Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Monads, Quarks, Planks, Patterns, "I," and God

To use turns of phrases--
What’s in a name?

Why speak of a prank, er. a plank?

Names and terms change meaning, often from generation to generation, but sometimes within months.

Which is more real, an object/fact or a pattern/process?

What’s God got to do with it?

“Imagine your uncle died and in his will he left you his beloved old wooden boat. You love your uncle and out of respect for him you decide that you’re going to fix up his old boat, making it good as new."

"And so you start with the hull, replacing old boards with new ones. But as you work rebuilding the hull, you realize that the deck needs replacing as well. And so the next year, you remove all of the boards on the deck and replace them with new ones, plank by plank, until the boat has an entirely new deck."

"But spending all that time working on the deck convinces you that the hardware isn’t reliable; you’re not sure which pieces would work if you were to actually start the boat, and which would snap with the slightest strain. And so you set out to replace all of the hardware..."

"If you keep this up, at some point you will have replaced the entire boat, and yet when you take your friends out for a ride, you will tell them that this is the boat your uncle left you in his will."

"The enduring reality of the boat, then, is in the pattern, not the planks."

"The planks come and go, but the pattern remains."
Rob Bell

Objects, things, facts, cells, atoms and so forth come and go.

But patterns remain...well they come and go, too, but they usually last longer in one 'place' than cells.

Bell, again:
"You are a pattern, moving through time, constantly changing and yet precisely consistent. Some have said we’re like ‘light at the end of a spinning stick.’”
Rob Bell
-What We Talk About When We Talk About God(3)

Think about what Bell said. It’s so true.(4)

From scientists, facts about 'you':

"Your Body is Younger Than You..."

"Whatever your age, your body is many years younger. In fact, even if you're middle aged, most of you may be just 10 years old or less."

"The cells lining the stomach, as mentioned, last only five days."

"The epidermis, or surface layer of the skin, is recycled every two weeks or so."

"An adult human liver probably has a turnover time of 300 to 500 days."
Markus Grompe, an expert on the liver's stem cells,
Oregon Health & Science University

The entire human skeleton is thought to be replaced every 10 years or so...

"Your body is constantly replacing old cells with new ones at the rate of millions per second. By the time you finish reading this sentence,
50 million of your cells will have died and been replaced by others..."(5)

"In a year, 98 percent of the atoms in us now will be replaced by other atoms that we take in, in our air, food and drink. So that means 98 percent of me is new - every year...If you eat a hamburger one day, then the atoms and molecules in that hamburger will end up making up your cell walls and different organs and tissues."(6)

So does that mean, I'm long gone?


Despite all of these changes in my body in the last 70 years
(I wonder how many atoms from Wild Alaskan Salmon), I'm still me--
different "planks,"
different cells,
different atoms,
but still my same consciousness of self.

Glad to meet you, my name is I-Process;-)

I am still becoming at this very moment, even in the midst of my receding into old age.

My conscious, creative awareness transcends my physical body.

"Since we moderns are accustomed to thinking in materialistic terms, and assuming that the human body is somehow the most real aspect of humanness,
we are caught off balance by the claim that what is most distinctively human is, in fact, independent of the body...
a process which is essentially independent of any one of us."
Dwight Brown, UU minister

I exist in that stream of consciousness, moral choice, and creative endeavor. We all are a part of a creative process in which we get to participate for a very brief span of time. We are the opposite of puppets; we can be creators.

What is happening is far more than matter--trillions of atoms--moving around.

We as finite creatures, become aware, can knowingly participate and bring changes to existence.

So the materialists are wrong.(4,7)

Monads, quarks, and atoms don't drive us like shot bullets.

Contrary to what most atheists say, consciousness isn't only the result of millions cells
hard-determined at the tail ends
of 14 billion-long puppet strings.

Unlike plant biologist Anthony Cashmore's claim that we humans are "bags of chemicals" and have no more choice than "bacterium" or a "bowl of sugar,"
other scientists strongly disagree.

For instance, Jeffrey M. Schwartz, M.D. and Rebecca Gladding, M.D. both
wrote an entire book explaining the exact opposite:
You Are Not Your Brain

Schwartz is a research psychiatrist at the UCLA School of Medicine and Gladding is a psychiatrist at the UCLA Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital and the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. They are authorities in field of neuroplasticity.

Consciousness is an aware process that enables each of us intelligent primates to transcend our circumstances, to change our behavior, to seek new goals, choose good ethics.

We are sentient beings, able to take situations and things--and through new combinations of ideas, methods, and actions--to bring new ways into existence that never existed before.

Consciousness enables individuals to make creative choices, not repeat the same unjust, immoral actions of humans in the past,
whether the dysfunctional behavior of an alcoholic father or that of exacting revenge against a different human group by one's 50,000 years-past ancestor.

Consider one last analogy.

The squiggles on this virtual page are made up of pixels like the body of mine is made up of cells. But the squiggles don't determine what I write.

I do.

I as a conscious creator do that.

Then squiggles (with their attached meaning) follow.

The same is true of atoms and cells.

They don't determine whether or not I choose to do wrong or right.

But when I decide to send money for the impoverished refugees of Syria,
when I decide to squander my money on things I don't need,
then the cells and atoms of my hand go into action, pulling out my credit card.

Our future is hope
because we can influence that future, not yet here.

We aren't "bags of chemicals" fated by senseless energy, going no where for no purpose.

We can create poems, digital art, construct beautiful buildings, send probes on 10-year missions to Jupiter and beyond, and make many other significant differences.

That's what Enlightenment theism means.


Openness to God-- to speak of friendship with God, to love the good, true, just, and beautiful.

Now speaking of God--

The Divine Process

The Ultimate Becoming

To be continued--

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

1 monad: According to Hippolytus, the worldview was inspired by the Pythagoreans, who called the first thing that came into existence the "monad."

2 quark: "any one of several types of very small particles that make up matter" M-W Dictionary

3 Too often in new books, Rob Bell is too new agey. You finish one of his books, which is delicious to our readership taste, but at its end all that’s left in one's mind is mostly a cotton-candy afterward.
Sugar and air.
And throw a away a sticky stick.
No substance, except unusual word placement on the page, and fleeting good feelings.
But with this plank-not-dumb story, Bell struck gold, the sugar-load.

4 Well at least to most people, though not for the Sam Harris atheists of the world who claim that every person’s “I” (each of one of us) is an illusion, that the only reality are atoms determined since the Big Bang.
And such determinists state that if you harmed another person, you would always commit such abuse again, even if you had a chance to face that ethical moment a “trillion” times because you as a person have no real choice.
Your every thought and every action are totally determined, lockstepsecular-fated.
It's “tumors-all-the-way-down” claims Harris in his most fatalistic example.

Harris: "If determinism is true, the future is set—and this includes all our future states of mind and our subsequent behavior...each of us is moved by chance and necessity, just as a marionette is set dancing on its strings."
"There is no combination of these truths that seems compatible with the popular notion of free will."

5 http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/whoami/findoutmore/yourbody/whatdoyourcellsdo/howoftenareyourcellsreplaced

6 Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

7 "You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules."
Francis Crick

Sunday, August 21, 2016

He "raped me 3 times," said the 15-year-old. Scars

“My stepfather raped me 3 times. I’m going to kill him!” said this teen girl who was talking to Dave Roever, a motivational speaker, and to her high school counselor.

Roever later said, "I know the difference between a promise and a threat. This was no threat."

"I realized that all of my training in college level psychology and sociology had not prepared me for this confession of pain."

"I didn’t know what to say..."

His own excruciating memories blasted in--

"I lost 40% of my skin and 60 pounds of flesh to a hand grenade in Vietnam."

"She lost...to a rapist of a step-father along with her trust, faith, and...protection."

"I didn’t know how she felt and I wasn’t going to fake it."

"Not now."

"What could I say?"

"I began to weep..."

Then, suddenly, this distraught young girl
"reached across the table, nervously wiped the tear from my face and said,
'Nobody’s ever cried for me.'”

"I lost it...started crying and threw my arms around her and soaked her sleeve with tears."

"She patted me on the back and tried to comfort me, saying,'It’s okay, Mister. It’s okay.'”

The girl's counselor sat quietly, waiting.

The girl "dried my tears, and then I allowed something I would probably never allow anyone else to do except my...doctor..."

This traumatized student touched the man's severely scarred face, tracing every fissure...

"...only the deepest empathy...She spoke quietly, 'Mister, your scars are all on the outside;
mine are on the inside.'"

"But if you can make it, I can make it, too!”

"...the pain always bleeds through in tears of broken lives...'
By Dave Roever
Unknown Source Article

What a powerfully deep true story.

So many Annie's* and Jim's out there...

Whether in Syria, Iraq, or down the street in any major U.S. city, when “the night comes on,”
the Ocean of darkness...

Weep with those who suffer, with those wounded, with those so tragically scarred.
Reach out and help each individual in need.

Please touch their faces of hurt, wounding, and suffering.
Touch the heart of this hurting world.

Heal their wounds. Touch their scars with empathy, compassion, and caring.

Work for a more humane world, one filled with truth, goodness, and beauty.

*"For Annie"

No one ever noticed Annie weeping
People all around, but she was all alone
Mama's got her meetings, Daddy's got his job
and no one's got the time so Annie's on her own

No one ever knew her desperation
People couldn't hear her cry out silently
Locked inside the bathroom she grabs a jar of pills
The medicine that cures becomes the poison that kills

And it's too late for Annie, she's gone away for good
There's so much we could tell her and now we wish we could
But it's too late, it's too late for Annie

If only we had known her situation,
We'd have tried to stop this useless tragedy
Annie's lost forever, never to be found
But there are lots of others like her all around

[3rd Chorus]
And it's not too late for Annie, she could be next to you...
Robert M Hartman
Published by

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Best of Times, Not Worst of Times

Contrary to the daily news and the views of current political candidates,
this is the best of times,
not the worst by any stretch of the facts.

“By almost any measure, the world is better than it has ever been.”
Bill and Melinda Gates

“...people will react with incredulity at the very possibility that things could be getting better..."

"...be prepared for the inevitable recitation of the daily headlines—bad news piled on top of even worse news—that will inevitably follow.
Virtually everyone I’ve mentioned this quote to is sure it’s wrong.”
Steven Quartz

“Disaster is rarely as pervasive as it seems from recorded accounts. The fact of being on the record makes it appear continuous and ubiquitous whereas it is more likely to have been sporadic both in time and place."

Besides, persistence of the normal is usually greater than the effect of the disturbance, as we know from our own times.”

“After absorbing the news of today, one expects to face a world consisting entirely of strikes, crimes, power failures, broken water mains, stalled trains, school shutdowns, muggers, drug addicts, neo-Nazis, and rapists.”

“The fact is that one can come home in the evening — on a lucky day — without having encountered more than one or two of these phenomena.
This has led me to formulate Tuchman’s Law, as follows:

‘The fact of being reported multiplies the apparent extent of any deplorable development by five- to tenfold” (or any figure the reader would care to supply).’”
Barbara Tuchman, 1978

“It’s easy to focus on the idiocies of the present and forget those of the past. But a century ago our greatest writers extolled the beauty and holiness of war. Heroes like Theodore Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Woodrow Wilson avowed racist beliefs that today would make people’s flesh crawl.”

“Women were barred from juries in rape trials because supposedly they would be embarrassed by the testimony. Homosexuality was a felony. At various times, contraception, anesthesia, vaccination, life insurance and blood transfusion were considered immoral.”
Steven Pinker, 2011

Good News, a Guest Post
by Bill Guerrant:

“...humanity’s amazing progress, which has accelerated in recent decades, may well be the most significant and least-appreciated story in human history.

So if that’s true, then why isn’t humanity’s progress more well known? Why aren’t we not only seemingly ungrateful for it, but generally oblivious to it?

According to a recent survey, only 5% of people believe the world is getting better. 71% say it is getting worse.

According to Pew’s research, every year since the early 2000’s a majority of Americans surveyed have felt that crime has increased since the year previous. The most recent Gallup poll found a full 70% of Americans think the crime rate is currently increasing.

This despite the fact that crime rates continue to fall precipitously, and are now about half what they were just 25 years ago.

56% of Americans believe gun deaths have increased over the last 20 years.

In fact, gun deaths (that is, deaths caused by gunshots) have fallen by nearly a third during that period.

Two-thirds of Americans believe that extreme poverty has doubled over the past 20 years. Only 5% of those polled responded that extreme poverty has decreased during that time.

In fact, 95% of Americans are greatly mistaken–extreme poverty has been cut nearly in half over the last 20 years and may soon be eliminated entirely.

There has never been a better time to be alive. Conditions in the world have never been better than they are today.

While far from perfect, there is less violence,
less war,
less ignorance,
less disease,
less hunger,
less poverty,
less injustice,
and less human suffering today than ever before.

Indeed, humanity’s amazing progress, which has accelerated in recent decades, may well be the most significant and least appreciated story in human history.

Crime is falling across the board. Murder and rape are about 20% of what they were in 1973, for example.

We are living in the most peaceful time in human history.

Because war is so rare, battle deaths and war-related destruction has dropped dramatically since the end of WWII and now is statistically nearly non-existent. State on state warfare is now seemingly obsolete.

Rates of violence against women and children are in steep declines. Rates of rape and sexual assault in the US for example, have fallen by over half in the last 20 years. Violence against spouses has fallen by nearly 2/3 during that period.

Over the last 20 years, sexual assaults on children have fallen by more than half, as has other forms of physical violence. Bullying has decreased by 2/3.

Genocide and other forms of mass violence against civilians is only 25% of what it was 40 years ago, even with the uptick associated with the rise of ISIS.

Even in places with very high homicide rates, like Mexico, Columbia, and Brazil, for example, the rates are less than half what they were just a few decades ago and they continue to fall.

And as we’re becoming healthier, wealthier and less violent, we’re also becoming smarter.

IQ testing reveals a substantial, consistent and long-sustained increase in IQ scores worldwide since data began being collected in 1930. One estimate is that the average IQ in 1932, for example, was only 80 by today’s values.

There’s also never been a safer time to be a police officer or an apprehended criminal suspect.

For example, the number of police officers intentionally killed in duty now is the lowest amount ever recorded.

This is the least violent time in American history. US homicide rates are at a 51 year low, falling by nearly half over the last 20 years.

Gun homicides have declined by 49% since 1993, even as gun ownership has increased by 56%.

Gun-related police deaths peaked in the 1920’s and have been steadily falling ever since (other than a sharp brief uptick in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s). There are fewer this year than last year and less than half what they were in 1880.

Crime among African American youth has fallen by 47% in last 20 years.

The decline in violence has been ongoing for all of human existence, it’s just accelerated lately.

Prehistoric remains show that on average 15% of humans once died violent deaths (at the hands of other humans)! Today that’s an extremely rare cause of death–only about .001%.

Slaughter scene from the 30 Years War, when a third of the population of Germany died because of Christians killing Christians!

In 1450, Italian homicides averaged 73 per 100,000 people.
England was relatively safe, with just over 13 homicides per 100,000 people.

In 2011, in contrast, homicides in Great Britain and the United States averaged 1 and 4 per 100,000 people respectively.

From 1997 to 2011 U.S. emergency departments have seen a 48% reduction in adult deaths.

Abortion rates are at all-time lows in the developed world and fewer teens are giving birth than ever.

Abortion rates have been steadily falling since 1980 and have dropped over 35% since 1990. The number of teens becoming moms has dropped by a total of 54% from 2007 to 2015.

Globally the infant mortality rate has fallen by 49% since 1990.

In 1920 82.4% of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty. In 2015, only 13.6% did.

100 years ago, ten percent of infants died in their first year, compared with only one in every 168 births in the U.S. today.

There are 200 million fewer people suffering from malnutrition than there were 25 years ago.

The typical American spent one-third of his or her income on food 100 years ago, which is twice today’s share, and 13% of his or her income on clothing, which is only 3% of a typical consumers budget today.

In 1920, with a fatality rate of 61 deaths per 100,000 workers, the workplace was about 30 times more dangerous than it is today.

Over the last 150 years global life expectancy has doubled. Worldwide, life expectancy has been rising steadily for well over 100 years.
In the U.S, life expectancy was around 40 in 1880 and is nearly 80 today. Life expectancy has risen nearly ten years in my lifetime alone!

90% of the world’s population now has access to safe drinking water. Since 1990, 2.6 billion more people have gained access to clean drinking water. And since 2000, the number of children who died because of waterborne illnesses has been cut in half.

The total number of people living in poverty is at an all-time low, despite a population increase of 143 percent since 1960.

In the last 35 years, the number of people living on less than $1.25 (adjusted for inflation) has fallen from 42 percent of the population to 16.9 percent.

Experts believe that extreme poverty may be completely eliminated by 2030. Even as we have fewer poor people, the poor are more affluent.

Systemic injustice is being overcome as well. In 1942, 68 percent of white Americans thought that blacks and whites should go to separate schools. By 1995, only 4 percent of American whites thought that.

In 1958, 45 percent of white Americans said that they would “maybe” or “definitely” move if a black family moved in next door. That number fell to just 2 percent in 1997. So rare were segregationist attitudes by the mid-1990’s that the federal government discontinued collection of such statistics.

As late as 2002, only 38 percent of Americans believed that gay and lesbian relationships were morally acceptable.

A mere 13 years later, 63 percent of Americans felt that way. Consider also that in 1996, only 27 percent of Americans supported same-sex marriage. By 2015, that number more than doubled with 60 percent of Americans in support.

The threats that are most frightening to many these days, terrorism and mass shootings, are actually extremely rare.
Excluding U.S. military personnel, fewer Americans have been killed by terrorism globally since 2002 than have died from allergic reactions to peanuts.

In most years bee stings, deer collisions, ignition of nightwear, and other mundane accidents kill more Americans than terrorist attacks.

An American is three times more likely to be struck by lightning than to be a victim in a mass shooting.

In Laura Grace Weldon‘s excellent post late last year, she collected even more:
We’re overcoming diseases at extraordinary rates.

AIDS related deaths have continued to drop for the last 15 years in a row and new HIV infections among children have dropped by 58% since 2000.

Malaria, one of the world’s top killers, is on the decline. Last year 16 countries reported zero indigenous cases of malaria. Globally, mortality rates from the disease have fallen from an estimated 839 000 in 2000 to 438 000 in 2015.

In other words, an estimated 6.2 million people have been saved from malaria-related deaths over the last 15 years.

The incidence of polio, which once crippled over a thousand children every day, has now been reduced by 99 percent.

Only two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan, continue to experience wild polio cases.
The painful parasitic disease, Guinea Worm has effectively been eradicated.

Many more children are surviving childhood.
Mortality rates for children younger than five have been cut in half since 1990 in virtually every country around the world.
That’s about 19,000 fewer children dying every day this year compared to 25 years ago.

More people than ever have access to safe water and bathroom facilities.

Over the last 25 years, an average of 47,000 more people per day were able to rely on a source of clean drinking water.

Now 91 percent of the world’s population has safe water. This saves countless people from suffering or dying from water-borne illnesses.

Over two billion people have gained access in the last 25 years to what the World Health Organization politely calls “improved sanitation facilities.” In other words, 68% of the global population has access to a toilet — critical for health and improved living standards.

Fewer people are hungry.

The number of chronically undernourished people has dropped by 200 million in the last 25 years. That’s particularly impressive considering the world’s population increased by 1.9 billion people during that time.

In 1920, just 28 percent of American youths between the ages of fourteen and seventeen were in high school.

The global literacy rate is now 84%, up from 66% in 1967.

More people can read than ever before.

Today, four out of five people are able to read. In many regions of the world the majority of children and young adults are more literate than their elders, demonstrating that global literacy is rapidly increasing.

At this point, nine out of ten children
are learning to read.

Female literacy rates haven’t risen as quickly due to inequality and poverty, but in some areas, particularly East Asia, 90 percent more girls are able to read than 10 years ago.

As female literacy goes up, other overall positive indicators tend to follow including decreased domestic violence, improved public health, and greater financial stability.

In the U.S., twice as many people are reading books for pleasure than they were in the mid-1950’s.

Internet access is spreading across the world.

There’s been an eight fold increase in the number of people with access to the net in the last 15 years. Right now, there are two Internet users in the developing world for every user in the developed world. With this access comes better opportunities to network, build knowledge, create jobs, and stay connected with others.

The average person’s standard of living has gone up.

Twenty-five years ago, nearly half the world’s population in the developing world lived on less than $1.25 a day.
Today, that proportion has declined to 14 percent. Around the world, the number of people living in extreme poverty has dropped by half.

In the U.S., homelessness continues to decline. Over the past five years the number of people without shelter has dropped by 26 percent.

Right of indigenous people around the world to protect their land and their identity are, in many cases, beginning to be upheld.

For example, the Makuna, Tanimuka, Letuama, Barasano, Cabiyari, Yahuna and Yujup-Maku peoples of Columbia have won the right to preserve a million hectares of Amazonian forest where they will continue to act as guardians of the land.

Sustainability is accelerating.

In fact, a typical middle class person today is materially richer (and enjoys a better lifestyle) than even John D. Rockefeller did 100 years ago.

As recently as 1960, 16.8 percent of American households were without complete plumbing; today, almost no one is.

Appliances were 4 to 10 times more expensive in 1963 than they are today (even without considering the improvements in capabilities). In 1963 a 23″ black and white TV cost $229 (with trade-in).

Today a 24″ flat screen LED TV costs $130. Adjusted for inflation that TV in 1963 would cost $1,804 in today’s dollars (over 10x more than a better TV costs today)!

Another way of looking at it: in 1963 the minimum wage was $1.25/hr and today it is $7.25/hr. In 1963 a person would have to work 183 hours at minimum wage to be able to buy a 23″ TV. Today a person would only have to work 18 hours at minimum wage to do so.

Same story with the other appliances.
In 1963 a 14.1 cubic foot refrigerator (with trade in) cost $329. Today the same size fridge costs $476. In today’s dollars the 1963 fridge would cost $2,591 (over 5x more than a better fridge today)! It would take 263 hours at minimum wage to afford a refrigerator in 1963 and only 66 hours today.

A 32 lb washing machine cost $209 in 1963 (with trade in) and costs $416 today. In today’s dollars the washer in 1963 would cost $1,646 or 167 hours at minimum wage, versus 57 hours at minimum wage today.

The U.S. and Europe, over the last two years, have added more power capacity from renewables than from gas, coal, and nuclear combined. Renewable energy jobs more than doubled in ten years, from three million jobs in 2004 to 6.5 million in 2013, and continue to grow.

Dramatic improvements in renewable energy technology have lowered costs while improving performance for hydropower, geothermal, solar, and onshore wind power.

Wind energy prices in the U.S. have reached an all-time low and there’s enough wind power installed in the U.S. to meet the total electricity demands of Colorado, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, and Wyoming. Investments in wind power are becoming mainstream, including projects being built for Amazon.com, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, and Wal-Mart.

Protected areas of land and water have substantially increased in the last 25 years. For example, protected lands in Latin America and the Caribbean have risen from 8.8 percent in 1990 to 23.4 percent in 2014.

In fact, more of the planet found protection in 2015 than ever before. In the U.S., President Obama has designated 260 million acres as protected public lands and waters – more than any previous president.

This year nations are setting aside one million square miles of “highly protected ocean,” more than any prior year. This area is larger than Texas and Alaska combined. These fully protected marine reserves are off-limits to drilling, fishing, and other uses incompatible with preservation.

We give ourselves far too little credit for the progress we’re making and the good work we’re doing.

In poll after poll...respondents answer that the state of the world is worsening, even when objective data shows the contrary. Why?

Some attribute this to the media, and its emphasis on bad news. But in fact the human bias toward pessimism and the belief that humanity is becoming worse over time, long predates mass media.

It is found in the two thousand year old poetry of the Roman poet Horace, and four centuries before Horace in Plato, and four centuries before Plato in the writings of Hesiod, and before Hesiod 6,000 years ago in Egypt.

It seems that humans have always preferred the “good old days.” I suspect the supposed deteriorating state of the world has been the subject of campfire discussions since the dawn of time.

[But those "good old days" were far more "bad": My wife's] father had polio as a child. It didn’t kill him, as predicted, but it did leave him disabled for the rest of his life. I’m very grateful I didn’t have to worry about that with our children.

One of Cherie’s great-grandmothers died of pellagra, which is essentially malnutrition even though they didn’t realize it then. That was a common and horrible way to die in the South in those days. I’m glad we’ve put that behind us.

My father died of a heart attack at age 49. He suffered his first heart attack two years earlier. With today’s technology they would have treated him after the first attack and he’d still be alive today.

My maternal grandfather quit school after the second grade to become head of household during the Great Depression when his father went blind. There was no social safety net at all in those days.

I’ve had ancestors who died in childbirth,
who were murdered,
who were killed in wars,
who were tortured to death for their religious beliefs,
who died of illnesses we wouldn’t even consider serious today, etc.

All those things could still happen today, but they’re now exceedingly rare.

For all our problems (and we still have some doozies) we have a great deal for which to be thankful.

There’s never been a better time to be alive than now.

There are interesting scientific theories for why we have a cognitive bias toward viewing the past favorably and the future negatively (the phenomenon called “declinism”).

When I became aware of this phenomenon a few years ago I found it intriguing and fascinating, in part because of the fact that the actual state of affairs (that the world is not declining but instead is progressing rapidly) is so counter-intuitive, especially to my old-fashioned mind. But being aware of our natural bias has helped me resist pessimism and negativity.

It’s helped me to keep the daily barrage of bad news in perspective. It’s helped me to better appreciate human nature and human potential. It’s given me good reason to look forward to the future, rather than dread it. It’s helped me resist despair and selfishness.

I find it much easier to be an optimist now that I’m confident that it’s not just wishful thinking. And that feels good to me.

There has never been a better time to be alive. Conditions in the world have never been better than they are today. While far from perfect,
there is less violence,
less war,
less ignorance,
less disease,
less hunger,
less poverty,
less injustice,
and less human suffering today than ever before.

Indeed, humanity’s amazing progress, which has accelerated in recent decades, may well be the most significant and least appreciated story in human history.

The flood of good news which gets lost in the noise these days would astonish and delight our ancestors.

Despite all the pessimism in the world, and acknowledging that
we still have plenty of obstacles to overcome and plenty
of opportunities to screw it all up, humanity is facing a bright, peaceful and prosperous future!”

By Bill Guerrant
Bill Guerrant is “a chemical-free farmer in Southern Virginia, who is confident that love wins.

"Bill practiced law for over 25 years...retired from practicing law in 2011 to join Cherie in operating White Flint Farm on a full-time basis.

"They are dedicated to being good stewards of their farm and to helping improve the health and wellness of their community....to make the world a better place, one meal at a time."

For those readers who want a book-long study of this controversy, read Steven Pinker’s tome of statistics and other evidences, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.
Pinker is a cognitive scientist, psychologist, linguist and professor at Harvard University.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Friday, August 19, 2016

In Memory of My Father

My father died 2 years ago, 3 days after his 90th birthday.
So he did get to live a long, fairly positive life.

And during the last year--despite many dangerous and damaging illnesses--
my normally serious dad suddenly gained a funny sense of the absurd,
even throwing out a few puns like his son.

In memory of him, I am posting this true story he and my mother experienced.
I wrote down their narrative of an unusual experience
in 3 million-plus Orange County, California.

It's like nature brought back to my aged father his early experiences
on the edge of Orland in northern California
and then
growing up on a small farm in southeastern Nebraska
at the start of the Great Depression.

From my Father's point of view:

The Possibility of the Suburbs

Clearing out our rags and boxes
In the cluttered corner of our
Potted-plant patio on Edinger,
I jumped; something moved.

Eyeballing a dark, pudgy furness,
I exclamation-pointed
To my ‘utterly’ surprised mate.
Oh the possibilities...

A large possum mothering
Her 4 little infants scrunched
Under our old Persian rug
By the many green succulents.

My laughing wife handed me
Our long-poled ‘litter’ picker.
I snatched each scrawny brown tot
Up by the neck and delivered it

Into the aluminum trash dumpster
And then up-zooed their mother
By grabbing her long ratty tail.
Oh the possibilities...

We pulled a large board on the bin
And later drove our wild ones
Over to a drainage ditch where
Those runts climbed on their mother’s back

And disappeared into dense brush
In the crowded midst of 3 million
Humans twilight-zoned with another
Odd question for their creator:

How was it possible for us
Oldsters to hike countless wild trails
In wild Yellowstone Park last year
Oh the possibilities...

Through forests and rushing rivers
Yet never see one such critter?
This sidekick of them all,
With wily fellow travelers--

Oh the ‘possumbility’ of nature!

-Daniel Wilcox
First pub. in Abandoned Towers
in different form

In the Light-hearted memory of my father,

Daniel Wilcox

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Part #3: Dragging the Whale Behind Us

Whether we like to admit it or not, we all still carry the results of our human past with us.

Consider this bizarre image:
All humans are each pulling a huge rotting carcass of an historic whale up the sand dunes.

But, we do in our consciousness, creativity, ethical sense of ought, and ability to act have the choice to change from the past, even if it is only very gradual.

#7 Think clearly about the past, the present, and the future. Then choose to make changes.

Charles E. Cobb, Black civil rights leader, former field secretary of the famous SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) wrote,

“Black people are not faced with anything like the violence that confronted those seeking voting rights five decades ago. Let’s end the excuses."

"The people of Ferguson have all the power they need to simply get rid of their unrepresentative government — vote them out. This does not take any great political computation.”

“...Only 6 percent of eligible black voters participated in the last municipal elections — this in a town that is more than two-thirds black. No wonder the six-person City Council only has one black member and the 53-person police force only has three black officers."

"Just two generations ago, black Southerners endured arrests and beatings in order to vote. And yet, it seems we’ve already forgotten the immense power of the ballot.”

“Leaders in the ’50s and ’60s were inspiring for their ordinariness."

"For instance, Fannie Lou Hamer, a sharecropper, was no celebrity in 1962 when she attempted to register to vote in Sunflower County, Miss."

"When she returned home, the plantation owner was waiting for her. He demanded that she promise to make no further attempts to register to vote."

"Her reply: 'I didn’t go down there to register for you; I went down there to register for myself.'

He kicked her off the land. She became one of Mississippi’s great black leaders.”

Consider Fannie Lou Hamer's very difficult background, her hard circumstance, the racism of the plantation owner.

Yet Hammer took that old whale carcass of her tragic and unjust past, and the difficult present, and overcame it.

"Hamer was born in Montgomery County, Mississippi, the youngest of her parents', Ella and James Lee Townsend's, 20 children."

"Her family moved to Sunflower County, Mississippi in 1919 to work on the plantation of W. D. Marlow as sharecroppers.

Hamer picked cotton with her family, starting at the age of 6."

"She attended school in a one-room schoolhouse on the plantation, from 1924-1930, at which time, she had to drop out. By the age of 13, Hamer could pick 200-300 pounds of cotton daily."

"In 1944, after the plantation owner discovered that she was literate, Hamer was selected to be the plantation's time and record keeper. In 1945 she married her husband, Perry "Pap" Hamer. They worked together on the plantation for the next 18 years."

"While having surgery to remove a tumor, in 1961 Hamer was also given a hysterectomy without her consent by a white doctor as a part of the state of Mississippi's plan to reduce the number of poor blacks in the state."

"The Hamers later raised two impoverished girls, who they later decided to adopt."
from Wikipedia

Nothing stopped this Black lady from reaching for what is right.

As mentioned above, (and in the previous section of this very long article), the past does impact us. However, Black leaders need to stop blaming the past, the police, the Whites, and, instead, start making a new future.

According to the book, Lay My Burden Down by Alvin F. Pussaint, M.D. and Amy Alexander,
"The historically low rate of suicide among African American youths increased 114% between 1980 and 1995. Because “persistent racism has resulted in a ‘posttraumatic slavery syndrome.’"

That is very poor, irrational thinking. No present reason exists why Black youths can't achieve, if they will choose to do so.

Many more Blacks have succeeded in their endeavors since the dramatic changes of the Civil Rights Movment brought about more opportunities."

Blacks have succeeded in business, in the media, in medicine, and so forth. A few have even made it to the Olympics and earned medals, set records!
There are Black entrepreneurs and business owners.

Then there is also Barack and Michelle Obama which set a new precedent:-)

What is keeping other Blacks from achieving isn't racism, but dysfunctional social behaviors with in the Black communities.

New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton:

“The reality of the Black Lives Matter movement is it is significantly focused, primarily focused on police and their efforts to portray police and the police profession in a very negative way..."

“There are no denying within the police profession, 800,000 of us, that we have racists. We have brutal people. We have criminals, cops who shouldn’t be here. But they do not represent the vast majority of American police.”

President Obama said, “First of all, any violence directed at police officers is a reprehensible crime and needs to be prosecuted. But even rhetorically, if we paint police in broad brush without recognizing that the vast majority of police officers are doing a really good job and are trying to protect people and do so fairly … then we’re going to lose allies in the reform cause.”

Simone Manuel wins gold in the women's 100m freestyle final at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Adam Pretty/Getty Images

No matter what race you are, what past you have come from, how difficult your circumstances, realize that today, you can choose to reach up.

Nobel Prize Speech of MLK:
"I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the "isness" of man's present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal "oughtness" that forever confronts him. I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsom and jetsom in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him."

"I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality."

"...what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up."
Martin Luther King Jr.

Go for the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Part #2: Finding Answers and Solutions to BLM

#1: Latent racism still exists and needs to be strongly opposed. And we need to remember that many of the problems in Black communities can be blamed on us as a nation, on our White ancestors in the past. President George Washington owned 317 slaves before, during, and after being president.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
Philosopher George Santayana

However, the past is a double-edged sword.

Enslavement wasn't only done by Whites. Incredibly, fairly rich Blacks also owned slaves in the United States including Ana Kingsley in Florida.

In Charleston, South Carolina, 125 free Black men owned their own slaves!

The Black planter John Carruthers Stanly of North Carolina had 3 plantations and enslaved 163 Blacks.

Nicolas Augustin Metoyer a Louisiana Black owned 13 slaves in 1830. He and his 12 family members collectively owned 215 slaves.

Even worse, Blacks in Africa sold millions of Blacks captives to Whites, millions of men and women treated as things by their own race over several centuries.

Furthermore, Muslim slavery also accounts for a huge number of Blacks enslaved for centuries.

But that gigantic holocaust of suffering, abuse, enslavement, and killing was an important factor in the start,
twisting, and continuing misdirection of Black cultural dysfunctions which still cause injustice and suffering today in the United States.

So why hasn't more progress been attained by Blacks since the Civil Rights movement
led by Rustin, King and others over 50 years ago!?

In fact, in some areas, Black behavior and actions have worsened!

#2: Thinkers and activists need to figure out why severe dysfunctional patterns of Blacks are worsening.

For instance, why are so many Black children growing up without a father?

Born to young unwed mothers.

Currently it is more than 72%!

But back in 1965, Black illegitimacy was 24%.

Why has this severely dysfunctional way of living jumped to 72%?

"Children of unmarried mothers of any race are more likely to perform poorly in school, go to prison, use drugs, be poor as adults, and have their own children out of wedlock."

Rates are lower for other groups:
Asians: 17%,
Whites: 29%
Hispanics: 53%
Native Americans: 66%

The historically low rate of suicide among Black youth increased 114% in the 1980's and 90's.


Black young men account for most of the slaughter, so many murders, occurring in Black neighborhoods.


In one week, 99 people were shot in Chicago, 24 of them died. It was the worst day in 13 years.
"Among the wounded that day was a 10-year-old boy shot in the back as he played on his front porch in Lawndale."
Chicago Tribune

Last year at this time, 1, 725 people had been shot, none of them by police.
This year it's 2,514.

Why do so many Black young men choose a life of crime and gun-violence?


#3 The Black Lives Matter Movement need to stop the propaganda.

They need to strongly condemn and prohibit violence, and commit to reconciliation.

Lastly, they need to stop blaming all of their problems on police and Whites, and others.

Look, again, at some of the delusionary claims made:
“#BlackLivesMatter is working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically and intentionally targeted for demise

No one, certainly not law enforcement officers, are "systematically and intentionally" targeting Blacks for demise.

According to MBL, Black youths are "often pushed off of an academic track onto a track to prison."

This is simply not true.

In the various school districts I taught in for many years, often with at-risk students, this didn't happen.
On the contrary, we teachers worked extra diligently to help students who were disadvantaged.

We offered lunch-time and after-school-tutoring, sought to make our lessons user-friendly, even for the weakest students.

According to Georgia Sand, police regularly shoot, "unarmed people in the back, tasering children in the head, killing children, or beating pregnant women, among others."

This is also plainly propaganda, not factual information.
That doesn't mean that an unarmed person was never shot, or that a pregnant woman was never mistreated by a police officer.

But police in general do seek to serve and protect. They don't kill kids or abuse pregnant women.

#4: Police officers ought to reconsider the increased tendency to take out their guns in crime scenes, even though over 50 police officers have been gunned down recently.

In some other countries, police seldom use guns.

What can be done to stop violent criminals, without police immediately resorting to gun use?
(My best friend was a police officer for years in a dangerous city, yet he only had to pull his gun out of the holster several times in 20 years!
He and his fellow officers used alternative methods.)

#5 Blacks ought to quit making heroes of Black criminals.

Contrary to their claims, Federal investigators and Grand Jury conclusions are that the police officer who shot Michael Brown didn’t do so with racist intent.

Michael Brown wasn’t an innocent victim of prejudice and police brutality.

On the contrary, Brown was a criminal who attacked the officer, shortly after robbing a store!

The political chant "Hands up, don't shoot" is a distortion, or outright lie.

Brown earlier was caught on security camera roughing up a clerk at a store. And he
had committed other violations of the law.

#6 Work needs to be done on how to help Black young men to reject criminal gangs, drugs, and killings. How does everyone involved in their lives help them instead find meaningful employment.

Almost 40 percent of black males in Milwaukee between ages 24 and 54 are unemployed!

How do we help them get the skills, the diligence and will power, and the job openings to change that disheartening statistic?

#6 Stop blaming the past. Start working to change the present.

Charles E. Cobb, Black civil rights leader, former field secretary of the famous SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee):

“Black people are not faced with anything like the violence that confronted those seeking voting rights five decades ago.

Let’s end the excuses."

To be continued--

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Black Riots Matter

Black Riots Matter: Milwaukee, St. Paul, Baton Rouge, Ferguson...

Milwaukee News:
“…two nights of riots sparked by the fatal shooting of a black man by a black police officer.”

“…some rioters torched businesses and police cars...pelted riot police with bottles and bricks...Eight officers were wounded, and dozens of people were arrested…”

(Photo: Calvin Mattheis / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

“Sylville Smith, 23, was killed on Saturday afternoon after he was stopped for acting suspiciously and then fled. Authorities said he was carrying an illegal handgun and refused orders to drop it when he was shot.”

"Peaceful demonstrations in the Sherman Park area where Smith died turned into violent protests on Saturday and Sunday nights."

"Shots were fired, and some rioters torched businesses and police cars. Angry crowds pelted riot police with bottles and bricks."
Brendan O'Brien, Curtis Skinner, Lisa Von Ahn

And a gas station was set on fire.


To use the old cliché, the devil (immoral choices, criminal actions, dysfunction, distortion, disinformation, propaganda, falsehoods, lies, slander, invective, etc.) is in the details.

St. Paul:
“The police in St. Paul said at least five officers had been injured by fireworks, rocks, bricks and glass bottles that they said were thrown by protesters.”

Then there was Baton Rouge, Ferguson, etc.

But why didn't the family, friends, and other Blacks of the 9 Black church members ruthlessly slaughtered by Dylann Roof in Charleston, then take to the streets and riot, burn stores, throw bricks, etc.?

Let’s first hear from Black leaders themselves, opposites counter.

“This entire community has sat back and witnessed how Milwaukee, Wis., has become the worst place to live for African-Americans in the entire country...”

“Do we continue – continue with the inequities, the injustice, the unemployment, the under-education, that creates these byproducts that we see this evening?
"The black people of Milwaukee are tired. They’re tired of living under this oppression."
Khalif Rainey
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Newspaper

“#BlackLivesMatter is working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically and intentionally targeted for demise.

"We affirm our contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.”
Black Lives Matter

“BLM banner protesters in Minnesota chant, "Pigs in a blanket, fry 'em like bacon.”

“An immediate end to the criminalization and dehumanization of Black youth across all areas of society including, but not limited to; our nation’s justice and education systems, social service agencies, and media and pop culture. This includes an end to zero-tolerance school policies and arrests of students, the removal of police from schools, and the reallocation of funds from police and punitive school discipline practices to restorative services.
An Immediate End to the Criminalization and Dehumanization of Black Youth Across All Areas of Society Including, but Not Limited to, Our Nation’s Justice and Education Systems, Social Service Agencies, Media, and Pop Culture”

“Across the country, Black children attend under-resourced schools where they are often pushed off of an academic track onto a track to prison. Zero-tolerance policies — a combination of exclusionary disciplinary policies and school-based arrests — are often the first stop along the school-to-prison pipeline and play a key role in pushing students out of the school system and funneling them into jails and prisons.”

“Each year more than three million students are suspended from school — often for vague and subjective infractions such as “willful defiance” and “disrespect” — amounting to countless hours of lost instructional time. As a result, Black students are denied an opportunity to learn and punished for routine child and adolescent behaviors that their white peers are often not disciplined for at all.
The Movement for Black Lives

"It’s A Few Bad Apples Or Police Departments Or Maybe The Entire System"
by Georgia Sand
"Examples of this would include shooting unarmed people in the back, tasering children in the head, killing children, or beating pregnant women, among others."

"In those situations, police-worshippers fall back on, “It’s just a few bad apples.” Alas, cop-lovers who lazily fall back on this term forget the full idiom: “A few bad apples spoil the whole bunch.”

"It would seem that in the face of entire departments all over the country demonstrating abject disregard for justice, Americans might become a little more open to the idea that it is less a problem of a “few bad apples” and more a problem of a rotten bunch."
Georgia Sand


Barbara Reynolds, Black activist and minister, author of 6 books and former editor for USA Today:
“I was a civil rights activist in the 1960s. But it’s hard for me to get behind Black Lives Matter."

I support BLM's cause, but not its approach.”

“Trained in the tradition of Martin Luther King Jr., we were nonviolent activists who won hearts by conveying respectability and changed laws by delivering a message of love and unity.

"BLM seems intent on rejecting our proven methods...at protests today, it is difficult to distinguish legitimate activists from the mob actors who burn and loot."

"Now, the demonstrations are peppered with hate speech, profanity…”

“The power of the spiritual approach was evident recently in the way relatives of the nine victims in the Charleston church shooting responded at the bond hearing for Dylann Roof, the young white man who reportedly confessed to killing the church members “to start a race war.”

"One by one, the relatives stood in the courtroom, forgave the accused racist killer and prayed for mercy on his soul. As a result, in the wake of that horrific tragedy, not a single building was burned down. There was no riot or looting.”

“...we should remember the words of King: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

"The civil rights movement was not exclusively a black movement for black people. It valued all human lives, even those of people who worked against us."

"I can’t believe that the life of a murdered white police officer, or an Asian child sold into sex slavery, or a hungry family in Appalachia are lives that don’t matter."

"...the movement overlooks black-on-black homicides, the leading cause of death for black males between the ages of 15 and 34."

"That horrific fact remains off the movement’s radar, for fear that it puts black men in a negative light. So which black lives really matter?”

When told by a Black activist that she ought to listen to new racial equality movement’s lead song, “Alright” by rapper Kendrik Lamar,
Reynolds wrote,
“I listened to the song, expecting it would be as uplifting as “We Shall Overcome.”
I was terribly disappointed.
The beat was too harsh; the lyrics were nasty and misogynistic."

Alright: “Let me tell you about my life / Painkillers only put me in the twilight / Where pretty pussy and Benjamin is the highlight.”

Johnathan Gentry, minister at West Angeles Church of God in Christ, said the BLM movement is “superficial, shallow."

The movement ought to be challenged: “Why are you not cleaning up your own community if black lives matter?”

"Where was Black Lives Matter in Chicago, in Baltimore and in Ferguson when 9-year-old Jamyla Bolden was shot to death in her own home?"

BLM wants to “protest for thugs,” but the organization is “nowhere to be found in their own communities.”

“Stop blaming slavery and segregation for what is happening now."

“It is you. It’s not them. It’s not this person. It is you standing in need of prayer.”

He pointed out that while BLM leaders are holding protest signs against police officers, Blacks have been “killing each other all year.”

“Either put the sign down, or reflect it towards your own community. You understand? Because that’s where we’re dying — in our own community.”

Black leader David A. Clarke, Sheriff of Milwaukee County
said on his twitter account:
“Four murdered, 9 shot in Milwaukee Fri night/Sat morning. Silence. 1 cop kills an ARMED black guy & riots break out?”

"And there is no racism in the hearts of police officers."

Another Black leader stated, "But the notion that America's cops simply are gunning down innocent black people is one of today's biggest and deadliest lies."

Even a pro-BLM leader, John McWhorter, associate professor at Columbia University,
self-described as “liberal Democrat” wrote that BLM ought to also seek to stop how the vast majority of Blacks killings happen, Blacks killing Blacks.

To be continued--

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox