Category Archives: Civility

Re-Evaluating Our Foundational Beliefs

Created April 30th, 2021

*Thank you Mr. President for a balanced and meticulously thought out approach at a time when others are losing their heads. In addition to my donations I’ve attempted to send you helpful ideas. Here are the links to the articles that hopefully someone on the staff can review, assess, and do whatever is decided with.*

Philosophy is the practice of re-evaluating our foundational beliefs.

The practice of philosophy has diminished from ancient days to now.

The one place where philosophy has not gone away – in fact, where it dominates all human life on the planet today – is economics.

Economic “theory” makes it sound like economics is a science now. It is not nor has it ever been a science. It is a collection of clashing philosophies. (My recommendation as to how to make it a science.)

Why do I say that economics dominates all human life today? What is the subject matter causing the schism in America today? It is all about money. And, of course it is all about power. Is the money important because it gets you to power? Or is the power important because it gets you to money?

It is the latter.

Money is the one thing in the world that provides an individual with freedom (assuming that individual lives in a democracy).

Power is not the thing most people wish for, because it would bring with it responsibility. Most people will be happy if they have enough money and can spend their time doing things they love doing – usually involving churning out some passion work outputs that delight other people too.

This is not to obscure individual differences. Thankfully each of us is unique. My work has established that there are fifteen motivations and that each person is driven by a specific set of these, whose relative importance to the individual shifts over time.

The world’s oldest and longest manuscript, the Mahabharata, establishes four things that are worth obtaining from life: pleasure, wealth, virtue, and enlightenment.

The fact that economics dominates the world today shows that we have as a race lost sight of things we knew long ago. There is an amazing imbalance away from the other three “Highest Goods”. It’s all just about wealth now.

And yet, behind the propaganda used by believers in one economic philosophy over another, the people who originally made up these economic philosophies were not as depicted in the propaganda.

“No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable.” – Adam Smith

Adam Smith believed that the free hand of the market – the sum of actions of ordinary people and commercial enterprises and everyone else except governments – would lead eventually (he did not specify how long it might take) to an equilibrium satisfactory to all, and to growth and the elimination of poverty.

He lived at a time (1723-1790) when governments imposed protectionistic laws in a system called “Mercantilism” which maximized the wealth within a country by keeping out foreign competition. The same line of thinking linking the fortunes of countries and governments with those of companies and businesspeople was the context that spawned the British East India Company in 1600. Thus, Mercantilism was one of the spirals in the double helix with Colonialism/Imperialism. Go out and trade but exploit the others you trade with outside our country, bring their wealth back here, do not create win/win deals.

If you read Adam Smith – his own writings – you will see that his view of Laissez Faire and the Free Invisible Hand of the Market was intended to supplant Mercantilism as the dominant world economic system.

He did not offer any vision of the complicated world economic system we have today, nor any solutions for the kinds of challenges we are now facing.

He never once used the word “Capitalism”.

He was a genius and also owned considerable common sense. He wrote from his own moral compass and view of the world, he was a philosopher not an economist, he did not deal in data science, nor attempt to compile statistics to reach and prove his conclusions.

He was constantly making one foundational assumption, based on his accurate assessment that humans are social creatures: that all of us feel empathy for others, and therefore we would operate (eventually, as a result of growing up, education, experience) from enlightened self-interest. Meaning the realization that one will tend to be unhappy no matter how rich one gets, if one observes others suffering. He assumed that eventually everyone would be that way naturally – naturally altruistic, not egoistic– transcending 100% selfishness. Therefore, the rich would give to and train the poor, and we would all live happily ever after. In this optimistic view he may even have been influenced by his mentor and great friend David Hume.

In the 231 years since his demise, we have not achieved universal altruism. I like to think that the percentage of altruists in the population has increased as a percentage of total population in that time. However, I have no data to support that. And the evidence of the last four years would seem to make the notion ludicrous.

Today, Americans have become so enmeshed in fantasy beliefs that we have formed warring camps along current party lines.

Adam Smith and David Hume and Tom Paine and the Founding Fathers of America were right. We do all want the same things, and we all feel conscience and empathy for others – but to differing degrees.

That sympathy is clouded by the dominant concern over money. One group is vociferous about bringing about reasonable sharing, citing the lack of evident utility of having excess wealth. The other group shoots them down with slogans based on twisted versions of Adam Smith. But underneath all the well-stated arguments of spokespeople for the two viewpoints, it all comes down to money. Haves and Havenots. It is no different at the foundation than it has been since the rise of Capitalism and Socialism. Like pirates scrambling for a gold coin on the deck of a pitching ship.

My sympathy for the poor is pretty obvious in my writing, however I am also sympathetic to hard working people irked by the idea of paying high taxes, sometimes almost a third of which goes to supporting people who do not work. In the short term this welfare state approach is the least bad solution, but in the long run we need to shift to training (see pages 6-7 at the link) those people to be able to support themselves, and not just because it would lower our taxes. Someone who lives off the dole will not tend to have high self-esteem, will not have found their calling, will miss out on having passion work to do each day, will rarely if ever experience the Flow state.

Joe Biden and his colleagues would be wise to use the media to educate the public to the roots of present events, so individuals can choose more wisely, separated from merely loquacious rhetoric.

Rancor is a sign of irrationality.

Blessings upon us all,

Bill

My 2019 Scifi Novel Coming True in the South China Sea?

Created February 7, 2021

Let’s hope not. PANDEMONIUM: LIVE TO ALL DEVICES depicts one of the downside scenarios. It’s our job to steer into one of the upside scenarios.

My career-long friend Norm Hecht just sent me this news story about China creating new laws making it legal for her to fire on foreign vessels in waters where ownership is disputed. And then sending Chinese Coast Guard ships close to what Japan considers a couple of its islands, earlier today February 6, 2021.

Here’s an excerpt from my fictional story, intended to anticipate some of what is really bound to happen, based on how the chips are stacked:

When the Chinese president awoke the next day, he announced to the world, on television and handhelds, the exact GPS coordinates of the South China Sea as defined by China, “which has always been the property of China, and for too long we have been taken advantage of.” He told the world that non‐Chinese ships would need to go around this piece of sea or be boarded and inspected, on threat of lethal force. “If a war erupts in that location, China will limit itself to these GPS coordinates and not escalate the fighting to outside that war zone.”

* * *

President Snike did not hesitate to send a pweet deriding that announcement. “If China wants a rumble in their neighborhood, we’re up for it,” he wrote. Separately he ordered two more carrier groups to move toward the area. In the fleet with the George Washington steaming into the South China Sea, all were at battle stations.

The Marxist superpowers from 1945 onward made it a practice to test the resolve of each new US president by seeing what they could get away with. The Cuban Missile Crisis was the test the world remembers best.

Unlike my fictional US president Norfal Snike, our real President Joe Biden will undoubtedly take a firm stand without raising the temperature.

As I’ve written before, the best diplomacy nowadays would be to spell out the scenario options and agree on the ones closest to win/win that we can get.

We’re all in this together, and we all have to unite against the forces that threaten us all equally, pandemics, environment, hatred, greed, unemployment, inequality, injustice, debt…

And as we learn to work together to overcome the common threats, we can join together to take advantage of the common opportunities, including a better life for all, technology, space travel, human potential, and the scientific quest for true enlightenment – knowing everything there is to know about reality. Including materialist science, but not limited by its assumptions, e.g. that consciousness could not exist without matter.

But first, much closer at hand, we have to put away the old ways, substituting better ways to do international diplomacy and everything else.

We really don’t have much choice.

We can do it.

Best to all,

Bill

 

Follow my regular media blog, In Terms of ROI at Media Village. Here is the link to my latest post.

We Can and Must Legislate Ethics

Created January 28th, 2021

The U.S. Congress acts as if ethics issues ought to be dealt with only by means of establishing norms via “ethics pledges”. These are promises, not legally binding. Why would we want issues of ethics to be based on promises? Obviously, anyone whose ethics is awry is going to make false promises.

Ethics is not just underperforming its role in government, it’s everywhere.

The 600+ U.S. billionaires gaining $1.1 trillion during Covid is emblematic. In an ethical society, a day or two would go by and the parties involved would do the right thing.

That seems like a joke today. But that’s just because of how jaded and accepting we have all become as we slid down from civility to emotional anarchy.

United. The United States of America.

We ain’t gonna get back there without reset of ethics for all of us.

It’s so simple, we were told about being Good all the years of growing up, all we have to do now, is to be it.

In ancient Greece, there was a saying: “All the Hellenes (Greeks) know what is right, but only the Spartans do it.”

They knew 2000 years ago the right way to be, and they knew it could be achieved by a nation. The Spartans were living sinless lives to a degree which seemed impossible to the rest of the country.

If the Spartans could do it 2000 years ago without all the advances since then, we can do it now, and prove it in the next four years.

Ethics is the center of this storm.

Ethics is a branch of Philosophy.

It’s unfortunate that we’re not a philosophical society today here in the U.S. or in most other places, such as, for example, the ancient Jewish, Indian, Chinese, Greek, Iranian, Arab and Roman societies, or the society of the West as it was during the early Christian Era and during the Renaissance and its later scientific Enlightenment phase.

Philosophy dropped off the map in the 20th Century as the materialist wing of science essentially took over science. The great master physicists were all old school and open to the idea of God or the equivalent, but the mass of scientists, employed mostly by military and industry (not that there’s anything wrong with that), leaned all the way over to asserting the non-existence of God, and that made quite an impression in that Century, given as that science was the miracle-doer now. The mob always follows the miracles, as Jesus taught.

We need to bring philosophy back.

This is a piece of what is really needed which is to actually have a retraining of all of us.

We need videos and articles online and in all media which train us in philosophy, values, ethics. We must have foundations. Trying to teach ethics before teaching self-knowledge is trying to build a house starting from the second floor. We need more philosophical programming and content on television and online. Some can be funny, some can be fiction or docudrama, interview, interactive, reality news, let a thousand flowers bloom.

In the immediate short term, the congress should set a good example by first setting laws governing its own ethics, and then a law on citizen ethics. It cannot imperil the Constitution nor individual freedom, except insofar as psychological or physical harm must not be allowed one person to another. The laws as they stand allow bullying and worse. A lot of the insurrectionists are not being charged because “they weren’t bad enough”. Under a new Citizen Ethics Act they would all be charged.

America must decide where the lines ought righteously to be drawn.

The tide of new legislation needed should make congress happy and excited.

The best course to American success is to forget about party.

Let it exist in the background. Start each meeting with a fresh slate, no going in agenda. Learn, think, discuss, and reach consensus, then move on.

Congress is going to have to step up production. We are re-starting everything, without changing the Constitution. Without selling out the Founders, and Lincoln. But otherwise it’s a fresh start. That last movie was no good, don’t want any more of that, change the channel for good.

Filibusters are a great drag on production. Moving more slowly back to being a peaceful, cooperative, polite, friendly society is going to require a number of important new laws. The world is at stake. The world has never been so imperiled before. It would be mass insanity to tolerate delays in setting things straight because of last-movie’s party game.

Congress please produce the best laws possible but do not make unnecessary delays. Everyone is listening in and watching so we can all yell hurry up if we have to. When we hear the same thing said and no more new things being said, we are going to call an audible.

Thank you Congress!

Best to us all,

Bill

 

Follow my regular media blog, In Terms of ROI at Media Village. Here is the link to my latest post.

Break the Chain of Non-Forgiveness

Created November 20, 2020

On November 6, 2020, my blogpost was entitled Both Sides Are Protecting America in their Own Minds, and in it, I wrote:

“We all grew up with the same values. Other countries were corrupt, we were taught, but here we had the privilege of living in a democracy, where there is concern for every individual.”

A wise executive at a top advertiser company wrote me to say “I think that perspective misses the values piece. When some are raised with values of hate, bigotry and selfishness we don’t come from the same starting point.”

In other words, despite being taught the same American values, we are all also programmed by the other “values” our parents taught us by word and example, including such things as hate, bigotry and selfishness.

There is no denying the truth of the reader’s point.

Why is it that parents let themselves pass on any form of negativity to their beloved children?

It is because they don’t realize they are doing that. They may not pay attention to the process at most times, and when they do notice their own behavior and the effect it is having on their kids, they see it differently than an objective outsider would see it.

In other words, when a parent teaches hate and selfishness they are not able to see reality objectively. What they themselves have been taught has become so deeply ingrained they have perceptual biases, like a fish not being able to see water.

In this way, hate and selfishness are passed down from generation to generation like a great chain that can never be broken.

In my blogpost of November 2, 2020, entitled The Follower Type, I quoted from Wikipedia’s coverage of The Authoritarian Personality, a 1950 book which showed the link between authoritarian leaders and their followers. Both the leaders and the followers learned the same negative “values” from domineering parents. Children of domineering parents have an almost unbreakable tendency to become domineering parents and domineering people themselves. The neurosis brings along with it cultish blind followership, anti-intellectualism, superstition, and the projection of all of one’s own repressed perceived weaknesses (the shadow self) onto a scapegoat group.

All great psychologists and deep thinkers have spoken and written about the process of clearing out the mind and emotions of conditioned neuroses formed in childhood. Abraham Maslow  in particular described the emergent new person cleansed of imposed leftover deficiency feelings as being Self Actualized, freed from being motivated by deficiency compensation and free to pursue the manifestation of all the positive creative potentials within the individual self. No longer a robot of his or her self-limiting early conditioning, this person has then broken the great chain of non-forgiveness (of self, of parents, of the scapegoat group, of intellectuals, et al).

I call this mentally and emotionally cleansed state “the Observer state” and my book MIND MAGIC is a collection of stimuli designed to help bring about the Observer state.

What should we do if we wish to break the chain of passed-down divisive “values”? We ought to communicate with our children, whatever age they now are, confronting this subject courageously and non-self-protectively. Ask them if you taught them anything related to hating other people, if you encouraged them to think selfishly. Talk it out. Reach agreement if you can on a FRESH START. Age does not matter, a FRESH START is always a freeing new way of being. It puts away the past and does not dwell upon it, bringing almost all attention into the present with a little bit left for the future. The future you and your children want to have, and want America and the world to have.

With what is facing us all today, the “six tidal waves” as I call it in To the People of the World, if more of us can give ourselves and our children a FRESH START and focus on solutions in a collaboration with all people of good will, we will overcome all of these threatening situations we ourselves have caused due to our conditioned neuroses that have been our baggage for all of history.

And as individuals, what we can in our own private alone spaces, is to contemplate our own upbringing, and our own domineering, hatreds, and selfishness if any, and where it might have come from, what good or harm it has done us so far in our lives, and whether we want to carry that baggage any more, or if we would feel refreshed to have a FRESH START ourselves. If you would like more structured help in such contemplation it is available in the book MIND MAGIC in Chapter 5, “What Do You Want? Stripping Away Imposed Limitations To Find Out What ‘The Me That Was Born’ Wants”.

May The Center Hold. Some have suggested I change this to “May The Center Re-Form”, suggesting that we have all moved further left or right, but I suspect this is an illusion; I agree that we are definitely more vocally on one party’s side or the other, but not that Democrats have become communists and that Republicans have become fascists. I still feel that most of us are closer to the center than depicted in our actual views of what actions need to be taken in the world, but have become angry at the opposing political party per se. This is not a distinction without a difference. It implies that if the parties disappeared overnight (as George Washington had strenuously advised) and we were all individuals again and we met to discuss what to do about health, education, foreign affairs, etc. we would find that we are not that far apart at all.

When this election is behind us, I hope that this is the reality that appears in front of us all as we pull together to solve the substantive action issues that are not inherently party power related.

Best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular media blog contribution, In Terms of ROI at Media Village. Click here to read my latest post.

An American Heroine and a Friend of China – Part 3

Agnes wound up setting up field hospitals, building sanitation facilities, lecturing, raising money, and doing everything else they asked her to do to help repel the invaders, including a continuing stream of reports to the world.

She often lectured about Democracy.

At one of these lectures, an old woman stood up and came forward and stood alongside Agnes. “She showed she was our true friend by her willingness to eat bitterness with us.”

The epitaph on her grave gives her name and years, and the explanation as to why she is in the Heroes’ Graveyard: AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARY WRITER AND FRIEND OF THE CHINESE PEOPLE.

                                 Bill Harvey and Chinese co-writer Zhen Zhung, December 1983                                                                     Photo taken by the senior scriptwriter Weston Gavin

She tried to warn the U.S. they were in Japan’s crosshairs though her columns and her books and appearances.

She may also have had some impact there. From 1940 on, the U.S. suddenly began sending war aid to China, first millions, then billions – and in those days a dollar equated to $17.51 in today’s dollars.

Not just money, and the best weapons, but also warriors, the Flying Tigers and troops on the ground, all risking and some losing their lives. Needless to say China was very much enamored of the largesse and the caring of the people of this nation far away doing something like this to help, or looked at more cynically, maybe the Americans realized what was coming and was simply making the best military moves under the circumstances. In either case, the hearts were in attractive mode, not like they have been lately. People risking their lives to protect each other. Gung Ho!

Let’s get back into that mode, can’t we? China and the U.S.A. We can’t change each other – at least, not overnight – let’s accept each other for what we are and be grateful we have each other for friends and trading partners and comrades in the quest to make the whole show sustainable. We need each other’s minds to pull together to fix the mess we made of Earth.

Not to mention we all have to work out what all of us will be doing when most of us are no longer needed for work, which is coming up soon.

Instead of arguing about stuff of lesser priority, let’s focus on the priorities together.

Now that we all know it, let’s act like we know it, and stop all this petty bickering. If we don’t all work together, we’ll all go down together.

Let’s go back to playing nice like it was until recently.

We will work out our difference by civil conversation, nothing else works, everything else makes things much worse.

In the Xian Incident, Agnes had taken a rifle butt in the gut, as soldiers stole her eyeglasses. Whatever it was that killed her had something to do with that war wound. She died in London, there for an operation.

My friends and I, learning of Agnes’s life story in the early 80s, were offered the opportunity by Chinese-American people well-wired in China, to be part of bringing the two countries back together the way it had been, by making the movie of her life, in a co-production with the Chinese.

She would show the love that naturally exists at many levels between the two countries.

She was a victor for the oppressed, and a Joan of Arc of the – presently in rolling-out mode – “help-each-other-out” revolution.

Gung Ho was the magic feeling in New York right after 911. Everyone experienced it.

As you drove past another car and happened to meet the eyes of its driver for a flicker of a second you were both in it together and you both knew you both knew it.

We and top government officials went on Chinese television when we signed the first movie coproduction deal between the U.S. and China.

But then, our producer couldn’t raise the completion money. “China?” the investors asked, and shook their heads.

We will still make that movie or miniseries someday.

A Song for Today, dedicated to Agnes Smedley: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_lCmBvYMRs&app=desktop

May the Center hold.

My best to you all,

Bill