gmail Voice Calling service. There will come a day, probably within two generations, when most global-interpersonal communication may be included as part of a common virtual access fee, like a water bill.  Effectively, free. What Voice Calls from Gmail does is open up another variation, one that strikes even closer to the “free calls from a phone, to a phone” ideal. Now it’s free calls “from a computer, to a phone.” At the moment, you can’t use this new feature until you download and install a special plug-in for Mac or Windows. But you can’t help wondering: What if Google released an app like that for Android phones, or the iPhone? Well, I’ll tell you what. At that point, you could, for the first time in history, make unlimited free phone-to-phone calls. We’re tantalizingly  

Create Something Beautiful

“Give me one wild word, and I promise I will follow. The word the Sea rolled back to me was “mosaic.” I began to see through acts of witnessing, that the extermination of a species and the extermination of a people are predicated on the same impulses: prejudice, cruelty, ignorance and arrogance, all circling around issues of power and justice. The world is broken. We are broken, whether it is through our distractive, fragmented lives or war. Taking that which is broken and creating something whole is an act of healing and restoration. Call it reconstruction. Mosaic: an art form, a form of integration. Finding beauty in a broken world is creating beauty in the world we find. It is more than the act of assemblage, it is the act of daring contemplation that leads us to action. To bear witness is not a passive act. To be present with a piece of art, with a prairie community, with a Rwandan mother who is telling you a story of what happened to her children during the war, is to be moved to a different point of view. Empathy is the word that comes to mind. Through acts of witnessing our consciousness shifts and as a result, we can choose to act differently. Pete Seeger says, “Participation is the key to rescuing the human race.” I believe him. I certainly do not have any recipe for engagement, I can only share three things that have made a difference for me. Trust your heart, follow your passion and share it with others. Become biologically literate — learn the names of the plants, birds, and animals where you live, extending your notion of community to include all life. Become part of that community with all the rights and responsibilities that it offers, both human and wild. We can improvise. We can create without a map. And we don’t have to live in isolation. The gift of an attentive life is the ability to recognize patterns, and find our way towards a unity built on empathy. Empathy becomes the path that leads us from the margins to the center of concern. The pattern is the thing. The beauty made belongs to everyone. Finding beauty in a broken world becomes more than the art of assemblage. It is the work of daring contemplation that inspires action. Create something beautiful.” – Terry Tempest  

TED TV

The TED Community is going mainstream. At TED2008, I remember talking with the director of a California public TV station about the possibility of airing TEDTalks. Now it’s a reality. The Open TV Project brings TED conference talks to television stations worldwide, at no cost. TED’s Media Producer June Cohen says, “…in particular, TV is a very effective way to reach the developing world, where low internet penetration and slow connections make online video impractical. But most important, the Open TV Project continues TED’s guiding philosophy of radical openness.” On a related note, just this week TED celebrated 250,000,000 video views. In honor of this remarkable achievement, allow me to present the most popular TEDTalk of all time. Jill’s talk has now been translated by the TED Community into 37 languages. The first time I put this video on my blog, two years ago, it generated over 300 comments. Apparently, my post went viral on Stumble  

Chosen

Some people will be chosen for the job, the Wednesday night poker game for the limited number of spaces available in heaven. Only so many spoons fit in one drawer your mother would say and the same is true for clothes and closets shelves and cans and let’s be honest hearts and loves. I cannot love you because I love another is a problem that sometimes gets admitted over wine in a restaurant filled with people choosing this dish over that meat choosing something that will fill the middle of their beings or leave them slavering like a cheetah who missed and pass that would you? and let’s be friends. Yes let’s drink to being friends and then we can all go on our way remembering the best part about being chosen is that you do not have to stop for anyone along the way. – Betsy