Systems Dynamics and the Brain

My first book dealing with sustainability and flourishing begins with a chapter on systems dynamics and the use of its archetypes as means to diagnose the big problems of our times. Even back then, I wrote and spoke about “unsustainability” as a failure to deal with the systemic nature of the big threats and social failures. Now that I have discovered McGilchrist’s bi-hemispheric brain model, I can put more grounds under what I wrote back then. The connection is the way the two hemispheres attend to the world. The importance of connecting the divided brain and systems dynamics is that… Read More

Continue Reading

The Election Nobody Won

I was sitting at my computer the morning after the election, not unexpectedly, awaiting the vote counting to end. It looked like Biden would be the next President. Now we know he will be, but it will be short of a victory. It will return truth to the White House, but little else. And even that will not matter much so long as the body politic has lost the basic civility on which democracy depends. Civility is at heart an acknowledgment that the burdens of governance are shared by all the people, and that requires an even more basic condition.… Read More

Continue Reading

Originalism and Textualism Are Hoaxes

Amy Coney Barrett said in her Senate testimony that the Constitution has “the meaning that it had at the time people ratified it.” No. The Constitution Document and the words it contains have no meaning at all. A piece of text has as many possible meanings as there are people reading it. Only humans can create meaning from texts or spoken words. That is true of individual words and the sentences made from them. Much mischief has been done by conflating the written or spoken word with some inherent or essential meaning. The founding document “doesn’t change over time,” Barrett… Read More

Continue Reading

Empathy and the Election

The upcoming election offers many choices, some stark and others more nuanced. Many are related to policy extremes, but, perhaps, the most important is about empathy. Biden demonstrates it in his speech and acts; Trump lacks it entirely. He may claim he is empathetic, but his actions show its complete lack. Think of the many times the President has belittled, denigrated, or dehumanized others. Other people are always only props to serve his insatiable need to glorify himself. The many times he has dismissed others via a tweet is both cowardly, and also without empathy. Empathy is a critical trait… Read More

Continue Reading

An Angry President Cannot Be A President

Anger is an emotion that arises when our left-brain determines that it has lost control of the situation. Iain McGilchrist, in The Master and His Emissary, offers evidence that anger, somewhat unique among emotions, is associated only with this hemisphere. In his divided-brain model, control and manipulation are the primary functions of this hemisphere. The left-brain is also the seat of power, both in the sense of dominating others and empowering success in consensual acts. Because anger and control or power-seeking are linked, the way that anger shows up signals what is happening in the brain, or, alternatively, to the… Read More

Continue Reading

Another Poem

I am finding poetry much better at depicting the craziness of these times. I would love your comments. Bang Bang You’re Dead There’s a gaping hole in America’s heart. The bullets of racism have torn it apart. Shots from aimless guns—a profanity— Are blindly killing dreams and humanity. Anger and intolerance expose the lies Of our mythic exceptionalism. Better cries That we are all too human—selfish, corrupt. Our President is at center stage, acting out Our nation’s unwritten play, telling us who We really are. It’s not me, I say, I care, But if I really cared and lived it,… Read More

Continue Reading

A Yom Kippur Takeaway

The Torah portion on the Yom Kippur is Leviticus 19, K’doshim, the call to holiness. It expands on a few of the Ten Commandments, but is largely devoted to relationships among people, rather than with God. It is more of a mundane, moral code than a set of rules about how one should act before God. As the English translation was being read following the chanting of the Hebrew, I was struck by the timeliness of its prohibitions and prescriptions. If one brackets the references to God, this Torah portion offers a set of rules that I would relate to… Read More

Continue Reading

Law and Order

The most important law and order situation that can arise in the United States is the presidential transition. Nothing else comes close as a matter of public interest. Without that, our democracy may falter. It is much more consequential than unruly and riotous gatherings. Much more than keeping the streets safe. . . Our most important set of laws, The US Constitution, cannot be flaunted without threatening the rule of law that keeps our country unique among nations. Trump’s failure to commit to such an orderly change absolutely disqualifies any claims to being its defender. On this alone, he should… Read More

Continue Reading

Read This Aloud

I know I am in the same boat with many of you. It helped me to find expression in poetry. You can fill the word in ****. Pissing in the Wind John Ehrenfeld That is how I feel today; The angst just won’t go away. This political season Defies all rhyme or reason. Can the country’s center hold Against a party so bold And completely corrupted, When a death interrupted A most fraught situation, That threatens our dear Nation And shows the venality And crooked mentality Of the Senate majority Serving a minority Of the whole population? It has led… Read More

Continue Reading

Lying, the Left-brain, and the President

As many others and I have written, the real world always wins, in the sense that no matter how much we think we are in control, outcomes result from whatever forces are at work out there. Objects will always fall down, not up, when we drop them. People will behave the way their brains tell them to, no matter how we think they should respond to our commands. Even proven scientific theories don’t work when the circumstances depart from those from which the theory was deduced. Newtonian mechanics do predict the path of a cannonball, but not how electrons in… Read More

Continue Reading