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When you have economic contraction you also have a substantial contraction of the trust horizon. This deprives political institutions at the national and international level of the trust that would give them political legitimacy. They become stranded assets from a trust perspective. People no longer internalize the rules that those institutions are attempting to impose. The response is typically surveillance, coercion, and repression. This picture basically suggests that it is pointless to look for solutions from the top down. It is not solutions that will come from the top down but more problems.

So politicians typically make a bad situation worse as expensively as possible.

from a quote of this article.

My idea:
How about promote a culture that president who failed to be re-elected will still be welcomed to contend in the presidental election in the future?
This should encourage those in top position make the “worse before better” tough decision. If his/her decision is wise, he/she will be more likely to get re-elected when the effects manifest.

Policy makers need to be allowed to try.

Suddenly realise that the high leverage point of sustainability is actually people’s childhood life. A happy childhood with love and care promotes care about others, willingness to share, trust, compassion and ethics. Compare a child in Norway and a child in Somalia.

Of course, more researches are needed to establish the link. For example, what kind of childhood experience promotes / hinders sustainability? How it works (the mechanism)?

In the 1930s the American art collector Albert Barnes commissioned Henri Matisse to produce a major painting for his private gallery in Merion, outside Philadelphia. Matisse was ecstatic: He rented an old cinema in Nice, where he lived at that time, and spent the entire next year completing the work, a dance triptych. He was pleased with the result. But when the piece arrived in Merion, Barnes wrote to Matisse explaining an unfortunate oversight: His collaborators had taken the wrong measurements, so the painting did not fit on the gallery wall. The difference in size was marginal, and Matisse could easily have tweaked the triptych to fit the wall, a technical fix. But instead he rented the cinema for another 12 months to complete a new painting with the right dimensions. Moreover, since he felt that mindless duplication was not real art, Matisse considerably changed the concept, effectively creating a whole new design. And in this process of reworking the piece, as he experimented with forms that would capture the dancers’ rhythmic motion, he invented the famous “cut outs” technique (gouaches découpés), what he later labeled “painting with scissors.” Whether consciously or unconsciously, Matisse turned a mistake into an opportunity for innovation. The new triptych not only pleased Barnes, but also served as the stylistic starting point for what would later become Matisse’s most admired works.

The French master’s ad hoc ingenuity captures the essence of an emerging concept known as resilience. Loosely defined, resilience is the capacity of a system—be it an individual, a forest, a city, or an economy—to deal with change and continue to develop. It is both about withstanding shocks and disturbances (like climate change or financial crisis) and using such events to catalyze renewal, novelty, and innovation. In human systems, resilience thinking emphasizes learning and social diversity. And at the level of the biosphere, it focuses on the interdependence of people and nature, the dynamic interplay of slow and gradual change. Resilience, above all, is about turning crisis into opportunity.

Don’t be too alarmed by unexpected events, be prepared for them, and make use of them to improve negative circumstances. These actions will require trust and collective effort, a theme brought into focus with the awarding of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Economics to Elinor Ostrom, a key player in resilience thinking.

from this article.

Make no mistake about it, ignorance is a choice. It doesn’t matter whether you are poor or rich. Books are available to everyone in this country.

We don’t know because we don’t want to know.

Americans have chosen to believe the lies because the truth is too hard to accept.

Becoming educated, thinking critically, working hard, saving money to buy what you need (as opposed to what you want), developing human relationships, and questioning the motivations of government, corporate and religious leaders is hard. It is easy to coast through school and never read a book for the rest of your life. It is easy to not think about the future, your retirement, or the future of unborn generations. It is easy to coast through life at a job (until you lose it) that is unchallenging, with no desire or motivation for advancement. It is easy to make your everyday troubles disappear by whipping out your piece of plastic and acquiring everything you desire today.

Americans love authority figures who act as if they have all the answers.

You are being lied to, but most of you prefer it.

When Jimmy Carter gave his malaise speech in 1979, Americans were in no mood to listen. Carter’s solutions were too painful, required sacrifice, and sought to benefit future generations. The leading edge of the Baby Boom generation had reached their 30s by 1979, and the most spoiled, pampered, egocentric generation in history could care less about future generations, long term thinking, or sacrifice for the greater good. They were the ME GENERATION.

Instead of dealing with reality, adapting our behavior and preparing for a more localized society, we put our blinders on, chose ignorance over reason and pushed the pedal to the medal by moving farther away from our jobs, building bigger energy intensive mansions, and insisting on driving tank-like SUVs, Hummers, and good ole boy pickups.

Kevin Phillips in American Theocracy concludes that there are so many Americans tied to our unsustainable economic model that they will choose to lie to themselves and be lied to by their leaders rather than think and adapt:
A large number of voters work in or depend on the energy and automobile industries, and still more are invested in them, not just financially but emotionally and culturally. These secondary cadres included racing fans, hobbyists, collectors, and dedicated readers of automotive magazines, as well as the tens of millions of automobile commuters from suburbs and distant exurbs, plus the high number of drivers whose strong self-identification with vehicle types and models serve as thinly disguised political statements.

“Our principal constraints are cultural. During the last two centuries we have known nothing but exponential growth and in parallel we have evolved what amounts to an exponential-growth culture, a culture so heavily dependent upon the continuance of exponential growth for its stability that it is incapable of reckoning with problems of non-growth.” – M King Hubbert

Are you tired of lying to yourselves?

“Most of one’s life is one prolonged effort to prevent oneself from thinking. People intoxicate themselves with work so they won’t see how they really are.” – Aldous Huxley

from this post.

New Zealand

Those are rich countries who have yet to ratify the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

… because it helps survival of the species. It looks irrational in individual level, but makes sense in higher level. This dilemma of locally optimal vs holistic optimal is well known – see Deming’s The New Economics pg 82-87 for an example on how local optimized departments has poorer result to the company. The question of rationality depends on perspective.

There is a Chinese saying, 人人为我,我为人人. Strong sense of (global) community helps survival of the (global) community. If not, selection of sub-group will intensify when changes of the environment become abrupt enough.

Cancer, e.g., occurs when individual cells in the body mutate and develop the ability to proliferate without the restraints normally in place that serve the interests of the individual organism.

from Wikipedia. There is always a conflict, the question is how to balance it. This is also an idea of Multilevel Selection Theory.

In my opinion, in descending order of importance:

  1. Universal love 大爱
  2. Critical thinking 独立思考
  3. Visionary 大视野
  4. Dynamics thinking 动态思维

We cannot know what will happen in the future for sure, but if they are equipped with these traits, I will be relieved.

Next question: How could we get these learning outcomes? (To be continued)

If Americans cannot trust their government, how can foreign governments trust their government?

Learning to trust cleverly is essential to Sustainability.

We could not blame the nature for the collapse if human cannot love, trust and help each other. What’s the point to survive without love?

Update: It is the case for China and India too.

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