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Pablo Picasso and the art of living

Pablo Picasso – Les Demoiselles d’Avignon via Flickr

Pablo (Ruiz y) Picasso (1881-1973) was a Spanish artist, born at Málaga.

In 1901 Picasso painted in Montmartre, Paris, during his so-called blue period (1901-4). This produced a series of satirical, tragic pictures focusing on the poor, the anguished and the lonely.

Next was the pink period (1904-6). A celebration of life, this period depicted young nudes and that great 20th century spectacle, the circus.

Picasso’s innovative bent lead him toward Cubism (rendering three-dimensions without perspective). The most critical step in creating this new school was probably taken with the completion of Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907).

Read More

 11 Hidden Secrets in Famous Works of Art (livescience.com)

 Rayo Withanage – An apology (telegraph.co.uk)

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Philia – One of many loves

Brotherly Love Series via Wikipedia

Philia is a Greek term usually translated as brotherly or friendly love.

The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle says there are three types of philia:

  1. Love for what is of practical use
  2. Love for what is pleasing
  3. Love for the good

Aristotle is a powerful thinker but, unlike Plato, not a mystical one. And he himself realizes that his three types of philia are not watertight categories.

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Indigenous people invented the so-called ‘American Dream’

Lewis Borck, Leiden University and D. Shane Miller, Mississippi State University

When President Barack Obama created Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the 2012 program that offered undocumented young people brought to the U.S. as children a path into society, for a moment the ideals of the American Dream seemed, at least for this group, real.

We call these kids (many of whom are now adults) “Dreamers,” because they are chasing the American Dream – a national aspiration for upward economic mobility built on physical mobility. Fulfilling your dreams often means following them wherever they may lead – even into another country.

The Trump administration’s decision to cancel DACA and build a U.S.-Mexico border wall has endangered those dreams by subjecting 800,000 young people to deportation.

But the notion underlying both the DACA repeal and the wall – which is that “illegal” immigrants, most of them from Mexico, are stealing U.S. jobs and hurting society – reflects a profound misunderstanding of American history.

On Indigenous Peoples Day, it’s worth underscoring something that many archaeologists know: many of the values that inspire the American Dream – liberty, equality and the pursuit of happiness – date back to well before the creation of the U.S.-Mexico border and before freedom-seeking Pilgrim immigrants arrived at Plymouth Rock in 1620. They originate with native North Americans.

A Native American dream

The modern rendition of the American Dream can be traced back to 1774, when Virginia’s governor, John Murray, the fourth earl of Dunmore, wrote that even if Americans “attained Paradise, they would move on if they heard of a better place farther west.”

The actual term “American Dream” was popularized in 1931 by the businessman and historian James Truslow Adams. For him, its realization depended on not just being able to better oneself but also, through movement and human interaction, seeing your neighbors bettered as well.

The first peoples to come to the Americas also came in search of a better life. That happened 14,000 years ago in the last Ice Age when nomadic pioneers, ancestors to modern Native Americans and First Nations, arrived from the Asian continent and roamed freely throughout what now comprises Canada, the United States and Mexico. Chasing mammoth, ancient bison and the elephant-like Gomphothere, they moved constantly to secure the health of their communities.

The indigenous communities of the Americas knew none of these modern-day national borders.
USGS

A more recent example of the power of migration reappears about 5,000 years ago, when a large group of people from what is today central Mexico spread into the American Southwest and farther north, settling as far up as western North America. With them they brought corn, which now drives a significant part of the American economy, and a way of speaking that birthed over 30 of the 169 contemporary indigenous languages still spoken in the United States today.

The Hohokam

This globalist world view was alive and well 700 years ago as well when people from what is now northern Arizona fled a decades-long drought and rising authoritarianism under religious leaders. Many migrated hundreds of miles south to southern Arizona, joining the Hohokam (ancestors to modern O’odham nations) who had long thrived in the harsh Sonoran desert by irrigating vast fields of agave, corn, squash, beans and cotton.

When the northern migrants arrived to this hot stretch of land around the then-nonexistent U.S.-Mexico frontier, Hohokam religious and political life was controlled by a handful of elites. Social mechanisms restricting the accumulation of power by individuals had slowly broken down.

For decades after their arrival, migrants and locals interacted. From that exchange, a Hohokam cultural revolution grew. Together, the two communities created a commoners’ religious social movement that archaeologists call Salado, which featured a feasting practice that invited all village members to participate.

As ever more communities adopted this equitable tradition, political power – which at the time was embedded in religious power – became more equally spread through society. Elites lost their control and, eventually, abandoned their temples.

America’s egalitarian mound-builders

The Hohokam tale unearths another vaunted American ideal that originates in indigenous history: equality. Long before it was codified in the Declaration of Independence,, equality was enacted through the building of large mounds.

Massive earthen structures like these are often acts of highly hierarchical societies – think of the pyramids of the ancient Egyptians, constructed by masses of laborers as the final resting place of powerful pharaohs, or those of the rigid, empire-building Aztecs.

But great power isn’t always top-down. Poverty Point, in the lower Mississippi River Valley of what’s now Louisiana, is a good example. This massive site, which consists of five mounds, six concentric semi-elliptical ridges and a central plaza, was built some 4,000 years ago by hunter-fisher-gatherers with little entrenched hierarchy.

Poverty Point: a city built on cooperation.
Herb Roe/Wikipedia, CC BY-SA

Originally, archaeologists believed that such societies without the inequality and authoritarianism that defined the ancient Egyptian, Roman, and Aztec empires could not have constructed something so significant – and, if so, only over decades or centuries.

But excavations in the last 20 years have revealed that large sections of Poverty Point were actually constructed in only a few months. These Native Americans organized in groups to undertake massive projects as a communal cooperative, leaving a built legacy of equality across America’s landscape.

Haudenosaunee

The Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois, offer a more modern example of such consensus-based decision-making practices.

These peoples – who’ve lived on both sides of the St. Lawrence river in modern-day Ontario and the U.S. Great Lakes states for hundreds, if not thousands, of years – built their society on collective labor arrangements.

They ostracized people who exhibited “selfish” behavior, and women and men often worked together in large groups. Everyone lived together in communal longhouses. Power was also shifted constantly to prevent hierarchy from forming, and decisions were made by coalitions of kin groups and communities. Many of these participatory political practices continue to this day.

The Haudenosaunee sided with the British during the 1776 American Revolution and were largely driven off their land after the war. Like many native populations, the Haudenosaunee Dream turned into a nightmare of invasion, plague and genocide as European migrants pursued their American Dream that excluded others.

Native Americans at Standing Rock

The long indigenous history of rejecting authoritarianism continues today, including the 2016 battle for environmental justice at Standing Rock, South Dakota.

There, a resistance movement coalesced around a horizontally organized youth group that rejected the planned Dakota Access oil pipeline.

Native American pioneers continue to fight for the same ideals that inspire the American Dream, including equality and freedom.
John Duffy/Wikimedia, CC BY-SA

The movement centered on an environmental cause in part because nature is sacred to the Lakota (and many other indigenous communities), but also because communities of color often bear the brunt of economic and urban development decisions. This was the indigenous fight against repression and for the American Dream, gone 21st century.

Redefining the North American dream

Anthropologists and historians haven’t always recognized the quintessentially Native American ideals present in the American Dream.

In the early 19th century, the prominent social philosopher Lewis Henry Morgan called the Native Americans he studied “savages.” And for centuries, America’s native peoples have seen their cultural heritage attributed to seemingly everyone but their ancestors – even to an invented “lost” white race.

America’s indigenous past was not romantic. There were petty disputes, bloody intergroup conflicts and slavery (namely along the Northwest Coast and American Southeast).

But the ideals of freedom and equality – and the right that Americans can move across this vast continent to seek it out – survive through the millennia. Societies based on those values have prospered here.

The ConversationSo the next time a politician invokes American values to promote a policy of closed borders or selfish individualism, remember who originally espoused the American Dream – and first sought to live it, too.

Lewis Borck, Archaeologist, Leiden University and D. Shane Miller, Prehistoric Archeologist, Mississippi State University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.


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Why the world needs more global citizens

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Former U.S. President Barack Obama and Prince Harry watch wheelchair basketball at the Invictus Games in Toronto on Friday, Sept. 29. Obama spoke earlier in Toronto about the importance of global citizenship. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Donovan

Paul Sherman, University of Guelph-Humber

Global citizenship is trending upward.

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei received a global citizenship award in Toronto this week, and on Friday, former U.S. President Barack Obama spoke in the Canadian city about the importance of global citizenship.

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And recently, tens of thousands of New Yorkers attended the annual Global Citizen Festival in Central Park.

Now, before you react to this article’s headline and rail against yet another apparent plea for the creation of an elitist one-world government, give your typing fingers a rest.

I will state at the onset that this piece neither advocates for an elitist perspective, nor a single planetary authority. What it does argue for is the cultivation of a global citizenship sensibility, particularly in the education of our university and college students.

Internationalization in higher education

Internationalization policies and practices within the higher education sector have ostensibly been fuelled by pressures on colleges and universities to better prepare students for the effects of globalization.

Recent research suggests that university graduates are increasingly required by prospective employers to have the so-called soft skills necessary for working in global environments.

A university education offers an important pathway that hopefully leads to gainful employment after graduation. But including global citizenship within educational curricula is an investment that can produce dividends far greater than simply securing a job.

Global citizenship: What it is and what it isn’t

Global citizenship is a concept that has produced varied and contested understandings, not the least of which is the argument that the privilege of legal status inherently associated with national citizenship is not a feature of global citizenship.

British Prime Minister Theresa May recently opined: “If you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere. You don’t understand what the very word ‘citizenship’ means.”

Notwithstanding this sort of misguided criticism, there’s a general consensus that the term orients towards recognizing the interconnectedness of life, respecting cultural diversity and human rights, advocating global social justice, empathizing with suffering people around the world, seeing the world as others see it and feeling a sense of moral responsibility for planet Earth.

Musician Ai Weiwei recently received a global citizenship award in Toronto. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Global citizenship usually involves three dimensions — awareness (of self and others), responsibility and participation. The enlightened global citizen understands that there doesn’t have to be a tension between a nationalistic sense of duty and a moral obligations to the rest of the world.

Global leaders who state otherwise are mired in old and tired ways of competing for the planet’s resources and securing the welfare of its inhabitants and ecosystems. Global citizenship offers hope for embracing a mindset that can ensure the future sustainability of our planet, and all of its living forms.

Global citizenship and Soka education

Soka, or value-creating, education was formulated in the 1930s, against a backdrop of Japanese industrialization, expansionism and increased militarism.

Founder Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (1871-1944) vehemently opposed the aims of Japanese nationalist education at that time, which was ostensibly used as a platform for political indoctrination and support of Japan’s war efforts.

Makiguchi believed that education was the key to ultimately securing individual and societal wellbeing, or happiness. And that happiness was discovered through a transformational process of creating value through one’s everyday interactions in society.

Makiguchi’s vision was advanced in succession by his protégé, Josei Toda (1900-1958), and Toda’s protégé, Daisaku Ikeda.

Ikeda is president of the lay-Buddhist global peace movement, Soka Gakkai International. He founded the Soka Education network of schools around the world. Ikeda’s vision for these schools is deeply connected to global citizenship, aiming to nurture global citizens who will contribute to society and help strengthen the foundations of peace.

My case study research of Soka University Japan (SUJ) reveals an educational environment that cultivates global awareness, global citizenship identity and pro-social values.

Big Sean performs at the 2017 Global Citizen Festival in Central Park on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in New York. The festival aims to end extreme poverty through the collective actions of global citizens. (AP Photo/Michael Noble Jr.)

Two interview participants’ quotes from my research highlight the synergies created at SUJ between education for global citizenship and the prospect of societal wellbeing:

  1. “Cultivating a feeling of concern for the welfare of others is considered an extremely important part of Soka education, of humanism. I think the otherness, of connecting one’s happiness with the happiness of others, is a part of it.”
  2. “The wellbeing, happiness and betterment of society are possible when you can think from the perspective of not just yourself but you as a member of this world. In other words, society doesn’t become happy on its own.”

Humanitarian competition

Makiguchi’s Soka education principles for promoting a peaceful and harmonious world are well-aligned with a global citizenship perspective. Although never stepping foot off his native Japanese soil, Makiguchi was deeply concerned for the well-being of all people and for future generations. His insightful treatise on how countries should best cooperate for the collective good of humankind gives a clear sense of the promise and virtues of global citizenship.

In 1903, Makiguchi published his book, The Geography of Human Life, which contains his ideas on the nature of competition. He suggested that competition for survival is common to all species, and that major forms of competition have changed over time in line with changes to natural and social environments.

Makiguchi argued that nations have variously used strategies of economic, military, and political competition to maintain control of society.

He speculated that a fourth type of competition — in the arena of moral character — would evolve to guide international relations in the other three realms.

Labelling this form of competition as “humanitarian,” Makiguchi states that it aspires to: “…a goal of wellbeing and protection of all people, including oneself but not at the increase of self interest alone. In other words, the aim is the betterment of others and in doing so, one chooses ways that will yield personal benefit as well as benefit to others.”

He adds: “It is a conscious effort to create a more harmonious community life, and it will take considerable time for us to achieve.”

Competition that is based on humanitarian principles and practices fits with a global citizenship perspective.

The ConversationI believe there’s an important place for these principles in the curricula of higher education as we look to cultivate future generations of global citizens who can ensure the harmonious survival of planet Earth.

Paul Sherman, Program Head, Family & Community Social Services, University of Guelph-Humber

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.


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Politics, Political and Politically Correct


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Hot new discovery – A serious intellectual tackles spiritual and other issues

This morning I checked out a blog I’d never seen before. I’ll be returning! I recommend this for anyone who thinks about self, society, politics, philosophy, ethics, spirituality… and is not intimidated by sentences longer than 5 words! » https://summaamare.com/


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Are outspoken critics of Wikipedia pompous windbags?

Let’s face it. Wikipedia is amazing. Not only in the humanities but in just about every discipline one can think of. I think it’s great that its founder is being recognized in his lifetime. All too often great figures go by unnoticed because those upholding old patterns just can’t see what’s right before their eyes.

So what about academia. Is it really that great?

Well, I had a good experience, especially in undergrad studies. But looking back, Wikipedia entries are probably more balanced and informative than most of what my undergrad professors put out. Don’t be fooled. Some profs just follow a textbook or two. They might have read a few more books in the area. But generally, the sheer amount of info one can get from Wikipedia is better than what you’d get in an undergraduate humanities course.

Image by Abhi Sharma via Flickr

And the fee?

University fees have been steadily rising. And not only that. It’s been harder and harder for less privileged youths to get funding. Let’s not beat around the bush. University is a type of finishing school for many kids who can afford it. For those who can’t, it has been a symbol of oppression.

Oppression?

Yes oppression.

Just go to a small university town and compare the university students to the “townies” as some used to call them. The gap is painfully obvious.

But here’s the biggest joke of all. Universities can be corrupt. Not too many people realize it but corruption isn’t just about the most visible stories that hit the news. We tend to turn a blind eye to those things that benefit us, while scapegoating those that do not.

So I ask: Are some outspoken academic critics of Wikipedia not only pompous but corrupt windbags?

Of course, not all academics are snobs or directly involved in corrupt activities. But quite possibly the snooty narrow-mindedness of some is at least partly or indirectly supported by some form of institutional corruption.

So my message to anyone who has not been to university: Don’t feel any less than someone who has. What matters is to be able to think freely. And Wikipedia can be a fantastic launch pad for critical thinking. Sure, it only gives outlines. But they are excellent, densely interlinked outlines. And if you want to go further in a particular topic, Wikipedia articles do have a bibliography and external links. So the next step would be the public library, bookstore or just more web surfing.

Forget the pompous windbags. They’re probably carping because they fear that their status – and associated perks – are threatened. Their days are numbered. Knowledge, like anything else, should be available to anyone who wants and needs it.

 One-third of Ph.D.s lose interest in academic careers, but not for lack of jobs (scienceblog.com)

 Iowa regents asking for $12 million solely for resident, undergrad aid (thegazette.com)

 At Reed College, the left clashes with itself over free speech (hotair.com)

 Letter: Academic enrichment (bostonherald.com)

 Cambridge academic cleared of assault after saying ex-fiancee tried to ‘ruin’ his life for calling off wedding (telegraph.co.uk)

 See Western Michigan’s enrollment, demographics over decade (mlive.com)

 The 10 colleges where students get the best education for their money (businessinsider.com)