Mission To Be Accomplished
Dr. Tiffany B. Twain
This summary expression of my primary
concerns was written in early 2007.
Almost all the ideas it contains have been recapitulated again and again
in subsequent Earth Manifesto essays over the intervening years, so I am
including it here only for historical purposes, and temporary ones, until my
organizing and editing and consolidating attentions determine a better use for
the seven pages of space available here in Book Four.
Dr. Tiffany B. Twain
Our mission to be accomplished must be to
create healthier and more secure societies through broader education, greater
fairness of opportunity, sustainable development, a powerful commitment to
peace-building, better environmental protections, and more intelligent,
responsible and balanced spending priorities.
It seems increasingly apparent to me that we
should support a dramatic economic and political transformation in the world to
achieve these goals. Bold changes must
be made that respect the greater public good and longer-term priorities, and peaceful
coexistence, and a fairer legacy to people in future generations.
Right action has its roots in right
understanding. The aggregate daily
activities of the nearly 7 billion people alive on Earth today are having an
insidiously damaging impact on the natural world. We simply must find better mechanisms to
protect the quality of life on Earth, and its probability of being sustainable. Our primary consideration should be the
quality of life, not just the quantity of goods we can produce and consume, or
the number of people we can cram on the planet.
Jared Diamond, in his book Collapse, How Societies Choose to Fail or
Succeed, notes that humanity must pay particular attention
to long-term thinking, and to anticipatory and successful planning in the
long-term. He further indicates that we should cultivate a
willingness to reconsider core values that once served society well when such
doctrines become detrimental due to changing circumstances or deteriorating
Instead of responsible stewardship of the world’s
natural resources, however, the U.S. is leading the charge in
rapidly squandering them. We are
profligately using up non-renewable fossil fuels and minerals, clear-cutting
forests, depleting aquifers, and damaging wildlife habitats. We are polluting lands and waterways,
immoderately spewing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, thereby driving other
species of life to extinction and reducing biological diversity. And we are obstructing sex education and
family planning programs, and creating conditions of greater social injustice
and conflict across the planet.
Simultaneously, we are blithely burdening Americans in the future with
enormous national debt and interest expense obligations.
We are essentially gambling with the
well-being of billions of people. We are
gambling wildly that stimulated economic growth and population increases and
growing consumption of resources and energy are good and necessary. We are behaving as if there are no
limits. Yet our civilization must
ultimately act in accord with the healthy balance, integrity and carrying
capacity of Earth’s natural systems.
We should recognize our overarching
obligation to leave a legacy of healthy ecosystems to our children, and theirs,
and theirs, and theirs, not just to the fabled Seventh Generation, but indefinitely. Each of us will be alive for only a
relatively short period of time, but since the facts of geological evolution
confirm that existence is unfathomably long, humanity needs to begin to act
more responsibly to future generations to ensure the prospering and survival of
To accomplish this, we must find better
ways to cope. We must create economic
means whereby we build more secure, sustainable, and sane societies. We must work to prevent political and
religious elites from creating a civilization that is increasingly unfair,
shortsighted, unsustainable, unjust, and violent.
To better cope, in other words, we must
redesign our economic system and our social and political institutions. The goal of this restructuring must be to
channel our free choices towards wiser use of limited resources, and greater
fairness to others, better conservation, peaceful cooperation, empathetic broadmindedness,
educated understanding, and a much more respectful commitment to the positive
prospects of future generations.
Incentives and disincentives that are
intelligently designed and “green” in nature are the most sensible and
freedom-consistent means to accomplish these ends. They are smarter and fairer ways to affect
people’s habits and behaviors in aggregate than either onerous regulations or
legislation written by lobbyists. To
create a bold system of incentives requires changes in our current culture of
vested interest politics and partisanship.
It would help for us to modify our worldviews and forsake mindlessly
stimulated consumerism, misguided subsidies, profligate waste and planned
find ways to overcome the powerful inertia that results from heavy investment
by special interests in defending the status quo. We cannot continue to defend the
opportunistic business-as-usual “gaming of the system” that results in resource
depletion, unfair corporate and private privileges, and profiteering on wars
and reconstruction projects. And we
cannot continue to allow corporations to externalize the high costs onto
society of pollution and environmental damages.
The big picture of national security
strategies recognizes that conservation, energy efficiency, and environmentally
green policies are not some virtuous hobby that is too expensive for us to
afford. In fact, such initiatives are
critically important national security imperatives. It will be truly courageous leadership that
advocates and implements intelligent green taxes on fossil fuels, because such
policies will spark greater innovation and conservation and sustainable energy
use. It is foolish, weak-willed, and
myopic to continue to pander to Big Oil and the wasteful uses of non-renewable
resources, and to pursue profligate energy and resource use policies.
Fear and stimulated insecurity were the
aces in the hole for the Republican Party in winning elections in 2002 and
2004. Remember how, right after the
terrorist attacks of 9/11, everyone was saying that the “terrorists will have
won” if we stop living our lives normally, if we change our behaviors, if we
give in to fear, if we allow our essential freedoms to be suppressed, if we
allow our Constitutional rights to be infringed, and even if we alter our
Well, I submit that terrorists are winning
when we allow dramatic intrusions on our freedoms and privacies, and when we
get side-tracked into preemptive warfare whose injustice spawns thousands of new
recruits to terrorist causes. The costs
of our “war on terrorism” far exceed what is necessary to combat the actual
threats. We have spent hundreds of
billions of dollars, and embroiled ourselves in bloody occupations of two
sovereign countries. We have sullied our
honorable image. We have empowered the
right wing to forcefully re-engineer our society in many regressive ways. Our representatives have allowed the
strengthening of the Executive Branch and helped enable it to abuse its powers
and disenfranchise many citizens.
Forces of elitist privilege, arms-sales
profiteering, obsessive profit-making and narrow-mindedness have been allowed
to shift our country even further in the direction of having faith in false
doctrines and embracing aggressive militarism, unfettered corporate power,
unsustainable exploitation of the world’s natural resources, obscene
consumerism, regressive changes in social programs, anti-progressive politics,
and discrimination in rules of law related to women’s rights and civil union
rights for gay people.
A new offensive to improve the world must
be undertaken. It should advance on two
fronts, one that is economic, and one political. The economic changes required are those that
take the long view into account, and broaden the responsibilities of businesses
beyond their current single-minded preoccupation with short-term profits. Our societies should motivate each and every
person more effectively to be more conservation oriented, and to be more
respectful of the healthy balance of Nature and its life-sustaining mechanisms,
its ecological soundness, its limits, and its vulnerabilities.
One political offensive that would create
positive change would be to enact Clean Money legislation to radically diminish
the focus of politicians on pandering to the influence of Big Money and
lobbyist organizations. Once politicians
are better insulated from the continuous need to raise money from rich people
and the selfish demands of big oil, big auto, the armaments industry, the
pharmaceutical industry, and other such narrowly-focused and influential
lobbying groups, more intelligent initiatives for the common good will be
easier to put in place.
Institutionalized corruption and bribery
are creating an ever-greater need for serious campaign finance reform and
fairer public financing of election campaigns.
Better oversight and accountability are needed to thwart Congressional
shenanigans, pork barrel spending, war profiteering,
and often misguided priorities.
Control of Congress was wrested away from
many incumbent representatives in the 2006 mid-term elections. Still, it is likely that our society will
continue to be misguided by the failing doctrines of wasteful crony capitalism,
neoconservatism, militarism, and religious fundamentalism. So still, the primary impetus of the U.S.
will likely continue to be toward extremely costly, undemocratic,
unsustainable, civil-rights eroding, unfair, wrongful, and militaristic
ends. Our economic system is addicted to
oil, empire building, and war. We need
to emasculate these influences in order to clear the way for sweeping economic,
social, and foreign policy changes to be enacted.
Plato philosophized that people should be
led by the wisest members of society.
Greater wisdom requires the rejection of ideological shortsightedness,
divisive social policies, dishonest motivations, serious injustices, stimulated
inequities, repressive rule, violent aggression and stubborn religious
We all seek purpose, inspiration,
identification, validation, and reasons for being. Let us see deeper into our souls. Let us find healthier outlets for our
energies, and listen more closely to our reason and our consciences. No matter how fervent our wishful thinking,
and no matter how hopeful our prayers, God is not going to save us; we must work on
saving ourselves. In actual modern day
experience, God does not miraculously intervene in the physical world; no, in reality, it
is human activities that most powerfully affect each and every one of us. Here is where we must make committed strides
towards a safer and saner world.
Our mission is not impossible, and we have
no choice in whether to decide to accept it:
this message will not self-destruct like the ones did in a puff of smoke
at the beginning of every Mission Impossible episode on TV, so the underlying
needs for adaptive change must be fairly and effectively addressed.
The goals of Earth Manifesto essays are to
advocate greater sanity and far-sightedness in human affairs and to help effect
positive change in the world. We need
new confidence in progressive understandings.
The aspiration of these words is to be reasonable, honest, visionary, persuasive, ecologically sound, hopeful, and spiritually
enlightening. They have been written to
help spark our nation’s willingness to move boldly towards a sustainable
Mark Twain is my great, great, great
philosophical predecessor. His
perspectives on the true nature of good citizenship and patriotic duty are
valuable and instructive. He remarked:
“My kind of patriotism and loyalty is loyalty to one’s country, and not to
one’s institutions or officeholders.”
As you read these words, please keep in
mind that true patriotism includes dissent and activism in the face of
government misdeeds and deceptions. Mark
Twain made this observation about patriotism in 1901, in support of the
Anti-Imperialist League and its opposition to the involvement by the United
States in a war of aggression against Spain that was waged under false
pretenses in Cuba and the Philippines.
and Country are an unbeatable team; they break all records for oppression
--- Luis Bunuel
“Conservative” worldviews and doctrines
represent radical injudiciousness in many aspects. The right wing in U.S. politics has
collaborated with giant corporations and the greedy rich and religious
fundamentalists to jam the rudder of our ship of state to an ill-advised
extreme right. These people are joined
by judges who are strict constructionists of Constitutional and legal
precedents, and all of these leaders are working against the interests of tens
of millions of Americans, striving tirelessly to give bigger benefits to a
relatively small group of people at the expense of the vast majority of women,
children, poor people, minorities, gay people, blue-collar workers, the middle
class, people without medical insurance, people in other countries, and people
in future generations.
The political right wing is particularly
strongly dominated by controlling drives and doctrines that are obsessed with
power, money and a desire for puritan hegemony.
These influences run contrary to the founding principles of
democracy. They often contradict the
noble expression of true American values.
Let us honestly examine the nature of our leaders’ abuses of power.
Actions, remember, speak louder than
words. There is compelling and extensive
evidence that our leaders cleverly take advantage of the majority of American
citizens to the detriment of the social good.
In the last six years, the federal government has been acting to
encourage elitism of wealth and privilege, and to constantly stimulate wasteful
consumerism, to stoke aggressive nationalism, to promote undemocratic secrecy, to
embrace evangelical religious extremism, to encourage exploitive economic
globalization, and to indulge in offensive militarism.
The Republican Party staunchly defends its
doctrines, eagerly striving to erode citizen rights, divide communities, roll back
environmental protection laws, gut financial regulations, control the mass
media, deny scientific truths, use false logic, generate disinformation,
deceive people, create fear of enemies, effectively embrace ignorance,
marginalize and punish dissent, stimulate nationalism and belligerent
patriotism, disenfranchise people who oppose them, smear opposing candidates,
blame scapegoats, exploit workers, pander to religious establishments,
perpetuate sexism and homophobia, disdain intellectuals and artists, punish
crime harshly, act aggressively toward other nations using preemptive warfare,
abuse prisoners by using harsh torture techniques, cultivate unreasonable
elements in the gun lobby, abrogate international treaties, illegally spy on
American citizens, foster empire, and insidiously install Orwellian Big Brother
authoritarianism over American citizens.
Nice going, guys!
Some of the smartest guys in the room have
obviously joined a conspiracy of fools in hijacking America. The terror attacks of September 11th,
2001 have given the doctrines of neoconservatism a free pass for too long in
its dogmatic efforts to advance narrowly partisan goals. Our leaders seized the initiative by using
fear, manipulation, and blind faith to mislead the majority into going along
with them in arrogant and scandalously regressive initiatives.
We would be wise to put the smackdown on
these heresies, because they assail our most noble American traditions. We should refute and reject right-wing
politics, as well as arrogant abuses of expansive ideas of Executive Privilege
in the White House.
A tipping point of unintended consequences
of social conservatism and cultivated inequalities threatens society’s current
and future well-being. It is my strong
conviction that the best means of making our societies more secure and
sustainable should involve fairness and true justice. It will NOT be found in continuing to defend
the status quo of laissez-faire corporatist capitalism, economic
fundamentalism, aggression, greed, and unilateral military advantage.
As Thomas Jefferson reputedly wrote,
“Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.”
We must beware of those with vested interests in power and control,
because history proves that the general public is often deluded -- HOODWINKED!
-- into believing rationalizations, propaganda,
rhetorical deceptions, and political spin that advance unfair and dangerously
shortsighted agendas. We can no longer
trust our politicians, because they are only “the best-that-money-can-buy.” This is harmful rather than good for the
We need to set budgetary priorities in a
more disciplined way. The government
must operate more on a pay-as-you-go basis, and strictly limit the use of
the irresponsible expediency of deficit spending. We must come to understand that deficit
financing only defers costs, increasing them infinitely. The interest
costs on borrowed money at 5% per year result in obligations equal to 100% of
the amount borrowed every 15 years, and these costs are incurred over and over
again, every 15 years. This is why
allowing deficit spending in both times of economic recession and economic expansion
good times is truly foolish fiscal policy.
An even more outrageous understanding is
that borrow-and-spend policies are being used to squander enormous amounts of
money on such things as pork barrel projects, corporate welfare, wasteful
resource exploitation, rash exploitation of fossil fuel resources,
“trickle-down” economic benefits to the rich, misguided faith-based initiatives,
arms sales, war profiteering, hard-nosed retributive foreign policy, and
Our collective activities must be guided by
greater prudence and foresight. The
marketing of good ideas, intelligent planning, and fairer social priorities must
gain ascendance over the marketing of profligate consumerism, stimulated
desires, regressive social programs, and war.
We should make our societies saner by adopting initiatives that improve
public education and make schools safer and more affordable. We should create better jobs and improve our
cities and curb suburban sprawl. We
should reduce public health inequalities and implement a more affordable system
of universal healthcare. We should
conserve energy resources and spark innovation for fossil fuel
alternatives. And we should be more
committed to protecting natural ecosystems and the environment and the biological
diversity of life on Earth.
Imagine the goodwill that we could have
cultivated with the hundreds of billions of dollars that we have spent on
attacking and occupying Afghanistan and Iraq.
Instead of squandering resources, heightening insecurity, inflaming
hatred, increasing the risk of bankruptcy, and provoking religious extremism
around the world, a different approach in the wake of 9/11 could have
brightened the beacon of democracy, fairness, integrity, cooperative
problem-solving, religious freedom, and peaceful coexistence --- and we could
have defended the rights of sovereignty for all nations.
We could have invested these huge sums in
American infrastructure and innovation, or in opportunity and social
justice. We could have used them to
create sustainable development and stability in poor countries that otherwise
breed terrorism. We could have spent the
funds on bold peace-building initiatives.
We could have invested them in eliminating our dependence on fossil
fuels. We could have improved energy
efficiency and supported alternatives like solar power. We could have provided support to
conservation programs. Or we could have
been more frugal and not spent so much, making the U.S. more fiscally
Some new progressive leader from outside
the incestuous D.C. Beltway, or perhaps someone like Barack Obama or Hillary
Clinton, is needed to guide the United States towards the desirable goal of
creating a society that is more egalitarian and more measurably just, and more fiscally
sound, conservation-oriented, socially tolerant, women-respecting, honest, environmentally
caring and secure. And less
militaristic, less violent and less corrupt.
The federal oath of office requires that
our leaders protect the public “against all enemies.” But, lo!, our
current leaders are acting more like enemies of the people than their
protectors. Instead of making us safer,
the neoconservative agenda is betraying our best interests. Conservative leaders are focused on providing
benefits to elites and subverting democratic fair-mindedness. They try to control people by using
sophisticated international economic-hit-man loan shark/asset control schemes
and military solutions, and they impose harsh, manipulative, puritanical, and
uncompassionate doctrines on the world.
The political make-up of the Supreme Court
is being driven towards a more socially conservative, environmentally
exploitive, corporate friendly, privacy-invading and undemocratic constellation
of Strict Father doctrines. The American
people should demand that newly-appointed federal and Supreme Court judges
represent mainstream beliefs and common good goals, rather than ideological
For all the reasons mentioned above, we should
support peaceable revolutionary change in American society. The greater good should be our primary
consideration. Please speak out and vote
accordingly -- for progressive ideas and candidates!
Significant policy changes require a shift
in our worldviews. The reigning
paradigms in our society serve to provide justification for actions and
behaviors that are simply too detrimental to our descendents to allow them to
continue without intelligent redesign.
We will inevitably need to find ways to ensure that people are guided in
the direction of moderate consumption, balanced impacts, respectful
consideration for the rights of others, committed concern for the well-being of
the public, greater discipline, and a more responsible stewardship for the
natural ecosystems upon which all of humanity ultimately depends.
The remarkable success of the U.S. 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 protections. We should give much greater respect to these vital
The most accurate definition of the
moral good is what is consistent with the social good. Critical thinking,
reason, and progressive understandings need to be embraced and cultivated. The “values debate” should not focus so
narrowly on hot-button social issues like abortion and homosexuality to the
exclusion of greater concerns for fairness, respect for individual rights, mitigating
homelessness, fighting poverty, ending racism, and honestly protecting our
communities and the environment.
God is not dead. People should all be able to feel free to
believe as they wish! But we should
also recognize that the prophets of humanity’s great religious traditions,
including Mohammed, Jesus and Buddha, would all align themselves with the
protection of the downtrodden. They
would all smile on a child. Our legacy
to the future must be one that is moral, considerate and compassionate. We need to extend the Golden Rule’s fairness
and wisdom to our children, and all in the future.
The human race should seek ways to
cooperate well enough to ensure that we are more likely to prosper as a whole
community. We should respect diversity
of opinion, and find inclusive and far-sighted consensus in every issue.
The challenges facing us are very serious. The need to move forward in promoting
measures to cope effectively with accelerating changes is urgent. We cannot continue to figuratively fiddle
while Rome burns!
Rich people in developed countries are
particularly responsible for dangerous conditions in the world because they use
larges quantities of resources and fossil fuels. For this reason, it is an American obligation
to lead the world in its progressive transformation. Our federal government has, unfortunately,
too often proven to be unwilling and unable to take courageous and properly
focused action in these regards. The U.S.,
for instance, continues to oppose many international environmental protection
programs such as the Kyoto protocols or modern mandatory limits on greenhouse
Ominous changes in the world’s weather have
been occurring, and they have been causing widespread flooding, dire droughts,
increasingly intense hurricanes, summer heat waves, worse wildfires, and even extreme
winter cold in some regions. There is an
increasing risk of ‘abrupt climate change’, and even the Pentagon recognizes
this as a growing national security risk.
So we would be wise to adopt a no-regrets precautionary policy that is
targeted to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that trap the Sun’s heat in Earth’s
atmosphere and contribute to the frequency and intensity of weather extremes.
We need to begin to be more effective in applying
human ingenuity, awareness, creativity, positivism, enthusiasm, determination,
and spiritual caring to solving the looming challenges
that face humanity.
I hope that readers will give further
consideration to ideas that can provide us with better courses of action, such
as those detailed in the Earth Manifesto’s Progressive
Agenda for a More Sane Humanity.
We are all in this existence together. We all have some degree of freedom of choice,
so we are all responsible to a degree for social and environmental problems and
solutions. We all have a deep basic
obligation to help leave the planet inhabitable for our descendents. With a heroic common effort, revolutionary
change can be accomplished. Please
support progressive ideas and causes!
Dr. Tiffany Twain
March 21, 2007