Earth Manifesto - The
May 12, 2010
This Film Version of the Earth
Manifesto, below, requires major revisions. It was written while the Earth Manifesto opus, Comprehensive Global Perspective --- An
Illuminating Worldview, was the latest stage of the Earth Manifesto. Now, after the passage of two years and extensive
additions and a significant evolution in thoughts and occurrences, I want this
“film script” to incorporate the creative ideas of the more recent essays that
are summarized on the Home Page into an entertaining, enlightening and informative
overview of all of the various Earth Manifesto ideas and understandings and
perspectives. The most recent essays
should be given higher priority (they are roughly in order on the Home Page,
with the most recent appearing earliest).
I seek someone to undertake this effort sometime -- any film script
writers who might want to help with this project?
preliminary alternative ideas:
Grand Overview of Home Page ideas
Gaia’s Geological Perspective
Scene Three: A Quite Curious and Illuminating Biography of Mark Twain
Scene Four: Tall Tales … A Modern Log from the Sea of Cortez
Scene Five: Tyrants and Damsels
Comprehensive Global Perspective
Scene Seven: Revelations of a Modern Prophet
Scene Eight: The Common Good, Properly Understood
Scene Nine: Existence, Economics, and Ecological Intelligence
Common Sense vs. Political Realities
Scene Eleven: Profound Psychological Perspectives
Scene Twelve: Crystal Clear Conceptions
Else: Reflections on War …
A Peaceable Proposition … Sow Justice, Harvest Peace … The Reality and
Ramifications of Peak Oil … Crumbling Ideologies … Sliding Doors … The Bailout
Blues … Reporting Live …
that Yann Arthus-Bertrand has produced a great film titled Home. This film has stunning images by the famous photographer and
ecologist Yann Arthus-Bertrand. I
highly encourage everyone to watch this film.
It can be viewed at YouTube.com/homeproject. The message that this
film conveys is vitally important to the future well-being of humanity. Home
is everything I’d want a film project about the Earth Manifesto to be!
Dr. Tiffany B. Twain
Manifesto - The Film Version
Dr. Tiffany B.
March 21, 2008
This film script is being written to create a
compelling new way of advancing visionary perspectives and comprehensive progressive
ideas. I envision it as a kind of documentary
that contains Big Picture understandings of the world that are sensuously
evocative, intensely personal, yet distinctly universal.
main character, representing Dr. Tiffany Twain, will introduce each scene. Various people, female and male, will represent
Tiffany Twain throughout this film. As
such, Tiffany Twain will be an amalgam of people who stand for a universal
voice of ecological sanity, environmental and social justice, fairness, social nurturing,
positive vision, hope, peaceful coexistence, and intelligent planning for a sustainable
purpose of this film is to stimulate more expansive perspectives of economic,
social, spiritual, environmental and political issues. This hopefully will help spark valuable and
needed progressive change in the United States and the world.
principal character representing Tiffany Twain will be an attractive and
charismatic woman about 35-40 years old, like actress Jennifer Seibel. Other people will represent Twain in later
scenes, ideally including such personalities as Robert Redford, Bonnie Raitt,
Jane Fonda, Susan Sarandon, James Taylor, Peter Coyote, Leonardo di Caprio, Joan
Baez, Woody Harrelson, Yann Arthus-Bertrand, and Wes ‘Scoop’ Nisker, as
provisionally indicated below. These
celebrities will introduce scenes on screen, and will narrate voiceovers while
spectacular nature and wildlife action footage plays. Each scene will have visuals that explore different aspects of
the Earth and nature.
scenery/footage will be designed to interest, engage, and entertain the viewer
while the narrator presents ideas. A montage of photos from the extraordinary
book Earth From Above by Yann
Arthus-Bertrand would be great to use, or similar aerial photography of the
earth like the beautiful scenes in Discovery Channel’s 5-DVD ‘Planet Earth’.
will be cloud scenes, mountain scenes, tropical beach scenes, dramatic
sandstone erosion scenes, beautiful natural settings, awe-inspiring IMAX-like
footage, and slide shows of underwater coral reefs, fossils, glaciers calving
into bays, predators like lions and tigers stalking prey, and migratory birds.
the film will use footage and Philip Glass music from the “life-out-of-balance”
trilogy of Koyaanisquatsi, Powaqqstsi, and Anima Mundi.
Creative input is needed to find ways to present rich
visuals and awesome scenery that will keep viewers interested and attentive to
the topics being explored. Writing and
editing is required to make this whole scheme work, and to fit this document
into a 2 hour film.
Bible told tales of God and the Creation, ancestral genealogies, the Fall of
Man, salvation, the Great Flood, the crucifixion of Jesus, and prophesies of
the future. Geoffrey Chaucer told
pilgrim tales of great cultural and moral value in his Canterbury Tales. Richard Dawkins tells his own tales in The Ancestor’s Tale, exploring genetics,
DNA, the findings of molecular biologists, and the rendezvous-points at which
animals meet up as their ancestry is traced back along the branches of the tree
of life toward the beginning of life’s evolution.
tell the most modern tales that evolve as our understanding of the universe
improves. These are grand tales of the
creation of the universe, starting with a Big Bang, and of light traveling continuously
for billions of years, and of matter flinging outwards in an eons-long
expansion, and of the formation of our solar system and home planet, and of the
physical changes of the Earth’s surface due to tectonic movements in the
Earth’s crust, and of mountain building and erosion, and of the evolution of
Earth Manifesto tells tales that incorporate all of these tales, and
perspectives taken from these sources and many, many more. Check it out!
(Shoot location: Lover’s Leap in
Hannibal, Missouri, looking north along the Mississippi River. Casting: a thin, strikingly attractive young
woman, about 40 years of age, with an aura of youthful integrity.)
Hi, my name is Tiffany Twain. I am the author of the Earth Manifesto, a manuscript that I hope will have a dramatically
positive impact by helping to effect an economic and social transformation that
makes human societies healthier and more sustainable. Honest, comprehensive and far-sighted worldviews are needed to
help achieve this goal.
This film is a summary of the most important ideas
and understandings of the writings contained in an online treatise, the Earth Manifesto. It is the culmination of a project that has
been evolving for many years. The
urgency of its motivations greatly increased in the aftermath of the traumatic terrorist
attacks of September 11, 2001, and it has taken on even more urgency with the
developments of the severe economic crisis of 2008 and the increasingly obvious
shortcomings of our economic and political systems, and indeed of our conscious
Our home planet is a beautiful place, as everyone
can appreciate who spends time outdoors.
Open spaces and National Parks and wilderness areas are inspirational
and revitalizing to our spirit. It is a
great human accomplishment that we have made commitments to protecting such
areas for ourselves and future generations.
would like to introduce this film with a parable. This involves the story
Republic of Nauru is a small oval-shaped island in the Micronesian South
Pacific that lies northeast of Papua New Guinea, and just 26 miles south of the
equator. It is the smallest island
nation in the world, and the smallest independent republic.
The island of Nauru had rich resources of phosphate
rock, which is mined for use in fertilizers.
Phosphate is one of the three primary nutrients that plants need to
grow. When Nauru gained independence
from Australia in 1968, the native inhabitants began to receive the financial
benefits of phosphate mining for the first time. They became relatively rich virtually overnight, creating one of
the world's highest per capita incomes.
A kind of generous welfare state soon came into being.
Nauru phosphate was mined for about 100 years, with
most of it exported to Australia to enrich agricultural soils there. Nauru’s finite non-renewable phosphate resources
have now essentially been completely depleted, and 80% of the island has been
turned into a barren wasteland whose central plateau is a moonscape of deep
pits and tall rock pillars.
The government of Nauru took much of the income from
phosphate sales and invested it in secretive trust funds. Some of the trust fund investments went awry
and failed, and others have suffered heavy losses due to corruption and
swindles. Now there is 90% unemployment
on the island, and a very dreary outlook for the future. This is due to the republic’s dwindling
assets, few sources of income, and the environmental devastation of their
Nauru’s history provides a compelling and
illustrative, but decidedly non-illustrious, example of the colossal folly of
dominant paradigms of greed and shortsightedness in human endeavors. It makes us cogently aware of the reasons
that we must soon modify our behaviors and begin a radical redesign of our
economic and political systems.
experience sends a powerful message to business people and incumbent
politicians in America: we should NOT
be so closely mimicking the policies that Nauru pursued. We should NOT be aggressively exploiting
non-renewable resources, consuming unsustainably, allowing corruption in government,
causing environmental devastation, investing unwisely, establishing
unaffordably extravagant entitlements, and supporting incompetent leadership!
All of the nations of the world are acting in
similarly ill-advised manners, but on a far grander scale --- a global
one. Nauru should serve as a
“canary-in-a-coal-mine” kind of warning to us that we should not be acting so
The century of exploitative mining on Nauru not only
destroyed the native people's culture and their traditional way of life, but it
also took a curious physical toll on the native islanders themselves. The Nauruans were forced to import nearly
all of their food because of the island’s lack of soil and vegetation. The result of eating processed fatty foods
such as potato chips and canned meats, and drinking alcohol, has been an
increase in high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. These problems have led to a decrease in the
life expectancy of the islanders, which is less than 60 years.
is another fascinating aspect of Nauru:
its early history. Seafaring
Polynesian and Micronesian explorers first settled on the island in small
clans. They believed in a spirit land,
which was also an island. And they
believed in a female divinity, who they named Eijebong.
about this. One could speculated that
the rest of the world would be much better off to believe in, and fervently and
protectively worship a female divinity ...
one like Mother Earth, for example!
The parable of Nauru is a compelling cautionary
tale. It urges us to cultivate
foresight and take steps to avoid shortsighted planning and wasteful activities.
By the way, the source of phosphates in Nauru’s
8-square mile landmass was not fossiliferous sediments, as with most phosphate
deposits mined in the world. Instead,
it contained an accumulation over many centuries of decayed bird guano. This is messy poetic irony, indeed!
(This concludes Scene #1.)
Scene #2. (Shoot
location: On the north end of Rodeo
Beach, Marin Headlands, Marin County, CA, looking south at waves crashing on
the beach in the late afternoon.
Casting: Same gal as Scene # 1,
wearing an angelic semi-diaphanous Muse white blouse.)
Narrative --- with footage of Twain’s arrival by airplane at SFO, enthusiastic hugs,
a Smart Car transfer to Ft. Point views of the Golden Gate Bridge to the north,
then across the Bridge, Vista Point views of the Bay and San Francisco and
crowds of tourists, up Conzelman Road to the dramatic viewpoint from Hawk Hill,
panning around 360-degree views, and a descent to Rodeo Beach to focus on waves
crashing on the shore and surfers riding waves…)
The meditative Buddhist Dalai Lama once said, “In
order to accomplish important goals, we need an appreciation of the sense of
The philosophy of Buddhism insightfully recognizes
that change is inevitable, and that our best method of dealing with change is
to cultivate mindfulness and equanimity and peace in the face of
adversity. We have been lulled into
complacency with materialistic consumerism and our daily struggles to make a
living, and our busy activities whose goal is often to find purpose or
diversion in our lives.
Serious global trends are taking place due to
human activities. Resources are being
depleted, global warming gases are causing climate change, and our actions are
having severe impacts on the natural ecosystems upon which our lives and
livelihoods depend. The time has come
for us to be galvanized into action to mitigate the harm we are doing to the
prospects of all future generations and other forms of life. We would be wise to see that we share the
habitats of planet Earth with a diverse collection of other animals and plants,
and that we must recognize the importance of interrelationships and
interdependencies with them.
Chinese proverb says, “It is better to light a candle than to curse the
darkness!” This film represents a match
that is being lit to lead the way!
It is inevitable that conflicts in the world will
intensify as human numbers continue to grow.
Fossil fuels and other non-renewable natural resources will become more
scarce. It is becoming increasingly
clear that our exploitation of fertile soils, forests, fisheries and fresh
water resources is not sustainable.
This fact should make it an overarching priority for us to create fairer
and more sustainable systems that protect and conserve resources and calm
tensions and minimize antagonisms between people.
I believe that the most intelligent and effective
way to mitigate social conflicts would be to reduce the inequalities and
injustices in the world. It is becoming
increasingly important for us to find better ways to cooperate and create
binding international laws and institutions that serve to arbitrate conflicts
and prevent wars over land and resources.
Competing interests are widespread, but each must make concessions to
the greater good rather than selfishly acting in ways that damage or deplete
I feel strongly that we should undertake Big
Picture strategic initiatives to guide decision-making and address the
challenges facing us. The indispensable
criteria in all of our society’s policy considerations should be (1) to be
fairer to the maximum number of people; (2) to seek to modify all human
activities so that they are sustainable into the indefinite future; and (3) to act boldly to create incentives
and rules that will assure us of coexisting peacefully.
First, our economic and political systems must
essentially be redesigned to make them more fair because fairness is the
cornerstone of decency and democracy. Powerful
forces of greed and special privilege are dealing significant setbacks today to
fairness doctrines in the United States.
New initiatives must be developed and implemented to create greater
fairness rather than increased inequality in America and in other nations of the
Second, all of our laws and institutions must
incorporate elements that emphasize a sustainable nature for all activities. Long-term considerations must be given
greater influence than short-term ones.
The ultimate moral good is a consistency with the best interests of
human well-being, prosperity, and survival.
This makes it morally imperative that we leave a fair legacy to our
children, and theirs, and theirs into the indefinite future.
Third, we must find better ways to ensure peaceful
solutions to the growing conflicts in the world over resources and differing ideas
and beliefs. It is critically important
for the United States to alter its foreign policies to make them more just and
less domineering. New ways of ensuring
the successfully resolution of conflicts must be created and empowered without
resorting to aggression, war and military occupations.
(This concludes Scene # 2.)
Scene #3. (Shoot
location: Glacier Point with Half Dome
and Nevada Falls in the background. Pan
from an attractive 55 to 60-year old woman, like Bonnie Raitt, to high country
views to the north and east and south, and follow with footage of Earth From Above aerial views, or
wildlife nature scenes, as the rest of the ideas are narrated --- find creative
and effective ways to make this work).
Hi, I’m also Tiffany Twain.
Films have a great power
to affect people’s thoughts and emotions.
They provide fuller and deeper contexts of seeing things. They stimulate thought and allow viewers to understand
things in new ways. Our perceptions are
strongly influenced by our beliefs, so it is valuable to be exposed to broader ideas
and more accurate perspectives.
This film is being made
for a wider purpose than to merely entertain or divert. It is meant to be a journey of exploration
and understanding. Critical thinking is
valuable. It improves our perspective, and
it also reveals misrepresentations and logical fallacies and distortions in the
words and actions of those who influence us, such as politicians and television
Ideas are important. Ideologies like communism, fascism, laissez-faire capitalism, and
neoconservatism have had profound impacts on humanity in the last century. They have been responsible for wars and
genocides, as well as making valuable contributions to society. New ideas must now be cultivated to remedy
the failings and harmful legacies of these ideologies. We simply must find ways of living in the
world that promise a more salubrious destiny for the human race.
All great issues are inextricably
intertwined. Complexity abounds. Confusion is widespread. Under the cover of such uncertainties, greedy
motivations and deceptive manipulations easily trump clarity of understanding
and sensible policy-making.
My theory is that if we
enlarge our visions and cultivate a more spiritual consciousness, we will
develop perspectives that are guided by healthier ecological, aesthetic, and ethical
concerns. This will help us in a
revolutionary effort to redesign our societies so that they are more wholesome,
and reduce our compulsion to materialism and narrow selfishness.
The late author, John
Fowles, provides compelling observations in his book, The Aristos. He notes that
we all face powerful social pressures to conform. The healthiest societies are those where every person develops a
self-made opinion on all issues that concern us. It is one of our fundamental human birthrights to be able to consider
objectively and to express opinions freely.
Such freedoms are vital for healthy self-understanding, and they are
also important requisites for a healthier democracy.
More than 40 years have
passed since the first edition of Fowles’ book. During this period, influences that manipulate and mislead people
have significantly multiplied. Increasingly
aggressive consumer advertising, for instance, strongly affects our consumption
habits and makes us feel that we need more and more things.
Our thoughts and
personal drives are also strongly affected by social prejudices, stimulated
fears, religious dogmas, and deceptive political spin. These influences contain biases that must be
balanced with clearer thinking, more independent understandings, and better
Jared Diamond is a
professor who wrote a book entitled Collapse,
How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. In this book, the author reveals his findings from a study of many
civilizations that have thrived and collapsed over the long course of history. He concludes that to prosper and survive humanity
must pay particular attention to long-term thinking and planning. He says that we must be more successful in anticipating
the unintended impacts of our activities.
He further indicates that we must be willing to flexible enough to reconsider
core values that once served society well, when a time comes that those values become
detrimental due to changing circumstances or deteriorating environmental
The economic status quo
in the last century has been characterized by a worldwide obsession with GROWTH
at any cost. This was practicable as
long as there were frontiers, available lands, vast forests, seemingly
limitless stocks of fish, a cornucopia of natural resources, and plenty of
fresh water, unpolluted air, and places to dump wastes. Today, however, such ecological buffers are
We live at an
extraordinary time in history.
Democratic capitalism, free enterprise, technological innovation, and an
abundance of fossil fuels and other natural resources have allowed the human
race to feed and educate billions of people, create enormous wealth, and build
great civilizations. They have
contributed to improvements in sanitation and public health, and to the
significant lengthening of life spans.
They have helped improve the quality of life for hundreds of millions. They have enlarged the range of human needs
and desires. And they have helped to
provide political freedom to more people than ever before.
accomplishments have come at a profound and largely yet-to-be realized
cost. Every living system on Earth is
in decline. The planet’s rainforests
are being rapidly destroyed. Americans
have harvested more than 95% of the ancient forests in the continental United
States. Fisheries in oceans worldwide
are being wastefully and unsustainably depleted. Wetlands and coral reefs are being decimated. Wildlife habitats are being harmed. Billions of tons of fertile topsoil are lost
each year across the planet. More than
20 billion gallons of fresh water are used from aquifers in excess of the
amount that is replenished annually by rainfall. We have used half of all known reserves of oil, and our demand
for this non-renewable resource is increasing.
Billions of tons of greenhouse gases are being spewed into the
atmosphere annually, contributing to global warming and ominous climate
changes. There are more than 400
nuclear power plants in 25 different countries, and all of them generate
high-level nuclear wastes that will be dangerously radioactive for thousands of
We are essentially
damaging and upsetting the healthy balance of nature upon which we depend. This is a truly unprecedented development. We have used more natural resources in the
last 50 years than in ALL of previous human history.
The population of human
beings on Earth has more than doubled from 3 billion to 6.7 billion in the last
50 years. Our population is on track to
increase to 9 billion by the year 2050.
Overpopulation is one of the biggest contributors to social and
environmental problems, and yet many politicians and religious leaders oppose
even the most sensible of birth control measures.
A cogent argument can be
made that many of the best qualities of life are enjoyed when
the crowd is the least. For instance,
spirituality, introspection, privacy, peace, solitude, simplicity, wilderness,
and creativity thrive in the absence of crowds.
Consider all of these
conditions together. It becomes obvious
that a revolutionary transformation must be made in our societies. We can no longer afford to exploit resources
and the natural world with such blithe and shortsighted abandon. Whether intentional or inadvertent, we
simply cannot continue to allow people and businesses to consume resources in
ways that deplete them rapidly and destroy the vital ecosystems of the Earth
and threaten a healthy diversity of life forms.
The best idea is for us
to redesign our economies so that the aggregate daily choices of all people on
Earth automatically result in RESTORATIVE impacts on the ecosystems found in
Nature, instead of destructive impacts.
Bold incentives and disincentives that are focused on actualizing the
greater good are the most effective and freedom-consistent means to achieve
As author Paul Hawken
has written, “We must design a system … where doing good is like falling off a
log, where the natural, everyday acts of work and life accumulate into a better
world as a matter of course, not a matter of conscious altruism.”
It is becoming increasingly
irrational to encourage activities that waste, damage, deplete, and pollute the
land, the atmosphere, rivers systems, wetlands, and the oceans. Business-as-usual practices and ideological
orthodoxy are seriously compromising our future. Orthodox ideas tend to entrench themselves long past the point
that they are utilitarian, and well into a new era where they become clearly
detrimental and costly. We must adapt
more intelligently to rapid demographic and technological changes that are
occurring in our societies.
We each can make a
difference. As Margaret Mead once said,
“Never doubt that a small group
of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Young people have a much
greater stake in a healthy world than older people, who are relative
short-timers. For this reason, I hope
that young people will begin to recognize the compelling truth, and to passionately
embrace these ideas. High schools and
collages are great laboratories of fermenting ideas. I hope that this film and the Earth
Manifesto will be studied and debated in such educational institutions to
contribute to these causes.
People have great power
to foster progressive ideas. It is a blessed
unrest that drives grassroots efforts to accomplish important goals like
protecting local environments, saving open spaces, creating fairer and
healthier communities, and influencing the government to end wars.
A respectful appreciation
for the beauty and bounty of Nature is our greatest asset in the struggle to
protect it. Our recognition that we are
inter-dependent and inter-connected with natural systems and other forms of
life on Earth is a critical leap in our efforts to ensure that we prosper and
are needed in our economies, our fiscal policies, our social institutions, our
political systems, and our environmental impacts. To achieve such revolutionary change, a sustainable movement is
required. This movement must embrace
hopeful, broad-minded, and positive visions that are focused on fostering the
The entertaining author
Tom Robbins once wrote, “A better world has gotta start somewhere. Why not with you and me?” Let us find the resolve to clearly decide, commit,
and act. As Goethe said, “Boldness has
genius, power, and magic in it.” Let’s
Scene #4. (Shoot location: Point Lobos. Pan around scenery from coves, forest, sea otters, whale museum,
lapping waves, birds, and sea lions.
Casting: Leonardo Di
Caprio. Footage: birds in motion, like
in the film, Winged Migration).
Hi, I am also Tiffany Twain. I am standing at the base of tall California
redwoods that lie within a dozen miles of San Francisco, California. It is truly wonderful that Americans have
been able to protect as much public land as we have. Such lands are vital to our quality of life. It may even be that our willingness to
protect public lands against the powerful forces of development and
exploitation is a sign of wisdom that is crucial in ensuring our long-term
The pressure to figuratively pave everything over
will mount as our human numbers increase here in the 21st
Century. This makes it imperative that
we strengthen our will to protect the integrity and balance of the natural
(Voiceover Narrative:) You are watching a new kind of documentary film. It essentially represents an Earth advocacy
and human sanity campaign.
Hope is a powerful force. It is psychologically valuable to look at
life from the perspective that the proverbial glass is half-full, rather than
being half-empty. Yet it is becoming
apparent that there are leaks in the glass, and many people are chipping away
at the vessel. I feel that it is best
to be optimistic, and yet to be realistic and pragmatic at the same time. I believe in enthusiasm and passionate
caring about important causes.
I have a Grand Vision. Martin Luther King would have called it a dream. It is an achievable one. It requires a significant shift in dominant
paradigms, and an openness to alternate senses of reality, and a dedication to
positive action and revolutionary reform.
In short, my vision is this: we should strive more courageously to make
the world a better place for people, our communities, our societies, and our
species as a whole. And we must
simultaneously mitigate the extent to which we harm the hopes of future
generations and diminish their probability of being able to lead lives of
prosperity and wholesomeness.
A study called the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
was completed in 2005. More than a
thousand experts in 95 countries spent four years compiling the findings of
this study. The Assessment reports that
the human race is unsustainably consuming natural resources, and that we are
significantly degrading the ecosystems upon which we depend.
This report confirms that we must change our ways and adopt common sense
strategies and bold new methods to protect the vitality of our environment and
the future prospects of life on Earth.
Human well-being is derived directly from the
health of natural systems. The Earth’s
biological support systems consist of a vast network of interdependent systems
and habitats upon which we entirely rely for our sustenance and survival. We depend on the natural world’s beneficial
soils, streams, aquifers, wetlands, forests, oceans, and mineral resources. We rely on them for our food, fresh water,
energy, building materials, flood protection, and even the air we breathe. Our societies simply must make more profound
commitments to protecting these vital resources!
Chief Seattle, an Indian leader in the Pacific
Northwest, warned the U.S. government in 1854 against the misuse of land,
water, air, and animal life. He said,
and I quote, “Whatever happens to the Earth, happens to the children of the
Earth … All things are connected, like the blood that unites one family. Mankind did not weave the web of life; we are but one strand within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to
We must honor the wisdom of these words, and of
other far-sighted prophets and philosophers who have gone before us. The great French researcher, explorer,
ecologist, and filmmaker Jacques-Yves Cousteau is one of these people. He summarized our obligations best when he
said: “Each generation, sharing in the heritage of the Earth, has a duty as
trustee for future generations to prevent irreversible and irreparable harm to
life on Earth and to human freedom and dignity.”
These ideas are simply common sense. Of course we must protect our children, and
the world in which they will live!
Consider, again, the
legacy that we are leaving to our children and grandchildren. We are wastefully using up non-renewable
resources at an immoderate and unprecedented rate. We are degrading the global environment with pollution, wastes,
toxins, and greenhouse gases. We are
diminishing biodiversity by harming wildlife habitats worldwide. We are pawning the assets critical to future
needs by indulging in irresponsible deficit spending. And we are allowing narrow vested interests to make our societies
more and more unfair, and less representative.
We are essentially
fleecing the future. Our collective
activities could scarcely be less right.
Morality is concerned
with the judgment of what is “good” and “bad” in human action and
character. In its origins, morality
consists of those things that are considered essential to the health and
preservation of a social group. It
turns out that, like Einstein’s relativity, right and wrong can be seen to be
relative. They depend on circumstances
and context and frames of reference.
What is right morally
should not be a function of theology or fear;
it should be a function of sociology.
What is right depends on the common good and the well-being of future
generations. It is our social
responsibility to take into account future generations in all our
Unfortunately, it seems to be human nature that a
crisis is often required -- an injurious accident, or a disease, or a job loss,
or a calamitous relationship conflict -- before we open ourselves to
alternative ways of looking at things, and before we wholeheartedly embrace
changes in our behaviors. A crisis
causes us to broaden and deepen our perspective, and to reexamine our lives,
our beliefs, and our actions.
Collectively, the human race is now faced with a
“Catch-22” of our own natures in confronting change. A disaster like 9/11 or the Katrina impact on New Orleans is
often needed as a catalyst to provoke us into rethinking our behaviors and
making positive changes. Yet the catch
is that the best way to avoid or mitigate such calamitous crises in the first
place would be to plan ahead with better foresight. To prevent calamities, we must prepare better and proactively
make significant changes in our institutions and our societies.
The dominant economic and political powers in the
world today seem to be working overtime to circumvent initiatives that
would help us deal effectively with the challenges facing us. They do this to maintain power and
control. They also do this to enrich
themselves, and to give special favors to cronies, wealthy people, and giant
corporations. It is our obligation as
citizens to find ways to curtail the power and greed of our politicians and
To make the world a safer, saner and more livable
place, profound economic, social and political change is required. Let’s treat these ideas as a new gospel!
We need a proper balance between idealism and
pragmatism. We need policies that are
more independent of doctrinaire interests.
The old paradigms, and stubborn dogmas, and the bitter loyalty to
failing doctrines must be abandoned in favor of more reasonable and logical
The best way out of this dilemma is to embrace
visionary thinking. A close examination
of the drives that lead to war, for instance, reveals that injustices are a
primary cause of conflicts. We should
cultivate better understanding of the economic and psychological elements that
drive terrorism and aggressive militarism in reaction.
The United States of America represents ideals
of freedom, opportunity, self-determination and strong human rights to the world. There are stunning contradictions,
unfortunately, between our nation’s words and actual deeds. Our ideals and the avowed goodness of our
intentions are too often betrayed by human rights violations perpetrated by the
“authority juggernaut” of the U.S. government.
We demonstrate many manifestations of being a “rogue nation”, including
serious instances of power abuse, violations of international rules of law, and
foreign interventionism. We support
dictatorships like those in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Scene #5. (Slideshow of
sandstone formations in Zion National Park, Grand Canyon, Bryce, Arches, Canyonlands,
and the like … Casting: Personage like Yann Arthus-Bertrand. Footage: tbd.)
Hi, Tiffany Twain here
The Sirens of Homer’s Odyssey were enchantresses whose honeyed and haunting voices
bewitched mariners and lured them to destruction on their island. My fellow Americans, and all inhabitants on
Earth, we must find ways to resist the alluring temptation of the voices of
authority in our capitalist societies.
These modern-day sirens lure us with deceptive guile; they encourage us to accept their policies,
which are all too frequently characterized by actions that are unsustainable,
wasteful, consumption-oriented, fiscally irresponsible, socially unfair,
environmentally destructive, myopic, and militaristic.
These seductive voices
urge us to oppose progressive change at a time when the most rational long-term
understandings clearly support bold actions to transform our societies into
ones that are more fair, more sustainable, and more peaceful. The so-called Conservative elements of our
society foolishly support doctrines that promote, champion, rationalize, and
defend the Status Quo. They oppose
change -- or even worse -- they doggedly strive to roll back progressive
accomplishments achieved in the last century!
Good solutions are still
manageable. But it is dangerously
unwise to allow problems to become so exacerbated, from lack of foresight, that
they become intractable and extraordinarily disruptive to remedy. It is prudent to address serious problems
SOONER rather than LATER!
As British author H.G.
Wells wrote in 1920, "Human history becomes more and more a race between
education and catastrophe." These
words are even more relevant today. A politically aroused
citizenry must demand policies that are the best for our communities and the
national good, as well as for humanity and the environment!
Another of professor
Jared Diamond insights is that social risk is heightened when decision-making
elites are insulated from the consequences of their actions. In other words, in societies where the rich
and powerful are insulated from the consequences of their decisions, they are
more likely to pursue socially risky and irresponsibly selfish short-term
interests. This is highly negative for
the best long-term interests of society.
In America today, political
and social elites are insulated from the impacts of their activities in many
ways. They live in gated communities. They drink bottled water. They have better access to healthcare. They often send their children to private
schools. They are better able than the
poor to avoid crime and many health risks.
Their children have better job prospects, so they are rarely forced to
risk their lives by enlisting in the military.
Money allows them greater security, variety, and opportunity.
To improve our
societies, we must transform our institutions so that (1) they do the right
things, which is to say, to do things that benefit the greatest number of
people over the longest term, while causing the least amount of harm; and (2) they
do things right, which is to say effectively, efficiently and sensibly.
Dante Alighieri, who
wrote his masterpiece, The Divine Comedy, about 700 years ago, noted that “the
hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral
crises, maintain their neutrality.” To
tell the truth, I don’t know much about Hell.
But, humanity definitely is facing great moral crises today. And these are NOT just hot-button social
issues such as sexual abstinence and contraception and abortion and gay rights
and national flags and religious orthodoxy.
No, these are far more
serious problems, ones that contain greater global risks than ever before in
the history of civilization. Human
activities are threatening the world with the inexorable depletion of the planet’s
finite resources. We are degrading the environment. We are causing serious social and
environmental injustices. We are
creating greater vulnerabilities to man-made and natural disasters. Poverty and malnutrition persist on a
massive scale. Violence against
civilians and conflicts between religious extremists are becoming more
These challenges make it
crucial that we more clearly focus our priorities and energies. We should invest in progressive strategic
objectives, such as sustainable resource usages and the development of
renewable energy sources. Stronger
environmental protections must be established and enforced. And initiatives and institutions that stress
peaceful conflict resolution must be supported to settle all issues that relate
to the control of territory, markets, natural resources, and fossil fuels.
Fears and insecurities
tend to distract our attention from these problems. They serve to justify the diversion of our energies, money, and resources
from bold undertakings that should be underway to fix these problems.
Positive changes must be
adopted soon to deal squarely with the rapid changes that are taking place in
our societies. The longer we delay in
enacting initiatives to tackle these problems, the more difficult it will be
for us to succeed in developing fair, sustainable and peaceful
Humanity is arguably
treating our venerable Mother Earth like a business in liquidation. Instead of living off her renewable income,
we are squandering her capital resources.
Instead of safeguarding her
assets, we allow greedy interests to sell them off, turning them into cash as
soon as they can. Instead of investing in her biological health, we are
harming her ecosystems and mercilessly hunting her
wildlife worldwide. We are damaging her
habitats by spewing pollutants into her rivers, oceans, and atmosphere. We are stimulating her exploitation by means
of enormous borrowings and reduced protections. We are subsidizing road-building in National Forests, contributing
to watershed damages. We are
inadvertently driving many species of life to extinction.
Some say that we are
treating Mother Earth like a prostitute.
We are pimping her services at every opportunity. We are objectifying her, selling her virtues,
making her gaudy with development, exploiting her wilds, and showing a lack of
concern for her well-being. We are
desecrating her charms, violating her pristine qualities, and taking advantage
of her passivity and vulnerabilities.
We are, in summary plundering and ruining our home planet. Our motto seems to be like the recent bumper
sticker says: “EARTH FIRST! -- We can screw up the other planets later!”
We simply must become
far more responsible in our stewardship of resources. Environmental concerns are not some mere luxury; in truth they are a fundamental basis for healthy
economies and the well-being of our societies.
Deep ecologists tell us that we must find ways to better protect natural
To be more prudent in
our collective activities, we should champion better and more affordable public
education. Resources must be used more
conservatively. Investments must be
made in American infrastructure and urban renewal and SMART GROWTH. Suburban sprawl must be contained and
discouraged. The size of government and
the military must be reduced. Cronyism,
greed, corruption, abuses of power, profligate spending, deficit financing,
waste and other short-term-oriented policies must be controlled.
The marketing of good
ideas, intelligent planning, conservation, and fairer social priorities must
gain ascendance over the marketing of consumerism, stimulated desires,
regressive social programs, and wars of aggression.
Perhaps it is not so surprising that our
governmental policies are characterized by hypocrisy, deception, chicanery, and
superpower aggression. Greed and
self-interest are, after all, the ideological basis of motivation in capitalist
societies. Nonetheless, we must act to
mitigate such negative influences!
leaders must be elected who act in the best interests of the general
well-being, not just the best short-term interests of rich people, giant
corporations, incumbent politicians, and right-wing religious
Our political system
encourages wrong-headed policies by giving lobbyists great easy to the halls of
power. The result is that our federal government
is not adequately accountable to the people.
Institutionalized bribery and the peddling of influence severely damage
our democracy. Voters do not have as
much influence as big money campaign donors.
And there is unfair representation in our elections for the interests of
women, children, minorities and future generations.
There are proven ways to
help fix this state of affairs, and to radically reform our political system to
force politicians to truly represent government of the people, by the
people, and for the people.
One way is to implement
CLEAN CAMPAIGNS and CLEAN MONEY initiatives.
This involves public financing of election campaigns. The states of Arizona and Maine have
implemented such initiatives. Studies
show that this increases fairness and the participation of minorities. In the long run, Clean Money campaigns are advantageous
to society because they are much less expensive than allowing lobbyists to gain
billions of taxpayer dollars in subsidies, tax breaks, new entitlements and
no-bid contracts in return for their political contributions. We would be wise to enact Clean Money
initiatives in ALL State legislatures, as well as in federal elections!
As Bill Moyers has said:
“The soul of democracy -- the essence of the word itself -- is government of,
by, and for the people. At the core of
politics, the soul of democracy has been dying, drowning in a rising tide of
big money contributed by a narrow, unrepresentative elite that has betrayed the
faith of citizens in self-government.”
Let’s “man the life
rafts” of revolutionary change!
#5. At the two giant redwoods half-way
down Steep Ravine trail in Marin County, California. Follow with footage of vast forests in Alaska, followed by
penguins trekking to breeding grounds in Antarctica, or whatever. Casting:
tbd. Footage: tbd.)
Hi, Tiffany Twain here again.
Today I want to talk
about the insidious increase in UNFAIRNESS in the world. This state of affairs is distinctly contrary
to the defining principles of democracy.
John Fowles provides the
insight that inequality in our personal lives can be measured by the competing
conceptual states of HAPPINESS and ENVY.
Happiness is essentially the desire to keep things just the way they
are. Envy is essentially the desire to
Almost all social and
political conflicts take place between the party of happiness and the party of
envy. Consider this from the
perspective of evolutionary forces. Envy
is the chief source of progress. Happiness
is the chief obstacle to progress.
The party of happiness is
right in maintaining that society should allow individuals a maximum of freedom
to pursue happiness. The party of envy is
right in maintaining that society should allow everyone equal access to
opportunity and to the chief sources of happiness.
Think about this! The party of happiness wants unlimited
freedom, and the party of envy wants equal opportunity. A fair compromise must be chosen!
There is a continually
shifting balance between these competing interests. This determines the course and character of our human societies. Unfortunately, Big Money unfairly affects the
political struggle between these two forces.
Money skews public policy in favor of the Status Quo and the jealously
aggressive party that favors maintaining the Status Quo.
The ethical essence of
morality and fairness is embodied by the Golden Rule. This wisdom holds that we should treat others the way we,
ourselves, would like to be treated. Golden
Rule fairness should be used as a fundamental premise for all of our laws. It should respect all people in our
communities, as well as those in future generations. Every piece of legislation that Congress passes should incorporate
Human societies are
always unjust, to a greater or lesser extent.
But income inequality should be mitigated in our societies. History shows that peace and social
stability have been much better served when the disparity between the wealthy
and the majority is mitigated, not exacerbated.
It is the death knell of
democracy to allow the ever-increasing concentration of wealth and power in the
hands of the few. Yet today the
economic disparities between the rich and the poor are growing dramatically. This trend was kicked into high gear by the trickle-down
theory of the Reagan Revolution, which has resulted in policy changes that are
causing wealth to gush up to the richest of Americans.
Ronald Reagan vastly
enriched the wealthy by reducing the marginal tax rate on the highest incomes
from 70% to 35%. This inequality is
increasing today under Republican policies that borrow great sums of money from
the future to give tax breaks to rich people today. The gradual elimination of Inheritance Taxes is an additional
ploy that strives to make wealth and special privilege a permanent status.
leads to greater economic insecurity of the majority of Americans. This is the epitome of unfairness!
It is outrageous not to
require the super rich to pay a significantly higher share of their income than
those in the middle class. The share of
taxes that the super rich pay has declined dramatically in the past 25 years. This effectively shifts the burden of paying
taxes to everyone else, and to people in the future by means of deficit
people earn incomes that put their families below the poverty level. Thirteen million children live in
poverty. Four million people experience
homelessness in any given year. Housing
is becoming less affordable as real estate speculation stimulates demand. There
are more than 45 million people without health insurance. Education and opportunity are clearly not
fairly available to all.
The main reason that
rich people’s fortunes have increased so much in the past 25 years is that a
constant stream of new policies have been put into place that primarily benefit
the wealthy. Legislation is unfair and
regressive when it creates an ever-widening gap between the privileges and
fortunes of the Haves and those of the Have-Nots.
Rich people have essentially
been getting away with practically treasonous favoritism from politicians. The rich must accept and support more
egalitarian initiatives. After all, progressive tax changes have negligible
impacts on the quality of lives of multi-millionaires,
while such positive changes can make a dramatic difference to people who live
hand-to-mouth. This perspective makes
it seem astonishingly cold-hearted for the rich to press their advantages so
intently and so continuously.
The wealthy must
understand this message loud and clear:
they are damn lucky, financially --- and they should be thankful that
the lagging middle class and the poor are not fomenting a revolution to take
away all of their assets!
The American economist
John Kenneth Galbraith once observed, “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in
moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for
Let’s not get mad; let’s get even, as they say. Let find ways to take back our government
from vested interests, and begin enacting more fair and progressive tax laws!
The sagacious lawmaker
Solon has been called “the father of democracy”. He reformed draconian Greek laws in 594 B.C. by implementing
reforms that made Athenian society more fair.
The rich were not happy about it, but eventually they recognized that his
reforms were a fair price to pay to be allowed to maintain their privileges. Solon’s initiatives wisely included higher
progressive taxes on the wealthy.
One might suppose that some
of our society’s policies are truly fair.
Let’s pick one of the biggest benefits, and examine it. Let’s take the $70 billion-per-year mortgage
interest deduction. Who gets that
benefit? ... Oh -- I’ll be darned; the people with the top 5% of incomes get
54% of that subsidy.
I feel strongly that our
society would be better served by targeting benefits to the middle and lower
classes, rather than to rich real estate speculators. This could be done by creating more affordable housing, and by
providing incentives to first-time homeowners instead of to people who own
Here’s an idea that
would radically increase social fairness:
Let’s gave every taxpayer an increase of $2,500 in the standard
deduction on his or her individual tax return.
Such a policy could be financed by limiting the Inheritance Tax
exclusion to a reasonable amount, say a generous $5 million per family, and by
revising the Tax Tables to be more progressive, with higher rates assessed on
Fairness brings less
strife than unfairness. A greater
commitment to social fairness would mitigate conflicts and antagonisms between
people, whether they are rich or poor, men or women, privileged or
underprivileged, black or white, gay or straight, Christian or Muslim, or
Fairness is the ultimate
requisite of decency. It is one of the
most important aspects of moral right action.
Yet it has been under assault in recent years along with such values as
truth, reason, logic, and honesty.
The fact of the matter
is that the conflict between wealth and morality is practically as old as the
hills. The Bible, and the Koran, and
most of mankind’s holy books assail abuses of wealth and power. We need to make a new commitment to these
How can Americans be
galvanized into supporting greater fairness and more intelligent planning?
A healthier democracy
must start with well-informed understandings.
A radical transformation is arguably needed in our activities and
economies in order to achieve a fair and sustainable future.
Let us pay heed to Shakespeare’s Hamlet from this
“To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing
The best way to take arms against the surging sea
of troubles facing humankind is to boldly demand revolutionary changes in our
societies and institutions. They must
be redesigned to be flexible, adaptable, fair, and better prepared. We must use foresight --- not
shortsightedness --- and not stubbornness --- to face the challenges of the
We require, in short, a new form of intelligent
Scene #6. (Shoot
location: Yellowstone National Park
geysers, rivers, mountains, forest, rainbows, rivers, caldera exhibit
explanation, steaming pools, etc.
Casting: tbd. Footage: tbd.)
A Seventeenth Century French scientist, Blaise Pascal,
formulated ideas that came to be known as the famous “Bet Situation”. The Bet Situation is a philosophical debate
that has profound practical implications regarding probabilities and the
future. We are all confronted with the
Bet Situation because (1) there are uncertainties, and (2) we are inextricably
involved in the game. Both actions and
inactions are choices, so we make choices whether or not we are consciously
aware of it. It is crucial that we make
better informed decisions about our best courses of action.
We essentially gamble every time we choose one
course of action over another. We
obviously are best served by putting our wagers on the optimum outcomes. It is only common sense that we bet with the
best odds and the greatest probabilities.
We are collectively making a significant number of
bets and Big Picture choices. Let’s
explore some of these now, because we can gain valuable insight by doing so.
For one thing, we can gamble that natural
resources on Earth are inexhaustible.
Or we can bet that it would be wiser to use them less wastefully, and
spare some for future generations.
We can gamble that resource limitations do not
matter because technology will find replacements for resources we deplete. Or we can bet that it is safer to take a “no-regrets”
approach by moderating our demands and choosing to conserve and protect wetlands,
ocean fisheries, coastal areas, arable lands, fresh water resources, rainforests
and old-growth temperate forests.
We can gamble that we are not assaulting
biodiversity in ways that are so injudicious that they threaten our own
eventual human well-being. Or we can
bet that we are, and we can commit our societies to policies that protect
endangered species and wildlife habitats to ensure that most other forms of
life on Earth survive this century.
We can gamble that laissez-faire capitalism and
endlessly increasing consumption are the best for the robustness and health of
the economy. Or we can bet that
intelligent incentives and disincentives and sensible regulations designed to
moderate waste and consumption are necessary for a sustainable future.
We can continue to gamble that the distorted
market doctrine of Crony Capitalism is the best economic system, and defend and
protect it, allowing Big Business to prosper at the expense of society and the
environment. Or we can bet that a
transformation to Green Capitalism must be facilitated, and begin to enact bold
and intelligent initiatives that channel our collective activities into more
wholesome directions to help create healthier societies and a safer world for
ourselves and our children.
We can gamble that unmitigated social injustices
and policies facilitating the further concentration of wealth in the hands of a
few are not a threat to social stability and societal well-being. Or we can bet that the safest and wisest
investments of all are in fairness, equality of opportunity, social justice,
and peaceful coexistence.
We can gamble that enabling the rich to become
richer, while the poor become poorer and more disenfranchised, will not result
in more unstable societies, greater ignorance, heightened insecurity, greater
crime, or revolution. Or we can bet
that it might, and enact more progressive and socially fair policies.
We can continue to gamble that aggressive American
militarism is necessary to achieve our economic goals and national
security. Or we can bet that it is
wiser to recognize the importance of justice and peace in the world, and work
to achieve greater safety and humanitarianism through the cultivation of
justice and diplomatic conflict resolution.
We can gamble that the valiant race to produce
more and more food to feed inexorably increasing human numbers can be won by
continuing to advance Industrial Agricultural practices, employing massive
mechanization, crop and forest monocultures, fertilizers, herbicides,
pesticides, and antibiotics and hormones in meat and milk production. Or we can begin to support local
agriculture, organic farming, and zero population growth programs worldwide,
making contraceptive forms of birth control readily available, and educating
and empowering women.
We can gamble that opposition to family planning
programs worldwide is a moral imperative and a good idea. Or we can bet that supporting them is wise,
completely compassionate, and quite necessary, and eliminate the Global Gag
Rule and restore funding to the United Nations Population Fund.
We can gamble that spewing billions of tons of
carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually will not contribute to global
warming, climate change, and severe ecosystem disruption. Or we can bet that we must begin to aggressively
adopt efficient and conservation-oriented energy policies, and seek fossil fuel
alternatives, as well as innovative ways to sequester man-made carbon dioxide
We can gamble that our individual actions are so
insignificant that it makes no difference what we do. Or we can bet that dramatic change is possible through the
aggregation of caring individual choices, and act to make a difference by supporting
positive progressive change.
We can gamble that the Stern Father constellation
of beliefs are the best, and conform to the Status Quo by following the regressive
doctrines of neoconservatism. Or we can
bet that a renewed respect for the progressive Nurturing Mother constellation
of values would create fairer and better balanced public policies.
We can gamble that there is a life hereafter,
after our personal death, and fail to maximize our authenticity, our happiness,
our potentials in this life, and our appreciation of existence, of deeper
purposes, and of truer causes. Or we
can bet that the Here and Now mandates our recognition that it is this life
alone that can be known, and that no body survives death, so that we should
seek to achieve a more noble connectedness to the wholesome and the worthwhile
in the Present.
As you may easily surmise, my perspective is that
the best bet we can make is to support far-sighted progressive ideas, ones that
take into account the whole comprehensive breadth of human knowledge. Scientific understandings must be honored.
We must restructure human activities in harmony
with the long-term viability of our species’ survival. We must create societies that are more
egalitarian, and more truly just. They
must be environmentally concerned, conservation-oriented, fiscally sound,
socially tolerant, women-respecting, honest, less violent, less corrupt, and
Let’s remember the
poetic truth of Dr. Seuss’ book The
Lorax. Dr. Seuss wrote and
illustrated more than 50 children's books in his lifetime. The
Lorax, published in 1971, was a cautionary tale of greed and environmental
destruction. The character named the
Lorax tries to save the Truffula Tree forest and its inhabitants from the
Once-ler, a cantankerous exploiter.
The Lorax said nothing. Just gave me a glance
just gave me a very sad, sad backward glance ...
as he lifted himself by the seat of his pants.
And I'll never forget the grim look on his face
when he heisted himself up, and took leave of this place,
through a hole in the smog, without leaving a trace.
And all that the Lorax left here in this mess
was a small pile of rocks, with the one word ... "UNLESS."
Whatever that meant, well, I just couldn't guess.
That was long, long ago.
But each day since that day
I've sat here and worried, and worried away.
Through the years, while my buildings have fallen apart,
I've worried about it, with all of my heart.
"But now," says the Once-ler,
"Now that you're here,
the word of the Lorax seems perfectly clear.
UNLESS someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.
(This concludes Scene 6.)
Scene #7. (Shoot
location: On a bluff, a quarter mile north
of Rodeo Beach in Marin County, California, on a clear, sunny day, looking
north towards Tennessee Cove and Muir Beach and Bolinas Point. Casting:
social activist like actor Woody Harrelson. Slide show of handsome children’s faces from around the world.)
Hi, I am also Tiffany Twain. I love fresh air, and beautiful views like this! Look at those twin hills just to the north
along the coast. If it were not for the
severe erosion that is altering the shape of one of the breast-shaped hills as
its rock slowly erodes into the sea, they would form a curiously breasticulated
aspect to the landscape.
I love life, and I love creativity and good books,
and nurturing relationships, and enthusiastic socializing, and engaging
conversations, and respectful interactions, and invigorating rapport, and compelling
music, and satisfying food, and pleasing beverages, and philosophical
understandings, and spiritual expansiveness.
I must admit that I’ve had very good fortune in my
life. Good fortune, it seems to me, should
be a cause for being generous of heart and empathetic in attitude towards
others. It should inspire us towards
humanitarian caring. It should make us
more open to social fairness. It should
give us reason to be strongly supportive of people and institutions that help provide
for those who are extremely unfortunate, or in desperate need. And it should be more willing than others
who cannot afford it to help ensure that our civilizations do not leave a
legacy to future generations of depleted resources, damaged ecosystems, fouled
air and water, and high levels of debt.
Good fortune and wealth should lead us towards
civic responsibility, not towards selfishness, stinginess, jealousy,
bitterness, or aggressive efforts to further exploit special advantages. Other people should be given fair opportunities
to lead decent lives. Let us imagine a
better world together -- “it’s easy if you try”, as John Lennon sang. And let us strive to actualize this better
(Voiceover Narrative with Koyaanisquatsi-like
The ruinous error of the
current approach of our businesses and government is that it gives shortsighted
economic principles a dominating influence, while ignoring or even denigrating
important social principles. Worse
still, vital ecological principles are neither widely appreciated nor adequately
The great deficiency of
government has always been the sacrificing of the public good to the private
greed of small ruling groups. "Strange as it may seem," said Josiah
Quincy in 1774, "what the many, through successive ages, have desired and
sought, the few have found means to baffle and defeat."
Our economic and
political systems are essentially broken, as we see, because giant corporations
and wealthy people have far too much power.
They abuse this power by unfairly influencing our government to preserve
their own selfish benefits at the expense of the health of the public and the environment.
Consider this: a study
by the federal Office of Management and Budget in 2003 sought to evaluate the
impact of environmental laws over the 10-year period from 1992 to 2002. The extensive analysis found that the cost
to business and government of health and environmental regulations was 5 to
7 times less than the costs to society of dealing with pollution, toxic
waste clean-up, and related healthcare expenses for workers and communities. These findings prove that it is downright
stupid for society to let lobbyists rewrite environmental legislation to weaken
such laws as the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.
Big Auto and Big Oil
represent prime examples of the misguided impacts that giant corporations can
have on society. These industries
promote profligate consumerism, and they generally oppose conservation, more
fuel efficient vehicles, better gas mileage, protections of the environment,
fair royalties for resources on public lands, and the rapid adoption of fossil
Amory Lovins of the
independent, non-profit, and nonpartisan Rocky Mountain Institute says that we
have the technological ability to reduce overall energy use by 80%. We could create hundreds of thousands of new
jobs in the process. In doing so, we
could dramatically reduce our dependence on imported oil, and improve our
The Rocky Mountain
Institute also estimates that electricity use in the United States could be cut
in half at a savings of $50 billion per year without any reduction in our
standard of living. Collateral benefits
of such actions would be to significantly slow resource depletion and to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions. These are
Yet we continue to
pursue policies that perpetuate our oil dependence. This is the Achilles heel of America, representing a dangerous
vulnerability. Instead of aggressively
addressing this risk, our Oil guys in the White House only give lip service and
weak support to more intelligent courses of action. In fact, they use misinformation and secrecy to help Big Oil make
enormous profits, and they avoid the inevitable embrace of bold action to
address the growing risks of our oil addiction.
National energy policy
should obviously include two simple strategies: one, to use oil dramatically
more efficiently and conservatively, and two, to move boldly towards
alternatives to fossil fuels. We should
not allow those in power to shortsightedly encourage risky domestic drilling,
and aggressive warfare, to secure more supplies.
We are being
astonishingly complacent with this wrong-headedness. The world’s oil tank stands at half full, and is headed for
empty. We deceive ourselves into
thinking that we are not critically compromising the future by continuing our
profligate use of oil.
We are approaching a
condition known as Peak Oil. This is
the point after which the production of the primary energy resource upon which
we rely will begin a long-term decline.
This is a dangerous tipping point, beyond which we will face
unprecedented energy crises unless we can find a new energy regime to replace
But oil will not be easy
to replace. It is a convenient and
unique high-energy resource. It has
facilitated our industrial and agricultural revolutions, allowing the increase
in human population from 2 billion in the year 1930 to 6.7 billion today. It may prove impossible to sustain our human
population once fossil fuels are effectively gone in the next 40 years. The implications could be unimaginably
One thing is
certain: it is stupid not to be taking
advantage of the last 50% of the world’s oil reserves to help develop and
implement the transition to cleaner, safer, and renewable energy alternatives
worldwide. Some of the smartest guys in
the room have ironically joined a conspiracy of fools in opposing far-sighted
energy initiatives directed to this goal.
We face a new age of terrible
austerity if we do not find a safe way to conserve energy and replace fossil
fuels. Our current energy policies put
us in increasing jeopardy of great economic instability, environmental
calamities, social upheaval, and intensified resource wars.
Our economic addiction to oil is partially due to
our glorification of growth, no matter what the cost. Conservation is actually stigmatized, instead of being generously
rewarded. American automakers continue
selling enormous SUV’s, which came into popularity partially because they were
classified as light trucks that were exempt from fuel efficiency
standards. Our lawmakers continue to be
so timid that they have refused to increase Corporate Average Fuel Economy
standards for many years, and they refuse to regulate obscene Hummers and heavy
The amount of carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere is
increasing rapidly due to fossil fuel combustion. Carbon-dioxide is a greenhouse gas that is contributing to global
warming and dangerous changes in the world’s climate. These developments could cause havoc in global food production,
coastal flooding, more severe storms, hotter summers, extreme cold in European
winters, and other calamities that would adversely affect hundreds of millions
of people in our lifetimes. Even the U.S.
Department of Defense has studied the potential consequences of abrupt climate
change, considering it a threat to our national security.
The time to address these problems is NOW! One way to do this is to begin to fully
include all costs of production in each product, including pollution prevention
and clean-up, environmental harm, healthcare costs, and resource depletion. Free markets and consumer choices are
distorted when we do not include all of these true costs in the sales price of
the product. Sure, allowing businesses
to externalize some of the costs of production onto society allows the
companies to make bigger profits and benefits investors. But this comes at a high cost to the
majority of people.
An ability and willingness to think outside the
box can help us solve many of the challenges that we face. There are better methods of modifying
people’s behavior than through the use of regulations. They are called incentives. This is the old idea that carrots are better
motivators than sticks. Such solutions
are optimum because they are self-actuating, rather than being regulated or
Taxes, for instance, affect people’s behavior, so
they play a role in encouraging and discouraging activities. We currently levy taxes on income and payroll,
because it is convenient for the government.
But these are things that we want to encourage, not discourage. If we reduced taxes on income and payroll,
and replaced them with taxes on harmful things, it would have a beneficial
effect on society. For instance we
could increase taxes on carbon emissions, pollution, waste disposal, non-renewable
resource usages, fast foods, giant homes, extravagant luxury items,
fuel-inefficient vehicles, guns, ammunition, and military weapons.
We could begin the process
of weaning our economy from cheap, polluting oil by increasing taxes on
gasoline. Our national security would
be well-served by such a bold action, especially if it was coupled with less
aggressive military interventions abroad.
If we imposed an additional $1 per gallon tax on gasoline, there would
be an immediate drive towards greater conservation and energy efficiency. Businesses and consumers would begin to use
energy more wisely in response to its higher cost. The longer-term impacts would be even more substantial, due to
technological innovations that would be spurred.
The regressive impact of
such a tax could be mitigated by making offsetting tax reductions in payroll or
income taxes. In conjunction with this
new initiative, current
subsidies to the oil industry should be eliminated. After all, oil companies are making bigger profits than ever
before in history.
The 300 million people
of the United States represent just under 5% of the total world population, and
yet we burn about 25% of the total amount of oil used worldwide each year. We import more than 60% of the oil we use, more
than double the percentage we used 30 years ago. This trend will become more lopsided as we continue to rapidly
deplete our domestic reserves.
Trillions of dollars of subsidies are given
worldwide for various purposes each year.
These mechanisms often have deleterious effects, including the
misallocation of resources, the wasteful stimulation of consumption, the
degradation of the environment, increased pollution, and the hindering of
innovative alternatives. Vested
Interests, of course, stubbornly defend their unfair prerogatives. This causes a variety of undesirable
impacts, and it seriously harms our democracy.
Imagine how different the situation would be in
the world today if the U.S. government had had the foresight to give subsidies
to the development of decentralized solar power decades ago, instead of
lavishing subsidies on oil drilling, coal use, and nuclear power plants.
Subsidies and tax loopholes generally benefit
established industries at the expense of innovative companies that are
struggling to compete. This effectively
discourages new technologies and more efficient production methods and better products. This is simply wrong-headed.
We are suffering a collective delusion that denies
the growing evidence of these facts.
Our leaders continue to mislead us, failing to address the great dangers
that we face. They deceive us into
supporting the business-as-usual Status Quo. They make the inequalities between people worse. They effectively make the majority of
Americans less secure. They contribute
to an ever-more-fragile bubble of human consumerism and population growth. And they are directing our attention away
from bigger issues, risking the well-being of our descendents.
It seems clear to me that Big Money and influence
peddling are the biggest contributors to the corruption of our political
system. Just look at the influences it
has had on the Republican Party, the Grand Old Party of yesteryear. The GOP once stood for fiscal
responsibility, pragmatism, limited government, spending discipline, balanced
budgets, decency, and commitments to fairness and integrity. I picture
Republicans in the good old days as honoring family values that included honesty,
trust, simple faith, tolerance, empathy, respect for diversity, social
responsibility, and a generosity of spirit.
Power corrupts, as the
old adage goes, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The highest goal of the Republican Party in
the last 7 years has been to ensure that it entrenches itself in power, no
matter what impacts this has on people and the world. This end has been used to rationalize a wide range of actions
that are terribly unfair, socially divisive, anti-democratic, anti-egalitarian,
dishonest, fiscally unsound, militarily aggressive, and environmentally
destructive. Nice going, guys!
seems to be a lot of ironic truth in P.J. O’Rourke’s observation: “The
Republicans are the party that says that government doesn’t work -- and then
gets elected and proves it.”
Serious campaign finance
reform in the form of Clean Money public financing is vitally needed to reduce
institutionalized bribery in our electoral system. Lobbyists have succeeded in giving Big Money the primary voice in
almost all legislation that is enacted by Congress. Rather than the health, safety, and best interests of the public,
new laws invariably have an overriding concern for the profitability of some
narrow Vested Interest, like the oil industry, the gun industry, the tobacco
industry, the mining industry, the timber industry, the auto industry, the
pharmaceutical industry, the insurance industry, the chemical industry, the
banking industry, or the defense industry.
Think about it! This state of affairs is deeply
serious. The government is in charge of
deciding how to spend the public’s hard-earned taxpayer dollars, and instead of
having our interests in the forefront of their consideration, political leaders
are in the pockets of giant corporations and rich people. Lobbyists for these interests succeed wildly
in skewing all policy formulation and law-making in their favor. Regulations are minimized that would
otherwise protect the health and safety of workers and the public. Loopholes and subsidies are perpetuated that
are primarily concerned with the profitability of special constituencies, usually
at the expense of the people.
All of this contributes
to a worsening culture of corruption in the federal government. The number of lobbyists registered to do
business in Washington, D.C. has grown from about 16,000 in the year 2000 to
almost 35,000 today. They spend $200
million per month on seducing politicians with partisan positions! It is no wonder that our government is so
The restructuring of the world economy so that
economic progress can be indefinitely sustained arguably represents one of the
greatest investment opportunities in history.
Let’s invest in this, and not in padding rich people’s assets!
Mark Twain once
satirically made this statement, which contains a disturbing kernel of truth:
“It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly
native American criminal class, except Congress.”
Our government is
afflicted by blatant cronyism, greed, incompetence, bureaucracy, inefficiency,
arrogance, and deception. Think about
it! We have numerous fraud scandals
like Enron, illegal lobbyist activities, influence peddling, and the
mismanagement in the Katrina calamity of the Gulf Coast. We have prisoner torture scandals. We have illegal warrantless eavesdropping on
citizens. We have wars of aggression. We have censorship of climate scientists
like those at NASA. And we have such
legislation as the new entitlement Medicare/Prescription Drug plan that is not
only complicated and poorly designed, but ridiculously industry-favorable and
Our leaders have pathologically deceived us as to
their true motives and intentions. They
want us to believe that they are trying to do the right thing. They speak of ideals and principles, and
morality, and God. But the facts show
that our national values are being perverted into a grotesque caricature of
propriety, one that merely pretends to be concerned with fairness, equality,
fiscal discipline, honest leadership, wise planning, true civic responsibility,
and peaceful coexistence.
exception, legislation passed since George W. Bush took office has been focused
on increasing the privileges of big corporations and a small minority of
wealthy Americans. This makes it
increasingly urgent that we elect new leaders with fairer priorities, and that
we begin passing laws that benefit the majority, not just the wealthiest of
Americans and the biggest of companies.
Let us demand that the
President begin to admit the need for progressive reforms --- and to
energetically advance these reforms!
Democratic Party must also support more progressive ideas. Although Democrats are generally far more
empathetic and fair-minded than Republicans on issues that affect the majority
of Americans, they do not yet represent sustainable, long-term-oriented,
ecologically sound, truly peace-embracing, and intelligent planning policies
that are so desperately required. The
progressive transformation needed is one that will extensively alter BOTH
The trust of American citizens is being undermined
by our leaders’ assaults on scientific findings and critical thinking. The Constitution, the Bill of Rights, rules
of law, and international treaties are being violated. Almost every honorable virtue or principle
has been subverted by the Republican Party --- even loyalty.
Loyalty has become orthodoxy, blind obedience, false
patriotism, and attachment to doctrine.
It has become a Karl Rovian dirty-trick kind of loyalty, instead of a
noble loyalty to fairness, ethical behavior, and liberty and justice for all. As George Orwell wrote many decades ago,
“Orthodoxy means not thinking, not needing to think.”
The Constitution of the
United States was designed to ensure that power could not be abused by one of
the three branches of government. Our
Founding Fathers were very sensitive about tyranny, having suffered the slings
and arrows of imperial colonialism by the British. We must not now allow the President or Congress to abuse power
and lead us in the wrong direction!
The late Senator Paul
Wellstone of Minnesota believed that politics should NOT be solely about power,
money, and winning at any cost. He said,
“Politics is about the improvement of people’s lives. It’s about advancing the cause of peace and justice in our
country and in the world.”
Paul Hawken, the brilliant businessman and author
of the great and insightful book, The
Ecology of Commerce, states: “We
have the capacity and ability to create a remarkably different economy, one
that can restore ecosystems and protect the environment, while bringing forth
innovation, meaningful work, and true security.”
I say, YES!
Let’s do it! Let’s reject corruption,
greedy selfishness, anti-democratic forces, militarism, and stupid
shortsightedness! Let us stand up and
demand fairness and reason and the intelligent redesign of our economic and
(This concludes Scene 7.)
location: Top of Mt. Tamalpais, looking
northwest on a clear morning. Casting: Robert Redford. Footage: tbd.)
Hi, I too am Tiffany Twain. Thanks for joining me in this segment of film.
(Voiceover Narrative by
Redford, with footage of a slide show of extraordinary and beautiful clouds,
changing at seven second intervals, with the names of various types of clouds
prominently indicated on the bottom of the first dozen slides --- “Cumulus”,
“Stratus”, “Cirrus”, “Stratocumulus”, etc.)
Wallace Stegner once
wrote: “I believe that eventually,
perhaps within a generation or two, they will work out some sort of compromise
between what must be done to earn a living, and what must be done to restore
health to the earth, air and water.”
Let’s explore the
reasons that human societies fail to reach such a healthy compromise.
People fail to act in
socially and environmentally responsible ways for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons are rational, and some
for disastrous behavior include confusion, ignorance, and cultivated denial. Or people have unreasonable fears and there
are clashes of values. Some persist in
error, are closed-minded, or are ideologically inflexible. As societal needs change, stubborn
resistance to progressive adaptation prevents the adoption of policies most
consistent with the greater good.
Shared delusions, psychological denial, “groupthink”, and the madness of
crowd psychology also contribute to socially irrational public policy-making.
The primary rational
reasons for disastrous behavior include selfishness, ruthlessness of
competition, bad decision-making, and failures to properly anticipate. Small elites who lust for wealth and power
often collaborate in unfairly and unwisely dominating policy-making. Corporate interests clash with more
broadminded civic interests to facilitate the overexploitation of resources. This is known as the Tragedy of the Commons.
This phenomenon -- the
Tragedy of the Commons -- demonstrates how actions by rational individuals can
result in outcomes that are utterly insane for the entire group. The rational self-interest of many people
who are competing for benefits from a shared resource often results in the
destruction of that resource. The
reason that this occurs is simple: self-interested individuals are focused on
benefiting from the activity, while the negative impacts and unintended
consequences are borne by all.
The Tragedy of the
Commons describes what is taking place in many arenas of resource exploitation,
such as the decimating impact of fishing fleets from many competing nations
that over-harvest fish stocks in formerly rich fisheries.
It turns out that
cooperation, not unbridled competition, is necessary to improve the prospects
of sustainable resource use. The only
sane way for the whole to benefit in these circumstances is to create an
effective system of far-sighted rules that protect the resource from depletion
or destruction. This requires the
agreement and honest compliance of ALL participants.
parable of the Tragedy of the Commons also applies to the issue of
pollution. In this case, rather than
the consequences of exploitation being a depleted commons, it is a polluted
commons. Rational companies make bigger
profits by disposing wastes into the commons, while the cost of the harm is
shared by all.
The current impasse in international efforts in
dealing with global warming can be clearly understood as an instance of this
accumulating tragedy. Some 160 nations
have ratified the Kyoto Accords to help protect the Earth from the looming harm
from global warming and related climate change. But the United States and China refuse to comply, and selfishly
and shortsightedly oppose these accords.
This hinders solutions to the ominous problems associated with our
pouring billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. It also sends a message of arrogant
disregard for the well-being of the whole world.
Americans and the Chinese insist on acting in their
own myopic self-interest instead of making reasonable commitments to
cooperate. They do this only because
they have the power to ignore the rationality of intelligent cooperation, NOT
because it is the right thing to do from a long-term perspective.
Ten of the warmest years in recorded history have
all occurred since 1990. Glaciers
worldwide are melting, as are the polar ice caps. Hurricanes, floods, and drought are intensifying. But the ruling elite in the U.S. believe
strongly in stubbornly staying the course.
They meekly propose that we study the problem of global warming and
climate change longer. They are afraid
to make corporations conform even to the small steps required by the Kyoto
Accords. We thus incur heightened risks
of incurring trillions of dollars in costs later this century because of this
intransigence. But where there is a
way, and some uncertainty to exploit, the power elite loves to exploit it; so we avoid altering the sweet system that
allows small minorities to benefit so richly.
The Bush Administration has an extensive record of
denying and suppressing science in order to support its irresponsible
dogmas. A New York Times article on
January 29, 2006, reports a particularly outrageous instance of this. A 24-year-old Republican political appointee
in the NASA public affairs office tried to censor a top NASA scientist, Dr.
James Hansen, in order to suppress scientific findings on global warming. Our leaders are apparently far more
concerned with good press than good results, so they have created a culture
that discourages people from telling the truth. Our leaders must be held more accountable!
The National Resources
Defense Council is one of many environmental organizations that are committed
to trying to establish greater sanity in human affairs. They work with businesses and government to
offset negative environmental impacts, and in effect to combat abuses of corporate
power and the dysfunction of our political process. They advocate initiatives that are designed to improve the
prospects for beneficial outcomes, rather than environmentally damaging ones. I applaud the NRDC for its efforts to get
companies to commit to limiting greenhouse gas emissions.
It is becoming increasingly likely that climate
change caused by global warming will contribute to widespread natural
disasters, agricultural disruptions, and environmental catastrophe in the
coming decades. I urge everyone to
support the NRDC, and to strive to do your own part to conserve resources and
support far-sighted initiatives.
(This concludes Scene 8.)
(At Peyto Lake or
Moraine Lake in the Canadian Rockies.
Follow with footage of vast forests in Alaska, followed by penguins
trekking to breeding grounds in Antarctica, or whatever. Shoot location: tbd. Casting: tbd.)
Adam Smith wrote a book in 1776 that came to have
enormous influence. It was called “An
Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations,” and became known
simply as The Wealth of Nations. He basically argued that private interests
and self-interested behavior contribute to the good of the whole society.
One of the greatest
ironies in the history of ideas is that Adam Smith’s book was essentially
dedicated to improving the welfare of the common man, rather than just the
merchants or the nobility. But it was
used by the industrialist class as a theoretical justification for NOT seeking
to remedy the scandalous social ills that resulted from industrialization.
Insight into the nature
of our economic system is valuable.
Capitalism is a very effective system for utilizing natural human
motivations. It satisfies people’s
needs through the use of free-market principles of supply and demand. Yet it also facilitates selfishness and
greed, so it is susceptible to abuses of power like unscrupulous monopoly
business practices and dangerous conditions for workers. It is irresponsibly wasteful in its
compulsive embrace of consumption and planned obsolescence. And it shows little concern for its role in
social problems such as inadequate healthcare for employees, urban poverty,
pollution, and unfair privileges.
essentially amoral. The purpose of
business is almost single-mindedly synonymous with earning bigger and bigger
short-term profits. This makes it
attractive for businesses to evade social and environmental costs. Companies are, after all, competing against
others who are also trying to evade the same costs. The Tragedy of the Commons operates in this innate capitalist
drive to minimize costs. The result is
that workers, communities, society, and the environment suffer harm.
encourages political corruption, war profiteering, disaster opportunism, price
gouging, public land exploitation, real estate speculation, and pork barrel
spending. Almost invariably, these
things are significantly detrimental to the public good.
are powerfully opposed to efforts to regulate them. They resist efforts to make their operations more fair, more
socially responsible, and more ecologically sound. They effectively disdain social justice, environmental sanity,
and democracy itself, due to their single-minded focus on profits over all
One reason for this is
that capitalism and democracy are, in fact, fundamentally opposed to each other
in many ways, just as freedom and equality are basically struggles against each
other. The greater the freedom a
society allows, the more that inequalities naturally multiply --- and the rich
stands for fairness, equal representation, and government of the people, by the
people, and for the people. Unregulated
capitalism, in contrast, struggles against fairness principles. It strives for profit at the expense of
workers and the environment. It is
obsessed with power, special privileges, and dominance.
Humanity is completely
dependent upon the natural world, yet giant corporations wrongly exploit it as
though it is unlimited and expendable.
They show little concern for the consequences of depletion and
damage. They show inadequate care for
workers, communities, or a sustainable future.
They strive to gain short-term advantages and capitalize on
opportunities to get special treatment and subsidies. They lobby to get the rights to externalize pollution and related
healthcare costs upon society.
ironically act in ways that, in an individual, would be regarded as
pathologically insane. This point is
powerfully portrayed in an insightful book that is entitled “The Corporation -
The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power”, as well as in the Canadian film,
“The Corporation”, which is based on it.
Check them out!
The best policies
require a principled balance between freedom and equality, and between
unregulated capitalism and public protections.
The principal purposes of government should be to establish order, to
protect individuals from external dangers, to regulate abuses of power and
privilege, and to strive to provide fairness of education, opportunity, and
legal justice. We must have the vision
and courage to create public policies that are consistent with these principles. Our goal must be to emphasize the common
good, not just what is good for those in power.
To be acceptable to
human society, capitalism has since its beginnings needed to be controlled and
regulated. Its power is so far-reaching
that monumental and continuous struggles have been required to keep it from
doing extreme harm to individuals, to societies, and most recently to the
fundamental ecological underpinnings of life.
The inequities of
capitalism sparked labor movements that sprang up after the start of the
Industrial Age to secure rights and protections for workers. These were historically
necessary due to abusive monopoly practices, long working hours, dangerous
working conditions, discrimination, sexual harassment, corruption, and the
growing unregulated conglomerate power of Corporations. Other positive reform movements sprang up at
various points in history, such as the muckraking and populist rebellions of
the early Twentieth Century, the great initiatives of the New Deal, and the
civil rights, women’s rights, and environmental movements of the 1960’s.
The wealthy and the
powerful, however, love their power and privileges, so they began to strongly
fight such progress. Their bid to gain
ascendancy achieved powerful impetus in 1980 when the Ronald Reagan was elected
President. Since then, laissez-faire
crony capitalism has steadily increased its control. Budget deficits have grown.
The federal government has grown in size and intrusiveness. Regulations, fairness doctrines, and social
programs have been reduced. Today this
trend is reaching dangerously unjust extremes.
Corporations have abused
their power by reducing their share of America’s tax burden significantly over
the past 25 years. The Congressional
Budget Office reports that corporations are paying 60% less than the share of
federal revenues they paid in 1960. They
have accomplished this by helping enact tax loopholes, direct subsidies,
accelerated depreciation perks, and the irresponsible abuse of offshore tax
Bold tax reform and
oversight are needed to fix this. Fairness
should be a primary consideration in this reform.
Free market advocates
treat capitalism as if it were perfect and infallible, almost like a
religion. Yet they look the other way
when special interests distort free markets for selfish purposes. I say, let’s try free markets!
Free markets! Free them from monopoly abuses, free them of
corrupting influences, free them from powerful influences that oppose reform
and progress, free them from unfair vested interest domination, free them from
dishonest deceptions, free them from distorting influences that militate for
war. Free them from war profiteering,
and bribery and racketeering!
Free them from the
influence of corporations cheating the public rather than improving their
products. Free them from corporate
welfare and subsidies that perpetuate inefficient and polluting
industries. Free them from the extreme
inequities of tax avoidance schemes like offshore incorporation!
The great strength of
capitalism is at the same time its greatest weakness: the profit-motive. It is magnificent as a driving motivation
--- but it is also ruthless, and socially and environmentally
irresponsible. It is overly susceptible
to creating inequality and acting in ways that are socially shortsighted.
Capitalism is a powerful
creative force, sparking innovation.
But it is also a dangerously destructive force. Capitalism contains the seeds of its own
transformation --- and it is high time that we nurtured these seeds.
The best political
philosophy is arguably to be fiscally conservative, and socially
progressive. On the other hand, it
seems almost irrefutable that one of the worst political philosophies would be
to be fiscally irresponsible and simultaneously socially regressive. Yet the dominant political mode today seems
to bizarrely channel the latter propensities.
These policies must be
refuted. We are engaged in an
evolutionary dance of survival wherein both our rights and responsibilities are
increasing, together with our capabilities and our culpabilities.
We can --- and we must
--- restructure our economic and political systems to more effectively deal
with the serious problems facing us.
Thanks for giving consideration to these ideas!
(This concludes Scene 9.)
location: Tennessee Valley, crashing
waves at low tide on cliff at south end of beach. Footage of wildlife stalking and preying. Casting:
Jane Fonda or Joan Baez.)
Hi, I also represent Tiffany Twain.
I like Walt Whitman’s poetic words. Consider this philosophical image:
forth --- Steer for the deep water only,
O Soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me,
we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go,
we will risk the ship, ourselves, and all.”
(Voiceover Narrative:) Militarism by the United States poses very serious risks today.
Dwight Eisenhower spoke the following insightful
words at the end of his presidency in 1961:
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of
unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the
military-industrial complex. The
potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will
persist. We must never let the weight
of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry
can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of
defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may
Forty-five years have passed since Eisenhower spoke these words, and the
lobby for the military-industrial complex is stronger than ever. Pentagon budgets are spiraling out of control. Congress and the media have become complicit
with right-wing think tanks in encouraging preemptive warfare. Power is being seriously abused by the White
House. Civil liberties and democratic
processes are being eroded by an increasingly intrusive and secretive
government. Oversight and
accountability have atrophied. We are
being misguided into extremely expensive wars, foreign occupations, and costly
The current Administration in the year 2006 puts
an absurd and extreme overemphasis on security through lavish spending on
aggressive militarism. And they
disingenuously deny, and inadequately fund, the growing need to create greater
justice and fairness in societies worldwide.
The people of United States and the world have
essentially become the pawns of giant corporations, war profiteers, American
supremacists, the gun lobby, and reactionary religious fundamentalists in the
wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
The consequences of this are extremely costly. First of all, there are the monetary
costs. The amount of money that we are
spending on being an aggressive military superpower and waging wars around the
world are staggering. And because we
squander hundreds of billions of dollars on the Pentagon, the CIA, the FBI,
preemptive wars, munitions, and war reconstruction, the government is forced to
borrow enormous amounts from the future, and to cut back on both the basic
needs of people here at home and our essential infrastructure requirements. As Joel Andreas wrote in his book Addicted to War --- Why the U.S. Can’t Kick
Militarism, “Cutbacks in social programs have caused far more devastation
in this country than any foreign army ever has.”
Edward Stettinius, the U.S. Secretary of State in
1945, made this wise observation: “The
battle of peace must be fought on two fronts.
The first is the security front where victory spells freedom from
fear. The second is the economic
and social front where victory means freedom from want. Only victory on both fronts can
assure the world of an enduring peace.”
Hear this, President Bush! Do
not ignore the mutuality of security needs, or extreme injustices, poverty, and
World War II helped bring the world out of the
Great Depression of the 1930’s. Since
then there has been a strong ideological argument that a permanent War Economy,
with lavish military spending, is a source of economic health. Yet full-cost accounting reveals that
militarism is a sustained non-productive use of capital and labor. It is a waste-oriented perversion of the
self-correcting mechanisms of the competitive, cost-minimizing free market
National security through ever-increasing military
prowess arguably carries a prohibitive price tag. Our military adventurism is not only a costly gamble, but also a
very high risk game. We have already
spent hundreds of billions of dollars on the war in Iraq. Thousands of our soldiers have been killed,
and many thousands wounded. Even
greater numbers of innocent Iraqi civilians have been killed or wounded. And instead of making the world a safer,
more just place, our actions have increased worldwide terrorism, social instability,
international hostilities, interpersonal antagonisms, and the probability of
retaliation. Nice going, guys!
This explains why some polls indicate that the
majority of people worldwide regard the United States as “the greatest threat
One of the consequences of our willingness to
engage in aggressive warfare is that we are failing to show respect for the
sovereignty of other nations. Another
consequence is that we are fanning the flames of Arab nationalism and Islamic
religious zealotry. These reactions are
contributing to increasingly dangerous cultural and religious conflicts between
Christians and Muslims worldwide.
reinforces, countersupports, and strengthens opposing extremism in response. Injustice sparks injustice. Violence fans violence. There is no question that American economic
and military policies helped create desperate Islamic extremism. And it is indisputable that the 9/11
terrorist attacks dramatically strengthened the reactionary political right
wing in the United States. Harsh,
torturing, aggressive warfare being waged by the U.S. is giving greater impetus
to terrorism. It is certainly
contributing to increased social instability in the world, boding ill for the
safety and security of everyone in the future.
Listen to this: Incomprehensibly powerful anxieties exist
amongst the peoples of the world today.
Simple imagination makes it clear that the safest way to the future will
be in MINIMIZING these social stresses.
How can we better ensure that we accomplish this?
For one, we must elevate
the need for international cooperation and peaceful coexistence to a higher
priority. We must find better ways to
balance the needs of competing constituencies.
We must resolutely and respectfully defuse antagonisms and conflicts,
instead of galvanizing others into action because of frustration, despair,
hatred, or violence.
Instead of stubborn
intransigence in defense of vested interests, we should be supporting
sustainable development and global protections of fresh water and healthy
ecosystems. Instead of our military
aggression, we should be committing ourselves to making the world safer through
more equitable social justice, expanded opportunity, better education
worldwide, and the empowerment of women.
If we sow justice and non-violence, then we will be able to harvest
We should be more
strongly committed to creating peace between Israel and its neighbors by
helping establish a secure homeland and better opportunities for
Palestinians. We should act with great
statesmanship to achieve cooperation and consensus by using balanced foreign
policy initiatives. We should be
weaning ourselves from our addiction to foreign oil.
require the creation and empowering of more dynamic international institutions,
and a commitment to conflict resolution through the use of diplomacy. We must reject the hubris of our
government’s imperialistic crusade to aggressively dominate the world.
An editorial in the
Cousteau Society’s Calypso Log once observed:
“If peace were waged with as much commitment, as
much passion, and as many resources as those spent on war, the environment
could be protected rather than squandered, and millions of people around the
world could enjoy their lives rather than living in fear, hunger, and
poverty. The money that goes into weapons
of destruction could go into education, arts, science, health care, clean
sources of energy, affordable housing, businesses and technologies that improve
the quality of life and the health of the planet. An ethic of respect for all life could be nourished. It is not impossible.”
How can we effectively
encourage such possibilities? How can
we effectively eliminate the causes of war?
Can we reduce the enthusiasm of giant corporations for supporting war? Perhaps we could do this by enacting strong
war profiteering taxes?
Or, how about this: Let’s be honest and fair, and commit to
paying as we go. If we implemented
higher gasoline taxes to cover the cost of the war in Iraq, it would force
people to realize that a principal reason for our occupation of Iraq is to
control oil resources in the Middle East.
The cost of the occupation of Iraq would be about $1.00 per gallon. How eagerly would Americans be for the
doctrine of preemptive warfare once the direct correlation was established
between the cost of war and the amount we pay at the pump for gasoline?
In general, taxpayers
should be required to pay in full for government programs, instead of hiding
the costs by using the insidious political expediency of deficit spending. Our representatives would be forced to make
hard choices if they were squarely faced with the need to pay now for the true
costs of government programs. My guess
is that there would be significantly less enthusiasm for such things as
preemptive warfare, corporate welfare, bureaucratic waste, tax breaks for rich
people, pork barrel spending, and new entitlements!
Here is another idea
that is really “thinking outside the box”.
If we were to reduce military spending by 10% each year for the next 3
years, it would save about $150 billion.
If half of this was applied against the budget deficits, we still would
have $75 billion to invest in peace building, demilitarization, Homeland
security, sustainable development, education, infrastructure and other
Can we alter our foreign
policy to be more generous and far-sighted?
Let’s create a Cabinet-level Department of Peace to advance the causes
of conflict-resolution and international cooperation!
Can we soothe passions,
and find common ground in policies that are more rational, sensible, and
concerned with mutual security? Can we
prevent religious fundamentalists from helping provide support to politicians
and terrorists in their drives to wage wars or attack other peoples? Can we separate religious fundamentalism
from policy-making, and marginalize the dangerous anti-democratic, male
authoritarian, and ethnocentric aspects of religious fundamentalism? Can we find ways to mitigate the feeling
that people have that they are good and right, and that others are evil and
Maybe we can create
greater commitments to non-violence through finding greater peace within
ourselves. Perhaps a national movement
that encourages transcendental meditation would help us to transcend our
leaders’ aggressive impulses.
One set of ideas and
convictions has gotten us into the calamitous danger in which we finds ourselves,
so it will probably take a new set of ideas and understandings and progressive
philosophies to get us out.
A principled guideline for foreign policy
considerations should be the Golden Rule.
As Will and Ariel Durant observed in their fascinating book, The Lessons of History: “Somewhere,
somehow, in the name of humanity, we must challenge a thousand evil precedents,
and dare to apply the Golden Rule to nations, as the Buddhist King Ashoaka did
in 262 B.C. Magnanimity in politics may
be the trust wisdom, and a great empire and little minds go ill together.”
Striving to make friends, not enemies, seems like
such a no-brainer!
I suggest that we demand positive change along the
lines of ideas in the Earth Manifesto. Let’s follow through to remove those from power who stubbornly
refuse to embrace such progress. We
must stop trusting in so-called Republican “strength”; it is too damaging to world peace, and it is
making everyone worldwide less safe!
There are better ways to build true justice and
peace. As Albert Einstein said, “Peace
cannot be kept by force. It can only be
achieved through understanding.”
(This concludes Scene 10.)
location: Atop Mt. Wittenberg, Point
Reyes, looking west over Drake’s Bay on a clear morning. Footage from the film, Koyaanisqatsi.
Casting: James Taylor).
Hi, I am also part Tiffany Twain.
I want to continue to focus on American
Robert McNamara, the Secretary of Defense during
the Vietnam War, admitted in the recent film The Fog of War that American leaders essentially committed war
crimes during the Vietnam War. We
killed 2 million Vietnamese people in a war that the famous Pentagon Papers
revealed was expanded by routine lies and deceptions and the suppression of
information by our government.
McNamara also conveyed the powerful insight that
we do not understand foreign cultures or their perspectives because we do not
adequately empathize with them. We
cannot truly put ourselves in the shoes of others, like the people of Vietnam.
For instance, can we truly understand how Iraqi people
feel today, when they suffer from what we euphemistically call “collateral
damage” during our bombing campaigns and our repressive occupation of their country?
There are violent
conflicts going on in many places in the world, so the need is great for us to
develop better means of resolving conflicts and mitigating antagonisms that
lead to war and genocide.
Modern warfare, in many
senses, is a tragic failure of civilization and society. Words cannot comprehend its terrible
atrocity. War causes incalculable pain
and suffering to countless innocent victims that are killed, wounded, tortured,
frightened, sent into battle, or overwhelmed by violence and hate. Terrible and indiscriminate munitions like
Agent Orange and napalm and depleted uranium are barbarous and inhumane.
Warfare is colossally
wasteful of resources and lives. It is
economically and environmentally destructive.
It causes instability and long-lasting upheavals in societies. It is even highly negative for the troops
and citizens of those who are on the offensive.
Dwight Eisenhower said
this: “I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can; only as one who has
seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.”
Power corrupts, and the
on-going abuse of our military superpower makes Americans complicit in the
worst kind of corruption, which is violence that kills and maims thousands of
innocent people on foreign soils. Our
military strategy of relying on dropping bombs is outrageous and cowardly and
terribly uncaring about the harm that is done to civilians and women and
children. Smart bombs? Give me a break!
We cannot be paralyzed
by the fact that those in power have been so effective in controlling our
attitudes towards war. We allow
military recruiters in our high schools, for God’s sake, to sell our young
people on the questionable benefits of volunteering to fight and kill in a new
era of preemptive wars of choice. We
indoctrinate them with idealistic nationalism and patriotic duty, and subtly
preach hate and violence, and send them abroad under false pretenses and for
We must support our
troops by not sending them into harms way for mercenary purposes. Our military should emphasize defense, not aggressive
offensive. Our leaders have
consistently deceived the public and brainwashed our troops into thinking that
their sacrifice is justified by noble causes, when in fact the underlying
causes of American aggression have been the same since the Korean and Vietnam
conflicts: we fight for ideological
control, power, domination, war profiteering, and access to natural resources
Herman Goering, the
early head of Hitler’s storm troopers and later of the German Air Force during
World War II, stated at the Nuremburg War Crime Tribunals: “Naturally, the
common people don’t want war, but they can always be brought to the bidding of
the leaders. Tell them they are being
attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and endangering the
country. It works the same in every
Patriotism should not
mean blind obedience to the politicians in power. In truth, patriotism is an honest commitment to the principles
that this country really represents.
This includes the primary concerns of our Founding Fathers: fairness, freedom, honesty, justice, human
rights, limited government intrusion, and fair representation of the best
interests of its people. Our American
literary hero, Mark Twain said it simply: “My kind of patriotism and loyalty is
loyalty to one’s country, and not to one’s institutions or officeholders.”
True patriotism consists
of questioning and opposing abuses of power, not of blindly accepting them. The
film Good Night, and Good Luck is
about trusted broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow and the red-baiting Joseph
McCarthy era of the 1950’s. Murrow
stood up to blatant Republican attempts to discredit people, to ruin their
reputations, to blacklist them, and to use fear, intimidation, and demagoguery
to devastate dissent, erode political opposition, and destroy liberal causes.
The era of
Cheney/Bush/Rove/Rumsfeld Republicanism is being distinguished by a new form of
modern day McCarthyism. Political
opposition is belittled, emasculated, and disenfranchised. Loyalty to ideological doctrines is
demanded. Fear and stoked nationalism
are used to gain support for regressive social policies, misguided environmental
legislation, and aggressive militarism.
Mark Twain was an
outspoken member of the Anti-Imperialist League, the first national American
peace movement. He was outraged at
politicians who unethically capitalize on national tragedies to push through
unrelated agendas. The battleship USS
Maine was hit by unexplained and mysterious explosions in the harbor of Havana
in February 1898, killing 260 people.
Soon thereafter, the United States intervened militarily in Cuba and the
Twain, in his anger at
the occupation of the Philippines, wrote these words in the year 1900, and they
are still relevant to our country today:
“… I have seen that we do not intend to free, but rather to subject the
people … We have gone there to conquer, not to redeem … It should, it seems to
me, be our pleasure and duty to make these people free, and let them deal with
their own domestic questions in their own way.
And so I am an anti-imperialist.
I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land.”
John Nichols points out:
Twain was no fan of war, which he described as “a wanton waste of projectiles,”
and he nurtured a healthy disdain for anyone who suggested that patriotism was
best displayed through enthusiastic support for military adventures
abroad. The phrase “our country, right
or wrong” was, he argued, “an insult to the nation.”
But Twain’s deepest disgust was reserved for politicians who played on fear and
uncertainty to promote the interests of what would come to be known as the
military-industrial complex. Describing
how Americans were frequently goaded into war by their leaders, Twain recalled:
“Statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting blame upon the nation that is
attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities,
and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them;
and thus he will by-and-by convince himself that the war is just, and will
thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque
Today, we see our
politicians aggressively waging war in Afghanistan and Iraq in response to the
national tragedy of September 11, 2001.
Our leaders are deceptively using the political capital and authority
that they have gained from this calamity to ram through radical neoconservative
agendas in unrelated realms of domestic, social, economic, and environmental
policies. This is unconscionable!
policy is facilitated by war propagandists who use hyped-up threats, misleading
rhetoric, deceptions, and outright lies.
The media is complicit in this, because they have prostituted themselves
to provide support to war enthusiasms.
We simply must find ways to ensure a more free press and greater
journalistic integrity. We cannot accept
a press that is so beholden to the powers-that-be. Journalism must adhere to higher standards of objectivity and
The so-called Yellow
Press was created more than 100 years ago to boost newspaper sales by hyping
war. Yellow journalism consists of
widespread practices within media organizations that include exaggeration,
fear-mongering, propaganda, sensationalism and jingoism.
Our leaders have gained
support for war by using several unsavory strategies. In addition to deception, they have exploited feelings of
nationalism and drives for superiority and retribution. They have used the expediency of an
all-volunteer army and an over-emphasis on minority recruitment to insulate the
average American from the terrible consequences of war. They censor reports from the
battlefield. They distort the truth of
how the war is going. They hide
returning coffins of soldiers that have been killed.
The elimination of an
American lottery-type military draft was cynically brilliant. It helps ensure that those of our nation’s
young who are sent abroad are primarily from the powerless and largely
disenfranchised class of citizens that have little voice, few opportunities,
and poor alternatives. And the use of
the political expediency of deficit spending deceives taxpayers into thinking
that they do not have to personally pay for the costs of war.
Further, there is
something wrong with allowing so-called “chickenhawk” leaders --- ones who have
avoided military service to their country and yet are staunch proponents of
aggressive militarism --- to be the very people that make decisions to wage
wars on weaker countries. This is
particularly true when the wars are based on jingoistic impulses and
distortions of intelligence and known facts.
Dick Cheney and his ilk
may have had more important priorities than military service in their lives, as
he has said. But it is obscene that he
embraces doctrines so eager to send troops abroad, and to spend huge sums of
money on the military, when his motives are so suspect due to his strong ties
to business interests that profit from war.
One of the most powerful
lobbyist organizations in the U.S. is the National Rifle Association. It strongly opposes sensible gun laws such
as assault weapons bans, and background checks for those who buy guns. We must reduce the influence of this
aggressive right-wing industry. Its
influence on American society is simply too wrong-headed and negative.
Breathe deep and let
go. Let’s ponder for a moment the
social dynamics of the typical American high school, because such settings are
instructive microcosms of the world.
There are many cliques in high school.
There are the student body leaders, the football players, the
cheerleaders, the athletes, the cute popular girls, the effeminate guys, the
kids involved in theater, the shy studious types, the intellectuals, the macho
bullies, the spoiled rich kids, and so on.
Consider this: The best leaders were those that had
charisma and social skills that reflected a kind of emotional
intelligence. The very last kind of
person that young adults would elect for student body leadership would be the macho
On a national level we
need to be able to filter out all of the clever manipulations that result in
leaders being elected that pander to the macho bully in us all. This is a weak point, perhaps, but I want it
to be a backdrop to a continued focus on American militarism.
War should be a last
resort, and peaceful coexistence must be a higher value. The motives for war must be more noble than
the current ones. We cannot allow our
leaders to mislead us into war for purposes that are mercenary, partisan,
unfair, provocative, radically unjust, repressive, diversionary, and lacking in
respect for international rules of law.
Foreign policy must more seriously honor mutual security, sovereignty, and
the social health of other countries.
Militarism is a poor
path to peace. U.S. foreign policy
revolves around harshly penalizing peoples whose leaders do not agree with us,
and generously rewarding leaders of countries that support us, no matter how badly
those leaders treat their people. The
largely secret relationship between the Bush family and the ruling dictatorial family
of Saudi Arabia is shocking, and some say it is treasonous to our
democracy. Nice going, guys!
It is my conviction that
we would be wisest to be open to these ideas, rather than investing heavily in
I will conclude Scene 10
with a quote from the wonderful poet David Whyte: “Poets, lovers, generals, the
wind is level now, the Earth is wet with dew, the storm of stars in the sky
will turn to quiet and soon, soon, all of us will sleep beneath the earth, we
who never let each other sleep above it.”
(This concludes Scene 11. )
tbd. Footage: Shells-of-the-world slide show --- Nautilus,
abalone, volutes, clams, conches, cockles, scallops, etc. Casting:
Hi, I am Tiffany
The political philosophy
called Neoconservatism needs to be examined closely.
launched with an organization called the “Project for a New American Century”. It was, and I quote from their website, “dedicated to a few fundamental propositions: that American leadership is good both for
America and for the world; and that
such leadership requires military strength, diplomatic energy and commitment to
I believe that American leadership would be good for both America and the
world, but ONLY if American leaders could be trusted to be honest statesmen who
had clear vision and a primary concern with the best interests of America and
the world. The evidence, however, is
overwhelming: This is NOT the case. It will never be the case as long as our
economic and political system is dominated by Big Money, giant corporations,
religious fundamentalists, and arrogant politicians.
It is questionable whether American leadership can really represent moral
principles. There are simply too many
indications that money, greed, power, and control almost always have more
powerful sway than ethical principles.
It is arguable whether we are even capable of understanding other
cultures and what their best interests may actually be. We have one-sided frame of reference, a
cultural arrogance, a fragmented subjectivity, a selfishness, and an empathy
deficiency that makes it extremely challenging for us to achieve clear
The doctrines of
Neoconservatism appear to be contrary in actual practice to the principles of
democracy. Neoconservatism is not a true
“conservative” philosophy. It is
concerned with power, not right action.
It is obsessed with getting, maintaining and extending power and control,
no matter how harmful this may be to our society, or to people in other
Right-wing spin has been surprisingly effective in co-opting the power
of humanitarian caring for others by claiming that there is compassion in
conservatism. But the natural province
of empathy and compassion naturally lies with liberal attitudes, not stubborn
doctrine and narrow-mindedness. The ugly underbelly of conservatism is its severe
lack of compassion, and its willingness to exploit people’s gullibility and to
harm them to achieve its ends.
Human beings have a
political nature. They have a distinct
predisposition towards certain beliefs.
Picture the continuum that runs from the radical extreme left to the reactionary
extreme right. About one-third of
people seem to be naturally inclined towards what linguist George Lakoff
describes as the empathetic and progressive Nurturing Mother paradigm. About one-third of people seem to be naturally
inclined towards what Lakoff describes as the disciplinarian,
male-authoritarian Stern Father paradigm that lies on the right end of the
continuum. The remaining third of
people fall somewhere between these two camps;
they are either open-minded, giving intelligent consideration to all
issues relative to their merits --- or perhaps they are befuddled by the
complexity of problems, or suspicious that they are being deceived by
politicians at both extremes, or largely detached and unaware of political issues.
The political right wing
has been amazingly effective in attacking and denigrating people that hold
liberal and even moderate beliefs. One
way they have done this is to cast opposing politicians as being irresponsible
in their “bleeding-heart tax-and-spend” propensities. Yet once in a position of political dominance
-- Lo and Behold! -- conservatives have hypocritically proved to be even less responsible. They have cut taxes significantly while
simultaneously dramatically increasing spending. They have borrowed heavily to make up the difference, effectively
fleecing the future to transfer wealth to a relatively small number of wealthy
people today. They misuse public funds
to enrich their supporters. They increase
government intrusiveness. They lie to
Americans citizens. They ramp up
military spending and military aggression in an apparent gambit to dominate the
world even more than we already do.
No matter how
predisposed some people are to social conservatism, and no matter how fervently
they are committed to trusting leaders that claim to represent God and
righteousness, the moral truth becomes ever-more starkly clear. Neoconservatism is corrupt and immoral; it is a right-wing doctrine much more akin
to political fascism than to Constitutional democracy.
fact, closely channels the 14 Defining Characteristics of Fascism, as reported
in a study by Dr. Lawrence Britt (google it, for better perspective on this!).
Neoconservatism is an
extreme political philosophy. It works
to erode the rights of individuals. It
uses bullying tactics. It strives to
ruthlessly destroy opposition, eliminate dissent, and use deceptive pretenses
and misleading propaganda. It distorts
scientific findings, relies on sometimes corrupt faith-based initiatives,
hypocritically exploits religious faith, puts our troops in harm’s way under
false pretenses, rationalizes prisoner torture, and sows distrust and hatred
towards other nations who object to our supremacist ambitions. It eagerly uses deceptive rhetoric to fool
the public into believing that actions are consistent with their words. This is dishonest, misleading, undemocratic,
and grossly unfair!
True patriotism is found
in speaking truth to amoral power, not sheepishly following. We must question authority, and oppose
abuses of power that characterize neoconservative ideologies!
American domestic and
foreign policies have been hijacked by Neoconservatives. Fears and insecurities of American citizens
have been exploited by these right-wing forces to alienate and divide
The dogma of “moral absolutism”
has been used to strengthen conservative positions. This dogma holds that there are moral absolutes of good and
evil. It is used to paint a false
dichotomy between us, the “good guys”, and others that are portrayed as
evil. I have traveled extensively, and
met good people everywhere. There are
both positive and negative impulses in us all.
The line between good and evil does not run between us and “them”, or
between our country and other countries.
It runs right through each and every one of us.
In addition to
effectively advocating aggressive militarism, Neoconservatism has allied itself
with laissez-faire capitalism to help cultivate cronyism and corporate
prerogative. It opposes regulation. It champions privatization and the
limitation of corporate liability. It
welcomes the outsourcing of jobs and the weakening of civil service
rights. It harms society by failing to
adequately support funding for good public education, affordable healthcare,
and employment programs that benefit the underprivileged.
Republicans have been so
successful in dominating politics, in spite of the anti-populist and
retrogressive aspects of their doctrines, for several reasons. They organize very effectively. They have used the anger and fear generated
by 9/11. They have pandered to rich
people who have vested interests in protecting Status Quo doctrines. They abuse power and compel loyalty amongst
their ranks. They also have invested
heavily in dozens of right-wing think tanks whose purpose is to influence the
media and public opinion. These
organizations frame issues in favor of unregulated capitalism and conservative
propaganda by aggressively providing their perspectives to legislators,
lobbyists, judges, and the media.
The American press has
abdicated the integrity of journalistic ethics by collaborating to a great
extent with this effort to influence and distort public opinion. Why?
Because the media is owned by some of the largest corporations in the country,
and Republican policies are very favorable to the profitability of these
companies and to their ability to abuse corporate power and privileges. General Electric owns NBC; Viacom owns CBS; Disney owns ABC; AOL Time
Warner owns CNN; and the right-wing
ideologue Rupert Murdoch controls the exceptionally biased Fox Network.
The capitalist system is
effectively brainwashing the American people.
At the same time, it is arguably bankrupting our country economically
and socially. These are amongst the
ways that capitalism is diminishing democratic fairness and intelligent
planning for a sustainable future.
As Mario Cuomo observed
in his book Reason to Believe in
1995, the conservative agenda is arguably “a new Harshness that will make our
problems worse, while stirring our meanest instincts and trampling upon our
We need public policies
that are SMART, not merely very clever.
Gaming the system to gain benefits at the public expense is clever. Giving lobbyists the power to write legislation
is clever. Deceiving people to
accomplish narrow goals is clever.
Using fear and the name of God to advance militarism is clever. Smearing opponents is clever. Fraud is clever. Deficit spending is clever.
Giving tax breaks to the rich is clever.
Far-sightedness is smart. Investing in positive outcomes is smart. Enacting Incentives and Disincentives that
are designed to achieve socially beneficial goals is smart. Acting to limit the destructive exploitation
of people and natural resources and public lands is smart. Redesigning our
economy to be sustainable is smart.
Progressive understandings are smart.
like the foolish Toad in Kenneth Grahame’s book, The Wind in the Willows.
Toad is so conceited with his cleverness that he commits the most
astonishing of compulsive follies. This
delightful story-telling is great to read aloud to children, and also enjoyable
for adults. It provides a highly
entertaining allegory of sensibility, wisdom, folly, recklessness, and the positivity
of faithful caring friendships. The
Mole, the Water Rat, and the Badger are wonderful characters!
decision-making involves critical thinking, honest assessment, and respectful
consideration of dissenting perspectives.
It is a poor long-term strategy to steamroll dissent, deceive the
public, and unfairly pander to vested interests. These negative initiatives increase the probabilities that our
government and society will not fairly solve our problems, and that problems
will become more and more expensive to remedy, or nearly impossible to
Sir Winston Churchill
once said the: “Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick
themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.”
I call on viewers to
consider what the truth really is. Cyclical
swings occur throughout history, and America has been swinging to the right for
too long. We must reject the doctrines
and supporters of Neoconservativism. We
must NOT re-elect politicians who march in ideological lockstep with the far
right, and who remain loyal to the tenets of the Neoconservatives!
Instead, let’s act to
make a positive difference in the world!
(This concludes Scene 12.)
Scene #13. (Shoot location:
Slides show of the tree of life, and fossils, and artists renderings of
ancient life forms. Start with
primitive kinds of plants and animals of the Paleozoic, then the mega fauna of
the Mesozoic, and then more modern life forms from the Cenozoic. Include artists’ conceptions of extinct mega
fauna --- dinosaur skeletons, dinosaur footprints, wooly mammoths,
saber-toothed tigers, etc.;
Hi, there is a part of
me that is also Tiffany Twain.
On a clear day, you can
see the Farallon Islands from here in northern California’s Point Reyes
National Seashore. Just south of the
Farallons, some wildlife enthusiasts on a whale-watching expedition in 1997
witnessed an attack by a killer whale that lifted a great white shark right out
of the water. It was apparently an
awesome display of the living world’s own mysterious and beautiful order.
Narrative:) This is an example of a
wondrous and dynamic balance that exists in the living systems of our extraordinary
home planet. All forms of life exist in
a fragile dance of survival. Life is
resilient, and yet humanity is upsetting this balance with its habitat
destruction, unthinking consumerism, forest clear-cutting, wildlife hunting,
land degradation, and pollution.
shows that for most of our history, human beings were hunters and gatherers,
leading an essentially nomadic existence.
It was not until about 10,000 years ago that primitive agriculture and animal
husbandry began. This allowed people to
settle down, creating villages and towns, and eventually cities and
There were many kinds of
mega fauna in North America just 10,000 years ago. Human hunting helped drive these creatures to extinction,
including elephant-like mastodons, wooly mammoths, giant camels, 5-ton ground
sloths, and saber-toothed tigers. Even
200 years ago there were millions of buffalo that have been driven nearly to
extinction. Huge flocks of passenger
pigeons and many other species have been completely wiped out.
As Richard Leakey, one of the world’s foremost
paleoanthropologists, said in a speech on February 22, 2006: “There is an inevitability to extinction,
but there is no inevitability to the cause of extinction being our own stupidity
and failure to act.”
Habitat destruction is crowding out more and more
species as our human impacts are having increasingly serious effects on
biodiversity. This is an ominous
We are figuratively sawing off the limbs of the
tree of life upon which we are ever-more precariously perched. We must address this trend with the greatest
possible sustained concern. One way to
do this is to defend the Endangered Species Act from being weakened. Our own well-being and that of our
descendents may well depend upon this.
Humanity has understood its role in causing
extinctions only since the late 17th Century, when the large
flightless Dodo bird was annihilated on its native island of Mauritius in the
Almost all species of life are nearly perfectly
adapted to the dynamic balance of conditions in the niches they occupy on
Earth. The recognition that the human
race is causing profound adverse changes to biological systems can arguably be
considered the beginning of a necessary revolution to change this.
Great new commitments must be made to finding better
ways to mitigate the growing destructiveness of human influences. Potential positive solutions abound. We must free ourselves to pursue them by
emasculating the powerful forces arrayed against these commitments!
Consider the useful concept of the carrying
capacity of habitats. Nature provides a
limited carrying capacity for every species of animal. The versatility of human ingenuity has
allowed the human race to extensively expand the range of places where we can
live. We have been able to temporarily
mask the natural limits on our population growth and our consumption activities
due to our abilities to make shelter, clothing and tools, and to utilize a wide
variety of sources of food and energy.
But we are already utilizing an estimated 40% of
the total annual biological productivity of our beautiful water planet. This means that between foraging,
agriculture, timber harvesting, wildlife hunting, animal husbandry, and fishing
activities, we are taking 40% of the total annul bounty of the planet for
Imagine the impact we will have as our population grows by
50% in the next 50 years!
In effect, we are simultaneously doing three
the non-renewable resources upon which we depend;
ecosystems through over-utilization, unsustainable exploitation, erosion,
pollution, and depletion; and,
our demands on natural systems with our increasingly effective exploitive
technologies and the dramatic increases in our human numbers.
In other words, we are steadily diminishing the
Carrying Capacity of the Earth to support us. This is a bad plan. We
are doing this while simultaneously failing to take meaningful steps to
conserve resources, reduce our consumer demands, or stem the tide of our human
population growth. The underpinnings of
everything upon which we depend cannot be continuously and unsustainably
Ideological struggles, security anxieties,
competition, and war have dominated human attentions in the last century. This has prevented a healthy ecological
perspective from gaining sway. But all
of these issues are inextricably interconnected, and it is arguably critically
important for us to be able to integrate our ideas in order to better cope with
challenges facing us.
live in a culture of waste. Even more
dramatically than we are consumers of goods, we are producers of
waste. The average American
produces about 1,600 pounds of garbage each year. We produce emissions of carbon dioxide exceeding 20 tons annually
per person. We waste electricity,
water, natural resources, and fossil fuels.
Prosperity through profligate consumption and the
creation of enormous quantities of waste is terminally shortsighted. We are faced with a serious choice: Either to choose to transform our economies
and our activities towards ones that are less wasteful, more healthy, and more
ecologically sound --- or to choose to stick with the Status Quo until we are
forced to change by scarcities, social strife, worsening international
conflicts, or ecological collapse.
A rapid “greening” of American business is
necessary. Practical and far-sighted
initiatives are needed to help create better public policies. To make our societies more fair, more safe,
and more sane, we need creative individuals with clarity of mind and energy of
will --- which is a kind of definition of genius --- and people who are capable
of broadminded and effective responses to new situations --- which is the most
authentic kind of adaptive intelligence.
We are likely to be the last generation that will
be able to ignore resource depletion constraints. Scarcities of food, fuels, water and materials will make it
abundantly clear that the paradigm of endless growth in consumption and
population is not tenable.
Gifford Pinchot, who was Theodore Roosevelt’s
first Director of the then-newly-created U.S. Forest Service, referred to
CONSERVATION as “the greatest good to the greatest number of people for the
longest time”. Our “conservative”
leaders have become anti-conservation extremists in the pursuit of short-term
Special Interest benefits at the expense of the public good. They effectively oppose a fair legacy to
The Hopi Indians of the American Southwest have a
word which means “life out of balance.”
This word is “koyaanisqatsi.” It
implies that we are called to new ways of living on Earth. You have been watching footage from a
remarkable film entitled Koyaanisqatsi.
Intelligent planning requires that we wisely and courageously
make better choices. The quality of
economic growth, for instance, must be more important than the rate of
growth. We must REDEFINE PROGRESS to
recognize that it is not positive to increase spending on such things as higher
medical costs, growing pollution clean-up costs, and hyped-up military and
Homeland Security spending. Instead of
using the misleading measure of economic activity known as the Gross Domestic
Product, we should develop a Genuine Progress Indicator to more accurately gauge
the actual health of economic growth.
We would be wise to adopt a “no regrets” policy,
where we begin to make salubrious changes, even though there is some
uncertainty about the scope and severity of the challenges facing us! Join me in advocating positive change
now! Let us take responsibility!!
(This concludes Scene 13.)
location: At a waterfall in the
sunshine like Carson Falls, west of Fairfax, CA. Footage of tropical
beaches with coconut palms and/or beautiful coastline scenery. Casting:
Hi, I too am Tiffany Twain. You know, I feel very fortunate to be young
at heart, and healthy in body and spirit.
I am extremely sensitive to the beauty of Nature and the wonderful
richness of human experience. I hope
you share this appreciation with me!
Deep in our psyches, there is a profound connection of the human spirit
with the natural world.
The famous author Henry Miller once wrote: “I believe!
I believe! I believe because not
to believe is to become as lead, to lie prone and rigid, forever inert, to
waste away …”
Well, I myself strongly believe! My personal belief is that we must all seek
better understanding, and speak out in support of environmental protections,
and against inequity and injustice. These
are things we can do to help make the world a better place.
(Voiceover Narrative:) The Dalai Lama is a great man, and a truly spiritual person. He is cool, and wise, and
down-to-Earth. He does not adhere to
closed-minded dogmas. He helped write a
book entitled The Art of Happiness. Its central contention is that we can
identify factors that lead to happiness, and other factors that lead to
suffering. Having done this, he says
that, (and I quote) “with a certain inner discipline, we can undergo a
transformation of our attitude, our entire outlook and approach to living”, and
we can “gradually eliminate those factors which lead to suffering and cultivate
those which lead to happiness.” ---
“That is the way,” he says, to achieve true happiness.
The main psychological determinants of happiness
are arguably non-material. They are
family relationships, friendships, community connectedness, intimacy,
education, meaningful work, leisure time undertakings, creative and artistic
pursuits, participatory sports, simplicity of living, spiritual practices, and
the appreciation of nature.
The average person seems to be achieving less
fulfillment and less true happiness these days. Think about this!
Societies worldwide seem to be characterized by growing dysfunction and
increasing levels of anxieties.
Conflicts abound, and collective behaviors seem to be increasingly
pathological. People are too
materialistic. They are easy to
anger. They seem to be more and more
stubborn in their beliefs. The political
middle in the United States seems to have practically disappeared, and liberals
are being taunted and disenfranchised by social conservatives and religious
anti-progressives, whose attitudes bear little resemblance to the integrity and
responsibility of their traditions.
Honesty, fairness, limited government, fiscal
discipline, and respect for others seem to have become a thing of the
past. Television and radio talk shows
have become dominated by combative right-wing personalities like Rush Limbaugh. Generosity of spirit seems to be lost. Moderates in religious establishments seem
to have conceded their voices to radical religious fundamentalists like Pat
Robertson and Osama bin Laden.
What the Dalai Lama has
said about individual happiness may provide us with valuable perspective on how
we should be trying to improve the health and well-being of our societies. If we look closely at what truly provides
satisfaction, we might find out that what we need most is a more wholesome
approach to material things and relationships.
Material possessions, after all, too often come to possess us, with
newspaper, and magazine advertising tend to indoctrinate us with false
values. They effectively enshrine the
gods of materialism on the highest pedestal of our imaginations. Above all, the message of advertising is
that happiness is found in possessing things.
It subtly preaches that you should get all you can for yourself, and that
you should get it all as quickly as possible.
It champions variety, the seeking of pleasure, and the avoidance of
boredom. Buying things and owning
things have become central ways for us to try to make ourselves feel special
and more worthy.
consumer culture is causing us to fail to appreciate truer values. We have supersized our meals, our houses and
our automobiles, at significant social costs --- but has this improved the
quality of our lives?
Product promotion, changing
fashions, planned obsolescence, and the disposability of goods have the
negative effects of undermining conservation and wasting resources. They do this by creating increased demand
for unnecessary products.
Advertising and the
media generally do not contribute to wholesome values. They seem to be having the sinister effect of
encouraging winning at any cost, and of justifying unethical actions. Sex is used to sell products; youth is glamorized;
and people’s attention is diverted from vitally important things by sensationalism,
violence, and sports spectacles. These
characteristics of slick marketing contribute to a loss of awareness of positive
values such as healthy moderation, responsible thrift, genuine connectedness,
good communication, thoughtfulness, generosity of spirit, and integrity of
Human motivations are driven by needs and desires that largely
determine our actions and behaviors. Our needs range from the basic
necessities for food and water and sleep, to needs for safety and
security. Beyond these needs, we have
social needs for bonding and belonging, and esteem needs for self-respect and
the respect of others. The most noble
of human strivings relate to self-actualization needs, ethical actions, and
helping others. Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist, identified this
hierarchy of human needs.
Our societies would benefit from lifting everyone up above the level of
their basic needs. The political right
wing is arguably on the wrong side of this intention, with their enthusiasm for
special privileges for small elites, and their antagonism towards social
programs that benefit the less fortunate members of our society.
Bill Moyers, in a speech
just 5 weeks after September 11th, 2001, criticized the sad state of
our democracy, saying this: “Our business and political class owes us better
than this. After all, it was they who
declared class war twenty years ago, and it was they who won. They’re on top. If ever they were going to practice the magnanimity of winners,
this was the moment. To hide now behind
the flag while ripping off a country in crisis fatally -- fatally! -- separates
them from the common course of American life.”
closely. It is arguably both wrong and
immoral for our political leaders to create ever-increasing inequalities of
privilege, opportunity, income, wealth, security, and access to
healthcare. It is unfair and mean-spirited
to push economic policies that cause glaring inequities in our society. Worse still, the ruthless defense of this
unfair state of affairs is an outrage against our democratic Founding
Principles. Corrupt cronyism, divisive
strategies, harsh laws and punishment, stubborn repression, and hypocritical
self-righteousness are an affront to the ideals upon which our country was
Thomas Jefferson said, “The
price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”
We must remain vigilant against various forms of tyranny that are subtly
encroaching upon American society. Our
greatest protection from them is NOT in the weaponry that we amass, but rather,
in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “in the preservation of the spirit that prizes
liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere.” When we allow freedoms to be taken away, and
the rights of others to be trampled upon, we embark on a slippery-slope
course. We effectively facilitate
anti-democratic suppression of opposition, an intolerance of deviation from
doctrine, and a blind obedience to authoritarian rule.
wrong-headed priorities are a staggeringly serious tragedy for millions. Shame on our leaders for waging both an
expensive war on drugs and an extremely costly war on terrorism! These priorities ignore far greater threats
to the public’s safety and sanity. They
are doing this by avoiding the implementation of courageous initiatives to deal
with environmental damages, wetlands destruction, resource depletion,
pollution, toxic wastes, greenhouse-gas-exacerbated climate change, fiscal
irresponsibility, workplace injustices, assaults on human rights, terrible
poverty, and overpopulation.
Revelations in the
aftermath of Hurricane Katrina highlight our social vulnerabilities and the
risks of our current course of activities.
Conservatives have hijacked national concerns for the Katrina victims to
further advance their pet projects and doctrinal initiatives. They reduced environmental regulations,
suspended the Davis/Bacon Act that ensures fair wages for workers, cut programs
that benefit the poor, and gave generous no-bid contracts to giant corporations
like Halliburton. Not long after the
Katrina calamity, Congress was again cutting taxes for the wealthy. They continue to intensify efforts to
emasculate the Endangered Species Act.
And they are striving to accelerate the exploitation of natural
resources on public lands while avoiding bold conservation measures and solar
energy alternatives. The federal budget
for next year calls for selling off hundreds of thousands of acres of public
lands. These plans are misguided, irresponsible,
undisciplined, cynical, and myopic!
Ambrose Bierce defined
politics as “a strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles.” Politics involves personalities, posturing, deception,
rhetoric, and slick marketing. But
underneath all these distractions, an economic battle rages for wealth, power
and privilege. It is a struggle between
forces that advocate unrestricted freedom to “game” the system and opposing
forces that are concerned with greater fairness.
The conflict between
principles and special interests is especially apparent today, when rosy rhetoric
such as that in the State of the Union message is followed within days by a
federal government budget that reflects blatant contradictions and dramatically
different priorities than the deceptive words.
For instance, how
entertaining is this: The President
finally admits in the 2006 State of the Union message what experts have been
warning us about for decades: “America
is addicted to oil.” Then he follows it
up with a bold policy prescription: “The best way to break this addiction is
through technology.” Anyone who thought
about it for half a minute might conclude that, to the contrary, the best way
to break our addiction to oil would be NOT TO USE SO MUCH OF IT!
President and his Cabinet set out after the speech to barnstorm the country,
trying to deflect attention from the fact that the President’s budget actually
reduces the Department of Energy conservation programs by more than $100
million, and cuts the energy-saving Weatherization Assistance Program by a
third. The President’s first stop was
the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado. One observer says this: “But then—and don’t you hate it when this
happens? -- the day after the State of the Union, the Department of Energy
announces that $28 million in budget cuts will mean the layoff of 32
alternative energy researchers, many of them specializing in wind and biomass,
exactly the technologies that Bush had touted in his speech.” A few quick phone calls were made, no doubt,
to improve the plausibility of the photo op, and $5 million was taken out of
someone else’s budget and given back to the National Renewable Energy
Laboratory to hire back, at least temporarily, the laid-off researchers, just
in time for Bush’s speech.” Nice
Do they think the public
is STUPID? You will note some ridicule
and cynicism here. But this is not
merely criticism for its own sake. The
federal budget is a moral document. It
identifies the actual priorities of our leaders, not merely rhetorical
ones. When politicians say one thing,
but authorize another, it is an offense not only against the truth, but against
Tough Love conservatism sure seems to have a
serious compassion deficit. It panders
to attitudes that lack empathy. It encourages
extreme injustices. It is an attitude
of “I’ve got mine, too bad that you don’t have yours; you must not deserve it.” It is associated with an entire
constellation of Stern Father Beliefs, as defined by the famous linguist George
Lakoff. The highest goal of these beliefs
is to gain and maintain power and control.
Stern Father conservatism is additionally almost evangelical in its drives
to make society conform to its selfish, harsh, and authoritarian views.
Right wing politicians gain power by pandering to
the natural social conservatism of a segment of society. Then they abuse the power they have gained
by engineering society into molds that satisfy their own stern, puritanical,
and doctrinaire beliefs. They take
advantage of people’s instincts towards individualism and self-sufficiency, and
often pervert it into male prerogative and righteous intolerance.
The “Tough Love” crowd conveniently overlooks the
fact that the worst consequences of environmental degradation are visited upon
the work places, homes, families and bodies of the poor, both within the U.S.
and abroad. This is true environmental
injustice. The poor are
disproportionately vulnerable to toxic substance exposure at work and at
home. They are statistically far more
frequent victims of diseases caused by environmental factors. They are also more vulnerable to being
victims of violence, and to suffering from natural disasters and other
catastrophes. And since more than 45
million people do not have healthcare insurance, they are less able to deal
with medical problems.
These are serious social problems, not just
individual tough luck stories. It is
one thing to be stingy and hard-hearted about wealth and possessions, and even
opportunity. It is quite another to be complacent
and uncaring about the serious healthcare inequities in America today.
Universal healthcare should be a goal of our
government. Over 30% of the $2 trillion
dollars that Americans spent on healthcare last year was spent on administrative
red tape and bureaucracy. This is
absurd! If we had a sensible national
health insurance program, it could be completely paid for merely reducing these
The Republican approach to help contain rapid
increases in healthcare costs is to expand so-called “health-savings accounts”. But the healthy and the wealthy would be the
principal beneficiaries of such plans; health-savings accounts have, in fact,
been described as the “mother of all tax shelters”. Nice going, guys!
There are better solutions to this problem, as
well as to all of the daunting challenges facing us. But as usual, tenacious entrenched interests strive to perpetuate
their privileges and defend the dysfunctional Status Quo. This makes the problems worse.
My recommendation is this: We should fairly and courageously address
the causes and consequences of problems.
We should NOT just declare war on the symptoms of problems and throw
money at greedy interests that want to profit from the situation!
Americans seem generally opposed to
sacrifice and discipline of any sort.
Yet a new modicum of discipline would be valuable in our societies, a
balanced discipline that involves constructive qualities such as the acceptance
of responsibility, the dedication to truth, and the willingness to delay
gratification. We should find ways to
Somehow, I think the world would be a
far better place if sensible businessmen, objectively fair-minded people, and
spiritual leaders like the Dalai Lama had greater influence, and if right-wing
conservatism and religious extremism had less influence! Love, kindness and generosity should rightly
have a greater role in our public policies.
(This concludes Scene 14.)
location: The top of Angel Island,
panning slowly around 360 degree views starting from Mt. Tam in the NW. Or aerial photography of beautiful areas. Casting:
Hi, my name is Tiffany Twain. As you have found out, I believe that each
person must become a better steward of Planet Earth.
(Voiceover Narrative:) Most people would agree to certain basic principles, no matter
whether they are liberal or conservative in their political perspective. These principles would help ensure that our
societies more consistently plan ahead, and use strategic foresight, clarity of
understanding, broad-mindedness, and a commitment to fairness.
Here is a summary of principles that must be heeded
if we are to establish better policies and political initiatives:
(1) We must
work together to leave America a better country, and the world a better
place. We must embrace a positive, hopeful, affirmative vision of the
future, and strive to act consistently with noble values of fairness and the
common good. We must limit abuses of power by corporations and the
government. Greater privilege and profitability of Special Interests must
not be allowed to damage people’s health and the environment. Clean Money in Clean Elections and
progressive tax reforms must be instituted to reduce Vested Interest influence.
(2) NOW is
the time to confront great national problems. They must not be passed on
to future generations. We must not wait until we reach crisis stages
before addressing the challenges facing us. The nature of these problems
is that the longer we delay in dealing with them, the more intractable they will
become, and the more insidiously difficult and expensive it will be to solve
(3) We must
take into account the impact of all of our actions on the future. Our
activities and institutions must be intelligently redesigned to be economically
and fiscally sustainable in the long run.
Precautionary Principles must be heeded, reflecting strong concerns for
the effects that human activities are having on the environment.
(4) We must intelligently
prioritize our focus and federal spending. Our priorities must reflect better protections for people and the environment,
while never ignoring the impacts of decisions on the future. The
most critical problems should receive the most attention and funding. We
cannot allow our political leaders to eagerly spend hundreds of billions of
dollars on pork-barrel projects and military interventionism each year, while
being relatively stingy with humanitarian aid and sustainable development
assistance around the world.
(5) Better spending
discipline and greater fiscal responsibility must be instituted. Our
leaders cannot be allowed to fleece the future by borrowing enormous sums of
money. The weak-willed pandering to
easy political expediency in the form of deficit spending must not be allowed. It is unfair, irresponsible, and shortsighted.
We must address our problems today in
ways that do not harm the prospects of the future.
government must be held to strict standards of honesty, accountability, and
oversight. Our leaders must be required
to do what is in the best interests of the public and of humanity, and to
reduce the extent to which they pander to the best interests of the wealthy, of
giant corporations, of war profiteers, and of Vested Interests. We must refute the distorting rhetoric and
deceptions of politicians.
(7) We must
hasten the arrival of a cleaner energy regime by embracing conservation,
increased efficiency, and innovation for fossil fuel alternatives. We must stop giving enormous subsidies to
Big Oil to maintain the status quo of wasteful energy usages and oil and
natural gas dependence. We are gambling with our national security to
pursue policies that are oriented around trying to facilitate our access to
(8) We must
be flexible, open-minded, and willing to embrace progressive change. We
must encourage respectful debate rather than suppressing dissenting views in
(9) We must
insist on making our democracy more participatory, fairer, and more progressive. We must be open to better ideas. We must
support better public education, emphasizing critical thinking skills, and
giving every person more of a chance to develop his or her potentials. We
must be committed to finding consensus to help solve problems. We must build
trust, and not just stubbornly stick to dogmatic doctrines and unexamined
(10) We must make our societies and systems of justice
(11) We must rein in the power, wastefulness and
intrusiveness of the federal government, which has increased its size in the
last 50 years from 25% of the national income to an astonishing 45%. The
purpose of government should NOT be to create jobs in an ever-expanding
bureaucracy and an ever-growing military. And,
(12) We must make sweeping changes in our social
investments and environmental policies to ensure the integrity of clean water,
healthy ecosystems, biodiversity, public lands, the world’s oceans, and the
These are compelling issues that require bold,
visionary, honorable and fair national responses. Almost everyone
would agree that one of the most important purposes of our government is to
help establish a safe, healthy, fair and sustainable society, while
simultaneously allowing a maximum of individual freedoms. Our prosperity
and our fulfillment of deeper purposes depend on this.
People disagree as to how to achieve the goal of creating
a wholesome society. On the one hand, some feel that we should pursue
success through trust in father figure authority, patriarchal strength,
self-discipline, unyielding convictions, obedience, unregulated free markets,
materialistic consumption, tax cutting, deficit spending, subsidies for big
corporations, an extremely strong and aggressive military, unsympathetic
mercilessness, sink-or-swim social Darwinism, harsh punishment for wrong-doing,
repressive social policies, and uncompromising foreign policy.
Others feel that a safe and healthy society can
best be achieved by emphasizing empathic understanding, true fairness of
opportunity, open two-way communication, honesty, respect for others,
responsible parenthood, peace-building initiatives, limited government
intrusiveness, consumer protections, a clean and unpolluted environment,
reasonable workers’ rights, sustainable activities, consensus-building,
cooperation, mutual trust, fiscal responsibility, moderation of consumption,
wholesome community-building, the fair empowerment of women, and a maximum of
civil liberties within a context of a minimum of obstacles for pursuing
A healthy society is one that respects its
traditional values, yet is flexible enough to adapt to change. Social
health is greatest where individuals are respected, and a strong sense of
family and community is fostered.
Institutions and programs are needed to help
people cope who have suffered misfortune or adverse circumstances in their
lives. Luck, in both inheritance and circumstance, plays a very large
role in each of our lives. Since
calamity and adversity can befall anyone, at any time, it behooves us to create
a truly compassionate society wherein there is at least a minimal safety net
for those who fall through the cracks.
We cannot allow the poor and the disenfranchised and the underprivileged
to be exploited, neglected, or taken advantage of when they are down.
The ancient Temple of Apollo at Delphi had two engraved
wisdoms that we should honor: “Know
Thyself”; and “Nothing in Excess.”
One thing we should know is this: self-interest is one of the most powerful of
human motivations, but self-interest is not identical to our individual selfish
interests, for in the end, self-interest is necessarily linked to the common
Let’s embrace all of our best understandings for a saner
and healthier society!
(This concludes Scene 15.)
Scene #16. (Shoot location: The top of Heavenly Valley ski lifts panning around 360
degrees; On a point at Lake level on
Emerald Bay. Footage of sea life
including Tuna and Octopuses in the Monterey Aquarium, and colorful tropical
fishes. Casting: Peter Coyote).
Hi, Tiffany Twain here again.
(Voiceover Narrative:) Beliefs have been powerful motivators of the human race. They have been the impulse behind some of
the greatest of humanity’s ideas, art works, and accomplishments. They ground us, sustain us, and give us
purpose and meaning in our lives.
But beliefs can also be seen as severe
limitations. They can render us
intolerant and closed-minded to the richness of possibility and fair
understanding. Arrogant beliefs, after
all, have been the cause of some of the most extraordinary persecutions and
villainies of all time. They have
contributed to violence, wars, genocide, harsh repression, pogroms, torture,
the burning of women at the stake, and other terrible atrocities throughout
Today, beliefs have become dangerously partisan,
divisive, confused, and conflicted.
They threaten our social well-being with powerful cultural
conflicts. Dogmatic beliefs are being
used to facilitate terrible abuses of power.
Sure, there are enormous complexities and a wide
diversity of opinions in the world. But
diversity is strength. We must not
allow our societies to be devastated by intolerance, blind beliefs,
wrong-headed propaganda, divisive tactics, distorted perspectives, half truths,
greedy compulsions, stimulated acquisitiveness, or self-righteous drives for
power and dominance. We must reject
fundamentalism, and seek radically clearer understandings and fairer actions.
Most people, curiously,
do not live by any particular philosophy.
As John Fowles wrote, “At most there are occasions when we act more or
less in accordance with some philosophy with which we approve. Much more than we let philosophies guide our
lives, we allow obsessions to drive them; and there is no doubt which has been
the great driving obsession of the last one hundred and fifty years. It is money.” “Having, not being, governs our time.”
Steinbeck wrote the following words about one of his characters in his novel Sweet Thursday, “It was Fauna's
conviction, born out of long experience, that most people, one, did not know
what they wanted; two, did not know how to go about getting it; and
three, didn't know when they had it."
John Fowles would
agree. He notes that “We have not only
an exasperating inability to get all that we want, but also the excoriating
counter-cutting fear that what we want to get is, in terms of a dimly glimpsed
but far richer human reality, worthless.”
I want to give viewers a clear frame of reference of my
thoughts, beliefs, and perspective.
The Universe is a marvelous place, with an
incomprehensibly infinite scope, and an unfathomably long history. It consists of billion of galaxies each
containing billions of stars. We call the
closest star the Sun. It has nine planets
and vast belts of asteroids and comets in orbits around it. The planets have 158 currently known
Our home planet provides overwhelming evidence of
life that has been evolving for billions of years. It has culminated, from our point of view, in our species, Homo
sapiens, at this fleeting point in time.
We are uniquely capable of contemplating these
insights about the Universe, the past, the probable future, and our own
existence within the context of it all.
Our human perceptions struggle to comprehend the awe-inspiring context
of our existence. Yet our minds are
scarcely capable of such expansive understanding, so we tend to cling to simple
myths and shallow beliefs and desperately myopic ideas. We adhere to dogmas that embody our great
fears and our desperate hopes.
We imagine that there is an all-powerful and
suspiciously anthropocentric God. There
is some truth in all religions; this is
one reason that we must foster tolerance, not intolerance of others.
Our best hope for the future is that our
intelligence gives us an advantage over the millions of forms of life that have
become extinct over the long sweep of geological history. We are able to think, and to learn. We are capable of great flexibility, of
adapting ourselves to our surroundings by making clothing and shelter, and
growing food, and raising animals. This
gives us the ability, to a certain extent, to shape our own destinies.
But we are at the top of the food chain, so we are
vulnerable to the destruction of the biological support systems upon which we
rely. Our extraordinary biological
success carries within it the seeds of our own destruction. Science ironically gives us the ability to
destroy ourselves, as well as an enhanced ability to save ourselves. The race is on!
Our aggregate impacts on fundamental life support
systems are rapidly approaching dangerous overload. The carrying capacity of the Earth may ultimately prove
inadequate to support the 9 billion people we will otherwise have within 50
In our profound human hubris, we stubbornly and
myopically continue to fight our small daily skirmishes and our wars, blindly
denying the fact that to survive and prosper as a species we must choose to radically
transform the modus operandi of our societies.
This transformation requires that we limit consumerism and embrace resource
conservation. And we must freely encourage
contraception and other safe birth control methods to limit our population
We are in a kind of collective denial of the fact
that we are fundamentally altering the ability of the planet to support us. It is simply foolish not to take action to
protect wildlife habitats, safeguard the planet’s biodiversity, consume
non-renewable resources in sustainable ways, conserve fossil fuels, and reduce
the flow of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Our leaders are contributing to these problems,
instead of courageously trying to solve them.
Our societies should be mitigating the risks associated with
environmental harm and rapid global warming. We can no longer accept leaders
that act as mere cheerleaders for the privileges of vested interests and
regressive economic policies and the short-term profitability of irresponsible
The fact of the matter is that the current
Administration has been consistently trying to hide the truth in many ways,
like in abstinence-only sex education and the censorship of voices in such
places as NASA and the Environmental Protection Agency.
scientists have recently found that Greenland glaciers and Arctic ice
are melting rapidly. Hurricanes, and
storms, and drought seem to be intensifying in many areas of the world. Yet our leaders continue to figuratively
fiddle while Rome burns. The privileged
strive all too successfully to feather their nests, obtain tax cuts, and fleece
the government through pork barrel spending projects. They buy shares of munitions-producing corporations and ruthless
war profiteers and extractive industries and consumer goods businesses so that
they can share in profits that are being earned at a high cost to the public’s
Our clarity of
understanding is obscured by the minutia of too much information and too many
manipulative influences trying to convince us that their doctrines are right
and to get us to buy their products.
Economic drives are powerful and pervasive, and they are unfortunately strongly
opposed to fairer outcomes and better policies for humanity.
understandings herald a new age of great truths and important changes in our
behaviors. Ecology tells us that
everything is interconnected and interdependent. This should help us appreciate the awe-inspiring grandeur of the
Earth and its eons-long evolutionary history.
Avarice, blind belief,
orthodoxy, stubbornness, and arrogance should not be allowed to destroy the
vital basics of life. We must cease
sawing off the limbs of the tree of life upon which we depend. The destruction of the healthy balance of
nature simply must be prevented. Our
leaders must not be allowed to pander so exclusively to business interests and narrow
religious establishments at the expense of the greater good.
We each have little
control over most of the circumstances that we encounter. Nonetheless, we must make the best of
whatever comes our way. Attitude is
important. Our collective destiny must
be one that we choose with a positive attitude. We are all in this together.
Vigilance and awareness
are needed. We must recognize the
choices that we do have, and develop more responsible and more accessible
institutions for influencing outcomes.
We must do this as individuals, as citizens, as employees, as owners, as
leaders, as followers, as communities, and as a thinking species.
Reason must guide
us. And reason must prevail.
(This concludes Scene 16.)
Scene #17. (Shoot location: tbd. Casting:
Hi, I am one with Tiffany Twain in the following
Great forces are at play in the world, forces of
cause and effect, action and reaction, progress and regress, development and
Throughout history, great empires have been seen to
grow, climax, and decay. Studies of
previous civilizations reveal that DECLINE generally occurs because of the same
combination of causes. These include:
1. Resources are decimated
2. The military becomes bloated
3. An unfair plutocracy
becomes established that is characterized by an ever-greater disparity between
the fortunes of the rich and the poor;
4. Political corruption
5. The public becomes apathetic,
cynical, and effectively disenfranchised;
6. The populace grows
complacent, and is diverted by sports spectacles, divisive social policies, and
is a massive influx of people and their customs from abroad.
Think about this. These are the seven characteristics of the
decay of civilization, and we are channeling them as if they were some virtuous
Eleven score and ten years ago, in the
year 1776, our fathers brought forth upon the American continent a new nation,
conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created
equal. The Founding Principles of the
United States were these: fairness for all; equal rights under the law; the promoting of the General Welfare; the limitation of intrusive federal
government power; and the
establishment of rules of law that create reasonable justice and protect the
freedoms of individuals to live their lives in reasonable hopes of pursuing
We hold these rights to be
self-evident and inalienable: that citizens are guaranteed certain privacies
and liberties, including the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion, and
that there must be strict limitations on the government in its ability to
interfere with our individual liberties and our reasonable pursuit of
The Constitution of the United States
and the Bill of Rights together form a brilliant and visionary system of
principles and laws that is strong, fair, flexible, and forward thinking. These documents were very far ahead of their
time, in terms of American society being able to fully embrace the promises
they made. In fact, it took almost 80
years, and the Civil War, before black slaves were given equal rights under the
law with the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868. And it took another 52 years thereafter
before women won the same right as men to vote with the 19th
Amendment in 1920. It took longer still
before desegregation, greater civil rights for women, and environmental
protections were written into law.
The amendments to the U.S.
Constitution embodied in the Bill of Rights were intelligently designed to
guarantee everyone equal rights for two principal and very important reasons:
Firstly, to protect the majority from the tyranny of the minority
in power. This recognizes the fact that
most forms of government, like dictatorships, oligarchies, monarchies, and
aristocracies, do a poor job of protecting citizens.
Secondly, to protect minorities from the tyranny of the majority. Fascist governments and theocracies have
been particularly pathetic in respecting the rights of minorities.
The remarkable success of the United
States has been a product of its rich heritage of natural resources, its
innovative spirit, its open-mindedness, its system of checks and balances in
democratic government, and its progressive evolution of citizen rights and
Our leaders have the responsibility of
helping contribute to a healthier and fairer society. We should not let elite segments strive so staunchly to turn back
the clock and erode the great progress that American society has so remarkably
Our national Pledge of Allegiance
concludes with the words, “one Nation
under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.” Today’s politicians strive to gain advantage
by dividing people, using the selfish expediency of stimulated inequities. They use God’s name, but they don’t seem to
give a damn about fair justice. And at
the same time, they are eroding people’s civil liberties in order to assert
greater power and control. Nice going,
The equality of education, and of
opportunity, that a country’s citizens have is a significant measure of social
justice. But politicians generally
cater to the already privileged. This
is why it is necessary to establish more effective institutions to advance the
causes of fairness. Our goal must be to
encourage a maximum of personal freedoms for all people to pursue fulfillment,
within the context of a secure, wholesome structure of fair and just laws and
The privilege-defending power elite
have tried to redefine “justice” to mean the meting out of harsh retribution,
not of equality or fairness. Most
people would agree that the Founding Fathers were a more progressive and
Political leaders have the responsibility of helping contribute to a
healthier and fairer society. The
powerful elite segments of society almost always seek to create circumstances
narrowly favorable to themselves, no matter how adverse the impacts of their
actions on the majority. Conservative
elites in America generally strive to turn back the clock on social progress,
eroding the great forward strides that have been so remarkably been achieved
for such groups as women and minorities.
We must struggle to protect progressive gains, and to reject regressive
Our American economic and political systems have been allowing an
increasingly unfair and ruthless favoritism of the rich, and of giant
corporations, since the Reagan Revolution of 1980. We have effectively been going along with the idea that
short-term profits and special privileges are more important than people,
progressive principles, and future generations!
Mark my words. Americans must boldly fight back, demanding
progressive values and positive change.
The very future of hope lies in broad-mindedness, intelligent foresight,
wise planning, honesty, clear understanding, shared security, true justice,
peaceful conflict resolution, empathetic social policies, fairness of
opportunity under the law, strong support for good public education, fiscal
responsibility, sustainable activities, ecological sanity, courage, moderation,
integrity, generosity of spirit, the empowerment of local communities, and committed
caring about future generations.
The forces of elitist privilege,
obsessive profit-making, and narrow-mindedness must not be allowed to engineer
our society into one that has faith in false doctrines and anti-progressive
politics. We must oppose unfettered
corporate power, wasteful materialism, and the unsustainable exploitation of
the world’s natural resources.
Social programs must be made more
progressive, not more regressive.
Discrimination cannot be allowed in rules of law related to minorities, women’s
rights, and civil union rights for gay people.
Significant policy changes require a
shift in our worldviews. Our societies’
reigning paradigms serve to provide justification for actions and behaviors
that are simply too detrimental to honorable fairness to be allowed to continue
without intelligent redesign.
New ways must be found to ensure that
people are guided in the direction of moderate consumption. We must maintain a fair concern for the
public well-being. We must take more
responsibility for the stewardship of the natural systems upon which all of
humanity ultimately depends.
In summary, our mission to be
accomplished must be to create healthier and more secure societies through
broad education, fairness of opportunity, sustainable development, reasonable
environmental protection, balanced discipline, and committed
Plato philosophized that societies
should be led by their wisest members.
We must reject ideological shortsightedness, and grave injustices, and
stimulated inequities. Repression,
authoritarianism, and stubborn religious extremism must be marginalized and replaced
with more far-sighted initiatives!
We all seek purpose, inspiration,
identification, and valid reasons for being.
Let us see deeper into our souls.
Let us find healthier outlets for our energies. Let us listen more closely to our reason and
There is an old parable that became a religious
joke about reason and faith. It goes
It had been raining for days and days, and a terrible flood came
over the land. The waters rose so high that one man was forced to climb onto
the roof of his house.
As the waters rose higher and higher, a man in a rowboat appeared,
and told him to get in. “No,” replied the man on the roof. “I have faith in the Lord; the Lord will
save me.” So the man in the rowboat
went away. The man on the roof prayed
for God to save him.
The waters rose higher and higher, and suddenly a speedboat
appeared. “Climb in!” shouted a man in the boat. “No,” replied the man on the roof. “I have faith in the Lord; the Lord will save me.” So the man in the speedboat went away. The man on the roof prayed for God to save
The waters continued to rise.
A helicopter appeared and over the loudspeaker, the pilot announced he
would lower a rope to the man on the roof.
“No,” replied the man on the roof. “ I have faith in the Lord; the Lord
will save me.” So the helicopter went
away. The man on the roof prayed for
God to save him.
The waters rose higher and higher, and eventually they rose so
high that the man on the roof was swept away, and alas, the poor man drowned.
Upon arriving in heaven, the man marched straight over to
God. “Heavenly Father,” he said, “I had
faith in you, I prayed to you to save me, and yet you did nothing. Why?”
God gave him a puzzled look, and replied “I sent you two boats and a
helicopter, what more did you expect?”
The moral of the story? No matter how fervent our wishful thinking,
and no matter how hopeful our prayers, it is our ability to reason that will
save us, not our blind faith. As the
famous astronomer and philosopher Galileo Galilei stated, “I do not feel
obligated to believe that the same god who has endowed us with sense, reason,
and intellect has intended us to forego their use.”
In actual modern day experience, God
does not miraculously intervene in the physical world; no, in reality, it is human activities that
directly affect each and every one of us.
Here is where we must make committed strides towards making our world
safer and saner. We must act with
greater intelligence, and put our trust in helping to save ourselves.
Imagine a better world. It's easy if you try. Hope, confidence, optimism, positive dreams,
faith, and nobility of intention provide a wholesome starting point. But wishful thinking alone is
inadequate. Critical thinking, clear
reasoning, freethinking, and fair-mindedness are valuable and important to the
We must cultivate positive attitudes, and
strive with determination to make this a better world. We must apply human awareness, imagination, ingenuity,
creativity, enthusiasm, and spiritual caring to the solving of the challenges
that face humanity. Please join in
helping to achieve these goals!
(This concludes Scene 17.)
Scene #18. (Shoot location: tbd. Casting:
Bonnie Raitt or a cute thin gal wearing a sexy top. Footage of feminine activities, women’s
sporting competitions, political marches, romantic scenes, erotic kissing,
hugs, and such.)
Hi! I am Tiffany
Americans are lucky to live in a culture that
allows a relative freedom of expression.
Good for us!
Writer Anais Nin once observed this about herself:
were always, in me, two women at least, one woman desperate and bewildered, who
felt she was drowning, and another who only wanted to bring beauty, grace and
aliveness to people.”
I advocate figuratively tossing a life saver vest
to women in need, and to all of the most vulnerable people in our societies,
The most wonderful
female in all of literature is Jorge Amado’s Gabriela. You meet her when reading Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon. Gabriela represents tender-hearted
affection, simplicity, a free and happy attitude, and a beauty of spirit.
I implore the beautiful
Gabriela to be my Muse for this Scene, because I need all the help I can
get! Please help me untangle the
mysteries of everything woman.
Let’s focus on women’s issues here.
Women have progressed far beyond the stage that
men can expect them to remain barefoot and pregnant and subservient. Sure, men like to see us in high heels and
diaphanous blouses and slit skirts.
Hey, they are even fun to wear if you are lucky enough to look good in
But there is more to life than fleeting
sexiness. We women are people who have
rights, too, you know! We are not,
after all, living in a modern day Animal
Farm of George Orwell’s imagination where “All animals are equal, but some
animals are more equal than others.”
the sad truth is that some animals ARE treated far “more equal” than others in
America today. But this should not be; both our Constitution and true nature of democracy
deny official sanction to such a state of affairs.
Mark Twain in his Notebook in 1895 wrote these
easily perceive that the peoples furthest from civilization are the ones where
equality between man and woman are furthest apart --- and we consider this one
of the signs of savagery. But we are so
stupid that we can’t see that we thus plainly admit that no civilization can be
perfect until exact equality between man and woman is included.”
An age-old struggle has been occurring between
males, jealous of their power and prerogatives, and females seeking respect and
equal rights. This struggle has been
characterized by inequities, unfairness, sex discrimination, hypocrisy,
resentment, abuse, hostility, and violence.
From a female perspective, American society seems far too discriminatory. It seems empathy-deficient, violence-prone,
testosterone-filled, and too much obsessed with the “sins” of others. It is unfairly influenced by evangelical
religious fundamentalism, which is about power and control, not spirituality.
Good God! Such
things as the Global Gag Rule and an ever-so-long litany of legislative
actions, omissions, sexual harassment, social program cuts, and political
appointments of conservative political operatives are highly contrary to the
best interests of women and children.
I feel strongly that the single most important
initiative that can be taken worldwide to improve human societies would be to
embrace programs to educate and empower girls and women. Much poverty, inequity, and suffering is
caused by discrimination against the female sex and the stratification of
Women should have equal rights to men. Sex discrimination should be minimized. Women should earn the same amount of pay as men for comparable
jobs. This is only fair.
A very good way to move towards greater equality
in societies would be to institute international school lunch programs such as
those advocated by George McGovern and Bob Dole. Such programs, generously financed by the United States and
developed countries, would reduce hunger and poverty, encourage school
attendance, and create great goodwill for America and the West. Since girls represent two-thirds of the 100
million children who do not attend school worldwide, this program would be a
beneficial long-term strategy to educate and empower women. It would provide many families with better
opportunities. This in turn would be
very fair, and it would make a great contribution towards social empathy,
gender equality, better communication, and reproductive responsibility.
In healthcare matters, the prevention of disease
is almost always less expensive and easier to deal with than diseases and their
consequences. For instance, hundreds of
thousands of people die every year from lung cancer, but most of them would
avoid getting lung cancer if they understood and heeded the risks and causative
impacts of cigarette smoking. This is
instructive. We see that desires,
compulsions, and addictions lead to negative healthcare impacts, and that
prevention is a much better strategy than treatment after the fact.
Likewise, prevention of pregnancy is a far better
strategy than forcing women to deal with the emotional turmoil of choosing to
have an abortion, or with the negative social consequences of making them have
either (1) unwanted children, or (2) children for whom they are incapable of
The goal of society should be to reduce unintended
pregnancies through good sex education and expanded family planning
services. Abstinence education is only
one way to prevent unintended pregnancies.
All women should have access to good basic healthcare and affordable
birth control. Contraception is an
important means to prevent both unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted
diseases. The suppression of
birth-control practices is essentially a puritanical attempt to repress private
sexuality. Conservatives just hate
Let’s be frank and honest: sexual drives are
natural and powerful, and we live in times where sexual intercourse is not
necessarily linked to reproduction, so the sex act need not be morally regarded
as being done only to reproduce. Contraceptive
methods have moved beyond the rhythm method, folks --- and it is ethically
wrong to try to prevent women from using contraceptives to protect themselves
from pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
Once a man’s sperm fertilizes an egg, emergency
contraception in the form of Plan B is an important way to choose to prevent
pregnancy. Such methods should be
openly supported by society, and they should freely be made available. There are many reasons that a woman may want
to choose Plan B. For instance, if a woman
is raped by a man, or is seduced under the influence of intoxicants; or when a woman has sex with a man that she
definitely doesn’t want to have a child with.
And as a final resort, women must be guaranteed
the right to have access to a safe, legal abortion. The decision to have an abortion is traumatic and personally
difficult, so society should be supportive of women who choose it.
There are 50 million abortions worldwide every
year. We could very significantly
reduce this number by investing in good women’s health clinics around the
world, and by supporting healthy sex education and unwanted pregnancy
prevention programs and the availability of contraceptives. We should embrace such initiatives
resolutely and generously.
The religious war over abortion rights and the
consequences of anti-choice activities cost billions of dollars a year. Millions of unwanted pregnancies occur
annually, with devastating consequences for individuals, for our societies, and
for the environment.
The government should not interfere with a woman’s
right to choose to terminate a pregnancy in the first trimester. Judges must not be appointed to the Supreme
Court who are ideological extremists or religious fundamentalists who oppose the
freedom of women to control their own bodies and destinies.
We are essentially in the middle of an extremely
costly and highly divisive religious war over the question of whether we should
force unwilling pregnant women into motherhood. Shall we honor every pregnant woman’s rights, needs, desires, and
choices? Shall we prohibit them the
option to choose NOT to become a mother?
The anti-abortion war must end. We have a multitude of problems that are far
more pressing. The devastating
consequences of our environmental ignorance and arrogance are changing our
world in ways we have yet to fully comprehend.
We simply cannot afford to divert our attention, our time, and our
resources into forcing women to bear unwanted children.
Religious fundamentalism is the primary force opposing
a woman’s freedom to choose whether or not to keep a fertilized embryo, however
conceived, until it becomes a viable fetus.
Women should not be treated as subordinate beings. Their purpose is not to be subservient to
men’s desires and authority. If men got
pregnant instead of women, you can bet that abortion would be regarded as a
sacred right, rather than a wrongful act!
Almost all of the holy books and sacred scriptures
of the world’s nine major religions were written by men between 1,400 B.C. and
1,400 A.D. In other words, they were
written long ago, in ancient times, when our cultures and challenges were far
different. These writings are being interpreted
today by religious establishments that are distinctly biased toward male
supremacist worldviews. Religious
establishments are almost invariably patriarchal, anti-egalitarian,
anti-democratic, and obsessed with male-authoritarian self-righteousness.
The notion that mankind must “be fruitful and
multiply” is another dangerous anachronism.
It is a Biblical idea that reflects an outmoded anthropocentric moral
stricture. It conforms to the vested interest
that Churches have in spawning more believers.
Such pronatalism conflicts with the modern reality
that resources are limited and the integrity of ecosystem health is threatened
by overpopulation. Civilization does
not need more people. The rapid growth
in human numbers vastly complicates and seriously intensifies environmental and
social problems. The two factors that
most seriously threaten the well-being of all life on Earth are population
growth and our economic addiction to growth and ever-increasing consumption.
Manifesto argues that we should cultivate the feminine virtues of earnest
cooperation, constructive communication, compassionate understanding, peaceful
conflict resolution, self-restraint, and a more nurturing caring for others and
for Mother Earth. The sacred Mother
goddess qualities have been severely suppressed by our patriarchal societies for
centuries. They must be resurrected!
An invigorated ecological feminist movement is
needed to help unite people in affirming true values, fairness, and sustainable
goals in public and business policy.
These are word of passionate hope. They are
channeled from a dispassionate observer beyond individual minds, beyond the
psychic numbing of reinforced fears, beyond our graves … far beyond … from somewhere
deep in the well of our collective awareness that the world could be a much
better place, one with empathy and peace, one with social justice and fairness,
and one that is far more secure in its framework, constitution, and design.
The Beatles’ lyrics sing
out the praises of generous-heartedness:
you need is love, love,
Love is all you need!”
Love and compassion are
great guides for our understanding. Let
the pervasive spirit of love and generosity infuse and guide each of us!
Let us dwell on our
deep-seated needs to love and to be loved.
Let our nobler feelings of be fair components in all of our deliberations
and actions. And let believers of all
faiths accept the Golden spirit of the credo, “live and let live.” Jesus, Mohammed, and the Buddha would
surely have concurred!
We make our destinies by the gods we choose. Let us choose more wisely!
(This concludes Scene 18.)
(Shoot location: tbd. Casting: tbd. Footage: tbd.)
Hi, my name is Tiffany Twain.
I was brought up in a small town with solid values
and a respectful attitude towards others.
I was shy, and was quite susceptible to conformity to expectations and
parental guidance. Conformity is the contemporary Procrustean
bed. Conformity cuts people off from
parts of themselves that don’t fit, or stretches them in ways inconsistent with
their true selves.
But frankly there are some things that one must
transcend. Conventional wisdom says
that we should not talk about politics and religion in polite company. But today we need to rebel against such
strictures. We need to talk about these
things more than ever before. The
reason for this is that government and politics and religion are interfering
more and more in our lives and in intelligent planning for the future. There is a great deal riding on our need to
be more flexible and open to embracing positive change.
Established religions have
historically sided with establishment powers and political conservatives in opposition
to visionary and salubrious understandings.
The United States has a long tradition of separating church from state,
but there is an equally powerful propensity for people to mix religion with
politics. Throughout our nation’s
history, great progressive political and social movements – from abolition to
women’s suffrage to civil rights to today’s struggles over abortion and gay
marriage – have drawn upon religious institutions for moral authority,
leadership and organizational muscle.
conservatism is being woven ever more deeply into the fabric of partisan
politics. To the extent that religion
embraces conservatism and opposes more far-sighted understandings, it is a
danger to our democracy and future well-being.
It also bodes ill for our success in coping with converging threats of
economic and ecological catastrophes.
The religious right must not be allowed to impose dogmas on American
society impede our progress towards adaptive intelligence.
God is not dead. Everyone should feel free to believe
whatever they like. Remember that our
Bill of Rights specifically guarantees the free exercise of religion. But our government must not side with any
one particular religious dogma.
channels the human spirit into reason-denying faith and unyielding
doctrines. Religious establishments
tend to foster ignorance, and to harbor convictions that are ethnocentric and
discriminatory. This unfortunately
plays into the hands of society’s power-hungry and reactionary political right
Religion has been used
throughout history as a kind of numbing opiate for the masses, a reassuring
propaganda that begins its indoctrination with innocents, catechizing children
with its stories of mythological beings, heroes, villains, and fables.
Ethnocentricity is a
natural tendency to regard one’s own cultures as superior, desirable, moral and
worthy, and to regard the culture of other peoples as inferior, ridiculous,
immoral and unworthy. This is
particularly true of religious attitudes.
Believers tend to regard their own religion as the only true, revealed
and moral faith, while they regard all others as deluded and false. The world is becoming figuratively smaller,
and the competition for resources and dominance is heating up, making one thing
perfectly clear: The costs of remaining
parochial and ethnocentric are becoming intolerably great.
Every culture throughout
history has had its superstitions, story-telling, myths, and religious beliefs,
as evidenced by early Mother figurines, by representations of deities in clay
and stone, by cave paintings, by oral traditions and rituals and ceremonies,
and most recently as encapsulated in the written word. Anthropologists have found extensive
evidence in primitive cultures of Nature worship, animism, polytheism,
idolatry, and fetishism. Polytheistic conceptions
eventually evolved into a more sophisticated “one-god” understanding, as well
as more philosophical ideas like those contained in Buddhism.
The popular book Into Thin Air was written by the perceptive author Jon Krakauer,
who also wrote an insightful book about the Mormon religion entitled Under the Banner of Heaven. In this book, he observes: “There are
some 10,000 extant religious sects -- each with it own cosmology, each with its
own answer for the meaning of life and death.
Most assert that the other 9,999 not only have it completely wrong, but
are instruments of evil, besides.”
You can see the danger here. When religious establishments exert strong
influence over government, they are prone to increase conflict and repression. The dark side of fundamentalism is that it has
motivated and justified terrible acts of cruelty, inhumanity, intolerance and violence
throughout recorded history.
Religions provide billions of people with purpose,
meaning and consolation. Living in a
dangerous, insecure and uncertain world, mankind has apparently always felt
hope and fear and the need to understand and explain our existence and the
Universe. We are often superstitious,
hoping to placate incomprehensible forces and give thanksgiving for nourishment
Unfortunately, religious establishments often
collaborate with political leaders to cynically help manipulate the faithful
into support for the usually ignoble doctrines of those in power. Natural hopes and fears are exploited by
privileged elites to keep traditional ideas dominant in societies.
The political right wing
has been misusing religion in the past 25 years to justify militarism and the
domination of the rich over the poor.
The hypocritical impact of this manipulation has been to increase
inequities by helping cut taxes for the rich, reduce social programs for the
poor, and the invert biblical ideals to serve the powerful instead of the
powerless. Nice going, guys!
It becomes increasingly
clear, year after year, that the world needs a more progressive spirituality,
or even a new religion that is more inclusive.
The nature of this modified belief system is such that it will be able
to improve the world by utilizing the great fonts of faith, mystery and
spirituality in new ways that emphasize inspiration, fairness, rationality, positivity,
We need a fresh and
unifying reverence for life. We need
new doctrines that are more responsible towards other people, towards other forms
of life, and towards Planet Earth. We
must embrace a spiritual consciousness that respects all of Creation, not just
true believers, and not just humankind.
It must embrace wholesome ecological understandings. It must be immune to being hijacked into jihad
terrorism against innocent civilians, or preemptive warfare. It must diminish violence, brutality,
mercilessness, hate, arrogance, patriarchal overlordship, reactionary politics,
discrimination against others, homophobia, authoritarianism, and convictions of
Enormous energies are
poured into religious beliefs, ethnic supremacy, racial bigotry, wars, and the
suppression of women. Imagine the positive
outcomes that could be achieved by redirecting these great energies into more salubrious
We must support religious
freedom everywhere, and the freedom from persecution. We must also support the Golden Rule AND a strong separation
between Church and State!
I conclude Scene 18 with
a thought-provoking quote from the book, Zorba
“Once more there sounded within me, together with
the crane’s cry, the terrible warning that there is only one life for all men,
that there is no other, and that all that can be enjoyed must be enjoyed
here. In eternity, no other chance will
be given to us.”
I like this quote, because it gives pause for
consideration of the importance of each moment in our lives. Pascal’s Bet Situation may have encouraged
people to bet on eternal bliss in a life after this one, but Zorba effectively
cautions us about the risks of such beliefs.
Let us make a commitment to living our lives positively and responsibly!
(This concludes Scene 19.)
(Shoot location: a classroom. Casting: A woman with an aura of integrity
wearing professorial glasses, who has a chalkboard with neatly-printed
information on CIVICS).
Hi, my name is Tiffany Twain. I’d like to talk here about our government.
One of the most significant characteristics of our
government is its increasing power. The
checks and balances of our Constitution have been eroded by the aggressive
increase in Executive branch power since September 11h, 2001. Dissent has been suppressed, and differing
viewpoints have been largely disenfranchised.
Government is unfortunately practically incapable
of fiscal discipline, restraint, fair planning, and frugality. Its unwise spending effectively distorts our
Government programs are characterized by waste,
unfairness, debt, and shortsighted initiatives. The government is far too easily influenced by vested interests
in their drives to exploit public lands and plunder public assets.
An astonishing amount of taxpayer money is
squandered on the government payroll.
The executive branch now employs almost two million people at an average
salary of over $60,000. In Washington
D.C., the average pay is a generous $80,425.
Many government employees do expendable tasks. They often work seven-hour days, and get 13 paid holidays and 21
vacation days a year. They enjoy
remarkable job security, and get retirement pay at up to 80 percent of their
Here is a place to start balancing the budget -- let’s
cut down on government bureaucracy and employment!
Here is another good idea: we should either restrict advertising for
things that harm society, or impose significantly higher fees on them. It is clear, for instance, that cigarette
smoking and tobacco advertising contributes to the highly harmful nicotine addiction
of millions of people. Increased taxes
on tobacco products and restrictions on cigarette advertising have contributed
to declines in the number of U.S. smokers and correlated reductions in lung
In light of these facts, we should think outside
the box regarding advertising by the drug industry and the automobile industry.
Drug industry advertising essentially
pushes drugs by marketing prescription and over-the-counter drugs directly to
consumers. There are highly negative
side effects of this effort by drug companies to increase their profits. Limiting such advertising could help reduce
the growing American addiction to such drugs.
This would be beneficial to society.
Likewise, aggressive advertising by the automobile
industry creates higher demand for trucks, SUV’s and Hummers. Advertising uses suggestive images of power,
sex, fun, envy, and belonging to promote these gas guzzlers. This contributes to consumerism, air
pollution, planned obsolescence, fossil fuel resource depletion, global
warming, oil dependency, and wars-for-oil.
If advertising restrictions reduced these negative impacts, this would
be very good for society.
Understand this. Unbridled
opportunism, ruthless competition, and aggressive marketing are not ultimately
healthy for society. Businesses
manipulate our desires and stimulate demand with seductive advertising. Yet it is foolishly shortsighted for us to let
the resulting wasteful consumerism threaten our future well-being. This is especially true in light of
population growth and mindless resource depletion.
Our societies would be better served in the long
run if we invested more courageously and generously in well-rounded education,
fair opportunity, social justice, and a healthy national infrastructure. Instead, we are squandering taxpayer funds,
and borrowing money from the future, in order to give enormous tax breaks to
wealthy people, and to ramp up spending on military weapons, aggressive
warfare, and war reconstruction.
Our federal government
has crashed against the limits of military power as an instrument for crafting
a culture of freedom for other peoples. It does not help that our motives
are corrupted by a rapacious thirst for petroleum, our vision blurred by an
insufferable ignorance of the complexity of local cultures, and our presumption
exaggerated by the effrontery of our own leader's claims to the wisdom of God.
We are losing the ability to deal with our global
problems the longer we delay in addressing them. Let’s start now!
(This concludes Scene 20.)
Scene #21. (Shoot location: a
classroom. Casting: A tall thin woman
in Top Hat, Tails, and Sexy Tights, with a cane that she uses to point at a
chalkboard with neatly printed PRIORITES (below).
Hi, Tiffany Twain here again.
In an attempt to codify the initiatives that a
Progressive society would strongly support, I conclude this film with an
amalgam of One Dozen Big Initiatives to Positively Transform Our Societies
and the Progressive Agenda for a More
Sane Humanity. These Earth
Manifesto ideas contain itemized lists of good ideas that should be used to
redesign our nation’s activities and initiatives and institutions. On the off-chance that this film somehow
becomes a compelling force in the world of ideas, or is used as a resource in
classrooms, let this become the founding Principles of a new Progressive
Political Party. The following outline
of ideas should represent a rough basis for restructuring the policies of United
See the latest version of the ideas in Part Four
of the Home Page. It needs to be made
concise and abbreviated and interesting.
How can it be incorporated into this film?
for making it this far in the very rough concept of this film!
Tiffany B. Twain c/o SaveTruffulaTrees@hotmail.com