Friday, October 20, 2006


We live in a country that has so much potential; it's like how we only use 10% of our brains. If we could use more of that remaining 90% we could really make some changes. And we have to, change, that is. We have to develop a sustainable society.
Thomas Jefferson wrote that the world belongs to the living; the dead have neither rights nor power over it, so a man can only use what can be replenished during his lifetime or he essentially oppresses future generation. I have heard this described as "generational tyranny," and I believe that's exactly what it is.
If we do not think forward seven generations, as Jefferson did, then we are not going to realize the impact that our decisions will have on future posterity. This falls in with what John Stuart Mill says about the limitations of personal rights: my rights stop at the end of my fist and yours starts at the tip of your nose. As long as I am not infringing on someone else's right to exist peacefully, then I am within my own right. But as soon as I start impinging on someone else's liberties, including future generations, I no longer am in the right.
Of course this is subjective, especially in the sue-happy society we live in. This must be dealt with in good faith on both sides; we must have enough respect and tolerance to allow each individual to tread water and keep his/her head above water. We must also consider that future generations have the right to exist or we might as well end all of this now.
That is why we must each take responsibility for how our actions affect the world. To a man, we must conciously dedicate ourselves to the preservation of both human kind and the world in which we exist.
Regardless of whether or not you believe that global warming is happening, no one can honestly deny that man influences his environment. This should become our basline of thought. Coupled with the idea of generational tyranny, this line of thinking will allow us to examine current standards, use of resources, and individual responsibility. If enough of us can coordinate and put into practice ideas like these (I have no illusions of being omniscient) then we have a real opportunity to make things better.
I truly believe that we are in the midst of another industrial revolution, one that will propel us forward in ways never imagined. But we must be open to that change. There will always be a lingering luddite mentality, that somehow the past was better than the future. But isn't memory just as maleable as a belief in the future? There is truly no time to sit and be consumed by academic debates on this subject. Each of us must begin now, learning, finding ways to improve their community, or we will not be able to capitalize on the incredible system and resources we have that facilitate rapid change and response to demand. The time has come for action; people of America, unite!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Grossed out

There was a woman on the train today that was picking her nose. "Picking" is the wrong word. She ought to have called PG&E to find out if there were any buried cables or gas lines in there. She was facing me with her head against the glass and her eyes closed, with her finger in her nostril, rotating it around like a radar, searching for something to pull out. I thought about saying to her something my dad would say; something like, "pick me a winner," or, "that's about as funny as a terd in a punch bowl," but I didn't. Instead, I pulled out "The Sound and the Fury" and held it up higher than normal so I couldn't see her. But I couldn't read. I kept moving the book over just enough to see if she was still doing it. She'd stop for a minute but then her finger would get sucked right back like it was pulled by a magnet or as if her nose was a giant Hoover or a wet/dry shop vac like the one my dad has in his garage that always falls over if you pull it by the hose. Still holding my book, I remembered a Shel Silverstein poem about a creature inside noses that bites off fingers. I was six when my mom read that to me and I was 10 when I stopped believing it was true. I wished her mom had read that poem to her when she was a kid. The squealing brakes on the train woke her up and I looked back at my book as she left her seat and got off the train. Even after she was gone I still couldn't read, and suddenly I felt my nose begin to itch....

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