I started this podcast November 30, 2017. In this episode I reflect on before starting the podcast, the fears and hopes driving it, the friends it brought me, some challenges, some joys, accomplishments, and such. I also share how it changed me and how if you want to change the world and love doing it, you can too. I've trained a few new hosts starting their versions. Between my personal growth, the guests, the hosts starting their branches, and feedback from listeners, I can't tell what part I love most. Here's to another three years! Here's to another thirty years! . . . though I hope we will have changed course enough before then not to need it.
The notes I read from: Missing messages on the environment we can learn from Churchill. I'll read from some of his most famous speeches, during WWII, then I'll play the close of one, from June 4, 1940 “We shall never surrender.” Some points: It's bad. It's as bad as it's ever been. There's no escape. Your life is in peril. It's huge. Nations have been wiped off the map. The world is at stake. We are dying. Many of us will die. We must act, ourselves. You, me, everyone. We must put ourselves on the line. We can't delegate or pass this off. We can make it. We must join together. We have done it before. We are a great people. We are humble. “We” are just an island. We have a purpose, not just defense. I will give it to you straight. No lies. No dancing around the issues. I'm in it with you. Despite the depth of our misfortune, we have the means to make it our finest hour. We will. Those who give the most will feel the greatest reward. You know what to do—everything you can. You help yourself by helping everyone. Churchill's context Most of WWII as we know it hasn't happened yet and they don't know what to expect. Do they expect more, less, or what, we don't know. He's 65. He knows every person in the UK will listen to his speeches, as will probably nearly everyone who speaks English in the US, Canada, Australia, and the commonwealth. The King will. Roosevelt and Stalin will. Hitler will. Mussolini will. Nearly everyone remembers WWI and the tens of millions lost then. England once held the largest empire ever. Now they were an island. The Axis powers had destroyed most of Europe. Who knew if help might come from the US, Australia, India, or any place. Hitler was dominating with strategies, tactics, and equipment nobody knew how to defend against. Excerpts ‘Blood, toil, tears and sweat’ 13 May 1940. House of Commons Churchill's first speech in office “I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this Government: I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. This is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory, there is no survival.” ‘We shall never surrender’ 4 June 1940. House of Commons After Dunkirk. “Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous states have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.” ‘Their finest hour’ 18 June 1940. House of Commons To the pilots of the RAF. “The battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilisation. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned upon us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’” ‘The few’ 20 August 1940. House of Commons To the RAF pilots. “The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the World War by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” Our context Now consider our context regarding the environment. How many of these points sound true and how many has anyone shared with you? It's bad. It's as bad as it's ever been. There's no escape. Your life is in peril. It's huge. Nations have been wiped off the map. The world is at stake. We are dying. Many of us will die. We must act, ourselves. You, me, everyone. We must put ourselves on the line. We can't delegate or pass this off. We can make it. We must join together. We have done it before. We are a great people. We are humble. “We” are just an island. We have a purpose, not just defense. I will give it to you straight. No lies. No dancing around the issues. I'm in it with you. Despite the depth of our misfortune, we have the means to make it our finest hour. We will. Those who give the most will feel the greatest reward. You know what to do—everything you can. You help yourself by helping everyone.
Here are my notes I read from for this episode: Just say no drugs winning Try telling smoker that cigarettes cause lung cancer and see if it stops. Doesn't. It takes work but rewarding Try giving more and more facts. They heard already. Now imagine Nancy Reagan was a smoker or cocaine user while saying just say no Imagine she smoked or did drugs while saying not to. That's Al Gore, DiCaprio, everyone! The problem isn't hypocrisy. I can't stand people making environment into moral issue. I'm not good for not polluting. You live by your values as much as I live by mine. If you don't value stewardship I'm not good by your values. If you value it as much as I do, then fix your problem. The point is effectiveness. It doesn't work to lead Alcoholics Anonymous sessions with a fifth of gin half finished in your hand or weight watchers full of doof. DiCaprio, flying your whole film crew around the world when you lack snow because of global warming, can you see how you're leading AA while drunk? With your notoriety, you should have a legacy to last millennia. Instead, you undermine it. Al Gore and all the rest, same thing. Muhammad Ali as a conscientious objector. Now there's a man who acted with integrity, transcended sport, and become one of the greatest not athletes but humans of all time. We can learn from him. He knew standing tall meant getting on your knees, not flying first class and hiding it. I know, most don't want to change the world. You just want your 401k to clear. I didn't ask for back-to-back 500-year hurricanes. You didn't ask the science to predict 2 billion climate refugees this century and more. But those are our times. I didn't ask that we can do something about it, or decline, but we can. More smokers telling us not to smoke won't help, nor more alcoholics telling us to stop drinking, or polluters telling us to stop polluting. If you want to stand tall, you have to get on your knees. If you want to reach the mountain top, you have to climb, which means getting your knees dirty, meaning dropping the addiction to polluting. Because only from the mountain top can you see the promised land, a world I've seen where stewardship of nature and other people trumps self-serving excuses that you have no choice or baseless accusations that someone who acts has more time, money, resources, or privilege than you. Look deep and you'll see you have all the means you need, as does any addict to overcome their habits. I'm calling on you to lead yourself, not manage like Nancy Reagan. To lead, to find it within yourself, to dig deep, to see that how you lead others will be your greatest legacy.
Here are the notes I read from: No, it's not just a piece of cloth • Context ◦ Mark Meadows and Ben Carson tested positive ◦ US is spreading virus maybe most in world. White House more infections than Vietnam ◦ In fact there are more people in Ben Carson with covid than in Vietnam. ◦ Masks halt spread. ◦ People say tragic that it's become political, but even so, it's just a piece of cloth. Just wear it. ◦ "A mask is not a political statement, but it is a good way to start bringing America back together," Biden said on Monday. "The goal is to get back to normal as fast as possible." ◦ From leadership perspective, couldn't be more counterproductive or for that matter insensitive and insulting ◦ Leading people, influence, and persuasion depend on the person being led. You have to go where they are, not where you think they should be, where you are, where others are. ◦ Requires empathy, which saying just a piece of cloth shows none of. On the contrary, generally shows the opposite -- you imposing your values on them despite not knowing theirs. Nobody likes their values misunderstood and then told what to do against those values. ◦ Let's consider someone who views them as freedom issue. Have you considered their perspective? • Science ◦ They know science works to some degree. They drive ICE cars and use computers. ◦ They also know scientists make mistakes, that scientists and their results have been used for nefarious purposes, and that people retract their results. Even when right, scientists change opinions and regret past decisions. ◦ Whatever your confidence in science, I have PhD in physics, several patents, I helped launch a satellite, and I work on sustainability. I like science. ◦ I also know its limits. It doesn't give you answers. It gives you inputs that inform your decision-making process based on your values. Math and logic take you from your starting points, your axioms, to conclusions, but those starting points start outside science and math. Euclid started with a few axioms about points and lines. He can't prove them. He only shows what they generate. In fact, when they thought to change one, they got non-Euclidean geometry, one of the great advances of math. ◦ My point is that you are using science as an input to your decision, but ultimately you're acting on your values. So are they. If you act like it's just science, you're neglecting that you are trying to impose your values on them. ◦ Let's look at some things science has gotten wrong. Again, you may think now is different, but the scientists at the time didn't. ◦ There's eugenics that supported racism, phrenology, thinking the earth was flat, thinking the earth was at the center of the universe. Even someone who rejects evolution knows that evolution evolved from Lamarck, which was wrong. ◦ Einstein regretted that his work helped create the atomic bomb. Many scientists regretted or at least had second thoughts about contributing to the Manhattan Project. Even fighting Hitler and Imperial Japan, they got swept up to do something beyond what they realized. ◦ This "beyond what they realized" is important. Many scientists and engineers don't consider the consequences of their work. ◦ This neglecting to realize unintended side effect is a major thrust of my sustainability work. Most efforts at efficiency are net increasing pollution and waste. • Their perspective ◦ I consider it a totally fair starting point, even if someone agrees with the science, to say "I see the science, but that's not the final word. It's an input to a decision-making process. Let's see where it leads." ◦ From that perspective, someone saying it's just a piece of cloth sounds ignorant. ◦ Where could it lead? If I don't empathize I get nowhere. If I empathize I see many concerns. One is that leftists want power. They don't do themselves what they tell others to do, even on science, so they probably have ulterior motives. Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio fly and pollute more than almost anyone while telling me to sacrifice. They don't believe it. ◦ They may not realize it, but they're trying to concentrate power in the state and we've seen over and over where that leads -- Stalinism and all it results in. The people who started communism and all we fought in the cold war thought they were creating a utopia. They were naive and didn't see what they were creating. ◦ Individual freedom protects us from such outcomes. • Your belief ◦ You may disagree. I disagree, but if you want to lead, you have to meet them where they are. You think, "but they're wrong"? Do you want to influence them or not? They're human like you. You say it's just cloth, even if they disagree they should just wear it. ◦ Well, just going where they are is less material than a piece of cloth. If you believe them wearing the cloth will save lives, then you empathizing will save lives. Imagine their world. ◦ How do you address their concern that concentrating power, even if it saves lives, might result in a political outcome they fear? ◦ If you don't, you're dismissing their values. From their perspective, they're considering more than you, not less. You sound ignorant. ◦ How do you know they're wrong? Is it possible they're right? Did Marx expect Stalin? • How you sound ◦ From their perspective, to say it's just a piece of cloth conjures up saying a yellow star or pink triangle was just a piece of cloth. They were just pieces of cloth. ◦ You don't think you deserve comparison to Nazis? You don't think they've been compared to Nazis from people who sound just like you? Have you compared people you disagree with to Nazis? Even if you haven't, have you condemned people you agree with who did? If not, how is their comparison less warranted or less immune from condemnation -- from their perspective? ◦ I'm not saying you have to agree with them, but if you want to influence them, show some empathy and compassion. Recognize that you may sound to them like an ignorant person who hasn't learned from an abundance of history, a tool of powerful forces or just naivete but who may be right in this one part but could be wrong and even if right may be sleepwalking into an often repeated historical blunder. ◦ I don't see it that way, but at least I understand it. • You and science ◦ Now let's look at you and your acting on science. ◦ The science is overwhelmingly clear that Americans pollute and emit greenhouse gases far beyond sustainable limits. You almost certainly are polluting more than sustainable and you almost certainly communicate that people should pollute less. ◦ Yet you aren't, yet you want industries to stop that mean huge sacrifices to others' lives but you aren't sacrificing. ◦ From my perspective, your pollution is like not wearing a mask. What does it sound like to you if I say your flying for vacation is like not wearing a mask? You could go some place by train or even bicycle. When did you last order takeout or something from Amazon you knew would entail unnecessary packaging you paid for? When did you last buy a bottled beverage, yet humans lived on nothing but water (after mother's milk) for hundreds of thousands of years. ◦ You probably push back and say things are necessary, a part of life. ◦ You consider those changes too big for you, the domain of government and corporations, yet your action still make a nonzero difference. You can save lives, but you haven't acted. ◦ My core message also says that when you change you'll find you like it more, but you don't believe me, otherwise you'd fly less than I do and create less garbage than I do, or pick up more litter than I do. ◦ But you keep not wearing your mask and probably right now you're justifying in your mind why not to act. ◦ For you to want to change your behavior, you first have to change your beliefs, your community because if you changed more than they did, you'd have to explain why you didn't visit your mom on the west coast or decline coffee or whatever beverage someone offered you in disposable bottles or cups. ◦ I'm beyond saying it's just a piece of cloth. I'm telling you from experience of myself and everyone who has acted that you will love the change but you don't do it. You have your excuses that if I understood I would finally shut up about being so high and mighty, misunderstanding that it may be easy for me but it's harder for you. ◦ Now you know what it feels like for them. • Your choice ◦ Here's your choice ◦ Option one: remain inconsistent. We all are in many ways. You can say they should follow your values when you want them to but you don't follow your own values when you feel it's too much burden. ◦ Option two: you can accept that putting a mask on one's face is more than just a piece of cloth for them, just as reducing your environmental impact is more to you than what I say, and drop the pretense that science is all there is to it. ◦ Option three: you can apply the values you apply to them about saving lives and if you think they should believe you, that you should believe me. I just decided one day to try a year without flying when I thought my life required it just as much as you think yours does. Same with avoiding packaged food. ◦ You think you have it harder? You think it was any easier for me? Up yours! Acknowledge it's not just a piece of cloth from their perspective or follow the science yourself, dropping your arguments keeping you from doing what I do ◦ Or keep telling others to do what you don't and push away the people you're trying to enlist to save lives. You're a part of this pattern too. Want to save lives? Empathize with people you disagree with. • The opportunity ◦ The opportunity is to achieve both: developing the skill of empathizing with people you disagree with and to change your behavior to increase sustainability ◦ Changing your beliefs is hard. You have to change a lot. When you do, regarding stewardship of nature, you'll find you like the change. Our ancestors lived in nature, not jet planes and plastic factories or dumps.
Why do I act on sustainability when everyone around me says there's no point? Faith. This episode shares a few words about faith. If you lack it, I think you'll prefer living with it, especially about things you care about.
We've seen suggestions to defund the police. Many on the left consider it an obvious step. Many on the right think it's loony and will lead to society falling apart. I propose a way forward, building on my civilian service academy idea from a past episode, putting responsibility to act first on those proposing the idea. It would be hard, but if people seriously believe other agencies can do some things better than police, they can show it. EDIT: I found a story of people doing what I described. They found a place where non-police responses work more effectively than police and are implementing it. Here's the story: The Cycle of Punitive Justice Starts in Schools. Eric Butler Is Showing Kids and Teachers How to Break It. Teaching restorative justice, one hallway fight at a time.
The rest of my story riding 100 miles a week and a half ago, where I gave up on myself, having lost faith in myself, but then getting lucky to force myself to finish. Only finishing strong showed I could do it. I've since fallen into the easy path of sharing my pride in finishing, but not the shame, guilt, and disappointment in myself at giving up. Finishing strong only reinforced my giving into the sweet lies I told myself to justify giving up.
People criticize environmentalists as doomsayers while celebrating futurists. This episode shares key examples where the doomsayers were the ones saying acting sustainably would ruin us. On the contrary, in these cases and many others, doomsayers said changing our polluting behavior would undermine our way of life. Yet acting on sustainability improved our situation in these cases. I also share, by contrast, cases where people projected new technologies would only improve our situations, and they may have in limited areas, but they deteriorated them in others. We can learn skepticism of those saying stopping polluting will deprive us of income, well-being, or liberty.
I speculate why environmentalists can be so annoying sometimes and why you'd still like to become like them, just not the annoying part. This episode will help you.
Here are my notes that I read from for this episode: Play Thomas N. Todd recording Repeat it, explaining from ad campaign Context was civil rights---that is equal rights for blacks as for whites in the US. I don't know context but I think pointing out that blacks who could fight best---educated, could speak to whites best---instead of helping other blacks would rather be white and not fight for equality I'm going to approach this concept from three directions applying it to sustainability and stewardship. I've spoken to a lot of people about sustainability and led many through my podcast's 4-step process and have seen them from many backgrounds, levels of awareness, levels of greenness, how much they say people should act. I'm going to share an observation. Personal and casual, not rigorous, so I don't know what biases might influence it, but seems to me that those presenting themselves as the most green and aware don't act. They decline to do the process. If they do it, they don't come up with an activity. They often claim they're doing so much already. They often talk about it moralistically, like they don't want to act like a paragon of virtue or they're already virtuous enough. I don't think they realize they're implying they don't want to do it, that it's hard, that you should against resistance, that they really want to do other things but they have to. I never got so moral about it. I mean, stewardship felt right for me, but I presume everybody does what they consider right all the time. I'm not trying to impose my values on others. I'm trying to help others live by theirs. My main point is that acting in stewardship turns out more fun, easy, rewarding, inexpensive, joyful, connecting to family and community, and so on than our mainstream society implies. Much more, but only experience seems to lead people to understand and live. All these people preaching virtue but not acting set the actual changing of behavior backward. They lead people to want not to act by their word and deed. Actually, there's another group that consistently doesn't act---leadership writers and gurus. Consider Beth Comstock, a leader. She went for avoiding plastic. She failed. Instead of trying to hide it, she shared her experience. She allowed her vulnerability to show. I learned from her. Several leadership people declined to do the exercise, told me how much they are already doing, or told me they're already doing the most they can. These are well-off Americans, among the most polluting in all of human history, claiming they're paragons of virtue. So I'll approach not acting despite thinking you're helping from another standpoint, MLK's Letter from Birmingham Jail. "over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality." I feel like MLK faced similar struggles. Moderates who said they agreed with him actually slowed him down. Michael Moss talking about trying to lower screen time for his challenge put it clearly and concisely. When he noticed himself justifying using his phone more, he said "Maybe that was the addiction talking." We like comfort and convenience. We like doing what we're used to, what we know will give us reward when and how we expect. Changing that pattern risks losing the reward we expect, leading us to justify our urge, our craving to resist change. That's the addiction talking. Finally the third approach to people who could lead people to stewardship but in practice lead them to resist changing comes from a peer-reviewed study entitled, "Believing in climate change, but not behaving sustainably: Evidence from a one-year longitudinal study" "we found that climate change skeptics were generally more likely to report pro-environmental behavior than their high-belief peers, but that higher belief reliably predicted support for federal climate change policies" I interpret it to say that people who believe more want others to change or authority to force change, but they don't change themselves.
Are you fatigued from pandemic defenses like wearing masks and washing your hands? Is your community, like New York City, doing well? Do you feel since we're doing well, we can let up at last? Do you know what happens when competing against an opponent you can beat, but instead of playing to your potential, you play to theirs? You tie them or even lose. The fatigue we feel is mental and emotional, which means under our control. We can choose from among plenty of role models who persevered through harder challenges than wearing masks and washing hands. In this episode I share how I learned not to let up or play to the level of an opponent we could beat. I don't like to lose, especially when the stakes are life and death, all the more when I could cause someone else's death. I hope you share that motivation not to cause suffering to others.
I'm continuing my practice of bringing leadership to sustainability, following my bringing speeches and messages by Patton, Frankl, JFK, King, Mandela, Henry V, and others. Today I bring President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg address honoring men who fought and died in battle. I hoped to draw parallels to acting in stewardship today but faced two big differences. First, we don't have to risk our lives---the opposite. Living in harmony with nature creates joy, connection, and community. Second, nearly nobody today acts sustainably! Lincoln could speak in honor of people who acted. We can't today because we feel too entitled to flying when and where we want and everything that goes with it. I see Lincoln's address as motivation for us to act, however easy compared to the men at Gettysburg, and earn honor and praise from people around the world today helpless to prevent us hurting them for our comfort and convenience as well as future generations. Acting in stewardship for them to restore and increase Earth's ability to sustain life and human society is our great potential honor. To the extent I've done so, I love it. I'm not alone. We're small in number but growing. I hope you'll join us. Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
For years I thought fusion could solve our environmental problems. Serious consideration betrays that false promise, illustrating it would only continue the the pattern creating the problems we're trying to solve. Even if it works, it leads to two results I see as problems. One, it will lead us to keep changing our world away from the environment we evolved in to allow us to thrive and enjoy a bountiful world. Two, it will lead us to keep growing beyond the limits of what it can support, as we have with comparable technological advances. If we ever expect to stop growing, why not do it now, when the stakes are lower?
You've heard people calling for moonshots---challenges so great we take them on as a nation. But regarding sustainability we also ask people to do as little as they can, "here's one little thing you can do for the environment." In this episode, I bring you John Kennedy's speech at Rice on the original moonshot, fraught with peril, expensive, asking a lot. He spoke with resolve we lack today everywhere, entitled as our culture has become, but especially in taking responsibility for our actions that affect others helpless to defend themselves from our hurting them. For our mere comfort and convenience. For our waste! America outright wastes forty percent of our food, which we use more fossil fuels than ever to create. I am endeavoring to bring such spirit and leadership to sustainability today. I share my thoughts on our lame attempts to motivate, then read his words, then play the recording of Kennedy himself. Let's do this. Let's restore that spirit. Let's do the hard work of transforming our economy to stewardship, responsibility, and enjoying what we have over looking the other way from pollution and craving what we don't have.
Many people are looking to return to something they can call normal since the pandemic undid their earlier normal. In the meantime they struggle. Almost everyone I know knows Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning. I don't know what they think the book applies to, but it applies to exactly this situation. I'll give the perfectly relevant quote here and elaborate in the episode: We must never forget that we may also find meaning in life even when confronted with a hopeless situation, when facing a fate that cannot be changed. For what then matters is to bear witness to the uniquely human potential at its best, which is to transform a personal tragedy into a triumph, to turn one's predicament into a human achievement. When we are no longer able to change a situation---just think of an incurable disease such as inoperable cancer---we are challenged to change ourselves. Again, in the episode, I'll explain how this quote applies to our situation today, if you don't find it obvious already.
I shared a story with a client the other day that he found deeply meaningful. I'd never shared it with anyone before because it felt so shameful. Enough time has passed that I can talk about it, so I'm sharing it here, but I still cringe over it. I shared it to clarify a misunderstanding I hear from many people that somehow things I've done were easier for me than for others, like somehow I got more discipline than others without work. When others share stories they say make them feel shameful, it never sounds as serious to me as it seems to to them, so I hope my story doesn't either. I'm not going to write it here so you have to listen to the episode if you want to hear it, but it starts with girls, or rather lack of relationships with them, and ends with huge life decisions in other areas that I would not have made had I been more open.
Here are the notes I read from for this episode: Stand up comedians Growing up in 70s I thought everyone would want to lead, to give I Have A Dream speech of their generation Felt so natural, though universal So until recently felt others could do better, wouldn't want to compete Dawning on my almost nobody wants to Nobody seems to want to change I expect they'll be happy to change if they don't have to do work After all world has changed. Seems easy to change with it Maybe people are waiting for someone and I can or should be it Crazy for me to think nobody wants it Question I've asked lately: Genie Mandela choice I thought all the people competing to be leadership gurus want to lead Or people competing to reach top of corporate ladder want to lead They want to manage companies and organizations, maybe lead small groups But taking risks, maybe not I'm coming to terms with stepping up, or figuring out what that means Years ago before starting podcast I thought about taking leadership role, realizing success meant challenging Koch brothers. Scary. I could be attacked. King, Gandhi, and others killed. Realized when opportunity to speak on Washington Mall came up, King probably didn't want to give I Have A Dream Speech. Probably thought, “Can anyone else? I guess I have to do it.” Is it crazy for me to think of taking on role like theirs. Does anyone else want to? Still figuring out how, but deciding to act more assertively. If you see ideas or opportunities I don't, please tell me. In the meantime, I see why I'm unique in finding joy in not flying by choice. Still nearly incomprehensible that people can learn how their behavior hurts others and still prefer to justify and imagine their pollution isn't. Is it so outlandish to try, and take my word that you'll be glad you changed? Is it so crazy to imagine that economists all misunderstand what finite planet means and that growth has to end, so their theories don't apply?
Here are the notes I wrote and read this podcast from: It's no secret the tension between police and protesters in this country. I've talked to a lot of protesters in my day, having protested myself many times, especially in college. In grad school a post-doc once worked as auxiliary policeman Recently listened to Jocko Willink on Joe Rogan's podcast. I won't explain who they are because they're both big public figures and you can look them up. Except Jocko is a former Navy SEAL and Joe hosts the world's top podcast. As a martial artist, he speaks Jocko's language and they both talk about cops and uniformed people. I'm going to play about a minute from their conversation that inspired me. <play clip here> After hearing that part, I walked down 10th Street to the 6th precinct to ask if they did drive-alongs. I'd never heard of such a thing and doubted they did, but I knew if I didn't ask the answer was no, if I called or emailed, the answer would be no. But I'm pretty good in person. What will come of it? I don't know. I mentioned it to a friend and he suggested not bringing ID, maybe bringing a witness. People and cops mistrust each other a lot. I want to make a difference. I at least want to understand. Guy there didn't know (wasn't wearing mask). Didn't know if anyone inside would know but suggested attending monthly community meeting. Started checking community feed. One is coming up. Don't know if it will work, but will try. Maybe a few words about jury duty.
Here are the notes I read from: Yesterday two things, I'll start with second because more poignant. Ran into old friend a few weeks ago, clubbing, Submedia. Met at bar, first time since March, ready to walk away, wasn't going to order doof. But distant, outdoor, nearly empty. Talking for about an hour, a lot on how I transitioned. Talking about TV show. As an aside, he remarked knowing my regular background made stewardship more compelling and interesting than just tree hugger. While talking, some guy starts rooting through trash can on street, throwing trash everywhere. I remark, almost act. Then he starts yelling at us, threatening. Dave, fresh from kickboxing stands and advances toward. Guy points at me! throws bottle, shatters, leaves. Five minutes later comes back, hauls off and throws bottle hard, shatters huge, all eyes are on situation. Dave advances, I back him up. Gut yells at Dave, hard to understand since mostly Spanish, threatening, fists up, mostly at Dave, partly me. Guy crosses street, Dave pursues, guy has lost advantage. Dave crosses street, in guy's face, less threatening physically, but aggressive. Through broken Spanish while still threatening Dave and me becomes clear. He felt we were putting him down for having to eat from trash. Instead of resolving or trying to reach understanding, throws bottles, so still crazy but different, not just malevolent or hurtful, defending. Dave and I walk away feeling compassion, sad that he's in that situation, and sad that his resolution involves assaulting us. Coming back workmen curious, cop asks a few questions. You may have heard that I swam across Hudson River two weeks ago today for first time since 2008, twelve years ago. At nearly 50 years old, sort of risky. Major life achievement. Why am I holding back on posting it? Because I wanted the video. Here's that story. Two years ago Last year, friend commits, backs out for reason he could have known. Invite other friend, he loves it, life goal for him too I knew he was swim instructor, life guard too. Says he'll bring equipment. I say, so I don't need to bring a camera. No, he has one. Before swimming, I interview Joe De Sena and get invited to Vermont. I invite friend, who is overjoyed, another life achievement. He's marketing his coaching, sees huge benefit to webcasting from Spartan Race farm. Joe and I have hit if off, hence the invitation to an invitation-only event, plus as I've shared, my carrying my rowing machine and kettle bell to roof. I offer to introduce him to Spartan community. As long as I'm there, I intend to share friends with friends. We swim across, I'll share in post about swimming. Ferry approaching us, scary. He jokes, good to have white person in facing authority. After we reach shore, I hold on to his swimming equipment so ferry people don't identify him as swimmer they thought breaking lawn Before Friday, he says he can't drive. Family needs car. I feel disappointed, but contact Spartan Up people. We go into overdrive finding someone I can ride with. Many potential options, but only one works. I have to take train to. Connecticut early next morning, but I make sure space for my friend. Turns out he can't make early ride. After we get back I text him how he would have liked it but next time, and ask him about video. No response. Read text trail. Our mutual friend defends him. Says I'm making a big deal about nothing, but sends twenty texts. What's going on? I give up. Confused about what to do as weeks pass that I can't share about life event without explanation. Finally yesterday he emails me. Read email. My read of situation: I didn't bring camera because he said he would create. Never discussed charging. Now I have huge interest in something he has uniquely and holds it ransom, having said he would take care of it so I didn't try, as I would have. So I figure I'll write him and remind, when I offered, it sounded like major life event. I invited as friend. No thought to charge for conceiving or planning, but what price would he consider fair? No thought of introducing him to Joe and Spartan community, happy to help him make that invitation into making him look great to his community. Now, of course, I see I dodged a bullet as if he started nickel and diming them, it would have made me look bad. But no thought of charging him for introduction. On the contrary, put in extra work to make sure he would be welcome and could get a ride. All he had to do was send a link to a file. Instead he holds it ransom for two weeks, maybe indefinitely, and tries to make money off me. Cheap nickel and dime stuff. I don't make money on my blog. I don't know where he's coming from, but taking advantage of my huge demand and scarcity he created, whether intentional or not, deceptively. When I asked him if I said anything offensive, I knew I hadn't. I was giving him an out from behavior anyone I know would feel embarrassed and ashamed to be doing. Race and gender seemed to play roles in these interactions. Would the guy have thrown a bottle at us if we were female? He was definitely racist toward Dave. Would friend have tried to scam me if female? Comment on race while swimming would have been called micro aggression or macro if reversed. Was I targeted because I am white or male? I can't say because I don't know their hearts and minds. But I know this. When I share how I suffer, people consistently tell me how others suffer more. Nobody ever asks my experience. Do I need for the bottle to hit me and knock me out, for the guy with the knife to cut me for people to stop telling me to put it in perspective? Can you imagine lecturing a woman victim or a black victim about distractions from their experience? All this prelude to what I'm getting at People often send me to articles describing how inequality feels when you have less. When you start the race behind the starting line. Many of these articles describe how you can never escape feeling of being outside, being other, not being understood.That's how I feel. Maybe there's a white male suburban culture blind to suffering, where cash is free and no one hurts. I don't know. It's as foreign to me as every description I've come across. I'm aware of my sex and race every day, all the time, and how people see me as less than human, as fair targets for violence, as fair targets for scamming. Twice in two weeks after deciding to open up on race. Do you think that's coincidence? Sorry, three times. No, it happens all the time, since my entire life. I could tell hundreds of stories like this. I see marches full of whites saying how bad it is for blacks and other people of color. I see videos of white kneeling before blacks asking forgiveness for I guess ancestors' crimes, or system I am not an ally for equality. Nobody wants equality more than I do. People of other skin colors or sexes don't because of their skincolor and sex know racism or sexism or homophobia or pick your stereotype and I don't or can't because I'm white. I know it. I live it. If you can't accept that, I hope you get over your stereotype and see me as a person who feels pain, who is attacked,who started behind the starting line too and then gets beat up along the race but gets told he had a head start and says he caused getting beat up or at best those assaults downplayed or ignored, then told if I really understood I would see my privilege. All these whites and men saying how bad it is for others, are they really not suffering? If so, I'd like to learn what it is to be white and male like them because it is as far from my experience as anyone else described their distance. I think more likely, they aren't comfortable sharing their troubles and are only postponing actual open, honest talk and action about equality. Everything I see seems consistent with white bad, male bad, but we aren't bad. We're just like everyone else. There is racism, sexism, homophobia, and more. The path we are on will lead not to the end of these things, but to putting different groups on top or battling it out. Anybody can see that when one group says the best thing you can do is shut up and listen, while also claiming diversity and inclusion, you can see who has the power in that relationship. Everyone has their story. I'd like to say nobody got a free pass or automatically feels understood. Possibly many whites and males do, which is hard for me to grasp, but if so, their story is not my story, nor the story of many other whites or many other men and to paint me with their brush further beats me up on this privilege race track analogy I didn't make up but that people keep imposing on me. People who know me increasingly tell me that my story and experience are different, implying that maybe I do know suffering more than the average white or male. Most haven't felt such lifelong repeated assault from women and people of color. Either I'm a special case, in which case it would seem my voice has value and people should listen more to me. Or I'm not, in which case we should recognize that all whites and all men suffer too and the starting line analogy starts falling apart. Or maybe you say I haven't really suffered, in which case what more do you need? How many more women need sexually assault me, what some would call rape, how many men do I need to know sexually assaulted and raped, how many whites victimized? What does it take? I believe everyone has known this pain. If not, maybe my voice can help illuminate what by any definition except white bad male bad heterosexual bad is exclusionary, non-diverse, sexist, racist, and all the other stereotypes exactly when claiming the opposite and trying to achieve the opposite. I believe it doesn't take much to pursue seeing equality of humanity in each person, but we aren't doing it. At least I don't see it in the protests nor the counter protests. My issue is the environment. I believe working together on what ties us together and transcends skin color, sex, orientation, age, etc -- project-based learning -- can solve these problems more than marches. Yes, there's police brutality, unequal access to resources, and more. If you want to see suffering, as an American, look at what your system no matter your color or anything does to people everywhere for your comfort and convenience, to ourselves. It's not litter, it's sterilized, cancer, birth defects, war, famine on scales greater than the whole population of this country, and not just this country, even within the countries suffering most, people there contributing to this system. Even greater suffering, look at future generations to make today look like a walk in the park IF WE DON'T ACT TOGETHER TODAY TO STOP POLLUTING and reverse this system that relies on pollution and treating others as inhuman independent of their skin color or anything else. Beneath everything else, we breath the same air, drink the same water, and eat the same food from the same land and seas. Focusing on those things, I believe, can bring us together in common humanity more than anything else. In the past, sports, military, arts, science, and other cultural activity has helped us overcome stereotypes. I think of Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Ping Pong diplomacy, Zora Neale Hurston, Duke Ellington, Paul Robeson, Marie Curie, countless men sharing the same foxhole in battle who learned to love each other I believe that stewardship, loving nature, battling the systems that pollute, impoverish, and separate us will bring us together like nothing before. Beneath skin color, beneath genitals, beneath it all, we breath air, drink water, and eat food. Frankly I see almost no one seeing that starting point, nor fighting the systems taking away even that. But I am. If you see me as a white who doesn't understand non-white or a male who doesn't understand non-male or heterosexual who doesn't understand the rest of that rainbow, then you don't understand me either. Now let's restore the nature we all need to live together.
Here are the notes I read from for this episode. Following pattern of effective speeches and leadership to lead people to love doing things not obviously personally benefiting. If you've seen movie Patton, George C Scott delivers a shorter, cleaner, but better acted version. Compare what he's asking his men to do with what it takes to pollute less What is required of us in environmental stewardship is almost nothing in comparison. I'll read it, but translate while I'm reading it. The language is obviously of the time and would cause him to be canceled today except that he helped defeat Rommel and Hitler and save the free world from the Nazis taking over, which probably even the most offended person would value. Some parallels: Germans - pollution, so when he talks of attacking Germans, think of reducing pollution. He leads his men to love attacking Nazis. Could you love reducing pollution? You won't risk your life. Fighting - reducing consumption, but less risky Going home - living without thinking about stewardship Learning to fight - training to pollute less. Nobody can start perfect. Every little thing you do trains you to do more Brave - active, acting with integrity Surrendering - acting for yourself ignoring how your pollution hurts others, especially those helpless to defend themselves. What's the same: the emotions that hold you back, the training that overcomes the fear, the reward in the moment of the physical challenge, and the reward after of satisfaction. Different: zero risk to your health. On the contrary, improvement. The risk comes if you don't ask. Okay, enough explanation. Time for the speech. I'll let you translate in your mind to motivate yourself to help your country, family, world, and self. Listen through to the end, because the last analogy is what motivated those men most, I believe, and it applies to us as much as to any human. We are free in part because of them. Can we honor their defending us from Hitler by doing some tiny fraction of what they did?
The actions we can take to preserve the environment are so simple anyone can do them. They improve our lives, connecting us to each other, freeing us from distraction of craving and separation. Role models help. Nelson Mandela worked harder and faced risks greater than any of us need to---if we even face any, since eating more fruits and vegetables and spending time with people close to us improve our lives. I bring to you the closing words of his speech at the close of his trial that led to the Apartheid government imprisoning him for 27 years: I have dedicated my life to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all people will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live for and to see realized. But, My Lord, if it needs to be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.