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               Original Earth Manifesto Introduction and Overview

Note:  This March 2012 Introduction to the Earth Manifesto is followed by the Introduction: Serendipitous Epiphany of the original Earth Manifesto from October 2004.

Zen masters and ecological philosophers both concur that everything is interconnected and interdependent.  All things are hitched together in infinitely intricate ways.  The implications of this most fundamental of all understandings about the underpinnings of existence run so deep that they simply defy any possibility of our fully comprehending them.

In the province of ideas, any one organism, idea or issue is hitched to all the rest, so any place provides a valid point of entry into everything else.  Take, for instance, the story of Tyrants and Damsels.  I love this particular story.  It concerns ‘lichen symbiosis’. 

Biologists once heatedly debated the nature of this evolutionary phenomenon.  Understand that, for all practical purposes, there are three Kingdoms of life on Earth:  Plants, Animals, and Fungi.  Of the approximately 75,000 scientifically identified species of fungi in the world, this narrative deals with the subset of fungi known as lichens, of which there are about 17,000 species.  These life forms consist of a tough and incredibly drought-resistant outer fungal layer called a cortex, and inner algal partner cells.  These algal cells provide sustenance for the lichen by producing food through the process of photosynthesis. 

Long ago, deep in evolutionary history, these fungi and algae were independent life forms.  Algae are plant species that love moisture.  They are able to use water and energy from the sun to transform carbon dioxide and minerals into food energy.  Fungi and algae have co-evolved in this symbiotic relationship in a kind of cooperative win/win adaptation of formerly independent life forms.  They have generated lichens that are inextricably linked in their genes, a development that has been mutually beneficial to the descendents of the former fungi and algae. 

Scientists had a spirited debate about this relationship for many decades.  This controversy was centered on an anthropocentric theory:  the tough protective fungus is like a Tyrant master that holds the Damsel algae captive.  The tyrant fungus was regarded as a ruthless exploiter of the algae’s vulnerable and productive propensities.  I don’t think they’ve actually been able to assign sexes to the fungi and the algae, but I’m sure the process by which the lichens reproduce is significantly less interesting than that which pertains between an eager and comely young lass and some handsome dude.  But that’s neither here nor there;  this story gives us a peek into one of many awe-inspiring survival ‘strategies’ that have unfolded throughout the long history of biological evolution on planet Earth.

Let’s try to imagine the fullest context of the Universe and the evolution of life.  Energy and matter have been emanating through space and time practically forever.  Constant motion and continuous change characterize this emanation at all levels from visible light and subatomic matter to macrocosmic phenomena.  All motion and all matter seem to conform to physical ‘laws’ of the Universe that appear unchanged since the beginning of time. 

As far as we know, life began in the Universe almost 4 billion years ago on planet Earth, “an inconspicuous outpost of the Milky Way”, as Bill Bryson points out in his fascinating book A Short History of Nearly Everything.  At every moment since life began on Earth, every species of life has been required to adapt to endlessly transforming conditions and on-going environmental changes on the planet, or else perish. 

An infinite number of significant changes have taken place in habitats and microclimates everywhere on Earth throughout the long course of geologic history.  Planet-wide changes have also occurred over the eons, like the ones that caused periods of mass extinctions, or those that resulted in ice ages which as recently as 15,000 years ago locked up so much water in continental ice sheets and alpine glaciers that the level of the oceans was 300 feet lower than it is today.

These changes have been caused by a variety of things, including devastating meteorite impacts, eruptions of supervolcanoes, the phenomenon of “orbital forcing”, shifts in ocean currents, mountain-building episodes, glacial ice sheets, interglacial warm climatic periods, and changes in the gaseous composition of the atmosphere.

Whether changes take place slowly or suddenly, life forms have had to adapt and re-establish themselves in competitive and cooperative balance with the rest of the web of life.  Every species of life in existence today has had ancestors that somehow managed to survive every episode in this eons-long series of challenges and closing doors.  Change and adaptation and extinction ensure that, at every point in time, all species which survive are adequately well adapted to the conditions prevailing in the habitats and ranges that they occupy.

Chief Seattle was an American Indian chief of the Suquamish tribe in the Pacific Northwest.  He once warned the United States government against the misuse of land, water, air, and animal life, reportedly proclaiming in 1844, “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 ourselves.”

Everything eventually will be reeled back to the web in this Introduction, because everything is inextricably hitched together.  The principal purposes of these words will soon be clear.

We humans are quite fascinated with ourselves, and we are always struggling to figure out who we are, and why we do what we do.  Sometime we even glimpse the value in trying to determine what we should really be doing to connect with our authentic inner selves.  During times of introspection, we wonder ‘What Really Matters’? 

In the novel Sweet Thursday, John Steinbeck described his female character Fauna, writing:  “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."  Ah, sad but true!

To me, far-sighted ideas are important.  It is vital that we collectively begin to live our lives in ways that are true to our authentic inner selves.  At the same time, we should do this in ways that are consistent with the greater good.  This is why the Earth Manifesto writings have been created to advance ideas that will help us achieve these goals.

The primary themes of all Earth Manifesto writings are ecological sanity, Golden Rule fairness principles, win/win solutions to problems, the well-being of our communities, strategies for peace, and the advancement of personal freedoms.  Wide-ranging and farsighted points of view have been assembled from an extensive diversity of sources in order to explore ideas that are aimed at helping to achieve an epoch-defining transition to sustainable existence.  My goal in setting forth these thoughts is to broaden the understanding of humankind with the hope that this undertaking will contribute to a more propitious collective destiny.

The search for wisdom in America takes us back to the beginning of time, like some sweeping saga by author James Michener, who started all his epic novels far back in prehistory.  (His novel The Source, for instance, begins a tale of modern Israel and conflicts in the Middle East with an exploration of the history of the development of Western civilization and the great religious and cultural ideas that have shaped our world, and then proceeds to tell an epic saga of love, strength and faith in the Holy Land.  The Source traces Michener’s version of the long and intriguing history of the Jewish people.)

The web of life on Earth is infinitely complex, and it began within 500 million years of the formation of our solar system about 4.5 billion years ago.  Scientists have compelling evidence that life existed only as single-celled organisms for about 3 billion years from the moment it began.  The remains that period in the fossil record are not well preserved because life during all of those years consisted of fragile little things that did not have backbones, skeletons or shells or any durable things that would have had any chance of having their traces preserved long into posterity. 

The fossil record shows that about 540 million years ago, the biological evolution of life on Earth took a startling turn:  a relatively sudden and astounding proliferation of life forms took place in which single-celled organisms and colonies were transformed into a wide variety of multi-celled organisms.  Through a process of evolutionary radiation and diversification, life evolved into dozens of principal categories -- phyla -- of multi-celled organisms, and then within a relatively short period of geologic time, almost all of the 36 phyla of animals that exist today came into being.  These organisms began to contain more durable parts, so the fossil record became more distinct.

A phylum is a term of biological taxonomy which is a type of mega-clan classification of life forms.  Each phylum is a grouping of species based on a general body plan.  Human beings, for instance are classified in the phylum Chordata, which includes all creatures with an internal skeletal structure.  This includes classes of animals like sharks, fish, frogs, toads, snakes, turtles, birds, mammals, reptiles, and many now-extinct species of dinosaurs. 

The proliferation of life that took place about 540 million years ago is known as the Cambrian explosion, or the Cambrian radiation.  The evidence of this period is found in a deep and ancient layer of rocks in the Earth’s crust that is called the ‘Primordial Strata’.  This stratum of rocks consists of a layer of lithified sediments that was deposited over a span of about 5 million years.  In this rock, extensive fossil evidence reveals the formative appearance of multi-celled forms of life which had shells or skeletal structures.  These characteristics made the remains of these early animals more durable, and hence more often preserved as fossils in sediments that were later lithified into sedimentary rocks.

Being that the ancestors of almost all the main categories of animal life came into existence in such a relatively short period of geologic time, there has been much debate about how this came to be.  A theory that I find quite credible is posited by one author who cites extensive convincing evidence that the genesis of this rapid change may have been selective pressure exerted on all species by the evolution of photoreceptors in primitive forms of predatory aquatic animals.  In other words, as primitive forms of vision evolved in various marine organisms, the pressures of predation radically intensified.  To survive, marine animals that were subjected to these dramatic new challenges were forced to develop protective shells and other defense mechanisms, or else go extinct.  Dastardly trilobites? 

This evolution of vision was as revolutionary a change as almost any biotic development in evolutionary history.  It is right up there with the early introduction of corrosive oxygen into the atmosphere by photosynthetic plants, or the devastation on the biosphere caused by meteorite impacts, or episodic climate changes that resulted in ice ages and even a “Snowball Earth” period of extreme cold.

Hundreds of millions of species of life have come into existence and perished in the 540 million years since the Cambrian explosion.  Amazingly, each and every one of the animal species fits into one of the 36 animal phyla in existence today, all of which appeared in those ancient times of the Cambrian explosion.  Similarly, every species of life, including all plants and fungi and bacteria, has a similar basic cellular structure.

Mammals are a subset of species in the phylum Chordata.  Human beings share membership in this broad category not only with sharks and snakes and sheep, but with some 100,000 other known species.  The body plan of Chordata species is characterized by having some kind of vertebrae;  this distinguishes us from phyla such as those which contain sponges or mollusks, for instance.  Sponges are distinguished by having bodies full of pores that allow water to circulate through them, and mollusks are distinguished by having a muscular ‘foot’ that is used for attachment, locomotion, and the capture of food.

One of the main ways that our species differs from all other mammals is the size of our brains.  The old reptilian part of our brains, the amygdala, is the region of our brains that is most closely associated with quick responses to stimuli and emotional memories and fear.  It may be particularly responsible for the human propensity to harbor superstitions and fears that hark back to times long ago in our evolutionary history.  The amygdala remains hair-trigger ready to flee, or to react to threats by fighting if necessary.  It apparently still harbors memories of fears of giant lizards and dangerous wild animals stalking around the fire at night.  It may be responsible for nightmare dreams of monsters and dragons and impersonal forces of sudden death. 

All human beings are descendants of peoples like those in the ‘Clan of the Cave Bear’ and other precursor tribes.  Our heritage of mysterious subconscious sociobiological impulses is still very real in our responses to situations.  In our insecure world, most people suppose that explanations of the Universe require supernatural beginnings.  Many even believe in on-going supernatural influences and interventions of invisible deities, despite the lack of any real evidence at all. 

Mark Twain was fascinated by humankind’s place in the universe, as well as by the absurdities of religious myths and dogmas.  He wrote at least part of the witty and scathing satire, Letters from the Earth, just before his death in 1910, but it was not published until 1962 because his daughter Clara was concerned with the sensitive and sacrilegious nature of its contents. 

It ain't those parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me,

   it is the parts that I do understand.

                                                                 --- Mark Twain

Letters from the Earth gives readers entertaining insights and perspectives into the absurd nature of orthodox religious dogmas and inflexible religious doctrines.  It is an incisive, logical book that ridicules preposterous contentions contained in ‘holy books’.  Ambrose Bierce defines holy book scriptures in The Devil’s Dictionary as “The sacred books of our holy religion, as distinguished from the false and profane writings on which all other faiths are based.”  That’s a problem with holy books! 

Steven Pinker poignantly points out in The Better Angels of Our Nature that there is an astonishing absurdity for “… different people being unshakably certain of the truth of their mutually incompatible beliefs.” 

Fifty years have now passed since Letters from the Earth was published.  Today we can see that this written ridicule has proved to be inadequate in mitigating the harm that religious fanaticism is causing around the world.  Terrorism in response to economic, social and military injustices is, in fact, making the world a more dangerous place.  It is doing this not only by posing threats of attacks to many nations in the Western world, but even more significantly by provoking an incomprehensibly costly and domineering and violent reaction from the hubris-enveloped and spending-drunk American military machine.  The huge cost of military interventions, preemptive wars, and global standing armies, navies, air forces and marines threaten to bankrupt the United States.  The economic turmoil which will likely result, without saner priorities, would create an even more unstable world and widespread hardships. 

The time has come today for us to come to grips with the emerging challenges that face us, and to effectively deal with them in a properly prioritized fashion.

Another Letter from the Earth

The original Earth Manifesto was first published online in October 2004.  It was scanned in so that it could include some of the emphatic calligraphy that was characteristic of the versions of these ideas that arose before they were put on the Internet.  This first computer version of the Earth Manifesto consists of 121 one-page Soliloquies.  They still reside in their entirety in Part Seven of the online Earth Manifesto, in addition to being included here in Book Nine.

One Soliloquy has a long elliptical circle at the top with the title in it:  Letters from the Earth.  A rotund page-filling dark blue circle was appended below, and it contained a three-paragraph communiqué, signed at the lower right by “Mother Earth”.  Here is the important perspective that Mother Earth imparts to us in this Soliloquy:

“Lovely to have you human beings around!  Life has finally achieved a self-reflective state of consciousness after so many eons, meaning great recognition for yours truly Mother Earth -- for my awesome beauty and for the extraordinary context of my geophysical existence in the Universe.  As a part of physical Nature, I am naturally utterly indifferent to judging or favoring any particular circumstance or changes, but I must make one thing perfectly clear:  My Gaia aspect -- the sum total of all of my living systems -- loves itself.  I love my beautifully balanced ecosystems, teeming with life in infinite niches, and my topography of magnificent mountains and vibrant valleys and superb seas.  Please don’t ruin everything by hunting all the animals to extinction, or by poisoning my life-supporting waterways and atmosphere, or by myopically modifying and destroying my habitats.”

“My living systems are fabulous sources of materials for your prosperity and sustenance, things like food, fish and timber -- but they are also vitally valuable in a healthy state for the services they provide to the human race.  Forests help provide clean water, flood management, erosion control, water storage, regeneration of the atmosphere, and buffering against extremes in weather patterns.  Likewise, wetlands, rain forests, wilderness areas, riparian habitats, coral reefs, symbiotic communities and other healthy ecosystems are critical for your survival, so I recommend that humanity whole-heartedly embraces the ideas expressed by Tiffany Twain, and begins to move boldly towards sustainable and restorative activities.”

“Listen up, humanity, your home planet speaks!  You would be wise to rediscover your native reverence for Planet Earth, and the respect and appreciation that were once so germane to your awareness, your hearts, your souls, and your existence.  You must, for your own good, begin a dramatic Ecological Revolution, and enact positive environmental, economic and social changes worldwide.  Commit yourselves to a transformation of human activities that will be consistent with both your own long-term well-being and that of the Earth;  and also strive to develop more effective international institutions to help ensure peaceful coexistence amongst all of your peoples and nations.”

                                                          --- Mother Earth

A Strategy for Breaking Through

Mark Twain has been described as North America's greatest Renaissance Man.  “He traveled the planet, observed and assessed with insight and precision.  Nothing he wrote is obscure and little of his work is outdated.”  I aspire to leave equally important writings;  they borrow from his genius and incorporate many of his ideas, as well as those of scores of others.  The Earth Manifesto is primarily an accomplishment of good organization, and a competent and thorough gathering of ideas.  It is a creative interpretation of history that utilizes a wide swath of the body of human thought and philosophy to bring together visionary understandings of the human race, and of the dilemmas we face.

My goal is to help humanity break through to more enlightened understandings that embrace more sensible ways forward.  How can one individual make a significant difference in the world?  In contemplating this question, the words of one of California’s greatest writers, Jack London, come to mind:

“And then, in splendor and glory, came the great idea.  He would write.  He would be one of the eyes through which the world saw, one of the ears through which it heard, one of the hearts through which it felt.”

                         --- Martin Eden, in Jack London’s semi-autobiographical novel, Martin Eden

Martin threw himself into the undertaking of improving himself and educating himself and striving to make himself worthy of Ruth Morse, a young woman who had inspired him with passionate intensity.  Daunted by Ruth’s alluring presence, Martin was “like a navigator adrift on a strange sea without chart or compass.”

We are all a bit lost, in a larger sense.  I seek in these words and ideas to help provide a chart and compass by which we can better steer toward sanity, flourishing, fairness, mutual security, long-term prosperity, and survival.  The Earth Manifesto is a product of my own passionate aspiration to create philosophical essays that millions of people might eventually read. 

My inspiration is the belief that far better societies are within reach.  I feel that it is high time people demanded them -- and helped to actualize them.  It seems as though humanity, given a comprehensive and perceptive perspective of existence, might be able to use these insights to transform their cultures and societies into more sane and sustainable ones.  These words could contribute to great debates that might result in a more unified consensus on how we should all strive to more positively get along and to create norms for healthier societies.  This would improve everyone’s prospects on Planet Earth, especially including all people in future generations. 

Let’s roll!  There will be enough challenges for the human race as it is, in the future, since our explosive population growth, resource depletion and hyper-competition are driving us into resource wars and desperately violent struggles for supremacy.

Insights into Competition and Cooperation

Competition is a curious phenomenon.  Free-market competition is a marvelous mechanism for creating wealth and jobs, and for compelling people to work harder and harder.  The system is set up primarily to benefit wealthy people and the investor class.  The buying power of the average worker’s wages has been essentially stagnant since the days Ronald Reagan and the conservative movement embraced economic elitism and began to dismantle the initiatives that built a strong middle class in America.  Rapid inflation in the cost of living has been an especially severe hardship for the majority of working Americans, particularly for essentials like food, housing, heating, gasoline, and health care. 

Rapid increases in the costs of food highlight the fact that unintended consequences result from all actions.  In the effort to become less dependent on fossil fuels, the United States has given large subsidies to producers of grains for use in making ethanol, a biofuel.  This policy has stimulated demand for corn and other grains, driving up the global price and creating significant and growing hardships for millions of people.

Inflation in the costs of basic necessities dramatically diminishes the economic security of untold numbers of men, women and children.  In contrast, economic insecurity is of little or no real practical concern for the wealthy.  These trends of inequality should not only be bemoaned, but reversed.  Progressive and far-sighted policies are required, and NOT stubborn adherence to regressive and shortsighted plans. 

In an even larger consideration, cut-throat competition can often be seen to be a primary cause of the deterioration of the global commons.  Cooperation is what is most needed to protect the commons -- natural resources, topsoil, lakes, rivers, wetlands, coral reefs, old-growth forests, oceans and the atmosphere.  The commons must be managed in ways that ensure future generations will have an equal opportunity as current generations to prosper and survive. 

To establish sustainable fisheries, for instance, quotas must be agreed to and established and enforced.  Likewise, the practice of sustainable forestry requires that we collectively manage forests better and protect old growth stands and make sure that more trees are planted than are harvested.  Also, as the anthropogenic production of greenhouse gases begins to have serious and ominous impacts on weather patterns around the globe, we must clearly recognize the valuable role that forests play in using up carbon dioxide and thereby mitigating the build-up of this greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.

We are very fortunate to be living at a time in history when there is still such a marvelous cornucopia of resources on Planet Earth.  There are so many wonderful resources to enjoy, so many delicious animals to eat, and so many yummy crops to consume or to feed to the animals we keep for meat, milk or companionship.  There are, of course, compellingly good reasons for people to shift toward more vegetarian diets – but that is another story.  For more information, see the Observations about a Vegetarian Diet in Tiffany Twain Entertains:  A Philosophic Cookbook.

There are about one trillion barrels of crude oil left in global reserves.  This still allows hundreds of millions of people to jet around the planet in unprecedented numbers every year, but it is preposterous to presume that we can continue to stimulate our ravenous demands without severely diminishing this cornucopia.  The failure to intelligently deal with all of these challenges will have daunting consequences for future generations.

Archetypes, Stereotypes, and the Relativity of Perception

The Tyrants and Damsels story at the beginning of this Introduction makes it clear that we tend to see the world in dramatically anthropocentric ways.  This is the frame of reference for our worldviews and our existential belief systems.  Because of the nature of self-referential perceptions and our human-centered ways of seeing things, we tend to project our beliefs and feelings onto the world, and to ignore larger perspectives. 

Our roles in the world are powerfully affected by such projections -- both outer ones, which are known as stereotypes, and inner ones, which are known as archetypes.  Consider the attributes of the goddesses and gods of ancient Greece.  These deities were characterized by distinct expressions of collective instinctual behavior patterns that have been projected from the collective unconscious onto mythical deities. 

Greece was the most advanced civilization in Europe at the time that people believed in these deities.  These gods and goddesses represented the dominant spiritual, cosmological, and religious explanations of existence at the time.  Today we demean these deities, calling them merely myths, and we fail to recognize that our own religious stories fall equally short of reality or probable truth. 

There is significant value in studying Greek deities, because the pantheon of Greek deities together, female and male, continue to exist as archetypes in us all.  Their characters and interrelationships are a valuable key to understanding our own inner selves and our interactions with others.  Check out Jean Shinoda Bolen’s book Goddesses in Everywoman to understand this.  It is worthwhile reading for personal development, as well as for the purposes of cultivating wise perspectives!

People from time immemorial have similarly projected human-centered ideas of motivations, behaviors, emotions, attitudes and appearances onto deities.  These projections all have their genesis in the human imagination.  We humans tend to anthropomorphize a lot, projecting our sensibilities and human qualities and feelings onto animals and inanimate objects and forces of nature.  We then perceive the world in such ways that we think this actually represents reality.  When a violent storm harms people, we describe it as vicious or malevolent.  Is it really?

Aesop’s Fables are a classic form of the anthropomorphization of animals.  These fables involve simple moral lessons that are illustrated through the projection of human traits and feelings onto animals.  Is the coyote wily?  Is the dog loving?  Is the lion noble?  Is the owl wise?  Is the ass stubborn? 

Such reflections of myth and fable make one wonder if our anthropocentric deities are really the way we picture them.  If there is a God, is it likely that ‘He’ gets jealous and angry?  Does God really crave recognition and worship and adulation and glory?

These observations reinforce the realization that “everything is relative.”  We recently had a lovely day of rain where I live.  There is something about falling rain and rushing water that deeply accords with our souls.  Since drought is a threat affecting many communities worldwide, there is an almost thrilling and sublime affirmation in falling rain.  Yet, to a traveler visiting from abroad, the rain might seem like an unfortunate inconvenience.  And to a homeless person, rain and wind and cold could seem quite miserable.  A fierce rainstorm with violent winds can lash out with its power and seem to be malevolent in its destructive potentiality.  Yes, everything is relative!  (Einstein even proved it, on a physical plane.)

One particularly rich illustration of the relativity of perception is contained in the great book by Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek, in which Zorba says:

“It all depends on the way you look at it… Look, one day I had gone to a little village.  An old grandfather of ninety was busy planting an almond tree. ‘What, granddad!’ I exclaimed. ‘Planting an almond tree?’  And he, bent as he was, turned round and said: ‘My son, I carry on as if I should never die.  I replied: ‘And I carry on as if I was going to die any minute.’  Which of us was right, boss?”

Zorba looked at me triumphantly and said:  “That’s where I’ve got you!”

“I kept silent.  Two equally steep and bold paths may lead to the same peak.  To act as if death did not exist, or to act thinking every minute of death, is perhaps the same thing.”

In considering the relativity of perspective, think about the fact that geologists regard the phenomena we call earthquakes as sudden ruptures which take place when tension is released that has built up as a tectonic plate of the Earth’s crust moves past or under another plate.  Since there is great friction between rocks, movements of the Earth’s crust are not lubricated, so the plate boundaries are ‘stuck’ -- until they finally snap. 

Californians wonder if there will be another “Big One” along the San Andreas Fault, which lies in the border area between the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate.  Californians wonder this, even though the evidence is clear that there have been thousands of periodic Big Ones as the San Andreas Fault opened up the Gulf of California and formations like half of the Pinnacles and the Point Reyes Peninsula moved far north of the positions they occupied millions of years ago. 

The 1906 earthquake in northern California caused the Point Reyes Peninsula to jump northward by about 16 feet in a few minutes.  I’ll do the math:  with such earthquakes occurring on average once every 150 years, that makes almost 7,000 Big Ones every million years, and something like 100,000 Big Ones over the span of the next 15 million years.  The beautiful Point Reyes Peninsula will become an island in less than a million years, with Stinson Lagoon joining Tomales Bay, and the area where Los Angeles is now, on the Pacific Plate, will eventually move north of San Francisco, which is on the western edge of the North American Plate.  This will take place in less than 15 million years.  Unimaginable?  Incomprehensible?  Check out the science!

This last paragraph provides a provocative perspective:  geologic time is practically eternal.  In contrast, time rushes headlong past us in our daily lives, and we are collectively driven by incredibly myopic perspectives and short-term planning, especially with regard to consumption activities and environmental protections. 

In human affairs, change is accelerating.  Population is exploding.  Resources are being depleted.  We are essentially staggering and blundering into the future.  Our planning timeframe barely envisions next year or five years from now, and certainly not 100 years from now.  It makes me think to myself: “Self …”

Why do the same old strategies remain dominant when there is so much we should and could be doing?  A principal reason is found in the fact that established vested interests set all of the most important aspects of our national agenda.  A powerful resistance exists that prevents us from changing the rules of the game and setting more intelligent goals and priorities.  Risks mount as progress is impeded, and conflicts intensify, and bankruptcy looms.  Conflict escalation is inevitable as long as we continue to cling desperately and half insanely to the same old thinking and policies that we’ve been stubbornly pretending are right and optimum, or at least impossible to be reformed, for so many years.

A spectre is haunting Planet Earth -- the spectre not only of ideologies that promote narrow interests and inegalitarian activities, but the spectre of obstacles that appear to be nearly insurmountable.  We are in the desperate final throes of allowing old ways of thinking to dominate.  We still let the powers-that-be advance their prerogatives and gain ever-more influence.  We allow the international ‘corporatocracy’ to perpetuate a short-term orientation and obstruct new ideas that could be leading us toward a fairer and more sustainable future.  And we allow Big Money to completely dominate our politics.  The new Super PACs authorized by the narrow 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court are already causing havoc on our politics and further corrupting our political system.

Many people were deeply concerned when the United States was about to enter a recession in 2008.  The Federal Reserve and the White House and Congress were moving quickly to try to forestall a slowdown in growth.  It should be pointed out that, as certain as it is that big earthquakes will rock California again in the future, there will be economic recessions and depressions again, and there will be ones that are international in scope.  Our failure to address the speculative causes of the Great Recession, and the boom-and-bust nature of our economy, and the unprecedented debt financing of our national budgets, all together foolishly increase the likelihood that the next episode will be severe.

To forestall such eventualities, it would have been wisest in the years from 2001 to 2008 to use the ‘economic good times’, such as they may have been, to invest in America’s human capital with better and more affordable higher education, and to invest in infrastructure repairs and smart innovations designed to achieve greater independence from our addiction to fossil fuels.  But instead, we indulged in gigantic amounts of deficit spending, and created unprecedented trade imbalances, and squandered hundreds of billions of dollars on wars and overly-generous tax breaks for the wealthy.  We clung stubbornly to extremely inegalitarian ‘trickle-down’ economic ideologies, and deregulated financial markets, and unsustainably stimulated housing bubbles and allowed imprudent levels of leveraging in a wide variety of speculative risk-taking. 

The Executive and Legislative branches of government have indulged in power grabs.  Rich people, lobbyists, banks, corporations and Wall Street entities have helped exacerbate these problems.  As a result, good governance measures and transparency and proper accountability and trust in government have atrophied.  Very little serious consideration has been given to legislation that would strictly limit the interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment to give “personhood” rights to giant corporations, even though the corporate prerogatives associated with such interpretations have highly detrimental impacts of our communities, our nation, and the global environmental commons.  We have collectively failed to formulate ways to ensure that good citizen goals are achieved because our leaders are so busy favoring conflicting goals of wealthy investors and bargain-loving consumers. 

If we sorted through the ideas in the Earth Manifesto and implemented just 10% of the best ideas, our nation and the world would be in far better shape.  These ideas are found throughout these writings, and are extensively summarized in Book Two of the Earth Manifesto, and in Part Four online.  Check out Radically Simple Ways to Make America Fairer, and to Fix Both Social Security and Health Care So We Can Move On to Address Much Bigger Issues;  and, One Dozen Big Initiatives to Positively Transform Our Societies;  and the Progressive Agenda for a More Sane Humanity.

I hope these ideas will contribute to a more expansive national and international discourse, and make a positive difference in the world!


                    Dr. Tiffany B. Twain       

                      Hannibal, Missouri

                        March 4, 2012 (originally published May 1, 2008)

                                  Contact at:  SaveTruffulaTrees@hotmail.com


      Introduction --- Serendipitous Epiphany 

                                                                                                                      October 2004

The Earth Manifesto fortuitously provides valuable insight into the diversity of worldviews and perspectives that influence human societies.  It aims to launch our American Ship of State in a new direction -- and to set our enormous fleet of Ships of Selves on new courses which respect fundamental ethical and ecological truths.  These truths must encompass a wholesome connectedness of all people to each other, and to the Earth.  They should also be consistent with fairness in honoring the Golden Rule, religious tolerance, true justice, balanced budgets, peaceful conflict resolution, constraints on corporations as well as governments, and greater ecological sanity.

The Earth Manifesto is dedicated to the proposition that we should “pay forward” some good deeds to the future.  We should redesign our economic and political systems in order to ensure a wiser, fairer, and more genuine caring for the well-being of our societies and a healthy planet.  This can be achieved rather simply, by investing in our societies more intelligently and by using the positive reinforcement of smart incentives.  It will not be easy, however, due to the powerful resistance of forces that defend the Status Quo.  

Big Business, wealthy people, and Big Government prefer to grab more power and short-term benefits for themselves at the expense of the people, and of future generations. They do this by borrowing from the future and passing on a gigantic and rapidly growing national debt, as well as by depleting resources and causing a serious fragmentation of ecosystems.  In addition, those who have the most power in our political system are allowing the costs of pollution and worker well-being and climate-disrupting greenhouse gas emissions to be foisted onto society instead of being sensibly included as one of the real costs of production. 

Powerful people are also contributing to the defense of economic and political systems that are characterized by increasing injustices, greater inequalities of privilege and opportunity, ever-increasing crowds, Big Media dominated by large corporate entities, curtailed civil rights, and more authoritarian violence on both the domestic and global stage.

Some argue that the end of the Cold War left the United States as the only superpower on Earth, and that we must boldly and resolutely advance a neoconservative “Project for a New American Century.”  This vision insists that the U.S. must pursue aggressive global leadership with strategic objectives that emphasize American principles and interests over all other considerations.  Others say that this project, launched in June 1997 by radical “conservatives”, was effete until it was able to hijack the catastrophe of the 9/11 attacks.  Once it seized this opening, neoconservatives used manipulative marketing and people’s fears to get policies implemented which grotesquely caricature responsible leadership.  American power seems unhinged from many restraints.  As such, it is a great danger in itself to world order and justice and peace.

World opinion is arguably a second superpower on Earth.  Through it, a balance of the abuses of power by “Rogue Nation” America must evolve.  The Neoconservative movement is directly contrary to the principles embodied in our Constitution, which recognized that a centralized federal government almost invariably strives to increase its power and to abuse that power at the expense of its citizens.

The time has come today to take a step towards greater sanity by rejecting Neoconservatism and economic fundamentalism and right-wing politics.  We must begin the difficult process of healing the Earth, as well as our relations with other nations.  And we could all use a little civilizing therapy when it comes to improving our interpersonal relationships.  

Please peruse this Earth Manifesto in its varied aspects and trains of thought, and let us together find ways to engage in courageous and constructive dialogue.  Our goal should be to achieve greater balance, reason, fairness and moderation in human affairs.

Thank you for your attention to these ideas.

                                                                                                  Tiffany Twain, October 2004