There's something very powerful gaining momentum. We can enjoy some great surfing on the leading edge of change - or we can simply wait and hope to pick up the pieces after a disastrous tsunami of global survival proportions...
Latest: June 8, 2010: How much of a difference can one person make? - a look at your full potential
On this web page (below), October 24 back to September 28, 2006:
Tuesday October 24, 2006
The Limits and Great Potential of Human Nature
We humans evolved in a very different time and place. Many of our now problematic behaviors had great survival value for small tribes on the wild plains of Africa.
A week ahead of Halloween, my short piece on the Dark Side of Human Nature offers some scary specifics.
For example, there were big advantages to favoring our side, right or wrong, and seeing more evil in our enemies.
In those brutal times there wasn't always enough food to go around. Tribes who believed they had a right and even a duty to conquer, enslave or kill others were more likely to survive. Those genetically ready to act this way survived. That's part of everyone's all-too-human heritage.
land is it anyway?
Some extreme Muslims want to re-conquer all land that was ever part of Islam, including most of Spain and Portugal, lost to other zealots of a different but also monotheistic religion over 500 years ago.
Extremist Muslims seem to forget that their ancestors conquered land from others. By the same logic, Christians would take the entire Byzantine and Roman empires, everything from Morocco to Iraq. Hindus would want lands that are now mostly Muslim in Indonesia, Pakistan and elsewhere.
When Hitler conquered much of Europe, in many ways he was acting similar to how many European nations acted while building their own colonial empires.
I believe all of this continues primitive human behaviors started long ago on African savannahs.
million years later
To avoid really huge, man-made disasters, we need to use the most constructive parts of our human nature. These also helped us survive and adapt to many challenges throughout history.
powers for change
We can also think things through on a deeper level. As we understand the advantages of positive change, we can motivate ourselves and others on a massive scale. These are the qualities we need to solve our very dangerous, modern problems.
Hearts & Minds
is here to help. For example: Easy,
effective actions you can do right now
Friday October 20, 2006
A Big Paradigm Shift: How the Impossible Becomes Accepted
Our world needs a major paradigm shift. A paradigm is a shared way of seeing things. Based on this, entire civilizations make assumptions about the limits of change.
Slavery was accepted as part of God's plan. Many considered it a fine way to get rich. Slavers could become high status, wealthy, powerful people.
Child labor, unequal rights for women, unlimited environmental destruction were other paradigms that have changed, though there's still plenty room for improvement in many places.
movements brought great changes
"How can we possibly accept such radical changes?" many asked.
The struggle for change was difficult at times. Often there was no easy way to reach the masses. A dedicated few kept working, over time joined by many. Eventually we had great changes. Now many very conservative people are also grateful for these reforms.
Of course, not all radical changes are good, so it's good to question big changes. But it's also good to be open-minded.
ways of seeing
Important paradigms in biology changed with the invention of powerful microscopes, but not right away.
Medieval people believed human sperm had miniature people inside, complete with arms, legs, eyes, ears, etc. Others thought they had a much better theory: it's unfertilized egg that has a complete person inside. With either theory, combining sperm and eggs merely gave this mini-man a chance to grow.
In the mid-17th century, a Dutchman, Anton van Leeuwenhoek, developed the first powerful microscope. He achieved at least 270 times magnification. Despite this magnification, van Leeuwenhoek still saw the mini-man, some historians report. Others say this is a mistranslation of van Leeuwenhoek's writings. In any case, despite the evidence from microscopes, many others still supported the mini-man theory.
Medieval people also thought disease was spread by vapors. Malaria means bad air.
Van Leeuwenhoek found single cell life. He met with strong opposition, just as Galileo did for suggesting that Earth was not the center of the universe.
Eventually, microscopic science was widely accepted. Now even people who are resistant to other new ideas take these insights for granted. A better understanding of germs led to much better disease prevention and treatment and everyone can benefit.
change is possible
Successful, proven programs have already helped millions of people escape hunger and poverty. With a smaller percentage of national income than the Marshall Plan, we can end poverty worldwide. We too would benefit from a safer, most just and sustainable world. I know many people will not automatically accept this.
But when it comes to paradigm change, we have a big advantage over Galileo and van Leeuwenhoek: We can spread ideas globally for less than $20 a month. (Hearts & Minds' current cost for website hosting.)
The old paradigm says we
cannot end poverty. We're working to help change this. And when the
paradigm shifts, great change is possible...
Tuesday October 17, 2006
How to change the world in really big ways without seeming crazy
I've spent some time going back and forth on this: How much change should we ask for?
As I wrote on October 6, it's unlikely anyone gets more than they ask for... That applies to one person or a global movement that may grow to include millions of people.
But if you ask for too much, people may not take you seriously. They may even think you're crazy. In a worst case scenario, that could hurt our chances ever to be taken seriously.
But people often say you have to be true to yourself...follow your bliss... And I'm really, really dissatisfied accepting even a few million people left hungry.
If we cut hunger and poverty in half - already a very ambitious, praiseworthy goal, widely talked about by those who work on these issues - that still leaves over 400 million hungry with a total of a billion in poverty. A terrible tragedy, all the more so when we have all the resources and proven methods to help these people help themselves.
All that's missing is widespread awareness and willingness to change the situation.
If we can get this message out, I'm convinced, millions more people will agree with us. Using mass communications we can reach, inspire, educate and empower them to effectively advocate solutions.
We're still working towards the large-scale rollout of our campaign, and it's a difficult decision to make: Should we focus on this larger goal from the start, or gradually raise support towards our greater goal?
We could start by joining other anti-hunger groups supporting programs that substantially reduce hunger without necessarily fully solving all the problems. Eventually, we can gather additional support towards our more ambitious goal of ending all hunger and poverty.
But when it comes to the lives of hundreds of millions of people, I don't really like to compromise.
Maybe we won't have to. We just need to make a clear case for what's possible.
We could start with high school and university students. I believe they're more open to big ideas than some older people (people my age for example :).
Stay tuned and we'll show
you how we can move towards our goal to do as much good as possible.
Friday the 13th Part I, October 2006
It's bad luck to be superstitious :)
Since it's Friday the 13th, I wanted to get this thought out there: I feel strongly we have a major role creating our own luck and even our world. And though we can't always choose what comes our way, we have great control over how we respond.
OK, some superstitions might have value. Maybe it is better not to walk under ladders - someone may drop something on your head.
But black cats get a bum rap. A sort of anti-dark-furred-feline racism?
defense of dark cats
The black cat bum rap
started when dark cats were associated with witches. These supposedly
ugly old ladies cast evil spells and rode around on broomsticks...
getting far better miles per gallon with far less harm to the
environment than what many consider a greater evil, the Hummer.* Even
our military has begun to think it's too much of a gas guzzler.
(Back to my earlier digression :) I've never met a real witch with any magical powers, so I'm skeptical on that too. And maybe we should value the elderly more. Let's not add ageism to racism...
Leo-like skepticism of astrology? :)
Astrology is pretty much a waste of time in "my" universe. I'm acting a bit egotistical here just to be playful but, sure, I have the Leo-like tendency to egotism, as does just about every human I've ever met.
My egocentric questioning of astrology may offend some people, and if so I apologize. Astrology as hobby seems a pretty harmless. (And no doubt the fact that I'm a Leo has something to do with my strong opinions. :)
sign are you?
They offered a description of the personality for each sign. I did seem a pretty good match with the Leonine personality. "Hmmm," I thought, "maybe there's something to astrology?"
Then I looked at a different bookmark. Seemed a pretty good match, too. As did all the others. Truth is, most of us can own up to a wide range of contradictory personality traits, all the more so when the descriptions flatter us for better in-store sales.
Then there's an astrologist on a local radio station. I imagine he's paid pretty well for his popular prognostications. His advice for each sign is generally good, but I think it could apply to anyone, any day. Every day, each sign gets a different horoscope, things like, "Be open to new friends today... Pay extra attention to finding special value in your closest relationships... It's a good time to show your boss how dedicated you are..." and so on.
new, new, less than logical but totally Astrological math?
The stars in any one constellation, though they look close to each other, are usually all very different distances from us. Many civilizations - China, India, the Aztecs and Mayans among them - have quite diverse astrologies. Each claim very different influences from very different constellations.
the magic dragon
Maybe they also think their (very different) constellations indicate their fate? Our sun might very well be part of Spooshnik, the three-headed-dragon constellation. The stars clearly form this common, household dragon (a very nice pet, good with children but avoid the dark purple ones), as seen from Betelgeuse, the giant red star in the right shoulder of the constellation Orion the Hunter (from our earthly point of view).
Of course, many people who believe in astrology agree that much of our fate is in our own hands, no matter what tendencies our birth, family or supernatural forces otherwise choose for us.
So, let's think through what really creates a better world. All we need to do, really, is do for others what we'd like them to do for us, no matter where we were born or what social class, race, religion, nation or sun sign we belonged to.
Let's all work together
with some creativity and hard work to make it happen...
9:35 pm Tuesday October 10, 2006
Hearts & Minds began - prologue
to a potentially perspicacious
and quite possibly most powerful proposal (We Can Change the World)
My drawing sparked a conversation that brought the decision to start Hearts & Minds, something I'd wanted and worked towards for many years prior to this doodle:
Here's a fuller history of how I started Hearts & Minds.
A decade after the
aforementioned doodle, Hearts & Minds celebrated its tenth anniversary and its
4.7 millionth www.change.net
website visitor... and the best has yet to come!
2:45 pm Tuesday October 10, 2006
method to our madness
People can ask, "Are you guys crazy?"
We don't think so. In a world with all too much compromise against what really matters, a visionary goal can be surprisingly refreshing and attractive. And backed by proven examples of what works, using clear communication how much is at stake, reaching millions of people with very low-cost Internet communications, we can have an important role in achieving some badly needed goals.
Our world needs
ambitious inspiration for how much positive change is
possible. And as the Bible* says, "Without vision,
the people perish."
the right thing to do
I like what Martin Luther King, Jr. said:
Martin Luther King, Jr. worked with an ambitious vision to help millions of people. That's why he had an important role helping change centuries of racism and discrimination. He proved that one person, working with others, can make a very big difference.
7 pm Friday October 6, 2006
much change do we want?
We’re adding to the platform of global changes we want to see. Our first question is: How much should we ask for?
If we the people are modest in our requests, we'll still likely end up with a fraction of what we ask for. When it's business as usual, politicians funded by special interests will compromise with the nearsighted short-term selfishness of their biggest campaign contributors.
Hmmm, there's gotta be a better way. But how can we achieve it? Let's consider what we're working with, the way we humans tend to work:
Some major rules in human affairs:
Not as simple as it may sound, we know. But as Margaret Mead said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
With thoughts like this, we'll set ambitious goals to help change the world.
that's a challenge!
As we already feel, and many more can soon find out, it's fun to accept a challenge with such an awesome upside!
All this is attainable. Only the political will is missing.
"Actually, it's not," we answer. We'll show how it can be done, creating a global campaign to inspire, educate and empower millions of people to make it happen.
A safer, more just and sustainable world is possible.
Wednesday October 4, 2006
We’re onto something really big here at Hearts & Minds, even if we don't yet have the funds to fully achieve one of our main goals. We want to empower everyone, everywhere to realize:
You Can Change the World
Our Global Survival Campaign offers you very specific ways you can get to the roots of some of our world's most pressing problems.
Incredible opportunities for all
Many people are ready for this kind of world-changing message. Many are already involved. Many more will join in, once they get the message.
All over the world we see rising concern for our environment… massive, increasingly effective action against world poverty… Even the rise of terrorism has a possible upside, hopefully moving everyone everywhere to think through the dangers of fanatic ideologies…
Growing up in the 1960s helped influenced me to see things this way. Back then, working for change was a mass movement in many nations. I think we need more of that now.
to the people
Time and again people prove they have the power. And only the people should have this power. Because if you can’t trust millions of people to look after their own best interests… (often you have to wonder - Winston Churchill said, "democracy is the worst form of government in the world, except for all the others." :)
If you can't always trust the masses to look after their own best interests, you certainly can’t trust a small group of dictators of the proletariat, self-appointed spiritual masters, or führers for the patriotic volk to do what’s right…
now is the time for change
For all these reasons and more, it seems clear to me, we are deep in worldwide crisis.
But out of crisis comes great opportunities…
Not that it’s much fun being deep in crisis:
I was a shy, tall, nerdy, awkward kid with thick glasses and poor social skills, growing up unhappy in the suburbs just north of New York City. I was often teased, shut out. Lunch time in the junior high school cafeteria, it seemed no one would even let me sit at their table. Any insecure bully might threaten to beat me senseless to give his own poor self esteem a very temporary boost.
I went years at a time with no friends at all. The isolation was very painful.
I love my family, but when I was a kid, it sometimes seemed no one could give me the basic love I craved. Though I never tried to kill myself, there were many times it seemed an attractive idea.
I didn’t feel I'd ever have the love I needed, the love that everyone should have, freely given and in beautiful abundance, something we all could share in a better world. We have great power to work for this, once we overcome the obstacles that block us.
way to end it all
I looked down. Tiny horses and carriages lined up for tourists; ant-like pedestrians and toy cars rushing by.
It’d be so easy to jump. I could quickly end all my pain. But I wasn’t quite ready for that.
Jumping off could kill some innocent people on that distant sidewalk. Maybe some happy young tourist couple walking hand in hand, talking of their future, the beautiful life they could create for themselves, their children, their grandchildren... just as they got ready to cross the street for one of those romantic, slow-moving, horse-drawn carriages… when one very unhappy teenager rushes down to meet them. That was a horrible thought.
And I was just too curious what the future might bring. Maybe it could be much better for me, too. In any case, I wanted to know how some kind of important story would unfold. Back then, the future was at least a vague idea of great potential.
I made it through my 13-year-old teenage crisis, though it was far from the end of my suffering. Suffering can be a great gift, not that I'm volunteering for any unnecessary suffering. But it made me much more sensitive to the mismanagement, corruption and shortsighted selfishness around the world.
Over time, my desire to address all this injustice grew much stronger. I began to understand, putting our hearts and minds together, vague ideas of great potential become a course of action of almost unlimited potential.
As we say on our Home Page, we can work to do as much good as possible. And what are the limits of possibility?
Stay tuned, our story is just getting started…
11 am Thursday
September 28, 2006
Opportunities We Offer
I've donated more than 11,000 hours in the last 10 years, also giving up what I feel sure was well over $1 million in personal income. I did this because of the value our work at Hearts & Minds: We've already helped more than 4.3 million people get to the root of pressing issues that I think you, too, care deeply about.*
*If you've got a better way than our Global Survival Campaign to benefit people locally, nationwide and globally, please let me know about it and I'll consider volunteering with you on that instead. :)
I don't expect most people to make my kind of sacrifice, and that's understandable. I think many feel overwhelmed by the daily stresses of life in our culture and by the growing threats to our future...
But that's an important part of Hearts & Minds' message: Even a little of your time can make a very big difference. Here at Hearts & Minds, we do the work to create these opportunities for others. And any help you may offer is much appreciated here.
As I suggested, I think you could readily extract 500 words from what you've already written. Besides helping many people, you would also get free exposure for your work, ideas, books and art. Elsewhere, people often pay for this kind of favorable media exposure, even without any chance to make a difference in the world.
Thanks for your interest,
Did I respond well? Let me know what you think: Contact Us.
Even a little of your effort really can make a very big difference. But hopefully you'll also see that the more you do, the greater your own sense of fulfillment can be.
1 pm, September
Comments? Questions? You can e-mail Bill directly: [email protected].
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Blog © 2006-2011 by Bill Blackman, breaking wave photo ©
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September 28, 2006,