The future, I mean. It sometimes seems ahead of me, but isn’t it really ‘just over there’, just the tiniest bit ‘out of reach’ seeming? How out of reach is ‘the future’ really? Is that apparent distance only a matter of perception, with each moment now building on the future-to-be? This seems relevant, too.  🙂

Meditation over coffee... like a sunrise in my thoughts.

Sometimes thoughts develop as a sunrise might.

I’m thinking about the future of the world and of humanity these days very nearly as much as I think about my own. When I think about my own future, I have a plan – or am generally working to build one if there is a lack. I have an understanding how my choices alter my future circumstances, and that there are consequences to my actions – and my thinking. I don’t always choose well, or choose wisely. I am not always correct about how events later will unfold based on choices now. I don’t always have a fully complete, mindful, aware understanding of the consequences of my actions – sometimes I am entirely incorrect about what those consequences will be, or spontaneously choose an action without forethought, for which I am ignorant of the possible outcomes. What I’m saying is that I am human. We each are, aren’t we?

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Each seeking illumination along the way.

I do think about the future, though, both my own future as one human female, and the future of my species. Do you think about the future of ‘humankind’? I hear people say things with a sense of futility or dismissiveness about the capability of humankind to live well, to live wisely, to choose survival…it often sounds to me that what they are saying, rather than ‘humankind will inevitably destroy itself and the world’, is ‘I am personally unwilling to take even one step in the direction of helping humankind exist, if I have to make a change, or take any sort of action or responsibility myself’. I hear it that way because I used to ‘be there’ myself. I’m not there now.

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I am not the woman I was at 14… or 40; I have changed with my choices.

Think about this for a moment; if we simply remove war, the industries of war, the expenses of war – and all the monetary give and take of waging wholesale slaughter of humans by humans and put that precise dollar amount into medicine, food, shelter, education, and global quality of life, we would solve famine, poverty, ignorance, and disease pretty quickly. So… why don’t we? I have turned this over in my head again and again, from the perspective of a lifetime of change that began with a conversation with my father at the kitchen counter about ‘utopia’ – I was 14 – and has continued through this one mortal, limited human lifetime to this present morning, sitting here, thinking again about ‘why?’ and ‘why not?’ (as philosopher types are prone to doing) and it hit me. I totally know why we don’t do that, and do it right now – it’s not a pleasing answer like ‘can’t’, but it is real and true, and it is a starting point. We don’t want to. There is profit to be made on fear, on poverty, on killing, on scrapping over meaningless utterly arbitrary territorial borders, on marketing to the insecurities we carry within ourselves that stop us doing something meaningful about what matters most, on building a bigger pile of money on which to stand and look down on our fellow humans who are exactly every bit as awesomely human as we are ourselves. It frankly sucks that we are not wiser creatures – or at a minimum, more compassionate ones. We kill and kill again, we turn our backs on each other, we treat each other badly based on stories we make up in our own heads about what frightens us… then, instead of noticing how horrible this is and choosing differently; we notice the horror, and create justification for how unavoidable it is, and how righteously we endure our choices.

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We can choose to be better human beings, or choose to excuse being what we are.

I am often seen by associates as politically ‘liberal’. I find it frustrating, because although there is some shared ground between what I think myself and the common American ‘liberal agenda’, astute friends who have known me years are aware that my own position on political matters is probably more correctly labeled (if we must) as ‘radical’. I do actually believe that we can choose differently, and that it is in our will and our choices that we are stranded as a primate species, fussing in the most primitive way over territory and assets, unaware that these totems of achievement are likely our undoing – with an entirely different future possible, and completely within reach if we choose it. Can one person change the world? Not really, no, not as one person; but for the world to change, it is those individual choices that will change it (incrementally, over time – the questions now, is there enough time left, and who will choose it?). That’s where the puzzle gets complicated. Is there ‘sin’ in profit? I don’t think so myself…but when ‘the game is rigged’ to ensure that profit reliably flows to some few hands at the expense of all, and exploiting the effort of many at great individual cost, we engineer the destruction of our species, globally. We’re watching it happen. We talk about it a lot. For every person hoping to change the tide, there are others wanting to profit from the status quo and reminding us all that the profits may diminish if we choose change. Yep. There’s the clue. Are we not ready to accept fewer dollars piled up in exchange for seeing humanity thrive? That seems strange to me.

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How much is money really worth?

For some days, I keep turning over the bizarre notion in my head, (fueled by too much political propaganda in my Facebook feed and social experience in an election year probably) that a ‘human mission statement’ might give each one of us an idea of the direction we are headed in the simplest possible terms. I mean, when I am at work I often give thought to the company values or mission statement when I am starting a project; I want to ensure the outcome of the work I am starting meets the company’s stated goals. I realized yesterday walking to work, that I do something similar when I evaluate the new year for myself, each January 1st; I look at my life in comparison to my values, and ask myself hard questions about what I am choosing in life and does it get me where I am going. (This may be something everyone does in some fashion – I’m no expert on ‘everyone’.) I think about UN “conventions” on a variety of topics and understand these to be an attempt ‘in the right direction’ as I understand that, myself…but I keep wondering…

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What are we doing?

Are we all actually in favor of humanity surviving, really? There are nihilists among us. There are profit-mongers, usurious money-lenders, and politicians acting for personal gain among us. There is hate and fear among us. There is ennui and futility. We seem to flail directionlessly, fighting over minutiae, and missing the point; we are destroying the one home we currently have, and treating each other badly. We don’t have to do either of those things – we could choose differently, this very minute, and go another direction. There are no arguments to refute. There are no rationalizations worthy of our attention. There are only verbs and choices, and each of us is making a difference of some kind; the question then becomes “Are my choices and actions such that I am promoting the emotional and physical well-being of my fellow-man in this moment, and securing the sustainable survival of humankind, and the habitat on which we rely, without damaging exploitation of resources or people, or other sentient life?” Well… that’s sure the question I hope we each ask, with every choice, every day. I see a lot of evidence that we don’t even give it a thought. Scary.

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Mindful living covers a lot of details.

This isn’t about ‘politics’ for me. This isn’t a race to a finish line, and there is no profit that justifies the destruction of other human beings, or other life, so that numbers in a bank balance grow. Gross margins and shareholders don’t matter even a little bit; people matter. I frustrate myself endlessly trying to communicate to associates who object to increasing the minimum wage that perhaps we would do better for humankind to look at the value of human lives when we talk about wages, rather than the supposed value of the work to be done; employment requires we give up some portion of our very limited life force to support someone else’s endeavors at the expense of our own (that’s why we get paid, right?). Our fragile human lives are worth far more than a ‘minimum wage’ – employers are fortunate that anyone at all wants to bother making widgets, or keeping spreadsheets up-to-date. No, I’m not ‘liberal’ – a lot of my ‘liberal’ friends are still very committed studious working stiffs who get irritated by people who don’t seem to be ‘doing their fair share’ holding down some 9-5, and this requirement to be ‘gainfully employed’ matters to them so much that they make relationship decisions based on employment status! I keep waiting for the promises of technology – touted in advertising in the 50s and 60s – to be fulfilled for humankind in the form of lives of comfortable leisure for one and all, with technology handling the daily grind, and human beings freed to pursue intellectual and artistic endeavors, to invent, create, to live and to breathe, and even to sleep… I keep waiting for humanity to actually care about the outcome for humanity over all, everywhere – because we are one species, on one mudball, and we’re all in this together. I may be waiting awhile – so in the meantime, I will do the best I can to make my own choices well and wisely, with an eye on a sustainable future for myself, for my family, for my species – and I’ll try not to be a dick, and try to avoid choices that are injurious of others, or that may rob them of their own opportunities to do and be their very best most human emotionally well selves. I’m still human, and still so imperfect…there is so often more ‘try’ than ‘do’, and a lot of practice to cover very little ground; it still matters to do the best I can.

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I come back to ‘now’, one sweet peaceful moment of stillness and contentment.

I’ve gone on awhile on this one. It’s been on my mind while I moved, and contemplated how very different effort supporting my own agenda feels, in comparison to effort in support of an employer’s agenda, and how very easily I could contentedly fill my own time, every day, doing the things I love…writing, painting, reading, hiking… How do we successfully monetize our passions? That’s not the question I most want to answer, myself. I’d like to know why we have to, at all? 😉

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Taking time to take care of me matters, too; it doesn’t have to be at the expense of the future of humankind – or of the world.

Today is a good day to be. Today is a good day to enjoy each precious moment, each simple joy, and each smile. Today is a good day to understand that indeed, I can change the world… even the small changes count for something. 🙂