An Introductory Note to Readers:
This current corona-virus pandemic, though it will eventually pass, will also completely transform our world. That change could be very positive—if we choose to make it so.
A long or severe illness can often result in a serious re-evaluation of our personal life and values. There is a moment when the fever breaks. You wake up and feel you are on the mend. At the same time, you realize that you are ready to look at life differently. That is not always a bad thing. It is in fact, a huge opportunity. Learning isn’t a simple upward curve as we acquire facts. Real leaps in understanding typically come when we undergo a shock and re-set our basic paradigms and change our pre-conceived notions. A shock like a personal illness—or a world class crisis—can often allow us to make that transformational shift.
Many people now use the word “re-start” when they talk about post-pandemic life. What they seem to mean is going back to the normal that existed before. I think that normal will never be the same again. There are basic issues we need to rethink—and we have some time to do that.
Although the work presented here reflects some of my more abiding (pre-virus) interests, most of those interests revolve around transforming our usual ways of thinking.
A quick note on the keywords I have used here: Mind-cast is meant to evoke words like broadcast, and pod-cast, but it has other connotations as well. Foremost to me is the notion of a particular “cast of mind.” In this connection, the idea of being “type-cast” is probably familiar. This suggests the term “mindset.” Plaster is used to make sculptural casts. These casts “set” –that is they become rigid and fixed. A “mind-set” can become frozen and rigid in a similar way. When it does it can seriously block creative thinking.
The most powerful of “mind-sets” in my experience is simply the basic set of patterns of thought and values that are part of our given native “culture.” People may know the term “groupthink.” The mind-sets established by culture provide an immensely powerful foundation for “groupthink.” While these pre-conceived notions simplify our daily lives, they can blind us to bigger, long-term realities. This is what the term “ethnocentrism” is all about.
A recurring theme in my work is the need to struggle to transcend the boundaries set by the mind-sets of our own native cultures. In America, we have given a special name to our ethnocentrism. We call it “American exceptionalism.” It is, to my mind, an extremely dangerous, sneaky, and compelling force—a mind-set that often blinds us to important facts. Like our misguided response to the 9/11 attack, our initial response to this pandemic crisis has been highly colored, if not determined, by our ethnocentricity—our particular American mindset.
The word Re-start has connotations of its own. Everyone is talking about how we can “re-start” the economy, social life etc. The word start suggests a new beginning. The prefix Re reminds us that there is a past. We must examine that history as we begin again. That is what the “rethinking” part is all about.
The pandemic that is raging today has revealed many different ways that our current government, culture, and society have failed.
These pages are about getting at the root of those failures.
I strongly believe writers should be concise. That said, the big issues we need to reassess can’t be explored in tweets or twitters, emojis, Facebook posts, memes etc. Our over-reliance on these vehicles strongly suggests that our attenuated attention span is part of our basic problem. The challenges that confront us today are intricately intertwined. They require that we extend our attention span to be able to stay with arguments of 1,000 words or so. At a bare minimum. Most of these entries are only about 700 words.
To sum up, these pages will offer thoughts on the big issues of our times. They will include non-linear, out of the box thinking about the foundations of the world we need to create.
Specifically, we need to extend our thinking in three distinct ways. 1. Vertically: we need to go deeper into the roots of things and more transcendentally into the potential consequence of our actions. 2. Horizontally: we need to think more broadly in all directions. 3. The time dimension: we are limited by our tendency to think in terms of short-term results. We need to take a longer view of time.
I hope my own perspective will become clear. Where I cite data and facts, however they are always as accurate and objective as I have been able to make them at the time of writing.
I hope you will stay tuned as we explore various issues with those aspirations in mind. This initial post is meant to give a reader a good impression of what we will talk about in the future. It includes things I wrote as early as last December. I think they are of interest because at that time, the White House was already bungling the Corona-virus response. That is why these early entries are a little heavy on politics. As we move on, I will broaden out into issues like the environment, art therapy, PTSD, education, and other things of more general interest. I hope you don’t overlook the poetry and quote sections. The bits of art are all original. My wife Carol (probably the best wife in the world!) did the layout and technical work. My sincere thanks to her!