Category Archives: Community

. . . Tell Them How the World Works

teach-sized

In writing this post, I surprised myself and took a different direction. I intended to pick up where the last left off, completing Dr. Phil’s sentence: “If you love your children, tell them how the world works.”

There, I quoted an exchange between Dr. Jordan B. Peterson and a radical student on the subject of identity.

Student: My question isn’t about [the article], but more about identity. . . . Maybe nature lends itself to creation of arbitrary structures within society. But then people self-identify with these categories. . . . How do people reckon with the parts of their identity that may or may not contribute to environments where people feel more estranged, more alone?

JBP: That’s why you educate . . to separate the wheat from the chaff. Because you’re a historical creature. And it’s outside of you and inside of you.

Well. He’s right . . . but only partially so. For we are more than mere “historical creatures.”

What I would add to the mix is a deeper, more comprehensive component of identity. For that, I rely on the gravely misunderstood and underrated I Ching, the Chinese Book of Change, along with its more accessible and familiar spin-offs: Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching and Sun Tzu’s classic Art of War. Together, they represent a blind spot in Western thinking, a glaring deficit in our knowledge banks responsible for dangerous deficits in every aspect of today’s civilization.

The I Ching and both spin-offs detail how the world works. They are especially useful when dealing with conflict.This is the gift of love I’ve labored long to restore to common knowledge.

To the extent we applied this knowledge to questions of identify and social structure, we’d have a hope of restoring common sense and sanity to our lives.

Earlier, I spend hours putting together pictures of shallow circum-stance and the biblical answer to suffering. However, instead, what I decided to do here is share three related essays. Each applies ancient wisdom to current confusions.

Essay 15 on Roles offers a broader view of gender and social identity. Essay 13 addresses how roles are learned in the Family. This in turn builds into rethinking the structure of Community, Essay 14. This is a lot to take in, I know. But please stay with me. It’s well worth taking the time to give these tried and tested truths your careful consideration.They could well make your New Year go much better.

Also, by the way . . . Dr. Peterson repeatedly states his respect for Taoist philosophy. Everything below is in harmony with and supports his view of how the world works.

Namaste2

Essay 52. ROLES

Traditional business concepts of organizational structure and management technique often condition managers to classify and measure everything and everyone they are responsible for. Organizational charts assign names to little boxes in hierarchal order. . . Not that there is no value in all these charts and systems; on the contrary, they offer a worthwhile way of understanding the fundamental structure. But the structure should serve, as chords do in jazz, as a basis for innovation and improvisation. — Autry & Mitchell, Real Power: Business Lessons from the Tao Te Ching

Leaders must be people who will not fight change but who will anticipate it, and can be challenged enough by it to enjoy it. . . We need a new kind of human being who can divorce himself from his past, who feels strong and courageous and trusting enough to trust himself in the present situation. — Abraham H. Maslow, The Farther Reaches of Human Nature

THE FRONT

Role refers to a part or character that an actor plays in a performance. By extension, it refers to a function or office assumed by someone for limited duration to fulfill a particular purpose. We wear roles like clothing put on by day, shed by night.

Success in the world depends on the ability to choose a suitable part and play it with sincerity and skill, aware of how that role fits into the larger pattern of family and business organization. When studied, practiced and performed to perfection, a well-defined role provides a structure from which to relate to others and serve a useful function within the whole.

Knowing one’s particular place in the universe at any given time, in specific contexts, is an important part of self-knowledge. It’s possible to wear an array of “hats,” suitable to many complimentary roles, even during the course of a day.

In Shakespeare’s tragedy, MacBeth laments, “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more.”

When we live unconsciously, we identify not with our essential true selves, but only the roles arbitrarily assigned by accidents of birth and later, by chance.

Though there are exceptions to the rule, and many variations on the theme, gender is a primary dictator of roles. In the West, girl children are traditionally dressed in pink and trained for reproductive and housekeeper roles with no preparation for transition to a productive middle or old age. Boys are dressed in blue and expected to participate in contact sports, fight wars, earn a living and support a family, also with little thought for what else life may have in store.

For the most part, one’s wealth, business and social opportunities are largely determined by whom one’s parents happen to be. Likewise, religious beliefs and nationality traits are mind-sets usually fixed by place and time of birth. In The Taoist I Ching, the sum of these factors is called cultural conditioning.

A life thus lived on automatic pilot, running on programming that has never been examined, is barely human. One cannot say such a life measures up to God’s gift of free will. There’s no conscious choice involved in the way it’s lived.

The goal of I Ching-based, Taoist training is to

release us from bondage to arbitrary, unnatural conditioning,

so that the mind is freed to return to its universal, pristine nature.

The purpose of overcoming cultural conditioning is not to withdraw from life, but rather to live it consciously and intentionally, to the full. Those who truly know how to act, do so with heart and soul. Rather than merely going through the mechanical gestures of scripted parts spoken without understanding, they play out a changing succession of roles over a lifetime with full awareness and conviction.

Taking on and letting go of roles is either growth-productive or traumatic, depending on one’s philosophy of life. In I Ching context, ephemeral change is natural, not subject to moral judgment as good or bad.

But, to the extent we live unconsciously, we’re but tragic shadows of our true potential. We’re poor players because we know not what we do. The more we become conscious, the more we are able to bring vitality, depth and meaning to the roles we choose, and the more radiant our lives become.

Those in leadership roles with I Ching awareness carefully prepare followers for change, equipping them to meet challenges and survive adversity. People who depend on leaders stuck in the past, unwilling or unable to change, are in deep trouble. Their survival depends on listening to the warnings of conscience in combination with gut instincts, finding positive ways to work around and overcome the dangerous consequences of mismanagement.

THE BACK

The opposite of roles is to be without a part to play. Jobless and/or homeless people are excluded from the give and take of productive daily life, as are incarcerated criminals and those institutionalized with mental or physical health problems. So are slum dwellers whose extreme poverty results in lack of education, skills and access to the work world.

The value of roles is perverted when they’re frozen into masks and performed without authentic involvement. When people identify with roles (or hide behind them) to such an extreme that they forget their true identity, they become disconnected from life. People who think of others only in terms of their roles stereotype them, disrespecting their essential humanity.

11th hour

Essay 13. FAMILY

Confucius

The nature of the chakra cords that you build in your first family will be repeated in all the following relationships that you create later. . . As an adult, you will most likely grow dependent child/mother cords between you and your mate. As you move through life and mature, you gradually transform the child/mother cords into adult/adult ones. Barbara Ann Brennan, Hands of Light

In the family we learn love, patience, respect, nurturing, affirmation, and health. The family also teaches us about competition, domination, selfishness, and deceit. The family is thus a relatively efficient learning system for the development of mind, spirit, and body. It involves the whole self. — Tom Chappell, The Soul of a Business

For whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. – Jesus Christ, St. Matthew 12:50

THE FRONT

The Latin root of family means household establishment. An obsolete usage refers to all the people living in the same house, including servants and slaves. A later definition refers to all the relatives living in the same house, including extended family. Only recently has it come to mean a nuclear unit, the traditional set of parents (one husband, one wife) and their off-spring.

A family can mean a group of people related by ancestry or marriage, including relatives. It can be all those claiming descent from a common ancestor, tribe, or clan — a lineage. A crime syndicate under a single leader is also called a family.

The extended Kennedy clan is a shining example of family cohesiveness. Yet, in an interview with Larry King, Maria Shriver described lessons her family never taught her. The “real world” lessons in her book, intended to spare others from learning the hard way, are strikingly similar to I Ching basics. For example, she observes, “Behavior has consequences.” This, of course, is the Law of Karma.

Ideally, children should learn the basics within the family. If we trained ourselves and our children in I Ching ways, there’d be no need for each generation to reinvent the wheel over by repeating the same mistakes. Sheltering them from the “real world” isn’t a kindness.

A better way to protect them is to provide the wisdom tools

to give them the practical edge,

help them meet the challenges of adult life

with intelligence and self-confidence.

As Brennan indicates, first family bonds are instinctual. As we extend outwards, we unconsciously tend to replicate parent/child dynamics in later relationships. However, if we succeed in maturing and evolving over time, we can put childish ways behind and succeed in forming adult relationships based on conscious choice and commitment.

As Chappell indicates, within the nuclear family as in the family of man, everything, both positive and negative is possible. As we learn to articulate what we see and respond wisely to experiences in the family environment, we become increasingly able to apply these skills in school, business and extended political situations.

In I Ching context, however, as Confucius indicates,

the goal of improving and sustaining family relationships

isn’t achieved by extending ever outwards.

It requires looking inward.

Efforts to improve personality lead to the necessity to know one’s mind. This in turn leads still deeper into exploring one’s innermost awareness. Then, in due time, inward movement cycles outwards once again, incorporating the benefits of inward journey into one’s personal and practical everyday life.

Within families of every size, whether communities, religions, corporations and governments, some live the law while others do not. As Christ taught, those who love and choose truth form the nucleus of his ultimate extended family.

Those who love life, who seek truth and understanding and do their best to help others as they can, have more in common with each other than with evil-doers within their own groups.

THE BACK

Opposites of family include strangers in our community whom we’ve never gotten to know, foreigners raised abroad who speak languages and practice customs we don’t understand, as well as others we’ve been taught to mistrust and dislike.

The antithesis of family is foe, including competitive opponents and military enemies. Whereas families are ideally founded on common beliefs, goals and mutual support, those who threaten or sabotage others undermine healthy relationships. Gratitude and hope build communities. Mistrust, hostility and abuse break them down.

book header bird

Essay 14. COMMUNITY

We can create communities and relationships that are based on love and intimacy rather than fear and hatred. We can learn from the suffering of others. Awareness is the first stage in healing. . . Likewise, we can create a new model of medicine as we move into the next century that is more competent and cost-effective as well as being more caring and compassionate. — Dean Ornish, Love and Survival

As we accept the smallness of the world, the density of the population, and the myriad influences on individuals and families, someday we may recognize the community and even the whole society as the patient. Imagine, then, what a “doctor of society” might do, what kinds of diseases he or she might treat! — Patch Adams, Gesundheit!

Each celestial body, in fact each and every atom, produces a particular sound on account of its movement, its rhythm or vibration. All these sounds and vibrations form a universal harmony in which each element, while having its own function and character, contributes to the whole. – Pythagoras, quoted in The Healing Power of Sound

THE FRONT

Community stems from a root word meaning fellowship. In English, the word refers to all the people living in a particular district or city. It can also mean a group of people living together as a smaller social unity within a larger one, and having interests or work in common, such as a college community.

Alternatively, it can refer to a group of nations loosely or closely associated because of common traditions or for political and economic advantage. It also covers similarity of tastes and preferences. The last definition Webster’s gives is the condition of living with others in friendly association and fellowship. The last definition has come full circle back to original meaning.

Communities are founded on a common cause. It can be as practical as survival or as idealistic as freedom. Often, community cohesion is artificially stimulated by fear and hatred of a common enemy.

Hitler inflamed passions against Jews and foreign bankers to mobilize his war-weary country into a second world war even more devastating than the first. Then Americans rallied behind the common goal of defeating enemies of democracy on two fronts, Asia and Europe.

In Common Sense, Thomas Paine wrote about the relationship of divine, natural and human law in a way that inspired readers at the time of the American Revolution to fight for freedom from tyranny. Winning that war did not, however, automatically secure freedom for all times.

Democracy isn’t a static achievement that can be passed on unchanged from one generation to the next. It must renewed and earned again, one individual at a time, each generation at a time, continuously redefined in the context of immediate circumstances.

Nor can the structures of American-style democracy be imposed by force, whole, from the outside, on peoples whose beliefs are shaped by vastly different cultural influences. It is the common respect of life and liberty, not external forms, which is universally translatable.

The music of life that moves every organization, smallest to largest, is the basis of harmonious fellowship. Approaching natural law and social organizations from the deeper understanding of the ancients could inspire a new, more humane and effective approach to international relations now, one based on energy dynamics which the human community share in common.

Sages say that freedom from tyranny begins with dispelling ignorance and overcoming negative emotions. True freedom and stable communities begin with the self-awareness and self-mastery which can be gained by diligent use of wisdom tools like the I Ching. First remembering the core of compassion and caring within, we can then extend and expand this good-will into healing society as well.

Put another way, it’s useless to fight for a democratic world before first cleaning out the inner swamp of negative emotions. Since inner life conditions attract corresponding external experience, fighting in anger and hatred reaps results in kind.

Working to establish positive community relationships before personal attitudes of good-will and willing self-discipline are established is futile. As Covey reminds us, first things must come first.

Conversely, the more individuals free themselves from personal problems, the more they become open to the calling of conscience. They then become increasingly fit to participate as members of a viable community, able to fulfill their part in the harmony of the natural whole.

THE BACK

Street gangs, terrorist groups, religious cults and secret societies are subgroups within the larger community. To the extent that their goals oppose and even endanger the community at large, these organizations are antithetical to the general good.

Pariahs, nomads and outcasts are individuals excluded from society, either voluntarily or by edict. Whether justified or not, their attitudes and behavior are out of harmony with accepted norms.

If enough of them find common cause to band together,

they form alternative groups

which become the foundation of new communities.

Angel Calling

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The Wright Connection

 

connection

On two separate occasions, I’ve recently had reason to revisit a blog about Frank Lloyd Wright originally posted elsewhere.

The first was reading about Judith Orloff being jilted because her boyfriend’s rabbi called her a witch. Contact with her deceased grandfather was judged unacceptable. Especially because — though living in Europe with no way to know that he’d died — I had vivid dream warnings from my Grandpa West at the time of his passing. It’s described in Rethinking Survival:

In another memorable dream, I spoke with my father’s father, Hubble West — the one his grandkids nicknamed “Hubba Hubba,” from whom I inherited my Native American looks. Gravely, he warned that I was trapped in a high-rise tower. I was dead and didn’t know it.

I took this troubling message as a warning that important parts of me were atrophied. I was stuck in my head, neglecting my body and failing to listen to my heart. As a result, I was in mortal danger. Later I learned that at the time of the dream, Hub had just passed. This was his parting benediction.

So, to me, the clergyman’s assumption seems most unjust. To the best of my knowledge, Dr. Orloff’s dream guidance had nothing to with witchcraft. The Wright post serves to vindicate her, putting her experience in larger context.

In brief, as I understand it, our experiences of nature or the so-called “supernatural” are pagan only if we  seek them out, especially to the exclusion of or elevating them above their deepest, original Source. Wright overtly courted the pagan god Taliesin, defiantly rejecting Isaiah’s Hebrew God. Dr Orloff’s stated beliefs, however, are completely compatible with the Positive Paradigm shown below.

The second occasion was an email exchange with friend describing a museum visit. She wrote:

Seeing a tapestry/hanging from Frank Lloyd Wright in the crafts section brought you to mind, although I’ve forgotten just how you ended up with your connection to Taliesin. Through music perhaps? The same association came to me as I listened to a talk at the Seattle public library on the history of Seattle architecture just before leaving for Boston.

I reminded her:

The Taliesin connection was music and yoga related. I was at Hill Top for a yoga retreat. It’s just down the road from Taliesin. The owner, Herb Fritz, was one of Wright’s apprentices. Also a cellist, he heard me play violin and invited me back to play chamber music. The rest, as they say, was history.

She isn’t familiar with the context of that connection, however. This Wright post also fills in those blanks for her. For example, as described below, Herb Fritz was sole apprentice to survive the Taliesin mass murder and testify about what happened.

So for those reasons, I’m posting below an edited version of the earlier LinkedIin post.

header

Frank Lloyd Wright Had It Wrong!

Why does it still matter that a century ago, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin burned, torched by an ax-wielding mass murderer?

It matters a great deal. Not because of the tragedy’s lurid details. But because Taliesin East – located in Spring Green, Wisconsin – is an important example of how NOT to organize an intentional community.

Years ago, from stories told in Spring Green at dinner tables and around fireplaces, I learned how powerful an effect Wright’s personality had on apprentices and their families. They remembered him with equal parts awe and dread. He was, so they believed, an architectural genius. He was not, they all agreed, a good neighbor or compassionate, trustworthy friend.

What I learned from those close to him motivated me to read books written by the Wrights, as well as biographies by others – notably The Fellowship. I came to the conclusion that intentional communities like Taliesin – an inherently worthy endeavor — deserve careful rethinking.

I wrote about Taliesin in a LinkedIn email exchange.

Viewing my profile, a connection (“Senior Zen Practitioner and Baseball Umpire”) noticed mention of the time I spent in Spring Green. He emailed me RE. Taliesin West:

My Mom was the Office Mgr. for 21 years…small world

To which I responded:

This particular West has never been to Taliesin, either East or West. But the tales told by scarred survivors (some of whom are very dear to me) sparked keen interest in building BETTER intentional communities. . . . I’m sure your Mom has her share of stories to tell too.

The conversation continued from there. Quoted with his permission, he replied:

“particular West.”…you are cracking me up! My Mom knew everyone, was dear friends with all of them, one-on-one teaching. survivors…you are very wise. my Mom fell down and they fired her because they were afraid she would sue them and she is hard core Catholic and would never sue anyone. . . they broke her heart. . .

Later he wrote:

i just spoke with Mom, she says everything i already told you is true, which i already knew. She said FLW was a slave driver who made the apprentices build the buildings themselves, i did not know that. She said when they cut her loose the yearly tuition was 30K.

Later I responded:

Have been giving much thought to the best ways to use limited time and energy. (Did you see the blog posted over night on rethinkingsurvival.com?)

I mention this because it applies to the article on Wright. It’s important to keep my focus on how to do things RIGHT. Exposing the dark side of Taliesin isn’t my purpose. For the tabloid dirt on FLW, you can easily read The Fellowship: The Untold Story of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Fellowship by Friedland & Zellman. In fact, you can just look up the book description on Amazon along with the comments to find out all you ever wanted to know . . . and more.

Though I will add that (unless I missed it), the authors omitted a significant detail. The third Mrs. Wright was not only a student of [the so-called mystic] Gurdjieff, but bore one of his illegitimate children (Svetlana the first). Gurdjieff wanted live at Taliesin, but Wright would have none of it . . .

So, moving on. My basic purpose is to address a viable approach to doing intentional communities RIGHT. As an intermediate step in this direction – proof of the larger point — it is instructive to consider what Wright did WRONG.

Here’s my underlying premise: Paradigms are of life-or-death importance. Incomplete, inaccurate beliefs result in tragedy. Achieving more positive, sustainable results requires the foundation of a complete and accurate worldview.

Like Wright, many today strive with all their hearts to accomplish great work. Sadly, even geniuses like Wright, despite the best of intentions, undo themselves, precipitating loss and disaster. In the process, they hurt others as well as themselves. Yet they rail against misfortune as if they were randomly selected, unjustly persecuted victims of fate.

From my point of view, positive solutions start with recognizing a major source of life problems: a knowledge deficit. For example, outcomes would significantly improve by expanding one’s reality map to include three kinds of law. Each regulates its own level of the Life Wheel.

levels of law - sized

The levels are interrelated and interdependent. When they are aligned, integrated and balanced, when they operate harmoniously, all goes well. When any of the levels is left out of the equation, nothing works right. When they are out of balance, so is life. When they aren’t correctly prioritized, all hell breaks loose.

The Positive Paradigm represented by the Life Wheel is a universal standard. In this context, Wright acted without respect for the whole of life. As a consequence, he experienced repeated setbacks — as do many of today’s leaders.

Here is Wright’s attitude towards each level of law:

  • Divine Law. He rebelled against it. In his equation, the innermost level of law was ruled out. To the extent God exists, the relationship between God and man is one of mutual enmity.
  • Natural Law. Instead of God, he worshiped a romanticized version of nature.
  • Human Law. In his financial and social behavior, he demonstrated an arrogant disregard for fellow human beings, acting as if he were out exclusively for himself.

Ironically, Wright seemed to think his genius (a gift of God) placed him above the laws which ordinary mortals respect and follow. He didn’t pay bills, didn’t honor family commitments, and later in life, presumed to act as if he were a god, dominating the lives of apprentice architects.

And, as the Greeks knew, the flaw of pride – hubris – precipitates tragedy.

From his books, we know that Wright hated and probably feared the wrathful prophet Isaiah. In reaction to the failings of his preacher father, he swung to an opposite extreme – replacing worship of God with deification of nature.

He may well have had valid grievances against his biological father. He may have been correct about the limitations of conventional morality.

But (if you’ll forgive the pun), “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

Taliesin (meaning shining brow) is the name of the pagan Celtic god Wright invoked as patron of his unconventional lifestyle. When Taliesin East was built, Wright had just walked away from his first wife and their six children. It was designed as a love nest to share with the married mistress from Chicago whom he felt was his soul mate.

The dynamics of ancient Natural Law (a subject altogether different from Wright’s beliefs) explain the inevitable misfortunes that plagued him throughout life. The Law of Karma (“As ye sow, so shall ye reap”), is quite straight forward. Whatever you do returns in kind.

As a simple, infallible law of nature, if you hurt and harm others, your actions come back to you, in some form or other, at some time or other. (“What goes around comes around,” as they say. Or, “Payback is a bitch.”)

In this case, Wright had remarkable (dare I say, God-given) gifts as an architect. But on a personal level, he was despised by many people, for many reasons. Not all were forgiving. Newton’s law, “For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction,” caused his short-sighted desires to backfire in horrific ways.

For example, to all appearances, the mass murder at Taliesin was an orchestrated hit. The assassin, 30-year-old Julian Carlton, an estate worker originally from Barbados, was recommended to Wright by Chicago associates who just might have held grudges. Carlton himself had no motive for butchering Mamah Borthwick or her two children. He didn’t have the education to plan his carefully calculated attack on the apprentices, standing outside the only door of their burning room, ax in hand, waiting to cut them down one-by-one as they tried to escape certain death by fire.

Killing the apprentices was probably a secondary priority. Had all of them died, there would have been no witnesses to the crime. One, however, though gravely injured, survived long enough to run from the isolated rural setting and sound an alarm. A second (Herb Fritz, my Spring Green host) lived to identify the killer.

How would a simple hired man have known to purchase and pack a vial of cyanide to swallow in case he was caught? It scarred his throat so badly he couldn’t have answered questions in jail even if he wanted to. Nor could he eat. He died within a few days of capture, starved, in agony. So today, no one knows for sure who commissioned his crime.

But then again, back in the day, no one really wanted the world to know the facts. Carlton’s death was a convenience not only for the unknown master-mind, but also for Wright and his followers. Being highly invested in their image, whether for personal or financial reasons, they preferred to deny any connection between Wright’s personal life and its logical consequences. Rather than recognizing the opportunity to learn from hard lessons, Wright wallowed dramatically in his grief. Rather than take personal responsibility, he blamed a vengeful God for this (as well as the following string of repeated tragedies – including a later fire at Taliesin which destroyed newly acquired treasures of Japanese art and then the drowning death of Svetlana I).

The lessons set by his example, however, remain useful for us now. Bottom line: communities based on upside-down worldviews are tragedy magnets. They never have and never will work out well.

What remains to be seen is whether, on the basis of a complete and correct paradigm, with sufficient motivation to do things RIGHT, we can do better now.

book header bird

Under Construction

Inner Compass.sized

The way drivers from my state tell it, “Wisconsin has two seasons – winter and Under Construction.”

The month of June was living proof. The stretch of highway from home into Madison was an obstacle course of Road Work signs, hard hatters digging muddy trenches, and side-tracking detours.

The recent experience of driving this altered route wove itself into my thoughts about website changes, for I promised that it too will be under construction during summer months and into fall. (See My Worst Fear).  

Local highways and my writing path both reflect an uneasy tension between human planning and the ongoing assaults of natural forces. Engineers design roads to stand up under the wear and tear of daily traffic. But there’s more. Midwest roads are exposed to alternating extremes of hot and cold, not to mention floods and a wide assortment of spectacular storms. Under these pressures, erosion sets in. Even the best made roads start to buckle and crack. Pot holes begin to pock small town main streets, making for a bumpy ride.

Mental metabolism” is the writer’s equivalent of ongoing road maintenance. The physical body is built to take in food, digest it, assimilate the beneficial parts and eliminate the rest. The same goes for the mind. We are continuously assaulted by external influences. The people and events of our daily lives impact our thoughts and feelings. So do the dramas of politics, massacres and heart-wrenching suffering broadcast on the news.

Mental health – and quality writing – depends, among other things, on the ability to digest this information, incorporate what is useful, and delete the rest all the way out of the mental computer.

So back to the drawing board. Nothing extreme or overwhelming. Just small baby steps. Place one foot in front of the other, one steady step at a time, one day at a time, until I bring us back from temporary detours and onto a freshly repaired road.

As promised, after facing and walking through the fears which have kept me in writer’s limbo, here are a few of the significant website changes to come.

1. For a multitude of reasons, as time and resources permit, I intend to make the content of books sold through Amazon available on the website.

In particular, I wrote the personal part of Rethinking Survival so people could get to know the person behind the ideas. I told the story of how the working tools I have to offer evolved and the value I place on them. This (often fantastical) background puts ongoing posts in context.

I owe this information to readers who, without it, have drawn unjust conclusions. For example, it has been assumed that I must have been born to a family of well-off intellectuals or that I married into money to subsidize my writing.

Wrong. I grew up in a situation so complicated and confusing that, to survive, I clung to books. It started when I took literally what a librarian told the newly-orphaned six-year-old me – then living at the mercy of heartless relatives. “Books are your best friends.”

Books saved my life. They fed my insatiable curiosity and need for connection. The best of them gave me tools for thinking about how the world works and understanding my place in it. They confirmed my hopes. In their presence, I lived as a member of the community of minds that reaches out across the span of time, offering the best of human achievement to sustain the best part of me. And, as someone who believes in paying my debts, my life has been dedicated to paying that debt forward.

2. Immediate practical needs in combination with unfortunate experiences inside the shark-infested publishing world lead me to the following website solution.

Some background will help you understand where I’m coming from. I will be 70 in August. (The photo I use as my gravatar happens to be one of the only two I have. This is another misunderstanding to be corrected. Current photos are in the works and will be incorporated in the improved website.)

At the moment, my only income is a pittance of Social Security. Financial pressures increasingly keep writing output to bare minimum. I keep adding to the long list of useful and entertaining ideas which wait their turn on the drawing board, but don’t have the resources to complete as many as I’d like.

Up to this point, the website has been a one-person project, created with ingenuity, love and hours of effort, but on a zero-dollar budget. There’s no return from the books. Quality aside, I can’t afford to pay for the networks and machinery required to market them.

As a work-around, if you will, my solution is to add a “Donate” page to the website. Instead of paying for books, visitors will be given the option donate on an honor system of sorts, only if and as much as they can, depending on their perception of value received and anticipated. No pressure. Just an opportunity.

I will also request that, if the Handbook content (which so far I’ve kept secret to prevent theft) proves useful, readers link family and friends to the website, to magnify its potential influence.

3. In an effort to be more responsive to your concerns, I will expand the Contact Page to include an email address where visitors can forward confidential questions. Starting now, you are welcome to contact me at rethinkingsurvival@yahoo.com.

Under stern (and wise) advisement, I’ve relinquished grandiose desires to “save the world,” or even to finance physical Positive Action Communities (see the illustration labeled “Super-Objective” at the bottom of this page: https://rethinkingsurvival.com/handbook/ .)

Even so, I persist in day-dreaming about the possibilities inherent in intentional communities. For now, as a baby step, I satisfy myself with this known simplicity: “To save one life is to save the world entire.” Perhaps, by “thinking small,” it remains within the realms of the possible to build a small internet community of supportive like-minded thinkers. It would be qualitatively different from the LI self-promotional mind-set or WB’s adversarial smack-down approach. Instead, its basic mind-set will reside in our innate quest for self-awareness and a universal respect for life.

Just perhaps, together, we could begin the construction of another road less (but well) traveled.

 

globe bullet size

François Zuccheri

July 7, 2015, 7:54 AM

Patricia, I just got your email so I quickly skimmed your article. Will read and listen to it later tonight when solitude soothes. Just a question: does your site allow for other people [writers] to actually post their own articles related to your topic as opposed to just leaving a reply? Cheers.

ME:

Good question, François. Thanks for asking.

I‘ve thought about adding a GUEST POSTS page. So long as basic rules of the game – civility and relevance – are honored, I would welcome them. How these would be included becomes an administrative question. I’ll have to look into it.

Although hosting guest blogs would be a pleasure, it would require precious time and be an additional expense. One solution I’ve considered is looking into CrowdFunding. Another would be to make guest posting a privilege associated with paid membership. “Pay to play.”

Recently, a WB commenter took offence at the option to order books. He jumped to the contusion that money motivates me. But it takes an entitlement mentality to expect that I should give away the product of a lifetime of work, education, research, experience, etc. etc. for nothing. Even if I could afford to, it devalues the work. There’s some truth to the saying, You get what pay for. Something given away for nothing runs the risk of being valued accordingly.

ME Again:

François. It seems most readers quickly skim and leave it at that. I patiently await your careful “read and listen.” Wish others would take the trouble to do so as well. It’s worth it. : )