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  

Information Ecology

William Gibson (who gave us the term “cyberspace”),  interviewed in TIME Magazine “My guess has always been that the thing our great-grandchildren will find quaintest about us is that we made the distinction between here and the Internet… Here [is being] colonized by what used to be the other place.” New and emerging technologies are allowing historically repressed creatives to rise and collaborate. While these voices have always been present, pre-virtual “information ecology” kept them marginalized and suppressed. But yesterday’s social platforms are now appearing as structural relics, allowing (for the first time in human history) the latent creative population to flourish. Many said Rousseau’s dream of a true city-state “peoples’ republic” became less plausible as populations grew. They could not have conceived of a global connective network that, when allowed to remain free of state or corporate control, opened new doors of unprecedented global empathy and equality. “The first man who, having fenced in a piece of land, said “This is mine,” and found people naive enough to believe him, that man was the true founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.”  – Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1754 Our “social contract” is being rewritten by the new voices of a virtual world. As Gibson notes, what used to be the “other place” is being transformed into “here and now.” What was once “them” is now us. This seismic shift in social identity will take longer to impact strongly embedded patterns, such as religion. But fundamental global change is moving forward and inevitable. The TED phenomenon is a prime example of this global flattening. TED’s curator Chris Anderson gave a talk this year at TED Global adding yet another voice to this growing awareness that we are not meant to be separated into ideological ghettos, but forged together in a grand creative enterprise. It’s a good talk and I encourage you to watch it. Imagine a global communications pool in which all persons can share their thoughts, dreams, faith, best ideas, etc.. in the spirit of Rousseau, the protocol intelligently prioritizes experiences and brings the collective mind into view of all participants. But it’s more than a “view” from a distance. Fundamental inequalities, suffering, and marginalization is brought forward as if experienced in our own household, in our own family. The plight of others becomes our plight. Global horror and injustice becomes our nightmare, as well. But with this, the boundless creativity, resources, and potential of the new collective also becomes our own, so that one day we may say with complete authenticity (quoting Michael Roe) “what’s been done to you feels like it’s been done to me.” And most importantly, we will live and prioritize our lives in accordance with these newly experienced global realities. ich all persons share their thoughts, dreams, faith, desires, etc.. the communication protocol amasses the collective ideals and dreams and experiences together and brings the collective mind into view of all participants. What we get is a bell curve distribution. The same average ideology we have today in today’s dead tree iconography, but on the grandest human scale. But here’s the good news. Most people won’t participate at this collective level. Many people will be mostly watching TV, or engaged in some other passive activity. The passives vs. the actives. The creatives vs. the ____________. Refined leadership will always be a part of community. But that leadership will move from a small, professional, clergy, CEO-style, stage-centric hierarchy model to a vastly larger, distributed, creative mind – a true collective mind of the amassed creative population working in common resonance, with a common Spiritual center, yet not bound by inherited institutional  

Happy Father’s Day

… I lost my dad to prostate cancer in 1994. We took care of him in the last few months of his long life (85). He died in my arms. He spent his last few weeks on morphine to dull what he described as horrible pain, but on the last couple of days, when I put the pills to his lips, he spit them out. He couldn’t talk, could barely move, but I knew he was all there inside, sensing transition and wanting to experience his last days of life with drug-free clarity. Dad had 5 brothers and 2 sisters, all of them now gone. Richard was the youngest brother, who left us in 2008. Dad spent the last decades of his life near his closest brother in the Nevada desert. He and Henry loved the desert. Henry had a favorite place he would go, miles into the Nevada wilderness. His ashes are spread in that place. My dad directed us to spread his ashes in the same place. A few years later, his brother Raymond also asked to be remembered in the same wilderness. Maybe someday I will do the same. My dad was an avid golfer all his adult life, until the cancer prevented him from walking. Some of my greatest memories are playing golf with dad and always being in awe of his skill. He loved to play golf at Lake Tahoe. One day, a freak August electrical storm rolled in without warning and struck him on the 3rd fairway. I still have the front page newspaper clipping from 1965. The headline read:   “Lightning KO’s Golfers” We were tent camping that week. When he came back from Barton emergency room (broken finger), the first thing he said to us (in his gruff, matter-of-fact manner) was:  “we’re getting a motel.” The urn I brought to his memorial in the desert was a sealed copper canister. In fact, it was sealed so well, I couldn’t get it open. Raymond and I considered our options and rummaged around the rental cars for something that might pry the lid. And then we found it – a golf course green repair tool. It worked splendidly, and we knew dad was smiling down on us. When we spread his ashes, we added some golf balls, tees, and of course the green repair