Archive for the ‘Best of Times’ Category

The Value of Vaccine

Monday, January 20th, 2014

BBC Medical Science — India is marking three years since its last reported polio case, a landmark in the global battle against the disease. It is seen as confirmation of one of India’s biggest public health successes, achieved through a massive and sustained immunisation programme. India’s health minister hailed it as a “monumental milestone”.

In 2012 the World Health Organisation (WHO) removed India from the list of polio-endemic countries. Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria remain on it. The list refers to countries in which the virus is circulating freely and the transmission of the infectious disease has not been stopped. Despite India’s success, health experts fear a resurgence of polio in other parts of the world.

“This monumental milestone was possible due to unwavering political will at the highest level, commitment of adequate financial resources, technological innovation … and the tireless efforts of millions of workers including more than 23 lakh (2.3 million) vaccinators,” Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters. The WHO is expected to formally certify India’s polio-free status next month after testing its last samples. …

After the eradication of smallpox in 1980, polio is the second disease in India that has been eliminated through immunisation. Nearly 2.3 million volunteers vaccinate some 170 million children under five years of age in India during every round of immunisation.

Polio is capable of causing crippling disability or death within hours. It plagued societies in ancient times – and was present in more than 100 countries even in the 1980s, when it left 350,000 people paralysed each year. Global cases have decreased since then as part of a mass eradication programme – to 372 last year.

Despite the quarter-century-long vaccination programme, experts fear it could make a comeback in countries riven by fighting. Most of last year’s cases were in conflict areas like Somalia and Syria, where polio had previously been eradicated.  (01/20/2014)

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Understanding Mechanism and Consequence

Sunday, November 17th, 2013
CommUnity of Minds

First Atomic Bomb Explosion

CommUnity of Minds — Timothy Wilken, MD writes: Human intelligence develops over time and can achieve four levels of understanding. We start with PERCEPTION then develop and sometimes master CONCEPTION, then develop and sometimes master MECHANISM and finally develop and sometimes master CONSEQUENCE. These levels are sequential–CONCEPTION follows and depends on first mastering PERCEPTION, MECHANISM follows and depends on first mastering CONCEPTION, and  finally CONSEQUENCE follows and depends on first mastering MECHANISM.

It is possible for most humans to understand, and then master their intelligence fully. Those who choose to do so, can with practice, develop the ability to access five modes of thinking: Survive, Adapt, Control, Create, and Co-Operate at will. With additional study and contemplation they can gain mastery of the four levels of knowing: PERCEPTION, CONCEPTION, MECHANISM, and CONSEQUENCE.

PERCEPTION is the understanding of space and sameness—spacial integrity— recognizing WHAT is associated with Good Space and WHAT is associated with Bad Space. PERCEPTION is also knowing WHERE to go to enable or avoid a recognized event—knowing WHERE to go to secure Good Space and WHERE to go to avoid Bad Space. PERCEPTION enables the ability of Adaptation.

CONCEPTION is the understanding of time and difference—temporal sequence—local cause and effect, and from that understanding knowing WHEN to act in time to encourage a desired event, or WHEN to act in time to discourage an undesired event from occurring. CONCEPTION enables the ability of Control.

MECHANISM is the understanding of HOW things work together—what events and actions are necessary to produce a desired resultant—knowing how PERCEPTION and CONCEPTION relate to each other. MECHANISM enables the ability of Creation.

And finally, CONSEQUENCE is the understanding of the potential risks and benefits of our actions and their effects on our selves and upon others. CONSEQUENCE enables the ability of Co-Operation.

Let me provide one example of these four levels of knowing, and how they might apply to one problem currently threatening our civilization. As Albert Einstein warned us over sixty-six years ago: “The splitting of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.”

Einstein had discovered one of Nature’s MECHANISMS: E=mc2

The scientists and technicians working at the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, New Mexico used their KnowHow to weaponize this MECHANISM of Nature with the creation of nuclear bombs.

Now let us examine the threat of nuclear weapons from the perspective of our four levels of human knowing.

PERCEPTION is the level of knowing necessary to adapt to a nuclear event — to know what is associated with a nuclear blast, and to know where to go to escape from the blast of a nuclear weapon. Where is Good Space? Where can I go to avoid Bad Space?

CONCEPTION is the level of knowing necessary to control a nuclear event — to know when to act to either detonate, or deactivate a nuclear weapon. What is the proper sequence of actions to control the process? And, when do I enter the activation code? Or, when do I enter the deactivation code?

MECHANISM is the level of knowing necessary to create a nuclear event — to know how reality allows the forces of nature to interact and result in a nuclear explosion — E=mc2. And, it also is the level of understanding necessary to invent and manufacture the technology of a nuclear weapon — the Manhattan Project. How do I design a nuclear device?

And finally, CONSEQUENCE is the level of knowing necessary in order to co-Operate — to know why we should never have created nuclear weapons in the first place. Why are we creating these devices? What will be the consequence of their existence? (11/17/2013)

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Remembering Alfred Russel Wallace

Monday, November 11th, 2013

Alfred Russel WallaceBBC Science History — James Morgan writes: The 100th anniversary of the death of Alfred Russel Wallace, the “forgotten hero” who co-discovered evolution, is being marked today in London. The first ever statue of the naturalist will be unveiled at the Natural History Museum by Sir David Attenborough.

A new wasp genus – Wallaceaphytis – has been named in honour of the man who has been in Darwin’s shadow ever since they co-published their theory in 1858. The wasp was discovered in Borneo, where Wallace carried out his research.  “It seemed only fitting to name it in his honour, especially as it is the centenary of his death,” said Dr Andrew Polaszek of the NHM, one of the expedition team who found the insect last year. They have published their discovery in the Journal of Natural History – the same annals in which Wallace published his famous paper on the origin of species – “the Sarawak Law”.

Just one millimetre long, the wasp belongs to a group known as parasitoids, which lay their eggs inside other insects or spiders. “Wallaceaphytis is so unusual that one of my volunteers called me over to the microscope saying ‘this looks really strange’,” Dr Polaszek told the BBC. “Not only is it a new species but also a completely new genus. And we found it in Wallace’s old stomping ground.”

The incredible variety of insects Wallace discovered during his travels in the Malay Archipelago inspired his theory of evolution by natural selection He described his ideas in an essay which he sent to Charles Darwin – who subsequently sought to co-publish his own independent version of the theory But while there are many, many monuments to Darwin, there has never been a single one of Wallace – until today.

A life-size bronze sculpture by Anthony Smith will be unveiled at the NHM by Sir David Attenborough, who said, “For me, there is no more admirable character in the history of science.” (11/11/2013)

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Prototype HIV-vaccine Working in Monkeys

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

SIVBBC Medical Science — Rebecca Morelle writes: A vaccine for the monkey equivalent of HIV appears to eradicate the virus, a study suggests. Research published in the journal Nature has shown that vaccinated monkeys can clear Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV) infection from their bodies.

It was effective in nine of the 16 monkeys that were inoculated. The US scientists say they now want to use a similar approach to test a vaccine for HIV in humans. …

The research team looked at an aggressive form of virus called SIVmac239, which is up to 100 times more deadly than HIV. Infected monkeys usually die within two years, but in some inoculated primates the virus did not take hold.

The vaccine is based on another virus called cytomegalovirus (CMV), which belongs to the herpes family. It used the infectious power of CMV to sweep throughout the body. But instead of causing disease, it has been modified to spur the immune system into action to fight off the SIV molecules.

“It maintains an armed force, that patrols all the tissues of the body, all the time, indefinitely,” explained Prof Picker.

The researchers gave rhesus macaque monkeys the vaccine, and then exposed them to SIV. They found that at first the infection began to establish and spread. But then the monkeys’ bodies started to respond, searching out and destroying all signs of the virus. Of the monkeys that successfully responded to the vaccine, they were still clear of infection between one-and-a-half and three years later. …

Prof Picker said: “In order to make a human version we have to make sure it is absolutely safe. We have now engineered a CMV virus which generates the same immune response but has been attenuated [modified to lose its virulence] to the point where we think it is unequivocally safe.”

This would first have to pass through the regulatory authorities, but if it does, he said he hoped to start the first clinical trials in humans in the next two years. (09/11/2013)

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Is the Universe Friendly?

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

Future Positive — Geoff Oslen writes: Albert Einstein once said the most important question a human being can ask is “Is the universe friendly?”

Think of that for a moment. How would you answer? If you think the universe is truly friendly and supportive of you, this obviously has a huge effect on your perceptions and behaviour. The same applies if you think cosmos is hostile – or just indifferent to your fate.

On a first reading, Einstein’s question is trivially true. If you’ve decided, consciously or unconsciously, that the universe is friendly, your positive outlook is likely to be mirrored by positive responses from others, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy about your world being fundamentally good. You are likely to have more friends, job offers, etc. Conversely, if you are suspicious by nature, or walk around with a cloud over your head, you’re not likely to be much fun at parties, although you may win nodding approval from fellow grumps. At the very least your life is likely to seem a series of disappointments. This is pretty self-evident stuff. From Ralph Waldo Emerson to Dale Carnegie to Wayne Dyer, most of us have heard the drill: life is what you make it.

But if it’s Einstein talking, there’s a good chance there’s more to it than this. Spend a bit of time on it, and you realize the question’s depth. This goes far beyond the soothing homilies about high self-esteem, or the pieties of religious dogmatism. This is about whether universe is friendly (unifiable, consoling) or unfriendly (neutral, fragmented, hostile, “other”). From the choice you make, you can extrapolate the direction of subsequent life decisions. Your state of being could evolve from the answer to that one all-important question. But bear with me; because it’s a big topic and this essay is all over the map, from childhood psychology to the pest problems of a Hollywood star author, to the paradoxes of cosmology and quantum physics, to the “angel” in the library.

The choice to believe in a friendly or unfriendly universe undoubtedly begins in our early years. It may well be that people who are preternaturally content, seemingly at peace with themselves and the world, were introduced to “a friendly universe” through proper nurturing as infants. Their early experiences became the foundation for their psychic life. The results of less desirable childhood beginnings are also obvious. If a child suffers a traumatic birth, and/or their parents abuse their natural trust, that individual may grow up extrapolating their experience to the whole of existence, always suspecting the worst and failing to trust in others.

Rev. Gerard Pantin is the founder of Service Volunteered for All (SERVOL) in Trinidad and Tobago. In a speech he gave in 2000, he noted how the Yequana Indians of Brazil make sure that their babies are in physical contact with the skin of another human being 24 hours a day for the first two years. “These children grow up without that emptiness that we modern people spend our lives trying to heal or cope with. A lot of our modern preoccupation with ‘feeling good’ through sex and drugs dates back to the fact that the way in which we were brought up didn’t give us the opportunity of feeling good about our infant bodies.”

Citing Einstein’s famous line, Pantin adds that “Yequana children, because of close bodily contact, not only see the universe as friendly but feel it to be loving.” Beginning with a bodily, visceral sense of an all-embracing love, the Yequena don’t intellectualize over whether the universe is friendly or not; they carry within themselves the felt conviction that they are loved beings. (09/02/2013)

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I Have a Dream

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

CommUnity of Minds — Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. said: Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity. But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free.

One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land.

So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition. In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. …

I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor’s lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.” And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California! But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee! Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

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The 5th Force and Enlightened CommUnity

Monday, August 12th, 2013

https://b.vimeocdn.com/ps/389/897/3898975_300.jpgFuture Positive — Timothy Wilken, a physician and synergic scientist, will be teaching at the Pacific Coast Church, 522 Central Avenue, Pacific Grove, CA 93950 this coming Saturday, August 17th at 1:00 to 4:00 PM. This will be the 9th Class in the Spirituality for a New World series.

In the first part of his class, Dr. Wilken will be discussing the Fifth Force in the Universe. There are 4 Physical Forces found in Universe: Gravity, Electromagnetism, and the two nuclear forces: the Strong and the Weak.

The Fifth Force is a metaphysical force. Since it cannot be weighted and measured, our materialistic scientists do not know it exists. But, it not only exists, it is the most powerful force in living universe. Like electromagnetism, the Fifth Force has both a positive and negative pole.

The positive pole is: LOVE: The Pull to Union. We seek to unite with that which we consider Good.

The negative pole is: FEAR: The Push to Separation. We seek to separate from that which we consider Bad.

Dr. Wilken will explain how this 5th Force influences nearly every action and decision that we make in our lifetimes.

In the second part of his class, Dr. Wilken will be discussing: Enlightened CommUnity

Enlightened can be defined as: One who is a awake to the truth of oneness — There is only one of us here — Shiva Hum — Or as, Carol Carnes might say, “One who has moved from twoness to oneness (from separateness to oneness).”

CommUnity can be defined as: A group of individuals who choose to solve their problems by working together rather than by working separately. As Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

Individuals within a CommUnity: operate together as in co-operation, labor together as in co-laboration, act together as in co-action, create together as in co-creation, and think together as in co-intelligence.

They choose togetherness and thus insure that the whole commUnity will be much more than the sum of its individual parts. As Thich Nhat Hanh said, “The next Buddha will be a Sangha.”

Dr. Wilken will show how the creation of Enlightened CommUnity can allow us to create Heaven on Earth — A world without FEAR — A world where there is only LOVE—A World filled with Goodness.

A world where the only rule is: Be Love, Do Good and you will Have Everything.

***

So please join Dr. Wilken on Saturday, August 17, 2013 at 1:00 to 4:00 PM in the PCC Community Room. You can reserve a space in the class for just $20 at the PCC Mind Shop, 522 Central Avenue, Pacific Grove, CA 93950 or call (831-372-2971). Admission is available at the door, but it would be very helpful for us to know how many will be attending. (08/12/2013)

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Nature Has a Mind of Its Own

Monday, August 5th, 2013

https://puppetmastertrading.com/blog/images/reality_turtles.gifFuture Positive — Christian de Quincey writes: The great American psychologist William James had just finished a lecture on the nature of reality when a little old lady approached him. “Excuse me, Professor,” she said, “but I’m afraid you’ve got it all wrong. The world is really supported on the back of a great big turtle.”

The venerable professor, being a gentleman, decided to humor the woman: “Tell me, then, what is holding the turtle up?”

Quick as a flash, the old lady snapped back: “Another turtle, of course.”

“And what’s supporting that turtle?” James asked, trying gently to get her to see her mistake. The conversation went on like this for another round or two until the little old lady interrupted with a noticeable tremor of exasperation:

“Save your breath, sonny. It’s turtles all the way down.”

At least so the story goes (though some associate it with Bertrand Russell instead of William James). True or not, the “turtle” incident illustrates a fundamental intuition we all share about the nature of reality: Something can’t come from nothing. Something must “go all the way down” or all the way back. Even the Big Bang must have had some kind of “fuse.” (Religions, of course, say it was God.)

James was teaching around the turn of the last century, but the little old lady’s point still carries force. In the modern-day version, turtles are replaced by consciousness. The question now is not what is holding the world up, but where did mind or consciousness come from? In a purely physical universe, the existence of mind is a profound puzzle. And if we are to believe the standard scientific view on this, then mind emerged from wholly mindless matter. But just how this occurred remains a complete mystery. In fact, in Radical Nature, I make the case that it couldn’t happen without a miracle. And miracles have no place in science. Instead, our best option is to revive the old lady’s insight and proclaim that “consciousness goes all the way down.” Mind has always existed in the universe. Cosmos — the world of nature — has a mind of its own.

What’s the greatest mystery facing every person on the planet? Ultimately, it’s some version of the age-old “Where do I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going?” And these questions, which lie at the heart of all philosophy and religion, can be summed up as: “How do I fit in?” How do we humans (with our rich interior lives of emotions, feelings, imaginations, and ideas) fit into the world around us? According to science, the world is made up of mindless, soulless, purely physical atoms and energy. So far, no one has a satisfactory explanation for the existence of nonphysical minds in this otherwise physical universe.

We lack an explanation because our questions already assume something quite disturbing. We assume we are split from nature. We assume that humans are somehow special, that we have minds or souls while the rest of nature doesn’t. Some of us draw the “soul line” at higher animals and some of us draw it at living organisms; few of us draw no line at all. Ask yourself: Are rocks conscious? Do animals or plants have souls? Have you ever wondered whether worms or insects might feel pain or pleasure? Can trees feel anything at all? Your answers will reveal where you are likely to draw the line.

In philosophy, this is called the “consciousness cut.” Where, in the great unfolding of evolution, did consciousness first appear? In contemporary philosophy and science, the cut-off is usually made at brains — if not human brains, then the brains of higher mammals. Only creatures with highly developed brains or nervous systems possess consciousness, so the scientific story goes.

Because of our assumed “specialness,” because of the deep fissure between humans and the rest of nature, and because of the mind-body split, we need a new understanding of how we — ensouled, embodied humans — fit into the world of nature. Our current worldview, based on the materialist philosophy of modern science, presents us with a stark and alienating vision of a world that is intrinsically devoid of meaning, of purpose, of value — a world without a mind of its own, a world without soul. And this worldview has had dramatic and catastrophic consequences for our environment, for countless species of animals and plants, and for the ecosystems that sustain us all. (08/05/2013)

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The Egret in Me

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Hot Toddy by Mary Kay KingCommUnity of Minds — Judy Wilken writes: Now, he will stand out, Mary thought to herself while watching the red canvas glisten in the sunlight. She filled her favorite round brush with her white and began creating the boundary of the egret’s body, fleshing out a large oval shape at first. “I have to get the nose to tail,” she said as she pulled some of the wet white pigment up, up, and up, at least a full three feet, on the canvas creating a long vertical line for his neck. “Any water snake could slip down that neck,” she told the egret. Perfect, she thought. More pigment went on top of the wet line and she saw his head, his whole face in her mind for the first time. Nose to tail, she reminded herself. A wingspan of five feet lifting only two pounds? She marveled. “I’ve got boxes of chocolates heavier than you,” she chuckled to herself. When she looked again she noticed the feathers on the right side of his body were quiet. She began brushing in his purplish-blue shadow on his quiet side with one of her Brights. It extended from his nose and shadowed him all the way down to his tail. The smallest round brush she loaded with black pigment. Two black eyes she painted, one on each side of his head. Then, the “straight as an arrow” bill in yellow. She painted his spindly legs a mud-black. “My god, they’re like black, hinged toothpicks,” she thought. They were as narrow as the blades of the narrowleaf cattails just twenty five feet away. After the last few strokes of yellow for his “get a load of those feet”, she looked over at the egret and said, “You look like you’re lost on a wind farm.”

Mary picked up her long handled raggedy brush planning on feathering out a distinct look for the egret’s main gliding and soaring feathers with its bristles. She knew that the tips of the bristles could do all the work. They are perfect for pulling the pigment out from his chest with just a few strokes, she thought. “That five foot wingspan has got to be something of an event,” she told the egret. She began building his “gliding” feathers slowly, long strokes piled on top of one another, slightly angled toward his foie gras. By making each stroke a little shorter than the previous one, she could fluff up his wing space until you were sure that that wingspan was very possible. “Such a perfect wind. You’re crazy with feathers. I can’t believe it.” Mary told the egret.

As she was gently brushing in some grey splashes giving the wings some depth, Mary leaned away from the canvas and got caught in a quick gust of wind causing her to shift her weight once again from one mud boot to the other. She steadied her body with legs a few feet apart while she studied the egret’s “canvas” head. Instantly, she decided to add what was glaringly missing. “A spot of red in that eye. Of course. How could I not see that?” She took her round sable brush, just barely touched it to a tiny smudge of red pigment on her palette then leaned toward the egret’s left “canvas” eye. With a steady hand she lowered the brush into the black eye and watched a red spot spread into it. “Red blood in there. Life in there,” she whispered to herself. Suddenly, she felt the hairs of her brush move, pulse just once while inside the black. She stared at the “canvas” eye, keeping the bristles in the red spot. She felt another pulse run up her brush and into her arm. She kept the bristles in the black and slightly leaned away from the canvas, somewhat startled by what she just felt. What did I feel? she asked herself. “Oneness,” she said outloud. (06/03/2013)

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World Peace and Other Infinite Possibilities

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

John HunterFuture Positive— Karyn M. Peterson interviews Educator, John Hunter. At the start of a national tour to promote his new book about his experiences teaching the game, World Peace and Other 4th-Grade Achievements (Houghton Harcourt, 2013), Hunter addressed the crowd at SLJ’s recent Public Library Leadership Think Tank, then sat down to speak to us about unlocking kids’ infinite potential, his faith in kids to improve our world, and how he daily inspires (and is inspired by) his students.

At our Think Tank, you spoke about the lasting impact of even the smallest gestures. Can you tell us more about this concept?

We are completely interdependent; this is what I’ve come to understand and see. Everything I do is important to someone in that room or someone connected to them. So I’m obligated to do the best that I possibly can every moment. I constantly have to work at that every day so that I can be less of a barrier or an obstacle to their learning. My students have come back over decades now to let me know the range and effect of gestures I’ve made, of words I’ve said, of things we’ve done. And I’m sure every teacher has instances like this. So this circle of influence that you might have can be so broad. …

Did you always want to be a teacher?

Really, in some ways I’m an introvert who just happens to appear to be an extrovert. There was a moment in Japan—I’m sitting in this 500-year-old cypress wood meditation hall on a bamboo-covered mountainside near the Sea of Japan—and I thought, ‘You know, this is where I should be. I really don’t need to go anywhere else.’ But I had obligations; I had things to do in the world. Had I not been a teacher, I was very inclined to find a place like that and simply go into meditation.

So how do you summon your inner extrovert? Or embrace it?

The foundation was of course, I had a very happy life. My parents were both very sweet and loving, so it was a very quiet family life. And that calm safety that we had in the home made a comfort in the world. And so going out into it, I didn’t feel defensive or afraid.

How that transformed to be more of a performance art, like teaching? Well, it was called for. In a classroom…[you] really bring every tool that you have to the situation. You adapt and become whatever creature you must. You’re an academic and social amphibian; you grow gills when you have to and you drop fins when you have to, to help children be what they need to be.  And playing in a band doesn’t hurt either! I had a studio practice for about 20 years, sound design, ambient music, Waveform Records. It’s still something I do in what little spare time I have.

Do you bring music into the classroom as well?

Absolutely! Some children like it to be quiet, so we’re quiet sometimes, but there may be some Miles Davis in the background, “Sketches of Spain,” something very open and spacious.

I take the children through different modalities of thinking using Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory, [with] eight different pieces of music, all within the space of an hour. It’s astounding what they do in that time [and] music is the springboard for that. I want them to have an expanded world, so I’m playing Indonesian gamelan or opera arias or glitchcore from Vladislav Delay, this Finnish DJ—something they’re not going to run into on the radio or around the house.

And the library was fundamental in that, too! In the Richmond Public Library when I was a young man, I would go and check out  records. I listened to Turkish music, to music from the bauls of India. That library was instrumental in my becoming who I was musically.

How has your teaching shaped your vision of the future?

I’m completely optimistic. There is no doubt in my mind that high school students can save this planet completely, in every way. No doubt. They’re relentlessly compassionate. The more we empower those young people to be in charge…the better off we’ll be.

Is compassion the most important legacy of your World Peace game?

How else can we be if we’re going to survive? It’s our fundamental as human beings…preemptively going at things with kindness gives a little bit of ease to every difficult situation we face. (06/03/2013)

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