Monday, July 27, 2015

Gary Olson: Are Some Cultures Better Than Others at Cultivating Empathy?

In 1999, Cuba founded ELAM (the Latin America School of Medicine), the world's largest medical school. It offers a free education (including books and a living stipend) to students from poor countries, and more than 10,000 students have graduated from its highly respected six-year program. (Photo: PBS News Hour/flickr/cc)
Today's pop quiz: Which of the following countries has the most medical professionals working in the world's poorest countries; has doctors who have performed 3 million free eye operations in 33 countries; created the world's largest medical school with 22,000 students; has a ratio of one physician for every 167 people (No. 1 in the world); has lower infant mortality and higher life expectancy than the United States; and has free, high quality, universal primary health care?

A. Sweden
B. France
C. Canada
D. Norway
E. None of the above

The correct answer is E. None of the above. Many Americans are surprised to learn that the country described above is Cuba. For more than five decades we've heard plenty about Cuba's shortcomings, but virtually nothing about its stunning accomplishments.
For many scholars, the Cuban health care system is the jewel in the crown of Cuban achievements. Here I choose to focus on Cuba's medical internationalism, a practice admired throughout the world but virtually unknown to U.S. citizens.

Marilynne Robinson: Love Is Holy

Love is holy because it is like grace--the worthiness 
of its object is never really what matters.

Walt Whitman: Your Eyes

What is that you express in your eyes? 
It seems to me more than all the print I have read in my life.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Naomi Klein: A Civilizational Wake-Up Call

Our economic system and our planetary system are now at war. Or, more accurately, our economy is at war with many forms of life on earth, including human life. What the climate needs to avoid collapse is a contraction in humanity’s use of resources; what our economic model demands to avoid collapse is unfettered expansion. Only one of these sets of rules can be changed, and it’s not the laws of nature...

So we are left with a stark choice: allow climate disruption to change everything about our world, or change pretty much everything about our economy to avoid that fate. But we need to be very clear: because of our decades of collective denial, no gradual, incremental options are now available to us...

It is a civilizational wake-up call. A powerful message—spoken in the language of fires, floods, droughts, and extinctions—telling us that we need an entirely new economic model and a new way of sharing this planet.

Naomi Klein: The Polluters Pay

The costs of coping with increasing weather extremes are astronomical. In the United States, each major disaster seems to cost taxpayers upward of a billion dollars. The cost of Superstorm Sandy is estimated at $65 billion. And that was just one year after Hurricane Irene caused around $10 billion in damage, just one episode in a year that saw fourteen billion-dollar disasters in the U.S. alone. Globally, 2011 holds the title as the costliest year ever for disasters, with a total damages reaching at least $380 billion.And with policymakers still locked in the vise grip of austerity logic, these rising emergency expenditures are being offset with cuts to everyday public spending, which will make societies even more vulnerable during the next disaster - a classic vicious cycle. 

It was never a good idea to neglect the foundations of our societies in this way. In the context of climate change, however, that decision looks suicidal. There are many important debates to be had about the best way to respond to climate change - storm walls or ecosystem restoration? Decentralized renewables, industrial scale wind power combined with natural gas, or nuclear power? Small-scale organic farms or industrial food systems? There is, however, no scenario in which we can avoid wartime levels of spending in the public sector - not if we are serious about preventing catastrophic levels of warming, and minimizing the destructive potential of the coming storms.

It's no mystery where that public money needs to be spent. Much of it should go to the kinds of ambitious emission-reducing projects already discussed - the smart grids, the light rail, the citywide composting systems, the building retrofits, the visionary transit systems, the urban redesigns to keep us from spending half our lives in traffic jams. The private sector is ill suited to taking on most of these large infrastructure investments if the services are to be accessible, which they must be in order to be effective, the profit margins that attract private players simply aren't there....

About now a sensible reader would be asking: how on earth are we going to pay for all this? It's the essential question. A 2011 survey by the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs looked at how much it would cost for humanity to "overcome poverty, increase food production to eradicate hunger without degrading land and water resource, and avert climate change catastrophe." The price tag was $1,9 trillion a year for the next forty years - and "at least one half of the required investments would have to be realized in developing countries."

As we all know, public spending is going in the opposite direction almost everywhere except for a handful of fast-growing so-called emerging economies. In North America and Europe, the economic crisis that began in 2008 is still being used as a pretext to slash aid abroad and cut climate programs at home. All over Southern Europe, environmental policies and regulations have been clawed back, most tragically in Spain, which, facing fierce austerity pressure, drastically cut subsidies for renewables projects, sending solar projects and wind farms spiraling toward default and closure. The U.K. under David Cameron has also cut supports for renewable energy.

So if we accept that governments are broke, and they're not likely to introduce "quantitative easing" (aka printing money) for the climate system as they have for the banks, where is the money supposed to come from? Since we have only a few short years to dramatically lower our emissions, the only rational way forward is to fully embrace the principle already well established in Western law: the polluter pays.

Fossil fuel companies have known for decades that their core product was warming the planet, and yet they have not only failed to adapt to that reality, they have actively blocked progress at every turn. Meanwhile, oil and gas companies remain some of the most profitable corporations in history, with the top five oil companies pulling in $900 billion in profits form 2001 to 2010. Exxon-Mobil still holds the record for the highest corporate profits ever reported in the United States, earning $41 billion in 2011 and $45 billion in 2012. These companies are rich, quite simply, because they have dumped the cost of cleaning up their mess onto regular people around the world. It is this situation that, most fundamentally, needs to change.

 - Naomi Klein, excerpted from
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate

Reflections On Our Inner Beauty

It is my belief that we humans also have beautiful hearts. We just build walls around them, often without even realizing it. We need to take them down. Which means that we need to learn how to be very brave. It takes courage to be in this world with increasingly open hearts, eyes, minds, bodies, spirits, souls. Yet, it is my belief that we can do this, that we can - with support, intention, and mindfulness - become more of the loving person that we already are, that is our true essence. Dogs are loving reminders of our inner beauty.

Namaste ~ Molly 

What Our Tax Dollars Pay For

from Daily Kos

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death." 

~ Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, 1967


I also appreciate my husband Ron's reflections on this:
"Sometimes a picture IS worth a thousand words. Global 'terrorism' is the answer to the prayers of arms manufactures and our politicians who are bought and paid for by the war industry. We are kept in constant fear so we won't question the madness of our social values. A measure of the success of this propaganda is the percentage of Americans who say that ISIS is the greatest threat to America. Not climate change, social and economic inequality,failing educational system etc., etc., etc." - Ron Matela

 Another world is possible! May we work together to make it happen!
Peace ~ Molly 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Riane Eisler: Transcending the Polarities

Through the use of the dominator and partnership models of social organization for the analysis of both our present and our potential future, we can also begin to transcend the conventional polarities between right and left, capitalism and communism, religion and secularism, and even masculinism and feminism.

 Riane Eisler, The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future---Updated With a New Epilogue


Riane Eisler: Two Very Different Ways Of Relating

Underneath all the complex and seemingly random currents and crosscurrents, is the struggle between two very different ways of relating, of viewing our world and living in it. It is the struggle between two underlying possibilities for relations: the partnership model and the domination model.

- Riane Eisler 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Dalai Lama: Transforming Ourselves

Spiritual practice involves, on the one hand, acting out of concern for 
others' well-being. On the other, it entails transforming ourselves 
so that we become more readily disposed to do so. 

- Dalai Lama