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           Earth Manifesto - The Film Version

                                                                                                                                                   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?

Very preliminary alternative ideas:

   Scene One:  Grand Overview of Home Page ideas 

   Scene Two:  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

   Scene Six:  Comprehensive Global Perspective

   Scene Seven:   Revelations of a Modern Prophet

   Scene Eight:  The Common Good, Properly Understood

   Scene Nine:  Existence, Economics, and Ecological Intelligence

   Scene Ten:  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 …


Note 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   c/o savetruffulatrees@hotmail.com   

                 Earth Manifesto - The Film Version

                                                                                                                                 Dr. Tiffany B. Twain

                                                                                                                                            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.

A 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 future. 

The 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.

The 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.

The 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’.

There 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. 

Also, 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.

An Aside

The 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.

Scientists 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 life.

The Earth Manifesto tells tales that incorporate all of these tales, and perspectives taken from these sources and many, many more.  Check it out!

Scene #1

(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 awareness itself.

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.

I would like to introduce this film with a parable.  This involves the story of Nauru.

The 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 homeland.

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. 

Nauru’s 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 myopically! 

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.

There 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. 

Think 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.)

(Voiceover 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 urgency.” 

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.

An old 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 the commons.

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 world.

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 news.    

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 education.

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 conditions.

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 rapidly disappearing. 

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.

But these 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 years. 

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 these goals.

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 survive.

Transformative changes 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 greater good. 

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 roll!

(This concludes Scene 3.)


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 survival.   

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 world.

(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. 

Yikes!  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 ourselves.”

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 decision-making.

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 business leaders. 

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 choices.

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.      

(This concludes Scene 4.)


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 again.

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 dangerous. 

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 institutions. 

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 ecosystems. 

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!

Representatives and 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 fundamentalists. 

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!

(This concludes Scene 4.)


Scene #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 change them. 

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 greater fairness. 

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. 

Economic inequality 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 financing.

Thirty-six million 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 selfishness.” 

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 multiple homes.

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 higher earnings.

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 whatever. 

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 ancient understandings. 

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 famous Soliloquy:

“To be, or not to be: that is the question:
   Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer

    The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune

     Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,

      And by opposing end them.”

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 future.

We require, in short, a new form of intelligent design!   

(This concludes Scene 5.)


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 emissions.  

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 more secure.

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.  It’s conclusion:

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.
It's not."

(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 world!

(Voiceover Narrative with Koyaanisquatsi-like footage playing:)

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 respected. 

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 fuel alternatives.

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 national security. 

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 good goals!

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 petroleum. 

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 severe.

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 trucks. 

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 morally mandated. 

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!

There unfortunately 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 screwed up!

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 extraordinarily expensive.

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. 

Almost without 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!

The establishment 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 political parties!

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 political systems! 

(This concludes Scene 7.)


Scene #8

(Shoot 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 are irrational.  

Irrational reasons 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.

The 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.)


Scene #9

(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.

Capitalism is 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. 

Capitalism also 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.

Capitalist organizations 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 other values. 

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 get richer. 

Democracy essentially 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. 

Corporations thus 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 shelters. 

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.) 


Scene #10

(Shoot 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:

“Sail forth --- Steer for the deep water only,

Reckless O Soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me,

For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go,

And 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 prosper together.”

Hear this!  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 reconstruction projects.

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 inequalities!

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 system.

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 to peace”. 

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.

Extremism signals, 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 peace! 

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.   

These initiatives 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 important priorities.

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 wrong?

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.)


Scene #11

(Shoot 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 militarism.

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 questionable purposes.

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 and markets.

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 country.” 

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 Philippines.  

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.”

As John Nichols points out:

Mark 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 self-deception.”

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!

Aggressive foreign 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 rationality!

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 bully type. 

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 resisting them! 

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. )

Scene #12

(Shoot location:  tbd.  Footage:  Shells-of-the-world slide show --- Nautilus, abalone, volutes, clams, conches, cockles, scallops, etc.   Casting:  TBD.)

Hi, I am Tiffany Twain. 

The political philosophy called Neoconservatism needs to be examined closely.

Neoconservatism was 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 moral principle.”

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 understandings.

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 countries.

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. 

Neoconservatism, in 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 constituencies.

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 best impulses.”

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. 

Neoconservatives are 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!

Constructive 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 fix.  

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.;  Casting:  tbd.)

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.

(Voiceover 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.

Archaeological evidence 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 civilizations. 

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 development. 

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 Indian Ocean. 

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 ourselves. 

Imagine the impact we will have as our population grows by 50% in the next 50 years!

In effect, we are simultaneously doing three things:

(1)              Consuming the non-renewable resources upon which we depend;

(2)             Damaging ecosystems through over-utilization, unsustainable exploitation, erosion, pollution, and depletion;  and,

(3)             Increasing 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 degraded. 

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.

We currently 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 future generations. 

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.)

Scene #14

(Shoot 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:  Susan Sarandon)

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 negative results. 

Television, radio, 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. 

Our shopping-seduced 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 character.

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.”

Consider this 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 founded.  

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.

Our leaders’ 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!

Nonetheless, the 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 going, guys!

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 important principles.

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 bureaucratic costs. 

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 encourage this! 

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.)

Scene #15

(Shoot 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:  tbd.)

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 them. 

(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.

(6) Our 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 foreign oil.

(8) We must be flexible, open-minded, and willing to embrace progressive change.  We must encourage respectful debate rather than suppressing dissenting views in our society.

(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 assumptions.

(10) We must make our societies and systems of justice more fair. 

(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 atmosphere.


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 happiness.

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 good. 

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 history.

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.”  

John 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 moons. 

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 years.

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 growth. 

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 corporations. 

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.    

Consider this:  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 best interest.

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. 

Ecological 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:  Scoop Nisker)

Hi, I am one with Tiffany Twain in the following thoughts.

Great forces are at play in the world, forces of cause and effect, action and reaction, progress and regress, development and decay.

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 and squandered;

2.     The military becomes bloated and overextended;

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 becomes widespread;

5.     The public becomes apathetic, cynical, and effectively disenfranchised;

6.     The populace grows complacent, and is diverted by sports spectacles, divisive social policies, and war; and,

7.     There 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 Holy Grail!

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 happiness.

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 happiness. 

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 protections. 

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 achieved. 

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, guys!

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 institutions.

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 visionary lot! 

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 reactions!

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 peace-building. 

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 consciences. 

There is an old parable that became a religious joke about reason and faith.  It goes like this: 

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 him.

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 future.

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 Twain!

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:

“There 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, including children.

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 them! 

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.” 

Wait!  Actually, 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 words:

“We 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 gender roles. 

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 caring.   

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 promiscuity.

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.

The Earth 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:

          “All 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.)


Scene #19.  (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.

Today religious 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.

Religious orthodoxy 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 wing. 

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 and life.

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, and peace. 

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 ethnocentric superiority.

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 channels! 

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 the Greek:

“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.)


Scene #20.  (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 national priorities. 

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 annual salaries.

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 cancer rates. 

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.

Listen.  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 States.


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? 


Thanks for making it this far in the very rough concept of this film! 



    Dr. Tiffany B. Twain  c/o SaveTruffulaTrees@hotmail.com