Archive for the ‘Co-Operation’ Category

Synergic Disarmament: Wisdom, we shouldn’t have!

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

Timothy Wilken

Future Positive — Timothy Wilken, MD writing in 2002: Interestingly, the recent advent of the Washington D.C. area sniper has brought renewed interest in the subject of weapons and their role in our present society.  …

Think of the power of the tools we humans use everyday—a Boeing 747 airplane, our automobiles, computers, cell phones, televisions, household appliances, the tools in our garages and at our places of work. The knowing in these tools multiply our human power by orders of magnitude. They allow us to do what was considered impossible just a few years ago. It is the power of the knowing embedded in these tools that give them their power. You don’t have to be wise to use a tool full of wisdom. You don’t even have to be knowledgeable to use such a tool. McDonald’s fast food restaurants, use picture icons of the food and drinks on the buttons of the check out computers, so that the illiterate and innumerate humans working there can operate the computers without reading, adding or subtracting. The computer even tells the operator the correct amount of change to return to the customer.

However, there is risk in using tools you don’t understand. Remember, “a little knowing is a dangerous thing.” Today, we commonly put enormously powerful tools into the hands of those who do not understand them. This means the risk of using these tools in an unsafe manner is high. And since weapons are specifically designed to hurt or kill, they are among the most dangerous tools available in today’s society.

And yet they are easily available to anyone who desires them. They can be purchased legally by any adult who passes a background check for criminal record. If you are not a convicted felon, you can legally purchase all the weapons and ammunition you desire. You are not legally required to be literate, numerate, or have any knowledge of science or physics. No knowledge of weapons or the consequence of their use or misuse is required before becoming armed. As to felons, minors, or non-citizens—anyone wishing to avoid the background check of legal purchase, they can be purchased illegally in any town in America. (02/04/2016) 

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What Does a Grateful Brain Look Like?

Saturday, January 2nd, 2016

f MRI

The Daily Good — Adam Hoffman writes: Evidence is mounting that a team at the University of Southern California has shed light on the neural nuts and bolts of gratitude in a new study, offering insights into the complexity of this social emotion and how it relates to other cognitive processes.

“There seems to be a thread that runs through subtle acts of gratitude, such as holding a door for someone, all the way up to the big powerful stuff like when someone gives you a kidney,” says Glenn Fox, a postdoctoral researcher at USC and lead author of the study. “I designed this experiment to see what aspects of brain function are common to both these small feelings of appreciation and large feelings of gratitude.”

In their experiment—which was partially funded by a grant from the Greater Good Science Center’s Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude project—Fox and his team planned to scan participants’ brains while they were feeling grateful to see where gratitude showed up.

But first, they had to induce gratitude. At USC’s Shoah Foundation, which houses the world’s largest collection of Holocaust testimonies, they poured over hundreds of hours of footage to identify compelling stories of survivors receiving aid from others.

“Many of the survivors talked about receiving life-saving help from other people—from being hidden by strangers during the middle of the Nazi manhunt to being given a new pair of shoes during a wintertime march,” says Fox. “And they also talked about less significant gifts, such as bread or a bed at night.”

These stories were turned into 48 brief vignettes, which the 23 experiment participants read while lying in a brain scanner. For example, one said, “A woman at the immigration agency stamps your passport so you can flee to England.” For each one, participants were asked to immerse themselves in the context of the Holocaust, imagine how they would feel if they were in the same situation, and then rate how grateful they felt—all while the fMRI machine recorded their brain activity.

The researchers found that grateful brains showed enhanced activity in two primary regions: the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). These areas have been previously associated with emotional processing, interpersonal bonding and rewarding social interactions, moral judgment, and the ability to understand the mental states of others. (01/02/2016)

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“Go be reconciled with thy Brother”

Saturday, December 26th, 2015

Sermon on the Mount

Future Positive — Timothy Wilken writes: In his sermon on the mount, Jesus of Nazareth taught:

“Love our enemies, do good to them that hate us, bless them that curse us, and pray for them that despitefully use us, I say unto you, that every one who is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgement. Go be reconciled with thy brother.”

Jesus of Nazareth may have been the first human to embrace synergy. His words seem to capture the very essence of synergic morality.

Synergic morality is more than not hurting other, it requires helping other. Jesus was the first human to state the fundamental law of synergic relationship. It is known as the Golden Rule:  “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law.”

What would you have others do to you? The best one word answer I can find for this question is help. “Help others as you would have them help you.”

Whether you believe Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ foretold in the Old testament, or just a man, his words bring wisdom to all humanity. (12/26/2015)

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The Gift: Living a Life of Purpose and Meaning

Saturday, December 26th, 2015

Stephen Cope

The Huffington Post — Stephen Cope writes: Here is a question I’d like you to ponder: Do you have a clear sense of your purpose in life?

I’m asking all of my friends this question these days. I guess I’m preoccupied with this question because I’m going through a phase — at midlife — of wondering about my own life.

I pose the question in a variety of ways. Perhaps I’ll ask: “What is it you are Up To — capital U, capital T?” Or, “Is your life driven by some intentionality — some deep meaning and purpose?” And then, of course, the all-important follow-up question: “Do you think this purpose is being fulfilled?”

You’d be surprised at the answers I get. Many of us, it seems, are a little vague about what it is we are Up To. Or even utterly confused.

Okay, I’m obsessed with finding the answer to this question. Perhaps this is because I am currently directing something called the Kripalu Institute for Extraordinary Living (IEL). I mean, really: If I’m going to direct an institute with such a name, perhaps I should be living an extraordinary life. What if people found out that my life is as ordinary as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?

Can we look a little deeper? What, really, is an extraordinary life? And how does it differ from an ordinary one? After looking closely at these questions for a couple of years with my colleagues here at the IEL, I am more confused than ever. I’ve been struck by the ordinariness of most of the so-called extraordinary lives we’ve studied. And the closer we look at “ordinary lives,” well, the more extraordinary they appear. It’s tough being a human being — and I’m impressed by the courage I see in every single life I encounter.

But I persist: What about extraordinary living? Full living? I think that the yoga tradition can help us understand the possibilities. There is one piece of yogic lore in particular that I find very helpful. Yogis believed that every human being is born with a special gift. This gift, for each of us, is the doorway to a fulfilled life. It is the doorway to our own particular path, our vocation, our calling — our sacred duty. Yogis called this vocation our dharma. All of life is seen as an opportunity to realize and manifest this unique calling — this unique dharma.

Early yogis had a beautiful way of thinking about the importance of the gift. For these yogis, the whole world was seen as a vast net woven together in space and time — not unlike our notion of the quantum field. This was called Indra’s Net, and at the intersection of each warp strand and woof strand of this net is a jewel that represents an individual human soul. And it is that soul’s duty — sacred calling — to hold together its particular part of the web by being its own unique jewel-like self. In this way, the whole universe holds together as one great interlocking field, but only if each one of us plays our particular role, enacts our unique dharma. (12/26/2015)

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Synergic Containment: Protecting Humanity

Friday, December 18th, 2015
Timothy_Nov_2015

Timothy Wilken, MD

Future PositiveTimothy Wilken, MD writes: This is not a criticism of the federal officers who were involved in the adversary containment at the Branch Davidian Church. Clearly the members of that church were heavily armed and dangerous. But as a thought experiment, how would synergic containment work differently than adversary containment? …

Those within the compound would then be ordered to put down their weapons and move out to the perimeter to voluntarily enter into protective custody. Those being contained would have a short time to voluntarily surrender. If there was no response, or a hostile response, the Synergic Containment Force would begin Containment Isolation of  the compound. Once Containment Isolation is implemented, nothing goes in. Access to electricity, television, telephone, water, food and all outside supplies are a privilege to members of community in good standing. That privilege is suspended.

Nothing goes in. Every thing would stop! Then the Containment Force would sit back and wait for them to come out. Any unarmed member of the church could leave anytime by simply presenting to the rescue corridor for safe escort to the perimeter where they could voluntarily enter protective custody. Once out, no one goes back in unless and until Synergic Containment is lifted. The compound would not be stormed or attacked in anyway. No barrage of noise, loud music, or teargas. They would be left to themselves without phones, television, newspapers, mail, electricity, water, etc.etc..

They are not being punished. The benefits of community are being suspended until they cease all adversity. I expect that most of the members would have come out and surrendered. Perhaps not all. Once each day, the containment force would explicitly communicate with the contained adversaries, reminding them that safety, food, water, shelter and medical care wait for them at the perimeter. It would be made clear that to exit the containment zone, they need only put down their weapons and present to the rescue corridor, or perimeter. Any individual–adult or child–that did so would be given protection, water, food, medical care and shelter. (12/18/2015)

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Time to Grow Up?

Monday, November 30th, 2015
Apples with the Paris 2015 logo (Image: UNFCCC)

Organisers hope the Paris talks will be a vintage year and will bear fruit. (UNFCCC)

BBC News — Reports: Negotiators from 195 countries will try to reach a deal within two weeks aimed at reducing global carbon emissions and limiting global warming to 2C (3.6F).

Leaders from 147 nations have been addressing the meeting, known as COP21.

President Obama urged negotiators to deliver a meaningful deal, because the “next generation is watching”.

He told delegates: “Climate change could define the contours of this century more than any other (challenge).

“I came here personally to say the United States not only recognises the problem but is committed to do something about it.” He added that recent years had shown that the global economy had grown while emissions had remained flat, breaking the old arguments for inaction “that economic growth and environmental protection were in conflict”. (11/30/2015)

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How Ravers Became the New Flower Children

Monday, July 28th, 2014

New Republic — The 400,000-odd people who flocked to Las Vegas last month for the Electric Daisy electronic dance music (EDM) festival probably didn’t make much of its name. Clad in sparkly tutus, neon spandex, glittery bikinis, and enormous furry boots, they came to dance, to gaze starry-eyed at the LED graphics, and to enjoy the warmth and communal spirit of the crowdnot to question the unlikely juxtaposition of electricity and daisies.

But the tension at the heart of the growing electronic music movement is manifest in the festival’s name. Electronic music festivals like Electric Daisy, Electric Forest, and Electric Zoo celebrate a culture of warmth, geniality, and flowers on the one hand, and a musical tradition of impersonal digitization on the other. The Raver’s Manifesto, an anonymous document that outlines the electronic music movement’s core tenets, epitomizes this apparent inconsistency: “the thunderous, muffled, echoing beat was comparable to a mother’s heart soothing a child in her womb of concrete, steel, and electrical wiring,” it proclaims. The music that gave rise to P.L.U.R.“peace, love, unity, and respect,” a doctrine that underlies much of the American EDM sceneis at once tenderly maternal and brutally mechanical.

Why is it this musicwhich has seen an unprecedented surge in attendance in recent years, with the Ultra Music Festival in Miami boasting between 50,000 and 60,000 attendees each daythat has occasioned such an explicit celebration of human connection and community? “Rave culture, despite all the negative attention it receives about its ties to club drugs, is really about togetherness,” a raver gushed to me.  (07/28/2014)

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Unsung Hero

Saturday, June 21st, 2014

This three minute video has been viewed 15+ million times since April 2014.

mm

mm

(06/21/2014

1964 Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech

Monday, January 20th, 2014

CommUnity of Minds — Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking in December of 1964: I accept the Nobel Prize for Peace at a moment when 22 million Negroes of the United States of America are engaged in a creative battle to end the long night of racial injustice. I accept this award on behalf of a civil rights movement which is moving with determination and a majestic scorn for risk and danger to establish a reign of freedom and a rule of justice. I am mindful that only yesterday in Birmingham, Alabama, our children, crying out for brotherhood, were answered with fire hoses, snarling dogs and even death. I am mindful that only yesterday in Philadelphia, Mississippi, young people seeking to secure the right to vote were brutalized and murdered. And only yesterday more than 40 houses of worship in the State of Mississippi alone were bombed or burned because they offered a sanctuary to those who would not accept segregation. I am mindful that debilitating and grinding poverty afflicts my people and chains them to the lowest rung of the economic ladder.

Therefore, I must ask why this prize is awarded to a movement which is beleaguered and committed to unrelenting struggle; to a movement which has not won the very peace and brotherhood which is the essence of the Nobel Prize.

After contemplation, I conclude that this award which I receive on behalf of that movement is a profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time – the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression. Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts. Negroes of the United States, following the people of India, have demonstrated that nonviolence is not sterile passivity, but a powerful moral force which makes for social transformation. Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. If this is to be achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.

The tortuous road which has led from Montgomery, Alabama to Oslo bears witness to this truth. This is a road over which millions of Negroes are travelling to find a new sense of dignity. This same road has opened for all Americans a new era of progress and hope. It has led to a new Civil Rights Bill, and it will, I am convinced, be widened and lengthened into a super highway of justice as Negro and white men in increasing numbers create alliances to overcome their common problems.

I accept this award today with an abiding faith in America and an audacious faith in the future of mankind. I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the “isness” of man’s present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal “oughtness” that forever confronts him. I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsom and jetsom in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.

I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. I believe that even amid today’s mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow. I believe that wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nations, can be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men. I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive good will proclaim the rule of the land. “And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid.” I still believe that We Shall overcome! (01/20/2014)

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Survival of the Most Co-Operative?

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Two men huggingBBC Evolutionary Science — Evolution does not favour selfish people, according to new research.

This challenges a previous theory which suggested it was preferable to put yourself first. Instead, it pays to be co-operative, shown in a model of “the prisoner’s dilemma”, a scenario of game theory – the study of strategic decision-making.

Published in Nature Communications, the team says their work shows that exhibiting only selfish traits would have made us become extinct. Game theory involves devising “games” to simulate situations of conflict or co-operation. It allows researchers to unravel complex decision-making strategies and to establish why certain types of behaviour among individuals emerge.

A team from Michigan State University, US, used a model of the prisoner’s dilemma game, where two suspects who are interrogated in separate prison cells must decide whether or not to inform on each other.

In the model, each person is offered a deal for freedom if they inform on the other, putting their opponent in jail for six months. However, this scenario will only be played out if the opponent chooses not to inform. If both “prisoners” choose to inform (defection) they will both get three months in prison, but if they both stay silent (co-operation) they will both only get a jail term of one month.

The eminent mathematician John Nash showed that the optimum strategy was not to co-operate in the prisoner’s dilemma game. “For many years, people have asked that if he [Nash] is right, then why do we see co-operation in the animal kingdom, in the microbial world and in humans,” said lead author Christoph Adami of Michigan State University. The answer, he explained, was that communication was not previously taken into account. “The two prisoners that are interrogated are not allowed to talk to each other. If they did they would make a pact and be free within a month. But if they were not talking to each other, the temptation would be to rat the other out. “Being mean can give you an advantage on a short timescale but certainly not in the long run – you would go extinct.” …

Prof Andrew Coleman of Leicester University, UK, said this new work “put a brake on over-zealous interpretations” of the previous strategy, which proposed that manipulative, selfish strategies would evolve. “Darwin himself was puzzled about the co-operation you observe in nature. He was particularly struck by social insects,” he explained. “You might think that natural selection should favour individuals that are exploitative and selfish, but in fact we now know after decades of research that this is an oversimplified view of things, particularly if you take into account the selfish gene feature of evolution. It’s not individuals that have to survive, its genes, and genes just use individual organisms – animals or humans – as vehicles to propagate themselves.”

“Selfish genes” therefore benefit from having co-operative organisms. (08/05/2013)

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