Overview – planet earth and the human family

War or peace?

biologically speaking, we are just as likely to be peaceful as we are to be violent…charts a new course for rejecting the old paradigm of war’s inevitability and finally releasing mankind from its destructive grip….Why War Isn’t Inevitable: A Science Writer Studies the Secret to Peaceful Societies by Brad Jacobson  

…Global Peace Index…shows that…The U.S. ranks 88 of 158…The index takes into account factors including jailed population, political instability, conflicts fought and military expenditure. We’re Number 88! US Ranked Low on Global Peace Index — Common Dreams staff

International polls shows that world, including significant portion of Americans, deem US as greatest obstacle to peace – Over 12 years into the so-called “Global War on Terror,” the United States appears to be striking terror into the hearts of the rest of the world…In the Americas themselves, decades of US meddling have left an awkward legacy. Its neighbours, Mexico (37%) and Canada (17%), clearly have issues. Even 13% of Americans see their own country as a danger. Biggest Threat to World Peace: The United States, Sarah Lazare, Common Dreams, December 31, 2013

Environmental Crisis

…climate change is actually the biggest thing that’s going on every single day. This is a full-on fight between information and disinformation, between the urge to witness and the urge to cover-up. The fossil-fuel industry has funded endless efforts to confuse people, to leave an impression that nothing much is going on.  But — as with the tobacco industry before them — the evidence has simply gotten too strong…The one institution in our society that isn’t likely to be much help in spreading the news is… the news. Studies show our papers and TV channels paying ever less attention to our shifting climate….If we’re going to tell this story — and it’s the most important story of our time — we’re going to have to tell it ourselves. A Warmer World and Weather Gone Wild: The Most Important Story of Our Lives by Bill McKibben, TomDispatch.com, May 3, 2012.

How the Religious Right Is Fueling Climate Change Denial

It’s Time to Fight the Sta­tus Quo

The Earth Is Full 

Why Science Is Telling All of Us to Revolt and Change Our Lives Before We Destroy the Planet

Civilization

Civilization is social order promoting cultural creation…It begins where chaos and insecurity end.… Man differs from the beast only by education, which may be defined as the technique of transmitting civilization…What is civilization by Will Durant

…all great public issues…[are] a debate about what kind of country we want America to be. During the first many decades of this nation’s existence, the United States was a wide-open, dynamic country with a rapidly expanding economy. It was also a country that tolerated a large amount of cruelty and pain — poor people living in misery, workers suffering from exploitation. Over the years, Americans decided they wanted a little more safety and security. This is what happens as nations grow wealthier; they use money to buy civilizationThe Values Question by David Brooks,New York Times, November 24, 2009

We are witnessing an epochal shift in our socio-political world.  We are de-evolving…The Social Contract is the intellectual basis of all modern democratic republics, including oursA system which – for all its flaws – often managed to protect the rights of the many, against the predatory power of the few… Republicans and Tea Partiers may be leading this retreat from reason, but they are unopposed by Democrats or the Press. And in the end, there is a special place in Hell for those who allow evil to prosper by doing nothing. Dark Ages Redux: American Politics and the End of the Enlightenment by John Atcheson, Common Dreams, June 18, 2012

Human nature

…We humans are by nature social creatures, even the most introverted of us, and we tend to trust and follow the thinking of the groups with which we identify…Our groups define “us” and exert powerful influence on how we think, even how we feel, and how we behave in society. By definition, of course, every group creates “Them”— they are all the ones who are not in our group…Throughout history, political elites have manipulated social groups to achieve and maintain power.… in the last two generations Republicans have masterfully used wedge politics– pitting us against them — to gain and keep power and to implement policies that a clear majority of the populace dislikes, but apparently cannot find any effective way to change.…Although we live in an irreducibly pluralistic world, we have yet to learn how to function as a pluralistic democracy…To restore civil discourse and bring down the level of polarization, we need to learn new ways of relating together as us and them.….…The fundamental questions need to be raised, because what we imagine—no matter how inchoate it may be—influences the way that we act and the choices that we make every day. Nothing is more immediately practical and political than imagination…We have a lot of rehumanizing to do. There are powerful political and economic interests that want to keep us fragmented and at one another’s throats rather than working together to establish a more inclusive democracy. They will do all they can to stir continued discord between groups and to use wedge politics to defeat our aspirations for meaningful change. Can progressives of all persuasions, no matter what our primary interest groups may be, at least agree that we will stop doing their job for them? Us vs Them: A Simple Recipe to Prevent Strong Society from Forming By James Rohrer, AlterNet.org, July 27, 2012

The Moral Animal By JONATHAN SACKS, New York Times, December 23, 2012

Generational justice

U.S. Ranks at the Bottom of Child Well-Being 

Why our children’s future no longer looks so bright

Old vs. Young By David Leonhardt, New York Times, June 22, 2012

The Gradual Selling of America the Beautiful By VERLYN KLINKENBORG, New York Times, February 9, 2013

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