Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Music is a Necessity

. . . After food, air, water, and warmth, music is the next necessity of life. ~ Keith Richards

Things are really messed-up. The kids got out of the cave alive, which is amazing. But Ford is already making backwards plans for education in Ontario, and the U.S. might see some new and frightening abortion laws, and we seem completely unable to stop a drippy pipeline from being shoved through our precious land and water.

So I went to a folk festival to recharge.

We need more of them. I feel like we need them everywhere right now! There's not much that rekindles feelings of connection and community like singing and dancing with total strangers, especially when you're standing in the grass under the shade of sun-dappled trees. It's the elixir to our days spent inside on social media sickened by the angry and violent exchanges that fill the comment section of the most innocuous piece. (Yes, of course, stop reading them, but they're like a traffic accident!)

There are tons of festivals every summer, and if you can't make it to check out live music, consider singing and dancing anyway. Remember to recharge and reconnect with the notion that human beings can be absolutely wonderful!

"We possess art lest we perish of the truth [dammit!]." ~ Nietzsche (Will to Power, section 822, p 435).

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

On Half Earth

The headline says, Scientists call for a Paris-style agreement to save life on Earth. Monbiot says this often, and E.O. Wilson, and so many others. We have to let parts of the world rewild, and stop covering every inch of the planet with concrete and asphalt and golf courses:
"In 2016, E.O. Wilson — arguably the world’s most lauded living evolutionary biologist — published a book called Half Earth where he proposed that to save life on Earth (and ourselves) we must set aside around half the planet in various types of reserves. . . . In less technical parlance, this is a ringing call for a massive, global agreement that would look at drastically increasing the amount of the world covered by parks — in some cases up to the Half Earth goal — and indigenous protected areas. Indigenous people are now widely recognized as some of the best defenders of nature after decades of being sidelined. . . . 
Such an agreement would likely fall under the United Nation’s Convention on Biological Diversity, first established in 1992, as an international treaty. . . . The CBD has had a number of disadvantages. For one, much like the Paris Agreement, it’s non-binding and largely voluntary. This has been a necessary concession in order to get so many nations sign on — just like with Paris — but it also means there’s no legal way to enforce action. Just international peer pressure. For another it’s lacking a major signatory. Guess who? Yes, of course, the United States. . . . Finally, the CBD has not been able to garner the same kind of media attention and interest as the various climate change declarations. For some reason, an agreement about the fate of millions of species on Earth just hasn’t grabbed our attention-deficit media. 
But these drawbacks need not ensure that the CBD be toothless or ineffectual. And if there’s a time for it to prove its mettle, it’s now. . . . "It is certainly a major challenge, as has been the case with the Paris Climate Accord. But we need to start somewhere. If all this sounds like utopian fiction, Dinerstein pointed to the fact that Chinese scientists have already published a paper on how they could hit 50 percent protected land in one of the most populous countries on Earth."

It's possible.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Progress or Ruin

Monbiot's recent article sits in my belly like lead:
As a child and young adult, I delighted in being able to identify almost any wild plant or animal. And now it has gone. This ability has shrivelled from disuse: I can no longer identify them because I can no longer find them. Perhaps this forgetfulness is protective. I have been averting my eyes. Because I cannot bear to see what we have done to nature, I no longer see nature itself. Otherwise, the speed of loss would be unendurable. . . . I have lived long enough to witness the vanishing of wild mammals, butterflies, mayflies, songbirds and fish that I once feared my grandchildren would experience: it has all happened faster than even the pessimists predicted. . . . The United Nations reports that our use of natural resources has tripled in 40 years. The great expansion of mining, logging, meat production and industrial fishing is cleansing the planet of its wild places and natural wonders. What economists proclaim as progress, ecologists recognise as ruin.

I've left out the worst of it.

We need to find politicians willing to take a stand against lobbyists and corporate rule. As a society, we need to just stop doing anything beyond what's necessary for our own survival. If you don't need it to live, then don't buy it. If you don't need to go there in order to survive, then just stay and sit still a while. Travel under your own steam and live within your means as well as within the means of our ecosystem. But none of that's really going to happen, is it.

17/10/18 is the new 420 here. At least we can sedate as we watch it all unfold before our eyes.

The Trouble with Relativism

From a comment on a social media post advocating that we stop protesting people with Trump hats:
"The trouble with refusing to serve someone because you abhor their views, is that tomorrow someone else will do the same thing to you."

Here was my response:
That's like saying we have to tolerate everything in order to support tolerance. We don't. As Popper said, "We should claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant." It's not that one principle has to govern all actions, but that we have to look at the use of the principle and decide from there. Someone with a Nazi armband can be ousted from a restaurant by the owner because they clearly and openly advocate harm to a group of people, which we can all agree is heinous and wrong. But someone with a rainbow shirt isn't advocating harm to anyone; they just want to be allowed to exist. So refusing them service should cause an outrage. 

This is an increasing problem with relativist views. I see it in my students often who really want everyone to be right all the time. "He's not wrong; he just has a different idea." But there can be right and wrong ideas. In fact, there HAS to be. We have to all agree that holding a view that harming other people based on their group affiliation is just plain wrong. People who hold that immoral view have to be TOLD they're wrong over and over by everyone they meet.

Or else. If that view gains traction, which it is, then we KNOW the path our society could take. It's up to us, right now, to stop it in its tracks.

ETA in brief:

Her: Allowing the state to dictate what we're allowed to do or not allowed to do is advocating totalitarianism.

Me: That's a slippery slope. Canadians have lived with hate crime laws on the books for decades without becoming totalitarian in nature. We are able to stop discrimination without lumping in non-discriminatory actions. It is possible to create a clear line.

For the Popper quote, see Notes to Chapter 7, in The Open Society and Its Enemies, or page 544 of this PDF.