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by David Foster, Port Perry, Ontario
I believe it was Einstein who said that knowledge was rather like our standing in a clearing in the forest… we know what we know but we are surrounded by a perimeter that is the barrier to the unknown. Widen the circle with new discoveries, and the perimeter grows even more.
Each discovery lures us into discovering still more. There comes a point where we wonder if what we ‘know’ is in fact the whole story. And then we discover it isn’t. Logic tells us to go back and revise what we thought we ‘knew’. Who can admit to the errors? We tend to hide them.
Many of us are content to stay in the clearing and leave the perimeter to others. We then lead lives governed by familiarity and emotion, believing we know enough. But what if those habits are in fact very damaging to the whole? That can get expensive to discover, because we need new tools to deal with the perimeter of the unknown. So we developed ‘science’ and the logics that go with it. That strategy can work backwards in to ‘Politics’ and the Sociology of everyday life. Who would have suspected that we could examine things as small as a single molecule, and learn a truer understanding of the basics? Who would have guessed that plumes of methane gas are spewing out of the bed of the Arctic sea?
Old people like me sleep in snatches of a few hours, waking perhaps to ponder some new connections that occurred in our sleep. I have had perhaps 90 million ideas go through my head over my lifetime. They make new connections in my sleep. Sometimes I wake with an ‘AHA!’, and what I think may be an important new idea has occurred. I get up and write the whole of it down. (Making only a few words I found, was not enough, for come morning, I wouldn’t remember what they meant). The idea in the following days would emerge as an essay that I store away.
This is a talk about the Nature of Knowledge, and it combines with another about the Nature of Belief. And a third about the danger in applying that knowledge through only one medium… money linked to trade. Money loses its value over time. There is little point in hoarding it. Wisdom comes from testing ideas over time.
Certain of our indigenous people followed a caution they lived by, that The Great Spirit wants us to move slowly into new realms of knowledge. Take 7 generations or so to see if a new idea is really safe enough to adopt, or is it in fact the Great Trickster? That would be about 150 years. My grandfather was born in the 1870s. I remember him. My grand daughter will probably leave home in 2020. That is 5 generations, 150 years. What could my grand father recognize in my granddaughter’s life? Not much. We’ve been very rash in adopting new ideas before we realize where they lead. Atomic power, 100,000 untested chemicals let loose, trace poisons that kill the most useful bacteria in our own lower gut. A world ocean chemistry that kills the plankton that make half the oxygen we breathe. Methane gas, 30 times more damaging than C02 now spewing forth in columns a kilometre wide under what was the Arctic ice cap. A single corporation that controls the beliefs of billions of people through Google or Facebook and no plan to break up the monopolies…
One of the modern surprises was that there is a ‘gene’ that carries information to every cell in every living thing. The double helix of DNA that stores genes in strands. Deoxynucleic Acid. How many of us really understand what that means? That was the discovery of 20 years ago. The new one is that of the ‘microbiome’, how the tinyiest of bacteria are organized in all things, molecules at the parts per billion level. Colonies that live within us and actually tell our organs and our minds what to do. Poison them and we go strange. Catch diseases of body and mind. Is that what happened to Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and George W Bush? Suspend habeas corpus. Pre-emptive strikes. Rule the world.
Among those genes are two others that partially determine our Human Nature… some that drive us to compete with one another, and some to accept death without regret. That is how the old can meet death without sadness. Researchers call that the ‘God Gene’. We have an innate wish to believe in something beyond the here and now. That belief allows us to compete with each other even unto death.
But only at certain stages of life. There are also genes that make us cooperate in peace (perhaps in only a flawed logic). Making the switch is driven by our age and family history, society’s history, and the land where we dwell. World Trade was supposed to make us rely on each other… instead, it empowers Banks and massive movements of ‘stuff’ using fossil fuels.
Paul Hellyer as a man of 92 years, wrote a book recently ‘The Money Mafia… a world in crisis’. He for years was a prominent Minister of Defence in Canada’s Federal Government. In retrospect, he saw how much of it went wrong on ‘his watch’. So he wrote a book to explain it to the rest of us. Not everyone will accept what he says. We have different belief systems, as different as our capacity to walk the perimeter of the forest clearing and peer beyond the nearest trees.
Hellyer claims we are saddled with an invisible government behind the visible one. He calls it a ‘cabal’ and uses the word ‘Treason’.
Those of us who grew up within the British Empire, had a belief-system-in-common that the Empire offered to all its ‘subjects’. Many Canadian text books were distributed from Britain. The British were well aware of ‘Manifest Destiny’ (the American ambition of Continental domination). We learned a version of history that allowed that need for competition and acceptance of death to be put to use for the Empire and its people. Self serving… yes. But there was a morality to it based on the rule of law, ancient law, and initially only the technologies of sailing ships. Cotton cloth was the ‘fuel’ that caught the wind that built the Empire, long before oil turned propellers.
The trouble with empires is that they are all pyramid schemes that must expand for ever, or stagnate and die. ‘Growth’ becomes their prime goal, ever more growth of the cleared circle in search of how to help the Empire still grow. But what if it is time to grow smaller, to be more careful?
I am no fan of Empires… the mistakes made by those at the top are left to be solved by those at the bottom, and them with fewer resources and tools.
Apparently 75% of all the mining companies in the world are based in Canada . Is that a ‘cabal’?
(The term ‘cabal’ comes from ‘Cabala’, the Jewish mystical and secret interpretation of Hebrew scripture. In European culture, it became associated with secrets held by an elite). The 150 or so members of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives certainly influences what happens in government. Currently, former Cabinet Minister John Manley heads the Council. Is it a pension plan for former favourable politicians? Barrick Gold pays former prime minister Mulroney $2 million a year to sit on its board. Is that a government behind a government? Hellyer explains it at the international level, the insidious plan of World Trade and the Banks and fossil fuel companies that run it.
We live in a time where we have led the young to believe that formal education would lead to a better life. But then we gave most of the good jobs to Japanese robots that foreigners own, and we charge the students banker’s interest for getting largely useless credentials, superceded by advancing technology within a few years. Both students and their teachers now are confused as to what their purpose is. Believe the government? Support the government, or challenge the government?
How could such a perversion happen? Hellyer says it was because of the money system that underwent an enormous change around 1976. Do you really understand money, why there are ‘prime rates’ and ‘mortgages with compound interest’ penalties? How we differ from Arab banks? We switched in barely 20 years from a society that saves and makes investments from its savings, to one that is based on debt for ever. $600 billion now and rising. Someone wasn’t watching the edge of the forest clearing to sift the good from the bad. Not learning the right stuff.
Money aside, what does happen at the parts per billion level? Even with Nature… we had better know, (and curiously in Canada, we don’t have even one hi tech lab in the public service that will tell us)… We used to have many, and a National Research Council with scientists not dedicated to competition and war, but to the common good (and who were a revered and honest profession).
The mainline Press tells a different story. The avenues to our understanding are now so many and so varied we are confused and rendered impotent (and that is probably by design). If the Queen tells me something, I’m apt to believe her. She speaks rarely in public. But I don’t believe pronouncements by her political appointee of a former journalist who was selected as her deputy by the cabal as ‘Governor General’.
There is a ‘generations clash’ too. I call it ‘The False Youth of Corporatism’. I drag the Queen in there too.
In tribal life, a Chief who became Chief for life evolved into becoming a king. So that society experienced its adolescence, its youth, its prime of pride and passion, and its old age, all reflected in the power and preferences of its king. The society behaved as it should. There was no ‘youth culture forever’. To everyone and everything there was a season.
The prime purpose of the kingdom (any kingdom) was to steal from their neighbours (because birth rates always made the population exceed the carrying capacity of the kingdom. Export people, or steal from the neighbors). Our indigenous people around the Great Lakes limited births to what was the natural carrying capacity of the land. Having no metallurgy, they never discovered the plow or the sword. Nor wars of absolute dominance.
Then we invented the notion of a group of people in their prime becoming a single ‘person in law’, one that could behave as a real person (but be in many places at one time), and is never faced with adolescence, youth and old age, and real death. A crazy notion when viewed alone. It was created by the Crown to be of service to the kingdom, (not to compete with it).
In this ‘corporation’, a small group created for itself a large diameter pipe where people in their prime entered at one end, and were expelled 10 years later from the other, the pipe always filled with persons in their prime. So was created (if you let the society be led by Corporations) the illusion that real life can run as endless youth in its prime.
Real life provides its time of expansion, of daring, of disputes and change. And then the gracefulness of decline. Most people in the society really want to just do their duty according to their life stage, and their beliefs, and then enjoy its decline. Like an aging king. Or queen. Like Elizabeth the Second. It is the people in the corporate pipe who keep forcing the society into war. Cut throat competition. Winner take all. Dominate everything.
But there is a flaw. It gets stalled. We all know that the 15 year old knows next to nothing, and the 30 year old in comparison is proud in his superior knowledge. But the 45 year old knows the 30 year old knows next to next to nothing, and in turn is proud of his own wider knowledge. The 60 year old looks down the span of decades, and he or she knows the others have not yet learned so much that they need to know. The 75 year old the same for even more. Each is in geometric progression of knowledge beyond the step before. ‘Adulthood’ was not static at 18 when you were allowed to vote. It is a constantly expanding realm of experience that shifts from technical knowledge to social knowledge and humility.
But in our society, it gets cut off in mid 50s. The CEO is fired for not meeting ‘growth targets’. Fling him out and bring in a new 40 year old. So the Corporation can live for ever, flinging out 50 year olds on golden parachutes and bringing in a new ‘Board’ that can never learn a thing beyond what every 55 year old already knows. While the 70 year olds know that at each decade, in order to be human, they all have a long way yet to go. Politics and Corporatism at-arm’s-length is such a fraud.
Corporations then seize power in every walk of life, and attempt to keep it in a state of perpetual ‘prime’. So the real youth revolt. The Old withdraw. But the Queen still knows. Disempowered by parliaments, she sits and watches: it is just that no one asks her opinion often enough. 10 six year presidents=one 60 year Queen. She is a force for stability. To understand that you need to know some history. But who teaches history anymore?
That is why I am a Royalist. God save me from the Corporations. They will negate half of my life and yours. The part over age 50.
* * *
Those are a
few thoughts for you. I recommend that your read ‘Money Mafia’ by Paul Hellyer,
and either the ‘God Gene’ by Dean Hamer, (2005), or the article of Nov 14, 2009,
by Nicholas Wade, a science
reporter for The New York Times, author of “The Faith Instinct: How Religion
Evolved and Why It Endures.”
You are not alone in the forest clearing.
Foster, Port Perry, ON
firstname.lastname@example.org Apr 2, 2015 (v.5)
[Article extract and link in the Summer 2015 (Vol. 28, No. 4) issue of Dialogue magazine.]
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