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                              Intelligent Redesign                                                                                              

                                                                                                        Earth Manifesto Insights

                                                                                                              Dr. Tiffany B. Twain  

                                                                                                             November 2005

It is this simple:  we must redesign our societies.  We must do this because the number of human beings on Earth is on track to increase from 6 billion to 9 billion in the first 50 years of this century.  Simultaneously we will consume essentially all of the remaining 50% of known reserves of oil worldwide.  Our consumer economy is not sustainable.  We are depleting renewable and non-renewable natural resources, and we are creating great quantities of pollutants, toxins and wastes.  We are upsetting the balance of nature with our unsustainable development, urban sprawl, topsoil depletion and destruction of forests and wetlands.  We are ruthlessly exploiting fisheries and damaging coral reefs worldwide.  We are overusing aquifers, and having radical impacts on habitats and biotic conditions.  These activities are causing both intentional and inadvertent assaults on wildlife and biodiversity.

We can no longer blame God, or superstitiously expect ‘His’ intervention to help us.  God does not meddle in human affairs.  The South Asian tsunami of December 2004, and the recent Gulf Coast and Latin American hurricanes, and the devastating earthquake of Kashmir are natural disasters.  They are caused by geophysical events, not divine beings.  The tsunami and earthquake are natural phenomena caused by the same movements of Earth's tectonic plates that have been occurring for millions of years, as was shown by the existence of marine limestone from the Indian Ocean seabed in the tallest mountains in the world, the Himalayas.  Geologists now know that the India Plate of the Earth's crust has been slowly colliding with Tibet on the Eurasian Plate over the last 50 million years, with occasional earthquakes to release the stress of the movement of the plates against each other.

The unusually intense hurricanes this year are a function of normal weather patterns, combined with the ominously increasing influence of global warming that is being caused by mankind's heedless pouring of billions of tons of carbon-dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere each year.

In a very real sense, we are choosing our own destinies.  There will be no End Times for planet Earth, not in any case until our Sun explodes in a supernova a billion years or two in the future.  The human race may drive itself to extinction, or more likely devastate our home planet and drive a large proportion of other life forms to extinction in our desperate struggle to achieve a sustainable balance and equilibrium of our population with the ecological carrying capacity that provides for our survival and well-being.

The human race is in desperate need of better awareness and clarity of thought.  We need to be open to new ideas and greater wisdom and enlightened understandings.  A radical transformation in our activities, behaviors, and economies will be necessary in order to achieve a sustainable future.  Our societies and institutions must be redesigned to be flexible, adaptable, courageous and better prepared.  We must use our foresight, not myopia, to face the challenges of the future.

We cannot continue with "business as usual" strategies any longer, nor can we let vested interests ruthlessly defend the status quo.  We cannot allow greedy, selfish, shortsighted special interests to make all the decisions that affect our social health and the prospects of our descendents.

Our social, political and religious institutions must change.  A rapid "greening" of America, and the world, is urgent.  The longer we embrace ignorance and denial in the service of vested interests, and fear and superstition in the service of evangelical religious beliefs, the more difficult the challenges will become.

Listen, my fellow Americans, there may be wonderful and comforting reasons to cherish beliefs in virtue, sin, Heaven, Hell, life after death, salvation, and "rapturous End Times".  But to the extents that these beliefs are socially detrimental, they must be reexamined and rejected.

Today, the radical right is using religious conservatives to help give them the power to support the dominant paradigms of special privilege, regressive and discriminatory domestic policies, aggressively militaristic foreign policies, and destructive and unsustainable environmental exploitation.  In other words, established religions are prostituting themselves to those in power in order to gain power themselves, and they are using this power to harm people, and impinge on the freedoms of others, and damage the social and environmental fabric of planet Earth.

North America was settled by waves of European emigrants seeking freedom and opportunity.  Many of them were fleeing religious oppression and social intolerance.  The experience of the colonies before the Revolutionary War of 1776 gave Americans a very strong distaste for British colonial imperialism, and for taxation without representation.  It inspired strong convictions that States and communities needed to maintain power that is not centralized, and to sensibly limit federal government power.

As a result, the United States was founded on principles of strong protections of individual rights, States rights, and guaranteed freedoms for its citizens.  The ‘Founding Fathers’ sought to establish inalterable protections from the tyranny of a power-abusing federal government.  This is why our Constitution has a Bill of Rights, and a system of Checks and Balances between the Executive and Legislative and Judicial branches of government.  And this is why the separation of Church and State remains an extremely important principle.

The United States Constitution was visionary enough to embody lofty ideals into a framework that was brilliant and flexible enough to allow the progressive evolution of democratic idealism, and to allow the extension of civil rights to all American citizens, including blacks and women.  Some day, despite the current vindictive power of social conservatives, even gay people will be accorded fair and equitable civil rights.

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."

The right-wing "conservative" movement of the last 25 years has done its best to turn back the clock on progress, and to give more and more special privileges and tax breaks to rich people and giant corporations.  They have done this with the collaboration of religious fundamentalists, assuring the believers that they will champion social conservatism in trade for support of these anti-egalitarian, anti-democratic, and anti-environmental policies.  They fight truth, honesty, and fairness at every turn to advance their wrong-headed ends.

Our incipient democracy in 1776 made a Declaration of Independence, whose purpose was to create institutions that are fair, egalitarian, tolerant of differences, and concerned for the general welfare.  The Declaration of Independence states:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, - That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes;  and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. - Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.    --- John Hancock, The Declaration of Independence (emphasis added)           

Sadly enough, abuses and usurpations of power by our current leaders have indeed become destructive to the ends of protecting the inalienable rights of Americans, so it is our right, and our duty, to demand dramatic changes in our government.  Democratic fairness of representation has been undermined;  propaganda, suppression of dissent, and deceit have been used ruthlessly to hijack our government into advancing retrogressive social policies and aggressive foreign policies.  This must end.

We must reject the Cheney/Bush regime’s current attempt to stack the Supreme Court with lifetime appointees that are right wing conservatives who are outside of the judicial mainstream.  We cannot let them turn back the clock on the progressive evolution of our civil rights and social well-being.

Fellow Americans, hear these words clearly!  We are investing a great amount of capital in emotional arguments about such things as:

·                     Intelligent Design vs. evolution;

·                     Our God vs. someone else's God;

·                     Wrong vs. right;

·                     Sin vs. virtue;

·                     Evil vs. good;

·                     Conservatism vs. liberality;

·                     Stern Father discipline vs. Nurturing Mother permissiveness;

·                     "Wise use" vs. sustainable use of resources;

·                     Abstinence vs. open support for contraception;

·                     Virginity vs. promiscuity;

·                     The rights of fetuses vs. the rights of women;

·                     Gay marriage vs. civil rights; and,

·                     Red States vs. Blue States;

These disputes distract us from far more important issues and practical undertakings.  We cannot allow our leaders to set neighbor against neighbor, rich people against poor people, conservatives against progressives, and religious people against all others.

It can barely be denied that we would be intelligent and wise to immediately begin to redesign our institutions and societies to be more sustainable and fairer.  We must begin to seek grounds for consensus, rather than focusing on points of disagreement.  We must seek areas around which we can unite, rather than issues that divide us.  Specifically, we must redesign such things as our business incentives, system of taxation, campaign finance laws, environmental protections, military-industrial economy, fossil fuel dependence, emergency preparedness plans, budgetary priorities, government spending activities, educational system, public transportation, urban planning codes, infrastructure maintenance priorities, agricultural practices, roadless and wilderness area protections, and wildlife refuge sanctity.

It is irrational, irresponsible, and terribly shortsighted to structure our economies around unsustainable consumption, reproduction without restraint, the clear-cutting of rainforests, overfishing of the seas, and the uncontrolled spewing of global-warming gases into the skies without bold programs to counteract the consequences.

Upsetting the balance and damaging the health of natural ecosystems upon which we completely depend is NOT sane!

We must reevaluate the worldviews that oppose such clear understandings.  We all share common interests.  The most prominent amongst our common interests should be a concern for our communities, our safety, our children, our country's fairness, and the future for all.  A strong argument can be made that we must eventually find international mechanisms whereby people work together to deal with both natural and man-made disasters, which the world will face with increasing frequency as our human population approaches 9 billion the year 2050.

The whole of humanity is not yet in completely desperate circumstances, but it is arguably likely that we move closer to predicaments whose implications are calamitous beyond imagination when we allow more and more billions of people to slide in that direction.

Do we want the human race to survive for another 100 years?  One thousand, anyone?  Ten thousand?  How can we help assure this survival?

At the current rate of over 25 billion barrels of oil burned per year on our beautiful planet Earth, all known remaining reserves -- 1 trillion barrels -- that we have not already used up will be practically gone in the next 45 years.  Let's see … 9 billion people, and no gasoline or heating oil.  What a pretty picture!  Shall we rush to wastefully use up all of the irreplaceably valuable oil reserves, or should we maybe boldly conserve its use, and really search hard for alternative energy sources?

The technological transition to new forms of energy to power our societies will require vast amounts of fossil fuels, so we would be smart to start moving towards alternatives SOON, while we still have 50% of the original total of known petroleum reserves!

Conservation is not just "a sign of personal virtue", Vice President Cheney.  It is a future necessity.  Do you not give a damn about our children and the prospects of the human race in the future?

Jared Diamond's Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed is an illuminating book.  It observes that the risk of social collapse increases greatly when a privileged elite loses touch with the common citizen and is insulated against the impacts and undercurrents of environmental failings.  Today's gated communities, extremes of wealth and poverty, and stagnancy and relative decline of the middle class are all factors that bode ill for American society and for our resilience in coping with social and environmental challenges.

It is a bad idea to allow the encroaching domination of politics by giant corporations.  This constitutes a great danger to democracy, to fair competition, to free markets, to the intelligent use of resources, to the safeguarding of public assets, to the protection of the environment, to conservation initiatives, and to long-term prosperity.  The stakes are far too high to allow business as usual to continue is narrowly focused emphasis on profits to the exclusion of all other values!

Some say that a lack of awareness, and ignorance, and denial of reason are principal causes of environmental harm.  But it is clear that there are far greater factors:  greed, power abuse, reckless exploitation for short-term profit, and clever right-wing think tank doctrine and corporate propaganda.

People who have an ownership stake in a home generally work hard to make the home nicer, to maintain it, and to protect it from deterioration.  They rarely let it become dilapidated, and they do not actively undermine its charms and foundations.  Creating societies that are characterized by extreme inequalities has the following detrimental result:  privileged people have a greater stake in the society, and underprivileged have a smaller and diminishing stake, so the rich are increasingly motivated to aggressively defend the way society is, and all others are less motivated to support it, and more forced to oppose it.  This leads to despair, social instability, and greater threats to the establishment, making everyone less secure.

One consequence of unfettered crony capitalism is the ascendancy of militarism and the military-industrial complex in political power.  Making and selling armaments and munitions is the biggest industry in America.  It is no wonder that we have so much difficulty in achieving peace.

The war in Iraq has been an extraordinarily expensive one, by every measure.  It has cost the lives of 2,000 young American soldiers.  It has cost hundreds of billions of dollars.  Serious social and economic upheavals have resulted.  Workplace dislocations have been serious because the National Guard has been enlisted into active combat duty.  Veterans injured in the war are already in the process of being abandoned by society, just as Vietnam War veterans were.  

The use of faulty intelligence to rationalize an opportunistic Crusade in oil-rich Iraq has also been an international diplomatic calamity.  And it has been an epoch-defining moment of arrogant American presumption and preemptive aggression.

Listen.  World domination through militarism did not prove successful for Adolph Hitler.  It is entirely likely that it will prove to be deleterious for America in the 21st Century.  Let's give peace a chance!

What the world needs now is a champion of peace, and billions of supporters -- not a cheerleading War President and millions of narrow-minded followers.  What the world needs now is love, sweet love --- but unfortunately the Jesus-impulse in our society has been throttled and co-opted and perversely subverted into a greedy self-righteousness, instead of being transformed into broadminded empathetic caring and concern for our fellow human beings and the wildlife and other creatures with whom we share the planet.  This must change.

The salvation of society can be found only in social justice, not in charity and not in ruthless Stern Father militarism.  Our goals as a society must be to begin bettering our democracy and making the world a better place for people and life.  We must stop being so quick to violate other nation’s sovereignty and to interfere in the affairs of others.

The honorable Dalai Lama observed years ago that what the world needs now is a new religion, a secular one that respects Nature and other forms of life, one that recognizes that sustainability and the quality of life are the most important things, and that voluntarily limiting the growth in the number of human beings being born will be necessary to facilitate those goals.

In honor of the perspectives and causes discussed above, I consecrate these ‘Evolutionary Understandings’.

One of Mark Twain's favorite forms of recreation was making himself conspicuous.  I regret to announce that in this respect, Tiffany Twain is much more shy and retiring, and for this reason I have limited my autobiographical disclosures to those on page 121 of the original Earth Manifesto. (See Part Seven, if you are interested.)

"To affect the quality of the day is the highest of the arts."

                                                                      --- Henry David Thoreau          

The ideas contained herein encompass as broad a scope as the author could widen her perspective to include.  Understandings were channeled by an osmosis of sensible thoughts expressed by thousands of people.  Thanks for all who have been formative influences!                                                                                      --- Dr. Tiffany Twain