Reason, Morality, and Progressive
Earth Manifesto Insights
Dr. Tiffany B. Twain
"What we are before is like a strait, a
tricky road, a passage where we need courage and reason. The courage to go on,
not to try to turn back; and the reason to use reason; not fear, not jealousy,
not envy, but reason. We must steer by reason, and jettison --- because much
must go --- by reason."
--- John Fowles, The Aristos
are arguably at a stage in human history where the increasingly global
challenges facing us are so serious that only reason will save us, and we must
responsibly embrace reason. In the
final analysis, it will not be blind obsequious faith to our gods that will
save us, it will be our reason, open-mindedness, flexible adaptability, and a
necessary and ecological enlightenment.
warming, overpopulation, unsustainable consumption, ecological damage,
increasing stress and dysfunction in our societies, and the extreme imbalances
of our impacts on natural systems will not be adequately addressed by sticking
with the status quo of business-as-usual consumerism and unthinking faith in
economic and political and religious ideologies.
human race simply must begin to live in a sustainable way. We would be wise to do this by working with
nature, not against it. To prosper and
survive, we must adapt. We must be
flexible and nimble, not stubborn and ideologically inflexible. We must change course, transforming our
shortsighted economic system into a sustainable one. We must mitigate the harm we do to our societies and the
can do this by the following means: (1)
reduce the profligate consumption of resources; (2) use non-renewable minerals more conservatively; (3) produce less waste and pollutants and
toxins; (4) give serious consideration
and wiser focus to what is best for our societies; (5) do less harm to wildlife habitats; (6) mitigate our inadvertent assault on Earth's biological
diversity; (7) contribute less to
climate instability by better controlling greenhouse gas emissions; and (8) balance the federal budget in a more
fiscally responsible way.
gleaned from a study of evolution make it clear that flexibility and
adaptability are critically important to species survival. The ability to learn and transmit knowledge
to future generations has been vitally important to our own evolutionary
and natural disasters make it starkly clear that we must prioritize more
wisely, and do better contingency planning and risk evaluation. We must, in effect, more intelligently design
our societies. We must learn from
adversity and admit mistakes and make the best of new understandings and boldly
reform our economic and political systems to be fairer and more ecologically
have consequences. Policies have
effects. Incentives and disincentives
affect people's behaviors and choices. A
clear and objective understanding of causes and effects is important to help
improve our decision-making. Denial, in
which politicians specialize, runs very deep.
long-term perspective clearly shows that budgetary decisions have been
critically irresponsible for years. We
lack the will to honestly address our society's problems. Borrowing money is simply an irresponsible
way of deferring costs, and of unfairly foisting these costs onto people in the
leaders are almost always focused on feathering the nests of the most
comfortable amongst us. In doing so,
they generally neglect the most vulnerable citizens, and young people, and
future generations. In conjunction with
this wrong-headedness, they are busy facilitating the exploitation of natural
resources rather than being responsible stewards.
best societies are ones that allow people the freedom to make their own
individual choices, ones that are supportive of socially positive choices while
providing clear and effective disincentives for socially negative choices. Our society has been heading in an
increasingly dysfunctional direction, so we clearly must reform and redesign it
to be fairer and more peaceful. Poverty,
inequality in our healthcare system, aggressive militarism, and our dangerous
addiction to a costly fossil-fuel energy regime are four principal issues that
require serious commitment and far-sighted remedial action.
avoid the collapse of our superpower status and our overextended economy, we
must take bold steps to make public education better, improve critical
infrastructure, make our country fairer, strive to make all activities
sustainable, create political and social institutions that are more responsive
to good citizen goals, and commit ourselves to diplomacy and cooperation with
other nations. We must strive to
convert our military-based economy to an economy based on peaceful pursuits
that improve people's lives.
an editorial in the Cousteau Society Calypso Log once observed:
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."
empires grow, climax, and decay. History reveals that decline generally occurs
because of the same combination of causes:
1. Decimated and squandered resources;
2. A bloated and overextended military;
3. An unfair plutocracy characterized by an
ever-greater disparity between the fortunes of the rich and those of the poor;
4. Widespread political corruption;
5. Public apathy, cynicism and effective
6. A populace grown complacent and diverted by
sports spectacles and divisive social policies, and war; and,
7. A massive influx of people's and their
customs from abroad.
United States is exhibiting all of these unsettling signs. It is unethical for our leaders to blithely
march down this path without a responsible concern for the adverse consequences.
and integrity are important moral values. It is morally wrong to deceive people in order to obtain,
maintain, and abuse power. It is wrong
to manipulate people by lying to them, and to use divisive social issues to
create a wedge between Americans in order to advance a narrow ideological
abuse of power in many of its current manifestations is unconscionable and
unacceptable. Current abuses of power
include: lying about the true nature of
motives for attacking other countries; advancing policies that create greater poverty and inequities; pandering to giant corporations at the
public's expense, particularly in creating healthcare inequalities and
environmental injustices; taking advantage
of people's ignorance to advance regressive economic doctrines, aggressive
militarism, and religious partisanship towards narrow-minded, reason-denying,
anti-progressive ideas; distorting and
denying science; whitewashing and
stonewalling the truth; exacerbating
racist and sexist inequities; and
subverting the checks and balances that Constitutionally protect people, and
doing so for the purpose of dominating and controlling society.
Lincoln, in his 1863 Gettysburg Address, emphasized that we must "highly
resolve" … "that government of the people, by the people, and for the
people, shall not perish from the earth." Hurray for that important sentiment.
cannot allow the extreme right wing to further abuse its power. We cannot accept the appointment of
ultraconservatives for life terms to the Supreme Court if they intend to erode
privacy rights and civil liberties and environmental protections. And we cannot allow religious fundamentalists
the power to continue to obstruct family planning and contraception programs.
should demand that the Bush Administration reverse the arrogant Global Gag
Rule, and immediately fulfill Congress' financial commitment to the United
Nations Population Fund. Personally, I
cannot fathom how anti-abortion advocates can in good faith maintain that an
ovum and a sperm deserve more rights to be protected, from the moment they
unite and no matter what the circumstances of conception, than a woman deserves
the right to control the most profound aspects of her destiny. Those who hold such male-authority-oriented
and fundamentalist views are entitled to their beliefs, but they must not have
the power to dictate women's life decisions and to limit their reproductive
choices. Prevention of pregnancy should
be encouraged by various means, not just by advocating abstinence from sexual
intercourse. Good sex education
programs should be used to counsel our youth.
And contraceptives and the morning-after pill should be freely
available. Punishing women for becoming
pregnant when they do not want to have a child is neither compassionate nor
fair-minded as a national policy or as a social attitude.
is found NOT in absolutes related to issues embraced by anti-abortion and
anti-gay-rights activists, but rather in deeper and more nuanced issues of
fairness, protected liberties, and equal rights. Similarly, morality is found in responsible use of power and a
commitment to peaceful coexistence and true social justice and the mitigation
of poverty and despair. Social
ultraconservatives may strive tirelessly "to put the smackdown on
heresies" that challenge their orthodoxies, but mainstream America must
stand up and repudiate the hypocritical intolerance, ruthless authoritarianism,
and evangelical righteousness of the radical right.
Administration contributes its own stamp to the nature of society. It is time that the current Administration
begins to heal America, and to make peace with poor people and the world!
--- Dr. Tiffany