Third Paradigm is an out-of-the-box thinktank on community sovereignty and regenerative economics.
We look at how to take back our cities, farmland and water; our money, production and trade; our media, education and culture, our religion and even our God.
We present a people's history of the Bible and a parent's view on how to raise giving kids in a taking world.
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Welcome to the nineteenth episode of Third Paradigm. Our title this week is The Nature of Reality and the Plan. This comes from the gnostic gospel, the Sophia of Jesus Christ. In it, the post-resurrection Jesus laughs by way of introduction, and then asks the disciples what they're searching for. Quick on his feet, Philip replies, "For the underlying reality of the universe and the plan."1 Philip has succinctly stated the two most essential questions, neither of which can be asked alone. A plan for social change is only as effective as its grasp of reality – ultimate reality. Likewise, metaphysical musings without a plan to address suffering are an exercise in vanity. Theology and social change are two feet of the same body – without alternating, either one will go in circles, to paraphrase Thich Nhat Hanh.
1. Robinson, James M., Editor. The Nag Hammadi Library. Harper San Francisco,1990 pp.222-223.
If religion were a sassy teenager it would be telling us to "get real." The word metanoia comes up again and again in Christian scriptures. Meta, of course, is everything, the big picture, reality outside the frame. Noia is knowing from the inside-out. So the word metanoia means to change your way of seeing everything – shift into another dimension. Unfortunately, this complex word has been translated as repentance in the New Testament. Repentance means you adjust yourself to fit the world. Metanoia challenges the world by reading your own experience directly to understand the author, which is God or reality by another name. It doesn't presume to know anyone else's reality or to impose its understanding as rules on others. As Salman Rushdie said,
Last week, thanks again to Capitola Book Cafe, I had the chance to interview a writer and visionary who takes metanoia to a new level. He's both cracking open reality and doing better than coming up with a plan - he's creating a community vortex to invite everyone into the planning process. Daniel Pinchbeck is the author of Breaking Open the Head, 2012: The Return of Quezalcoatl, and most recently Towards 2012: Perspectives on the Next Age. Edited with Ken Jordan, these are essays on transformation selected from the e-zine Reality Sandwich. They write, "Our subjects run the gamut from sustainability to shamanism, alternate realities to alternative energy, remixing media to re-imagining community, holistic healing techniques to the promise and perils of new technologies." The introduction ends with this injunction: "Some Native American prophesies talk about this era as the time of 'dreaming the world awake.' So let's wake up together, and dream." When we come back, we'll look at some you may say are only dreamers, and why they're not the only ones. But first we'll read Notice by Steve Kowit, and Kurt Vonnegut's Last Rites of the Bokononist Faith.
That was Notice by Steve Kowit and Kurt Vonnegut's Last Rites of the Bokononist Faith. The music has been Bill Laswell with Lost Roads. When my friend Joe sent out Steve Kowit's Notice to his list, he included a photo of a man in a hood walking past a large storefront sign that reads "Casket City." Kurt Vonnegut's Last Rites of the Bokononist Faith is from his book, Cat's Cradle. Joe says that he wants this poem as his eulogy when his sons pack his ashes and those of his dearly departed Australian shepherd into some nice pyrotechnics and shoot them off over Seattle. Around my dinner table the other night, we were having another funny-macabre conversation -someone brought up the guy text-messaging his would-be rescuers who froze to death before they found him. We got to discussing what each of our last will and text-message would be. Tom's was "remember to turn off the lights." Me: now it's your job to save the world. Olivia: this doesn't mean you can wear my clothes!
Speaking of text-messaging, the Daily Good website tells me that a diocese in Italy has called for digital abstinence for Lent, with texting-free Fridays. Rather than the old argument that sacrifice is good for the soul, or you should offer it up for the poor souls in purgatory, their web site points out that 80% of the mineral coltan – the metallic ore used in every cellphone, DVD player and laptop – is mined in the Congo. The diocese boldly confirms that the extraction and trade of coltan by Western industry has helped fuel the 4 million deaths in the last decade. I'm long past losing my religion, but if they keep this up, I may become a born-again Catholic. However, the pope's no Luddite. Benedict the Sixteenth has praised Facebook and MySpace for forging friendships and understanding. We'll go to break and when we return, we'll examine my faux pas or Freudian slip in last week's poem.
[R.E.M – Losing My Religion]
That was R.E.M., of course, with Losing My Religion. Skipping between religions, we'll go now from the Pope to the Buddha. Last week, when I read the Duhamel poem about Buddhist Barbie, I misspoke the Buddha's last name. Instead of Guatama, I said Guantanama. That morning I'd just read the Mark Danner report on Voices from the Black Sites, which is his article in the New York Review of Books. He's written an expose from the International Committee of the Red Cross' interviews of fourteen "high value detainees" in CIA custody. This had been given to the administration in February 2007, but was withheld from the public.
His article starts with the first Al-Queda suspect, who's critically injured in his capture but saved in order to be tortured. For 2-3 weeks, he's shackled naked to a chair with no solid food in an over-air-conditioned room where loud music is blasted every fifteen minutes and cold water is sprayed in his face if he falls asleep. This degenerates to his head being smashed repeatedly against a wall lined with plywood. He's then placed in a coffin-like box for an indeterminate time. When brought out, this is repeated, but he's then put in a box too small to sit upright. This aggravates the sores from being shackled to a chair for weeks, and opens the wounds in his stomach and leg during his capture. Finally released and dragged from the box, he's strapped down against his wounds and waterboarded, then placed back in the tall box, then taken out and smashed against the wall. This treatment is repeated again and again.
The same testimony is given by the other 13 prisoners, none of whom were able to talk with each other before they gave their report to the Red Cross. One of the worst abuses is shackling their hands above their heads to force them to stand in their cells, in one case for a solid month. Sometimes they stood for hours on tiptoe, naked in a crowd of 13 male and female interrogators and brave masked muscle guys who would punch them, handcuffed and defenseless. Forced standing is used on one man with a prosthetic leg, which is taken away to make it more excruciating.
Doctors and psychologists abound, measuring the swelling of their ankles, treating the cuts the shackles make on their wrists when they fall asleep, and taking their pulse during waterboarding. This adds a surreal element to the hypocritic oath (sic). Did anyone see the Polanski film Death and the Maiden, with Sigourney Weaver? The doctor that she believed supervised her torture ends up in her power, through a twist of fate. Even more than the torturers, she said, his presence was a betrayal of the decency and trust inherent in the role. Is it not the same for our "hard site" doctors and psychologists?
Reading this online last week before my show was all pretty heavy. After so many weighty episodes, I was trying to keep things a little lighter, with Buddhist Barbies and Sex in the City. But it seems that the truth was determined to slip in through a slip of the tongue, changing Siddhartha Guatama to Guantanama. But I feel certain that the Buddha would understand and approve. We'll break with Please Forgive Me by David Grey. Then we'll return with 2012 and the plan for engagement and community to change this metastasized unreality to metanoia.
[David Gray – Please Forgive Me]
That was David Grey with Please Forgive Me from his CD White Ladder. Well, the website Reality Sandwich is building a ladder too, to a 2012 consciousness breakthrough. According to the Mayan calendar, 2012 is the end of an era, if not the end of time. It's seen by some as a doomsday deadline, but Daniel Pinchbeck and Ken Jordan are actively goosing evolution to make it jump in time. Their anthology of transformative essays is called Toward 2012: Perspectives on the Next Age. My interview with Daniel will follow this episode, and can also be found in the Third Paradigm archives at radio4all.net. In it, we talk about some of the mystical essays – the Gnostic concept of apocalypse and the binary nature of Native American metaphysics. In this section, however, I'd like to talk about the pragmatic essays, in the section called "community" that ends the book.
The first essay in this section is on the Transition Town movement. Its origins are in the raised beds of Permaculture, in a film about Cuba called The Power of Community, and in the preserving of knowledge from elders called "The Great Re-Skilling." A major focus is an Energy Descent Action Plan. Meetings are often open space, whose three organizing principles have become my mantra: 1. Whoever shows up are the right people, 2. whenever it starts is the right time, and 3. when it's over, it's over.
[The Power of Community – Part 1 of 6]
My Monday study group, called Economics as if Human Needs Mattered, is through Transition Santa Cruz. I'm also part of their local food group, which met yesterday. Rebecca Thistlethwaite of TLC Ranch presented some in-depth research about our county foodshed. For one thing, of the whopping $5B we taxpayers gave out in farm susidies, our county scored only $40,000 of it back. Only five crops are eligible for subsidies - wheat, cotton, soy, rice, and corn. 2007 was a banner year for profits, thanks to the global food crisis our economic and trade policies have imposed. Taxpayers subsidize these crops, then buy them back and pay the shipping cartels to dump it on other countries as aid. This destroys local production and fleeces us at the same time – now that's market efficiency!
Back to Santa Cruz, from 2002 to 2007, the number of farms went down 10%, but the amount of acreage farmed declined by 28%. Currently, we have 682 farms averaging 70 acres each, as opposed to the 1000 acre average of our ranching neighbors, Monterey and San Benito counties. 89 of our farms are certified organic, grossing $16M in sales from the $447M total. 27% of farm owners are women. 70% of farms make less than 100K. We're #1 in the country in brussel sprout production and #7 in lettuce. We have 0 dairies now that county regulations forced Claravale to move to San Benito. But bees are our top livestock, with more colonies than we have ponies, and far more useful. But horses are still #5 in commodity sales.
The next essay in 2012 is about Urban Homesteading. The author writes about building a raccoon-proof Chicken Guantanamo, and about guerilla gardening and seed bombs. Seredipitously, the organizer of the Santa Cruz homesteader movement was at the local food meeting but we ran out of time for Skip to make his presententation. I've been interested in his group for awhile, which includes microlivestock, seed keeping, backyard orchards, beekeeping, scavenging, and soap making. His group can be found online here.
Another essay traces our debt-engendered monetary system back to Sumarian economics. Now that money has been unhinged from "the messy materiality of commodity currencies," it can compound infinitely. I never realized that the fiat in fiat currency translated to "let it be." How royal can you get! Ben Franklin says that money begets money, but the author points out that money is inanimate. Therefore, he concludes that money must be the sexuality of the dead.
An interesting article on mutual aid societies looks at how the New Deal transferred many social functions away from grassroots guilds and networks to a centralized federal bureaucracy. She writes, "Overnight, America's workers, poor and elderly received more money and assistance, but in exchange they became clients of the government rather than true agents of their own and their fellows' destinies." It continues, "The only type of mutual benefit association currently enjoying decided government favor, the corporation, is the winner that takes all."
But my favorite essay was on Twitter Telepathy. Jennifer Palmer writes about twitter messages of hope and resiliency that come at just the right time, and match what's happening in your thoughts. She writes,
"It's amazing how Twitter quickens the feedback loop between our interior selves and the universe outside us. What we send out through Twitter often returns to us in unexpected ways, as if perfectly synchronized by an invisible hand. I don't know how it works exactly, but it's similar to the way a DJ reads the vibe of a crowd and responds with the track that manages to hit each individual like a deliciously distorted echo of his or her own voice, saying everything that needed to be heard. "How could the DJ know that's what I was feeling?" you wonder. Twitter "telepathy" creates the same complicated connections between members of un-groups, which makes it seem like magic."
In the final essay, Ken Jordan writes about a meeting of high-level Internet engineers and environmental activists to strategize a green on-line democracy. The footnote says that the first meeting happened in Ben Lomand, CA, organized by Elizabeth Thompson. I have a feeling this is the same Elizabeth Thompson who regularly sends out invitations to Green Drinks, Cool Ideas – our own environmental thinktank. Just another bit of synchronistic magic.
Our final song is the dance mix of Send Your Love by Sting. I have one more anecdote to bring this full circle. Sting's memoirs, entitled Broken Music begins with his experience of ayahuasca. This vision-inducing ancient medicine figures largely in Daniel Pinchbeck's books. But that wasn't the association I meant. At one point in the book, Sting writes about his manager's father, who's a Middle East CIA operative when the Dead Sea Scrolls are found and sent to the office in Damascus. They take them up to the rooftop to look at them where the light is better. When they unroll the first one, a strong wind picks up and blows the 2000-yr-old parchment into a million fragments. I think that those of us who overlap in the Venn diagram of Gnostic scholars and fans who've read Sting's memoir are few and far between. So maybe my proof that the story of Jesus is a parody of the zealot Messiah was gone with the wind. But if all this 2012 synchronicity is true, it'll fly back together when the time is right.
Thanks to Skidmark Bob for editing and music. And keep making those connections, because it takes a network to undermine an empire.
[Sting – Send Your Love]
Thank you for listening.