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                      Mission To Be Accomplished

                                                                                                                           Dr. Tiffany B. Twain  

This summary expression of my primary concerns was written in early 2007.  Almost all the ideas it contains have been recapitulated again and again in subsequent Earth Manifesto essays over the intervening years, so I am including it here only for historical purposes, and temporary ones, until my organizing and editing and consolidating attentions determine a better use for the seven pages of space available here in Book Four.

              Dr. Tiffany B. Twain


Our mission to be accomplished must be to create healthier and more secure societies through broader education, greater fairness of opportunity, sustainable development, a powerful commitment to peace-building, better environmental protections, and more intelligent, responsible and balanced spending priorities. 

It seems increasingly apparent to me that we should support a dramatic economic and political transformation in the world to achieve these goals.  Bold changes must be made that respect the greater public good and longer-term priorities, and peaceful coexistence, and a fairer legacy to people in future generations.

Right action has its roots in right understanding.  The aggregate daily activities of the nearly 7 billion people alive on Earth today are having an insidiously damaging impact on the natural world.  We simply must find better mechanisms to protect the quality of life on Earth, and its probability of being sustainable.  Our primary consideration should be the quality of life, not just the quantity of goods we can produce and consume, or the number of people we can cram on the planet.

Jared Diamond, in his book Collapse, How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, notes that humanity must pay particular attention to long-term thinking, and to anticipatory and successful planning in the long-term.  He further indicates that we should cultivate a willingness to reconsider core values that once served society well when such doctrines become detrimental due to changing circumstances or deteriorating environmental conditions.

Instead of responsible stewardship of the world’s natural resources, however, the U.S. is leading the charge in rapidly squandering them.  We are profligately using up non-renewable fossil fuels and minerals, clear-cutting forests, depleting aquifers, and damaging wildlife habitats.  We are polluting lands and waterways, immoderately spewing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, thereby driving other species of life to extinction and reducing biological diversity.  And we are obstructing sex education and family planning programs, and creating conditions of greater social injustice and conflict across the planet.  Simultaneously, we are blithely burdening Americans in the future with enormous national debt and interest expense obligations.

We are essentially gambling with the well-being of billions of people.  We are gambling wildly that stimulated economic growth and population increases and growing consumption of resources and energy are good and necessary.  We are behaving as if there are no limits.  Yet our civilization must ultimately act in accord with the healthy balance, integrity and carrying capacity of Earth’s natural systems. 

We should recognize our overarching obligation to leave a legacy of healthy ecosystems to our children, and theirs, and theirs, and theirs, not just to the fabled Seventh Generation, but indefinitely.  Each of us will be alive for only a relatively short period of time, but since the facts of geological evolution confirm that existence is unfathomably long, humanity needs to begin to act more responsibly to future generations to ensure the prospering and survival of our species. 

To accomplish this, we must find better ways to cope.  We must create economic means whereby we build more secure, sustainable, and sane societies.  We must work to prevent political and religious elites from creating a civilization that is increasingly unfair, shortsighted, unsustainable, unjust, and violent. 

To better cope, in other words, we must redesign our economic system and our social and political institutions.  The goal of this restructuring must be to channel our free choices towards wiser use of limited resources, and greater fairness to others, better conservation, peaceful cooperation, empathetic broadmindedness, educated understanding, and a much more respectful commitment to the positive prospects of future generations.   

Incentives and disincentives that are intelligently designed and “green” in nature are the most sensible and freedom-consistent means to accomplish these ends.  They are smarter and fairer ways to affect people’s habits and behaviors in aggregate than either onerous regulations or legislation written by lobbyists.  To create a bold system of incentives requires changes in our current culture of vested interest politics and partisanship.  It would help for us to modify our worldviews and forsake mindlessly stimulated consumerism, misguided subsidies, profligate waste and planned obsolescence. 

must find ways to overcome the powerful inertia that results from heavy investment by special interests in defending the status quo.  We cannot continue to defend the opportunistic business-as-usual “gaming of the system” that results in resource depletion, unfair corporate and private privileges, and profiteering on wars and reconstruction projects.  And we cannot continue to allow corporations to externalize the high costs onto society of pollution and environmental damages.

The big picture of national security strategies recognizes that conservation, energy efficiency, and environmentally green policies are not some virtuous hobby that is too expensive for us to afford.  In fact, such initiatives are critically important national security imperatives.  It will be truly courageous leadership that advocates and implements intelligent green taxes on fossil fuels, because such policies will spark greater innovation and conservation and sustainable energy use.  It is foolish, weak-willed, and myopic to continue to pander to Big Oil and the wasteful uses of non-renewable resources, and to pursue profligate energy and resource use policies.

Fear and stimulated insecurity were the aces in the hole for the Republican Party in winning elections in 2002 and 2004.  Remember how, right after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, everyone was saying that the “terrorists will have won” if we stop living our lives normally, if we change our behaviors, if we give in to fear, if we allow our essential freedoms to be suppressed, if we allow our Constitutional rights to be infringed, and even if we alter our shopping habits? 

Well, I submit that terrorists are winning when we allow dramatic intrusions on our freedoms and privacies, and when we get side-tracked into preemptive warfare whose injustice spawns thousands of new recruits to terrorist causes.  The costs of our “war on terrorism” far exceed what is necessary to combat the actual threats.  We have spent hundreds of billions of dollars, and embroiled ourselves in bloody occupations of two sovereign countries.  We have sullied our honorable image.  We have empowered the right wing to forcefully re-engineer our society in many regressive ways.  Our representatives have allowed the strengthening of the Executive Branch and helped enable it to abuse its powers and disenfranchise many citizens. 

Forces of elitist privilege, arms-sales profiteering, obsessive profit-making and narrow-mindedness have been allowed to shift our country even further in the direction of having faith in false doctrines and embracing aggressive militarism, unfettered corporate power, unsustainable exploitation of the world’s natural resources, obscene consumerism, regressive changes in social programs, anti-progressive politics, and discrimination in rules of law related to women’s rights and civil union rights for gay people.

A new offensive to improve the world must be undertaken.  It should advance on two fronts, one that is economic, and one political.  The economic changes required are those that take the long view into account, and broaden the responsibilities of businesses beyond their current single-minded preoccupation with short-term profits.  Our societies should motivate each and every person more effectively to be more conservation oriented, and to be more respectful of the healthy balance of Nature and its life-sustaining mechanisms, its ecological soundness, its limits, and its vulnerabilities. 

One political offensive that would create positive change would be to enact Clean Money legislation to radically diminish the focus of politicians on pandering to the influence of Big Money and lobbyist organizations.  Once politicians are better insulated from the continuous need to raise money from rich people and the selfish demands of big oil, big auto, the armaments industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and other such narrowly-focused and influential lobbying groups, more intelligent initiatives for the common good will be easier to put in place. 

Institutionalized corruption and bribery are creating an ever-greater need for serious campaign finance reform and fairer public financing of election campaigns.  Better oversight and accountability are needed to thwart Congressional shenanigans, pork barrel spending, war profiteering, and often misguided priorities.

Control of Congress was wrested away from many incumbent representatives in the 2006 mid-term elections.  Still, it is likely that our society will continue to be misguided by the failing doctrines of wasteful crony capitalism, neoconservatism, militarism, and religious fundamentalism.  So still, the primary impetus of the U.S. will likely continue to be toward extremely costly, undemocratic, unsustainable, civil-rights eroding, unfair, wrongful, and militaristic ends.  Our economic system is addicted to oil, empire building, and war.  We need to emasculate these influences in order to clear the way for sweeping economic, social, and foreign policy changes to be enacted. 

Plato philosophized that people should be led by the wisest members of society.  Greater wisdom requires the rejection of ideological shortsightedness, divisive social policies, dishonest motivations, serious injustices, stimulated inequities, repressive rule, violent aggression and stubborn religious extremism.

We all seek purpose, inspiration, identification, validation, and reasons for being.  Let us see deeper into our souls.  Let us find healthier outlets for our energies, and listen more closely to our reason and our consciences.  No matter how fervent our wishful thinking, and no matter how hopeful our prayers, God is not going to save us;  we must work on saving ourselves.  In actual modern day experience, God does not miraculously intervene in the physical world;  no, in reality, it is human activities that most powerfully affect each and every one of us.  Here is where we must make committed strides towards a safer and saner world. 

Our mission is not impossible, and we have no choice in whether to decide to accept it:  this message will not self-destruct like the ones did in a puff of smoke at the beginning of every Mission Impossible episode on TV, so the underlying needs for adaptive change must be fairly and effectively addressed.

The goals of Earth Manifesto essays are to advocate greater sanity and far-sightedness in human affairs and to help effect positive change in the world.  We need new confidence in progressive understandings.  The aspiration of these words is to be reasonable, honest, visionary, persuasive, ecologically sound, hopeful, and spiritually enlightening.  They have been written to help spark our nation’s willingness to move boldly towards a sustainable future. 

Mark Twain is my great, great, great philosophical predecessor.  His perspectives on the true nature of good citizenship and patriotic duty are valuable and instructive.  He remarked: “My kind of patriotism and loyalty is loyalty to one’s country, and not to one’s institutions or officeholders.” 

As you read these words, please keep in mind that true patriotism includes dissent and activism in the face of government misdeeds and deceptions.  Mark Twain made this observation about patriotism in 1901, in support of the Anti-Imperialist League and its opposition to the involvement by the United States in a war of aggression against Spain that was waged under false pretenses in Cuba and the Philippines. 

“God and Country are an unbeatable team;  they break all records for oppression and bloodshed.”

                                                                                                                     --- Luis Bunuel

 “Conservative” worldviews and doctrines represent radical injudiciousness in many aspects.  The right wing in U.S. politics has collaborated with giant corporations and the greedy rich and religious fundamentalists to jam the rudder of our ship of state to an ill-advised extreme right.  These people are joined by judges who are strict constructionists of Constitutional and legal precedents, and all of these leaders are working against the interests of tens of millions of Americans, striving tirelessly to give bigger benefits to a relatively small group of people at the expense of the vast majority of women, children, poor people, minorities, gay people, blue-collar workers, the middle class, people without medical insurance, people in other countries, and people in future generations. 

The political right wing is particularly strongly dominated by controlling drives and doctrines that are obsessed with power, money and a desire for puritan hegemony.  These influences run contrary to the founding principles of democracy.  They often contradict the noble expression of true American values.  Let us honestly examine the nature of our leaders’ abuses of power. 

Actions, remember, speak louder than words.  There is compelling and extensive evidence that our leaders cleverly take advantage of the majority of American citizens to the detriment of the social good.  In the last six years, the federal government has been acting to encourage elitism of wealth and privilege, and to constantly stimulate wasteful consumerism, to stoke aggressive nationalism, to promote undemocratic secrecy, to embrace evangelical religious extremism, to encourage exploitive economic globalization, and to indulge in offensive militarism. 

The Republican Party staunchly defends its doctrines, eagerly striving to erode citizen rights, divide communities, roll back environmental protection laws, gut financial regulations, control the mass media, deny scientific truths, use false logic, generate disinformation, deceive people, create fear of enemies, effectively embrace ignorance, marginalize and punish dissent, stimulate nationalism and belligerent patriotism, disenfranchise people who oppose them, smear opposing candidates, blame scapegoats, exploit workers, pander to religious establishments, perpetuate sexism and homophobia, disdain intellectuals and artists, punish crime harshly, act aggressively toward other nations using preemptive warfare, abuse prisoners by using harsh torture techniques, cultivate unreasonable elements in the gun lobby, abrogate international treaties, illegally spy on American citizens, foster empire, and insidiously install Orwellian Big Brother authoritarianism over American citizens.  Nice going, guys! 

Some of the smartest guys in the room have obviously joined a conspiracy of fools in hijacking America.  The terror attacks of September 11th, 2001 have given the doctrines of neoconservatism a free pass for too long in its dogmatic efforts to advance narrowly partisan goals.  Our leaders seized the initiative by using fear, manipulation, and blind faith to mislead the majority into going along with them in arrogant and scandalously regressive initiatives. 

We would be wise to put the smackdown on these heresies, because they assail our most noble American traditions.  We should refute and reject right-wing politics, as well as arrogant abuses of expansive ideas of Executive Privilege in the White House. 

A tipping point of unintended consequences of social conservatism and cultivated inequalities threatens society’s current and future well-being.  It is my strong conviction that the best means of making our societies more secure and sustainable should involve fairness and true justice.  It will NOT be found in continuing to defend the status quo of laissez-faire corporatist capitalism, economic fundamentalism, aggression, greed, and unilateral military advantage.

As Thomas Jefferson reputedly wrote, “Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.”   We must beware of those with vested interests in power and control, because history proves that the general public is often deluded -- HOODWINKED! -- into believing rationalizations, propaganda, rhetorical deceptions, and political spin that advance unfair and dangerously shortsighted agendas.  We can no longer trust our politicians, because they are only “the best-that-money-can-buy.”  This is harmful rather than good for the general welfare! 

We need to set budgetary priorities in a more disciplined way.  The government must operate more on a pay-as-you-go basis, and strictly limit the use of the irresponsible expediency of deficit spending.  We must come to understand that deficit financing only defers costs, increasing them infinitely.  The interest costs on borrowed money at 5% per year result in obligations equal to 100% of the amount borrowed every 15 years, and these costs are incurred over and over again, every 15 years.  This is why allowing deficit spending in both times of economic recession and economic expansion good times is truly foolish fiscal policy.

An even more outrageous understanding is that borrow-and-spend policies are being used to squander enormous amounts of money on such things as pork barrel projects, corporate welfare, wasteful resource exploitation, rash exploitation of fossil fuel resources, “trickle-down” economic benefits to the rich, misguided faith-based initiatives, arms sales, war profiteering, hard-nosed retributive foreign policy, and military aggression.

Our collective activities must be guided by greater prudence and foresight.  The marketing of good ideas, intelligent planning, and fairer social priorities must gain ascendance over the marketing of profligate consumerism, stimulated desires, regressive social programs, and war.  We should make our societies saner by adopting initiatives that improve public education and make schools safer and more affordable.  We should create better jobs and improve our cities and curb suburban sprawl.  We should reduce public health inequalities and implement a more affordable system of universal healthcare.  We should conserve energy resources and spark innovation for fossil fuel alternatives.  And we should be more committed to protecting natural ecosystems and the environment and the biological diversity of life on Earth. 

Imagine the goodwill that we could have cultivated with the hundreds of billions of dollars that we have spent on attacking and occupying Afghanistan and Iraq.  Instead of squandering resources, heightening insecurity, inflaming hatred, increasing the risk of bankruptcy, and provoking religious extremism around the world, a different approach in the wake of 9/11 could have brightened the beacon of democracy, fairness, integrity, cooperative problem-solving, religious freedom, and peaceful coexistence --- and we could have defended the rights of sovereignty for all nations.

We could have invested these huge sums in American infrastructure and innovation, or in opportunity and social justice.  We could have used them to create sustainable development and stability in poor countries that otherwise breed terrorism.  We could have spent the funds on bold peace-building initiatives.  We could have invested them in eliminating our dependence on fossil fuels.  We could have improved energy efficiency and supported alternatives like solar power.  We could have provided support to conservation programs.  Or we could have been more frugal and not spent so much, making the U.S. more fiscally sound. 

Some new progressive leader from outside the incestuous D.C. Beltway, or perhaps someone like Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, is needed to guide the United States towards the desirable goal of creating a society that is more egalitarian and more measurably just, and more fiscally sound, conservation-oriented, socially tolerant, women-respecting, honest, environmentally caring and secure.  And less militaristic, less violent and less corrupt.

The federal oath of office requires that our leaders protect the public “against all enemies.”  But, lo!, our current leaders are acting more like enemies of the people than their protectors.  Instead of making us safer, the neoconservative agenda is betraying our best interests.  Conservative leaders are focused on providing benefits to elites and subverting democratic fair-mindedness.  They try to control people by using sophisticated international economic-hit-man loan shark/asset control schemes and military solutions, and they impose harsh, manipulative, puritanical, and uncompassionate doctrines on the world. 

The political make-up of the Supreme Court is being driven towards a more socially conservative, environmentally exploitive, corporate friendly, privacy-invading and undemocratic constellation of Strict Father doctrines.  The American people should demand that newly-appointed federal and Supreme Court judges represent mainstream beliefs and common good goals, rather than ideological extremes. 

For all the reasons mentioned above, we should support peaceable revolutionary change in American society.  The greater good should be our primary consideration.  Please speak out and vote accordingly -- for progressive ideas and candidates!

Significant policy changes require a shift in our worldviews.  The reigning paradigms in our society serve to provide justification for actions and behaviors that are simply too detrimental to our descendents to allow them to continue without intelligent redesign.  We will inevitably need to find ways to ensure that people are guided in the direction of moderate consumption, balanced impacts, respectful consideration for the rights of others, committed concern for the well-being of the public, greater discipline, and a more responsible stewardship for the natural ecosystems upon which all of humanity ultimately depends. 

The remarkable success of the U.S. has been a product of its rich heritage of natural resources, its innovative spirit, its open-mindedness, its system of checks and balances in democratic government, and its progressive evolution of citizen rights and protections.  We should give much greater respect to these vital values!

The most accurate definition of the moral good is what is consistent with the social good.  Critical thinking, reason, and progressive understandings need to be embraced and cultivated.   The “values debate” should not focus so narrowly on hot-button social issues like abortion and homosexuality to the exclusion of greater concerns for fairness, respect for individual rights, mitigating homelessness, fighting poverty, ending racism, and honestly protecting our communities and the environment.   

God is not dead.  People should all be able to feel free to believe as they wish!  But we should also recognize that the prophets of humanity’s great religious traditions, including Mohammed, Jesus and Buddha, would all align themselves with the protection of the downtrodden.  They would all smile on a child.  Our legacy to the future must be one that is moral, considerate and compassionate.  We need to extend the Golden Rule’s fairness and wisdom to our children, and all in the future. 

The human race should seek ways to cooperate well enough to ensure that we are more likely to prosper as a whole community.  We should respect diversity of opinion, and find inclusive and far-sighted consensus in every issue. 

The challenges facing us are very serious.  The need to move forward in promoting measures to cope effectively with accelerating changes is urgent.  We cannot continue to figuratively fiddle while Rome burns!

Rich people in developed countries are particularly responsible for dangerous conditions in the world because they use larges quantities of resources and fossil fuels.  For this reason, it is an American obligation to lead the world in its progressive transformation.  Our federal government has, unfortunately, too often proven to be unwilling and unable to take courageous and properly focused action in these regards.  The U.S., for instance, continues to oppose many international environmental protection programs such as the Kyoto protocols or modern mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

Ominous changes in the world’s weather have been occurring, and they have been causing widespread flooding, dire droughts, increasingly intense hurricanes, summer heat waves, worse wildfires, and even extreme winter cold in some regions.  There is an increasing risk of ‘abrupt climate change’, and even the Pentagon recognizes this as a growing national security risk.  So we would be wise to adopt a no-regrets precautionary policy that is targeted to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that trap the Sun’s heat in Earth’s atmosphere and contribute to the frequency and intensity of weather extremes.

We need to begin to be more effective in applying human ingenuity, awareness, creativity, positivism, enthusiasm, determination, and spiritual caring to solving the looming challenges that face humanity. 

I hope that readers will give further consideration to ideas that can provide us with better courses of action, such as those detailed in the Earth Manifesto’s Progressive Agenda for a More Sane Humanity.

We are all in this existence together.  We all have some degree of freedom of choice, so we are all responsible to a degree for social and environmental problems and solutions.  We all have a deep basic obligation to help leave the planet inhabitable for our descendents.  With a heroic common effort, revolutionary change can be accomplished.  Please support progressive ideas and causes!

     Yours Truly,

         Dr. Tiffany Twain

            March 21, 2007