I want to play in the World Game

 

 

Yes, it’s the title of my blog, too. Some of my readers may have wondered what that’s all about.

The idea originated with R. Buckminster Fuller, and you can read more about the concept at the Buckminster Fuller Institute.

TL;DR – Fuller’s concept for humanity, summarized as follows:

“Make the world work, for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone.”

In 1983, John Denver released “World Game,” a moving song echoing the same concept:

The lyrics:

World Game
John Denver
I want to play in the World Game
I want to make it better it’s ever been before
I want to play in the World Game
I want to make sure everybody knows the score
About using less, doing so much more
Everywhere I’m going I see trouble
Everywhere I’m looking I see all kinds of pain
Maybe we can get back on the double
Maybe we can turn around and make it all change
They say it’s you against your neighbor
If it gets right down to it, you against your friend
I swear that this is not the answer
As far as I can see it is the way it all ends
I want to play in the World Game
I want to make it better it’s ever been before
I want to play in the World Game
I want to make sure everybody knows the score
About using less, doing so much more
Hey man,…

This is the game. This is the reason for this collection of thoughts. To help build Dr. Fuller’s world that works for all of us.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Shame at America’s Borders

Yesterday on February 27th, the New Yorker published a piece about the ordeal of Mem Fox, a well-known Australian author of children’s books, who was coming to the US to be a keynote speaker at a conference in Wisconsin.

koala-lou

Read the article. You should hear her own account of the events – but I suspect it doesn’t do justice to what Ms. Fox must have been feeling – and what all the other people must have been feeling – as they were detained, barked at, yelled at, bullied, and humiliated by “professional agents.”

“When asked for comment about Fox’s account, Jaime Ruiz, a spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection at LAX, said,

“That is not how we treat passengers. We treat passengers with respect and professionalism. We have zero tolerance for passengers being treated unprofessionally.”

Well, Jaime, guess what – that’s how you *do* treat passengers. It happened. It was real. Any sort of statement or apology should include an assurance that steps will be taken to change things. Because it was not just Ms. Fox that was treated that way – it was an entire roomful of other human beings, many who did not even speak English and who don’t have the social status to get on the public radar.

The Greeks have a saying: “Η γλώσσα κόκαλα δεν έχει και κόκαλα τσακίζει” (The tongue has no bones, but it breaks bones.) Your dismissive statement will not heal the deep cuts to the spirit of this gentle lady, and all the other gentle ladies and gentlemen whom your agents treat with all the delicacy of a fourth-grade bully with his posse behind the school.

Another report at the Washington post states,

After returning to her home in Adelaide, Fox filed a complaint with the U.S. Embassy in Canberra and received a “charming” email in response. “I took it as an apology from all of America,” she says.

While I’m glad the embassy responded positively, and that the apology was well received, I have no doubt that the memory of the experience will never truly fade. One kind diplomatic functionary is good, but to eliminate this kind of abomination change must start at the top – because attitude rolls downhill. And from what I’ve seen, it’s the attitude at the top that is enabling this kind of jingoistic, xenophobic vileness.

Ms. Fox, I’m deeply ashamed by the actions of my government, and very sorry this happened to you.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

A Democratic Manifesto

 

I originally shared this as a post from someone at Facebook named Patricia Rollins Trosclair. As it turns out, it was stolen content; the original author contacted me to set the record straight.  Here is the original post:

Some people are saying that we should give Donald Trump a chance, that we should “work together” with him because he won the election and “he is everyone’s president.” This is my response:

I will not “work together” to build a wall.
I will not “work together” to persecute Muslims.
I will not “work together” to shut out refugees from countries where we destabilized their governments, no matter how bad they might have been, so that we could have something more agreeable to our Oligarchy.
I will not “work together” to lower taxes on the 1%.
I will not “work together” to increase taxes on the middle class and poor.
I will not “work together” to help him line the pockets of himself and his cronies.
I will not “work together” to weaken (or demolish) environmental protection.
I will not “work together” to sell American lands to companies which then despoil those lands.
I will not “work together” to remove civil rights from anyone.
I will not “work together” to waste trillions more on our military when we already have the strongest in the world.
I will not “work together” to alienate countries that have been our allies for as long as I have been alive.
I will not “work together” to slash funding for education.
I will not “work together” to increase the immunity the police already have when they kill people of color (or anyone!) who is unarmed and does not pose any real threat.
I will not “work together” to take basic assistance from people who are at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder.
I will not “work together” to allow torture and “black ops” prison sites.
I will not “work together” to “take their oil.”
I will not “work together” to get rid of common sense regulations on guns.
I will not “work together” to eliminate the minimum wage.
I will not “work together” to suppress scientific research, be it on climate change, fracking, or any other issue where a majority of scientists agree that Trump and his supporters are wrong on the facts.
I will not “work together” to criminalize abortion or restrict health care for women.
I will not “work together” to increase the amount of nations that have nuclear weapons.
I will not “work together” to put even more “big money” into politics.
I will not “work together” to violate the Geneva Convention.
I will not “work together” to give the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacists a seat at the table, or to normalize their hatred.
I will not “work together” to deny health care to people who need it.
I will not “work together” to increase the profits of the insurance companies.
I will not “work together” to deny medical coverage to people on the basis of an alleged “pre-existing condition.”
I will not “work together” to increase voter suppression.
I will not “work together” to normalize tyranny.
I will not “work together” with anyone who is, or admires, tyrants and dictators.

I will not “work together” with Donald Trump or anyone who supports him, as I view him as an enemy of this nation and the principles on which it was founded.

Signed,

Thomas J. Gray

I share this because I agree – in large part – with these ideas. As a species, we need to focus more on being human than enriching the already wealthy or killing one another for fractions of a Pale Blue Dot, as Sagan so eloquently stated.

I have disabled comments on this post because I’ve had quite enough of partisan bickering, and there are millions of places on the net where I can hear dissenting opinions should I choose to; I don’t need that kind of negative energy in my “online home.”

The Old Wolf has spoken.


PS: The author also posted this:

Patricia Rollins Trosclair, I am calling you out for your plagiarism. If anyone else reading this likes the post and disapproves of plagiarism, please re-post this and sign your name below mine so that 1) people will see the original post, and 2) Patricia Rollins Trosclair will learn that it’s not nice to steal someone else’s writings and then try to pass that off as their own.

The only way to the stars.

It won’t be technology that gets us there, although that’s a critical part of the equation. It won’t be money alone. Humanity won’t crawl out of the mud until we really learn to care for each other.

Kate McCormick.png

This sad tombstone reads:

Seduced and pregnant by her father’s friend,
Unwed she died from abortion, her only choice.
Abandoned in life and death by family,
With but a single rose from her mother.
Buried only through the kindness of an unknown benefactor
Died February, 1875, age 21
Victim of an unforgiving society
Have mercy on us.

The poem below was part of a BBC program, unfortunately not available in the US, translated by redditor /u/Reedit_girl

1jwalka

Too many people in this world live and die essentially alone and ignored and forgotten. How can we possibly hope to inherit the stars if we can’t even take care of our own here on this Pale Blue Dot?

This image from David Linn – “The Ascent” – illustrates beautifully the Quaker proverb, “Thee lift me and I’ll lift thee, and we’ll ascend together.”

david-linn-the-ascent-helping-into-the-light

That’s what life is about, regardless of your spiritual walk, be it person of faith, humanist, deist, atheist, anti-theist, or somewhere else – it matters not. We’re here to make a difference in one another’s lives for good. If you’re doing that, you’re on a good road.

The idea is not new, it’s as old as the hills. In the Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 31a, we find this:

hillelquotehebrew

“That which is distasteful unto yourself, do not unto others. This is the whole Torah, the rest is commentary. Go and study.”

Lest you think I’m being partial to Judaism, have a look at the Golden Rule in many faiths around the world:

Golden Rule

Missing from the chart is the humanist “ethic of reciprocity,” the belief  that people should aim to treat each other as they would like to be treated themselves – with tolerance, consideration and compassion.

Until we live in a world where this idea is as natural to every person as breathing, we won’t be ready to inherit the stars.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

 

Fred Rogers, the quiet radical

rogersshoe

I have long loved and admired Fred Rogers. He’s so good and genuine  that he’s generated numerous memes and cultural references, the one below from Sandra and Woo:

2016-08-29-0816-the-divine-comedy-page-14.png

Today I stumbled across an informative post on reddit from user /u/MiltownKBs. There’s a lot of stuff here that I didn’t know, and I thought it deserved a wider audience.

Mr Rogers – The quiet radical. He didn’t go on marches, he was not confrontational, but nevertheless he had a ground on which he stood and he wanted to do something about it.

“a quiet but strong American prophet who, with roots in progressive spirituality, invited us to make the world into a counter-cultural neighborhood of love,” – Michael Long, author of the book, Peaceful Neighbor: Discovering the Countercultural Mister Rogers.

He worked from a steely social conscience. He used his program, with its non-threatening puppets, songs and conversation, to raise provocative topics such as war, peace, race, gender and poverty with his audience of preschoolers and their parents — patiently guiding them across the minefields of political and social change.

Examples: This one is one of my favorites … The puppet King Friday XIII was posting border guards, installing barbed-wire fences and drafting passersby to keep out those fomenting social change. “Down with the changers!” he proclaimed. “Because we’re on top!” This was 1968 and was aired as part of a weeklong series on conflict, change and distrust. King Friday’s declaration of a national emergency to preserve the status quo is a political statement. It is not a plot line merely to entertain children. It’s the idea that when we resist change, it’s because we want to maintain our position. In the end, the neighborhood was saved, but only through the bold civil disobedience of King Friday’s subjects. People who want change are often labeled as troublemakers.

Rogers was an uncompromising pacifist, and when Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood debuted nationally in 1968, during the height of the Vietnam War, he used his first week of programming to share his antiwar beliefs.

Rogers opposed the nuclear arms race, and in 1983 he developed Neighborhood of Make-Believe episodes in which King Friday appears confused and downright silly for calling for an arms race with a neighboring community. When Friday orders “one million and one parts” that he imagines to be weapons — they are not — he uses funds designed to support music in the neighborhood school. The neighborhood is appalled by this crass act.

At the beginning of 1984, the Presidential Task Force on Food Assistance, appointed by President Ronald Reagan, reported that it could not find evidence of rampant hunger in the United States. Rogers did not appreciate the report, and by the end of the year, he broadcast episodes highlighting the presence of hunger and addressing the need to combat it.

In 1987, at the height of the cold war, he traveled to Moscow and appeared on a Soviet children’s television show called Spokoinoi Nochi (Good Night, Little Ones).

Rogers was committed to racial diversity, and not long after inner-city riots erupted following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Rogers introduced the character of a black police officer keeping everyone safe in the Neighborhood.

In 1975, 14 years before an African American woman would become mayor of a major U.S. city, Rogers created the character of Mayor Maggie of Southwood, played by African American actor Maggie Stewart.

He wore an apron and ironed clothes on a mid-day broadcast set in a house, when most men would have been at work, modeling a revolution in gender roles. The puppet Lady Elaine Fairchilde anchored a newscast long before Barbara Walters did, and she rocketed into space a decade before Sally Ride broke the glass stratosphere.

In 1983 he arranged for Lady Aberlin, played by Betty Aberlin, to sing a quiet song (“Creation”) in which she refers to God as “She.” A fact that was not lost on the protestors of the time.

Rogers and regular cast member Francois Clemmons, an African-American, dipped their bare feet in a wading pool on a 1969 broadcast, when bitter conflicts over legally segregated swimming pools were still being discussed.

Rogers became a vegetarian in the early 1970s, saying he could not eat anything that had a mother, and in the mid-1980s he became co-owner of Vegetarian Times. In 1985, Rogers also signed his name to a statement protesting the wearing of animal furs.

When politicians in the 1980s spoke of welfare recipients as lazy and unworthy of government help, Rogers portrayed hard-working parents who still couldn’t afford all that their children wanted or needed.

Rogers broadcast public-service announcements on helping children deal with news of war and other tragedy, and he advocated for legislation that would allow at least one parent in a military family to remain with his or her children rather than be deployed.

The Old Wolf has reposted.

 

A compendium of hopes and fears

The election of 2016 is over, and the result I would not have imagined in a thousand night terrors has materialized. I couldn’t sleep last night, and put a lot of my thoughts out on Facebook in the hopes that I could stop feeling miserable and get back to bed. For better or worse, here’s an extended summary.

To my friends across the world, I wrote:

heart

Dear World:

I am deeply sorry. Please forgive us.
Je suis profondement navré. Veuillez nous pardonner.
Mi dispiace tantissimo. Per favore, scusateci.
Tá an-bhrón orm. Led’ thoil, maith dhúinn.
Es tut mir furchtbar leid. Bitte verzeih uns.
Jeg beklager så mye. Tilgi oss.
.אני מאוד מצטער. סלח לנו
Jako mi je žao. Oprosti nama.
Lo siento mucho. Por favor perdónanos.
Λυπάμαι πολύ. Συγχωρείστε μας.
Imi pare foarte rau. Vă rog, scuzați-ne.

I thought on this more than once:

litany_against_fear_by_kubuzetto

Donald Trump strikes me as the antithesis of all the best qualities Christ exhorted his followers to embody. In his first epistle to Timothy, the Apostle Paul wrote,

“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous.”

If these are the qualities of a good spiritual leader, what then has America put into the White House?

A collection of tweets appeared this morning which lightened my mood somewhat:

George Takei: “The unthinkable happened before, to my family in WWII. We got thru it. We held each other close. We kept our dignity and held to our ideals.”

Michael Moore: “However this ends, that’s where we begin.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda: “Go through all stages tonight. You are allowed to feel however you like. Take stock of your heart. See you tomorrow. We are all still here.”

Stephen Colbert: “In the face of something that might strike you as horrible, I think laughter is the best medicine. You cannot laugh and be afraid at the same time, and the devil cannot stand mockery.”

JK Rowling: “Deep breaths. You’re not alone. There are many, many people on your side. The battle’s only over when you stop fighting. xoxox”

Kal Penn: “Stop it w: the moving to Canada shit. Double down on the country we love. If Trump becomes president, we have to get MORE involved not less”

Nina Las Vegas: “No matter who your president is, always fight for education, tolerance and quality. Votes can’t stop YOU from being good in your world.”

Jesse Tyler Ferguson: “I’m taking tonight to grieve for minorities, women, immigrants, muslims & the LGBTQ community but tomorrow I’m waking up ready to fight.”

Jessica Chastain: “The positive element from all this is that we can no longer pretend that we are free of racism & sexism. The question is, what do we do now?”

Barack Obama: “Remember, no matter what happens, the Sun will rise in the morning and America will still be the greatest nation on Earth.”

These thoughts echo what I designed immediately upon hearing the news:

trump

Lastly, I offer my own signature from the early days of email, one which I have always treasured and whose source is unknown:

Everything will come out OK in the end. If it's not OK, it's not the end.

May  God, nature, and humanity have mercy on us all.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Servers are people, not slaves

I’ve posted my thoughts about tipping before. I think it’s a bad system that allows restaurateurs to balance their budgets on the backs of their most important corporate assets, their employees. But as long as it’s the de facto standard, it’s important never to stiff a server.

But just as important as a good tip is the way you treat those who serve you, or wait on you, or help you in retail establishments, or answer the phone to help you with a transaction or a technical problem. And far too many people (witness the horror stories at places like Not Always Right) treat others in this category like something horrid that they would scrape off their shoe.

A few examples:

  1. A pastor writes on her server’s check, “I give God 10%. Why do you get 18?” She later stated that this was an unfortunate lapse of judgment and felt embarrassed about it, but Applebee’s, where the incident occurred, fired another server for publishing the offending check on reddit, even though no PII was revealed.
  2. A couple leaves a “tip” for a server: here’s your tip,” they said and explained that a woman’s place is in the home, as it says in the Bible, and that she should go home, clean her house, and cook a good hot meal for her husband and children. They even said her husband “must see another woman on his way home from a long day at his work” because she isn’t home, and told her to stop looking for handouts to feed her family.
  3. Some “Christians” have taken to leaving these tracts disguised as money as “tips,” thinking they’re contributing more to their waitstaff than crass pecuniary remuneration.

assholes

People who do things like the above examples are neither Christian, nor do they understand the very religion they so publicly claim to represent – and I refer them happily to Acts 8:21: “Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.”

Then there are the people who are just douchebags for no reason.

  1. One sweet lady I work with told of spending almost 2 decades as a server. One “gentleman” she waited on told her that society had failed her because she was working as a waitress, and that she herself was a failure; he flipped a $5.00 bill at her and told her to put it into her infant daughter’s bank account, but that he doubted it would get there. Needless to say, he made her cry; this is what trolls do on the internet all the time, “for the lulz,” but it is beyond my capacity to comprehend how someone can do this in person. It’s a good thing I wasn’t at the next table, I would have been hard pressed not to stand up and smash his silly face.
  2. A man with “Esq.” after his name, proclaiming to all the world that he is an attorney, calls up customer service for assistance. When discovering his problem is a bit more complex than he wants (“Just fix it!”) he demands a manager. When he doesn’t get one immediately, he launches into this shouted tirade about “Now you’ve made me really angry! I’m documenting this call! I’m calling your CEO!” His douchebag wife even calls up to abuse some more agents about the same issue. And he actually does call the CEO, wasting countless people’s time and acting like a spoiled, entitled little brat until he gets heaven knows what. I’d love nothing better than to doxx this waste of human cytoplasm, but that’s not how I roll.
  3. For more examples, scan Not Always Right for the category “Bad Behavior.” (Link for the time-challenged.)

The solution to all these unhappy situations is pretty simple. It’s come to be known on the Internet as “Wheaton’s Law.”

wheatons-law

Seriously, just don’t.

The Old Wolf has spoken.