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                       Evolutionary Understandings Overview

                                                                                                          Earth Manifesto Insights

                                                                                                              Dr. Tiffany B. Twain  

                                                                                                             November 2005

                                     (See Home Page for the most current Earth Manifesto understandings.)

The world has become increasingly interconnected and more interdependent as modes of mass travel have improved and the Internet and television and ‘talk radio’ shows have had a growing influence on communication in our societies.  Simultaneously, trade has proliferated around the globe and the competition for resources has intensified.  The number of people on the planet has continued its increase of more than 70 million people every year for decades.  These conditions are making the world figuratively smaller and creating increasingly crucial needs for people worldwide to cooperate in solving growing economic, social and environmental problems.

The essays on this website, together with the original Earth Manifesto that follows in Part Seven, seek to stimulate thought related to the unprecedented challenges facing the human race today.  The goal of these ideas is to clarify our best understandings and perspectives, and to identify strategic initiatives and better courses of action that must be undertaken to achieve sustainable, fairer, and more peaceful societies.

The purpose of these essays is to inspire hope and positive action.  Hopefulness, insight, intelligent planning, and a commitment to wholesome change are important qualities for guaranteeing a more sane future.  NOW is the time to stop arguing and denying and jockeying for privileged position.  It is the time to begin the challenging process of cooperating to improve the prospects of all.  Let us boldly dedicate ourselves to leaving future generations a legacy of fairness, sustainable consumption habits, adequate resources, fiscal responsibility, and a healthy, ecologically sound environment.

We cannot despair.  We must not act cynically and hypocritically.  We already have a deep psychic numbness caused by profound insecurities related to decades of terrible warfare, economic recessions, nuclear threats, natural disasters, terrorism, extensive poverty, and a whole panoply of individual anxieties that afflict us in our increasingly stressful world.

We must use our imagination, force of will, and inspiration to make the world a better place for all.  We must make bold efforts to redesign our economic systems, improve our social institutions, reform our wasteful bureaucracies, and make our societies fairer and more sustainable.  The ideas contained herein are a vision of hope.  They are not paranoid conspiracy theories, partisan delusions, or mere criticisms of wrongheaded government.  They represent common sense, humanitarian principles, and a Big Picture perspective.

Life from birth to death is a drama, a tragedy, a farce, and a comedy.  Universal challenges face us all, and we each have our own unique set of adversities.  In the light of our shared humanity and vulnerabilities and interdependence, we must all work together to improve humankind and our fate, and that of our descendents.  At the core of our souls, essential to our humanity, is a moral compass of conscience and empathy for other beings.  It is socially important and wholesome for us to embrace fairness and to expect a sense of civic responsibility from all citizens.  A healthy society cultivates an appreciation and reasonable respect for life, and for the lives and rights of others.

Each person has natural propensities for good and evil within, and it behooves us to insist that our government encourages the more noble aspects of its citizens while discouraging selfish, opportunistic, mean-spirited impulses.

Progressive actions outlined throughout these writings are needed to ensure that we are able to protect the quality of life of those alive today while simultaneously preserving the potential for the well-being and prosperity of future generations.  The bottom line is this:  Planet Earth is our home.  We must begin to show it more respect, and to live upon it in sustainable ways.  And we must protect the integrity of its vital ecosystems and critically valuable biodiversity!

Evolutionary Understandings are dedicated to the brilliant American author and humorist, Samuel Clemens -- aka, Mark Twain.  He lampooned the distinctive behaviors and foibles of humanity, and he very insightfully understood the satirical perspective of the course of human events.  He had a clear comprehension of the absurdities and corrupting nature of political power.  And he was committed to trying to beneficially influence his country's domestic and foreign policies.

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.  Interventions in Cuba and the Philippines in the wake of the mysterious explosion of the USS Maine, which killed 260 people in the harbor of Havana in February 1898, disgusted and outraged Mark Twain.

In an eerie and unsettling parallel today, we see our politicians aggressively supporting war on other countries -- Afghanistan and Iraq -- in response to the national tragedy of September 11th, 2001.  They are deceptively using the authority and political capital that they have gained from this national tragedy to ram through a radical conservative agenda in unrelated realms of domestic, social, economic, and environmental policies.

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 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."

We must sensibly, reasonably, intelligently, and morally seek clarity, truth, wisdom, and understanding.  We must neither automatically assume, nor blindly believe, that those in power are morally and honestly concerned with the common good or the true principles upon which our country was founded.  In fact, the evidence is quite clear that our leaders are largely committed to public policies that benefit a small and privileged minority more than the majority of the people.

Despite persuasive rhetoric and clever political spin, it is clear that our leaders are acting downright disdainfully towards the rules of law that have progressively evolved from our founding Constitutional principles.  It is the essential contention herein that we must embrace progressive ideas to prevent our leaders from exploiting and manipulating us in their drive to achieve socially misguided objectives.

The United States was founded upon the concepts of respect for liberty and justice for all.  Significant aspects of justice can be measured by the amount of equality of education, and of opportunity, that are given to a country's citizens.  The greedy, privilege-defending power elite has significantly redefined "justice" to mean not equality or fairness, but rather the meting out of harsh retribution.  Most people would agree that the Founding Fathers were a more progressive and visionary lot!

The amendments to the U.S. Constitution embodied in the Bill of Rights were intelligently designed to guarantee everyone equal rights for two principal reasons:

1.  To protect the majority from the tyranny of the power-possessing minority, in recognition of the fact that most forms of government, like dictatorships, oligarchies, monarchies, and aristocracies, do a poor job of protecting citizens.

2.  To protect minorities from the tyranny of the majority.  Fascist governments and theocracies have been particularly woeful in respecting the rights of minorities.

True patriotism consists of questioning abuses of power, not of blindly accept them.  The film Good Night, and Luck Good concerns trusted broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow and the Joseph McCarthy era of the 1950's.  Murrow stood up to the blatant Republican attempts to discredit people, to ruin their reputations, to blacklist them, and to use fear, intimidation, and demagoguery to devastate dissent and 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.  Blind patriotism and fear are being used to gain support for regressive social policies and misguided environmental legislation and aggressive militarism.  Insidious initiatives are distorting our understandings and poisoning our political system.

THE EMPERORS HAVE NO CLOTHES!  The disparity between what our leaders tell us and the true impacts of their actions is astonishing.  This is morally wrong.  It is dishonest, deceptive, undemocratic, and grossly unfair.  Neoconservatism is a right wing ideology, not a conservative philosophy.  It is concerned with power, not right action;  it is obsessed with getting, maintaining and extending power, no matter how harmful this may be to American society.  It represents special privilege, corporate prerogative, unrestricted pursuit of wealth, business privatization, aggressive militarism, and political and economic supremacy at any cost.  It strives to achieve these goals by opposing regulation, limiting corporate liability, outsourcing jobs, weakening civil service rights, pandering ceaselessly to vested interests, and cutting education, healthcare and employment programs that benefit the underprivileged and the poor.  It also works to erode individual rights, polarize people, alienate and divide the public, use bullying tactics, ruthlessly destroy opposition, eliminate dissent, use deceptive pretenses and misleading propaganda, distort scientific findings, demand loyalty, rely on faith-based initiatives, hypocritically exploit religious extremism, put our troops in harm's way under false pretenses, condone prisoner torture, and sow distrust and hatred towards other nations who object to our supremacist ambitions.

Understand this: throughout history, peace and social stability has been much better served when the disparity between the wealthy and the majority is not too extreme.  The Reagan Revolution is cumulating in some of the greatest economic disparities in American history, as was revealed by Hurricane Katrina.

Today, the disparities between the fortunes of the rich and the poor are enormous and growing. There are 45 million people without health insurance.  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.  Opportunities are clearly not fairly available to all.

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.  We must immediately cease passing legislation that benefits rich people more than everyone else.  Listen, rich people, you've got it pretty damn good, financially --- and you are lucky that the bottom 99% is not fomenting a revolution to appropriate all of your assets and send you to the guillotine.  Accepting a moratorium on new advantages for yourselves, and largely preserving the ones you have, is a small price to pay for retaining your freedom and privileges.  Please agree to support more egalitarian initiatives!  Rich people have been getting away with practically treasonous favoritism from Neoconservative politicians, and it is time that they realize that a greater amount of fairness is necessary in our democracy.

Maybe some of our society's policies are fair?  Let's pick one, and examine it.  Let's look at 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.

Can we do nothing that is more egalitarian?  One recommendation that we could adopt: give every taxpayer an increase of $5,000 in the taxable exclusion ("the standard deduction") on his or her individual tax return.  We could finance this change by limiting the Inheritance Tax exclusion to a reasonable amount, say a generous $3 million per parent, and revising the Tax Tables to be more progressive, with higher rates for higher earnings.

The following is a brief description of the contents of the essays in these Evolutionary Understandings:

TABLE OF CONTENTS - A Brief Summary of Ideas Contained

1.  Intelligent Redesign.  We must fix our societies, and here is insight into the Why.

2.  Evolutionary Understandings Overview.  You are reading it.  Thank you for giving these essays your thoughtful consideration!

3.  Important Principles Illuminated.  Sheds light and clarity on the important ideas and deeper issues that are concealed and confused by the din of political spin, rancor, propaganda, and conflict that is filling the airwaves and flooding the world in a figurative tsunami of partisan deception, uncertainty, illusion and delusion.

4.  Visionary Perspective -- The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.  Contains profound understandings about human impacts on our surroundings, and enumerates better ideas and positive changes that are needed in our policies and behaviors to ameliorate the destructive and unsustainable aspects of these impacts.

5.  The Big Picture.  Examines human affairs from deep perspective points of view.

6.  Katrina Revelations.  Shines the spotlight on revelations that came to the attention of the world as a consequence of Hurricane Katrina's destruction and its aftermath.

7.  Patriotism and Christianity.  Mark Twain speaks out about the hypocritical contrasts between religious doctrines and blind patriotism.

8.  Materialism, Aggression, and Militarism.  Explores the truth behind the motivations and mechanisms of capitalism and militarism, and contains healthier perspectives for saner, wiser, fairer courses of action.

9.  Strategic Imperative --- Oil Independence.  Analyzes the energy policies of our civilization, and provides a healthy understanding of the means we must pursue in order to create a sustainable future.

10.  Superstition, Prophecy and End Times.  Provides clearer perspective on Biblical prophecies.

11.  Faith, Fundamentalism, and Practicality.  Explores the nature of spirituality, dogmatic faith, and religious extremism, and both the beneficial and the deleterious effects of these worldviews on our societies today.

12.  Practical Idealism, Political Philosophy, and Fairness.  Provides valuable insight into terrorism, conflict, and political philosophies, and a general framework to make the world a better place.

13.  An Ode to Liberty and Justice for All.  An odd ode that laments the ironic foolishness of humanity's current modes of existence, and sings the praises of progressive change and greater respect for the idealism of our Founding Fathers.

14.  Strategic Planning Truths.  Itemizes the compelling issues and underlying principles involved in civil strife, and recommends better ideas to improve our lives.

15.  Reason, Morality, and Progressive Adaptation.  Argues thoroughly that rationality and reason must have greater power in our societies to create more fair institutions, wiser initiatives, and intelligent reform.

16.  Top Ten Reasons to Adopt a Progressive Agenda.  Elucidates the ten primary reasons that the shortsighted business-as-usual Status Quo cannot be accepted, and the salubrious changes that must be enacted in policy and action.

17.  Freedom, Fascism, Deception, and Rationality.  Explores the political dangers facing America and the world, and the many ways that the reigning paradigms fail to correspond to reality.

18.  The U.S. Constitution --- Progress and Reaction.  Analyzes the history of the United States and the new challenges that we face in the context of the progressive evolution of our country's laws and institutions.

19.  The True State of the Union.  Provides an objective perspective, independent of political or corporate spin, of the true state of the Unites States today, including specific analyses of the 14 most important challenges we face.

20.  Media and Its Impacts.  Explains how the media influences public perceptions, often to the detriment of clear understanding and wise action.

21.  A Weakness for Irresponsible Expediencies.  Contains the simple truths concerning deficit spending, the Social Security system, and political doctrines.

22.  An Ode to Visionary Practicality.  This ode is dedicated to truth, intelligence, reason, far-sightedness, peace, empathetic understanding, honesty and fairness.

23.  Understanding the Universe.  From the Big Bang to Big Ideas, here is a big perspective that is valuable to life and the betterment of societies.

24.  The Control of Nature.  Investigates wiser approaches to humanity's dealings with the natural world.

25.  Quo Vadis --- Where Do We Go From Here?  Examines the landscape from the vantage point of November 2004, just after the last U.S. national elections, and gives reassurance that we can all contribute to making positive differences in our societies.

26.  Our Bubble Economy. Reveals the risks that we take in economic exploitation and speculative policies.

27.  Empathy and Compassion.  Introspection on right action between people.

28.  Political Prophecy.  Summarizes general principles and affirmative ideas that can be implemented to improve our society and the world.  Also contains an article by author Garrison Keillor about the pathetic state of politics in August 2004.

29.  The Zeitgeist of America in the Winter of 2006.  A brief introspection into the way things are, and are seen, in the world today.

30.  Success, Failure, and Rationality.  Thoughts about Finland and rational and irrational reasons for our actions.                                                                                          

31.  Sex, Sexual Drives, Sexual Intercourse, and Personal Responsibility.  Here is the subjective objective enlightened scoop!  Read all about it!

32.  An Ode to Meaning. 

                                                                                               --- Dr. Tiffany Twain