More and more these days, I find myself drawn to this notion of taking a longer view on things. Contemporary culture is much too focused on the short-term and trivial, but in the absence of both viable options and tangible examples of this other mindset at work, it’s difficult to imagine life any other way.

Clearly, we can no longer afford to be so foolishly short-sighted. I realize that I need to move away from this shallow thinking, embrace a greater awareness of the world around me, and develop new ways of communicating these values.

And I believe the first step begins with becoming a better listener.

Spotted at Kottke first, picked up by Austin second.

Abby knows I love my stories, in this case the 75 or so blogs I subscribe to and read regularly (believe me, at one point it was over 150, so this is nothing). Most tend to be meaty, and incredibly satisfying to me, but this complexity creates a barrier to entry. (And yes, I am aware that I do the same thing here.)

I know not everyone knows or cares about these or any other blogs, but people just like you and me are doing incredible work to uncover the truths about our recent past and define a more harmonious way forward. As I read them, I always search for the one sentence or couple of paragraphs that really cut to the heart of the matter; and when I blog about them here, I want to share with you something that’s immediate and obvious, easily digestible and eminently repeatable.

I hope to find a better way to simplify and amplify these ideas, but for now I’m more interested in identifying what strikes me as illustrative and meaningful. With that in mind, here are a few gems from this past week:

  • Environmentalism: “We’ve also got to toss aside the mindset that the status quo is reasonable.” Imagine What Comes After Green by World Changing.
  • Patriotism: “It’s one thing for gluttony to be an individual right, cherished as much as freedom of speech. It’s quite another for it to be a rite of patriotism. And it’s still another for it to put us in direct conflict with other nations that profit from and/or reject the monetary policy that piggishness requires.” Outeat Them Back To the Stone Age by The Cunning Realist.
  • Conservatism: “The labor movement is the greatest anti-poverty program in American history, but to the corporate profiteers, it means one less yacht in the harbor.” Sam’s Club Conservatism by dday at Digby’s blog.
  • Corporatism: “Do we need razors with ten blades — or a single blade that never dulls?” America’s Addiction and the New Economics of Strategy by Umair Haque. This post truly requires a more complete quote:

    Let’s re-examine the house of cards that is the global financial system. Emerging markets seek export-led growth: they undervalue their currencies, so their exports are more competitive purely in terms of price. That’s essentially a subsidy to consumers on the other side of the table — those in the developed world. As emerging markets accumulate surpluses, they recycle them: they lend them back to the US and UK in the form of government and mortgage debt, stabilizing their economies, and amplifying the existing consumption subsidy through leverage.

    Amplifying that artificial cheapness is the simple fact the true costs of production haven’t been factored in — until now: very real costs like pollution, community fragmentation, and abusive labour standards.

    So we’ve been able to consume mercilessly and remorselessly — with no regard for the human, social, or environmental consequences, to us or to others.

    It’s not just cheap oil we’re addicted to: it’s cheap everything. And the world we’re entering isn’t really of Peak Oil as it is one of Peak Consumption.

    But consumption wasn’t the only choice we could have made. We could have chosen, instead, to invest. In what? In anything: anything would have been a more sensible choice than naÏve consumption — education, energy, healthcare, transportation, even a more sensible and rational kind of finance.

    Umair is almost single-handedly moving this entire discussion forward.

  • John McCain: “McCain’s primary talent has always been his ability persuade simple-minded people (i.e. his media cheerleading claque) that he is flipping or flopping as a matter of great personal principle and at great possible cost to his political career — even as he has used his various flips and flops to climb the greased pole and become the presidential nominee of his party.” The Great White Hope by Billmon at Daily Kos. Here’s more:

    Now, finally, all that hard work and twisting and turning have paid off, and McCain IS the GOP establishment candidate. In April, as Clinton and Obama were tearing into each other (or rather, as she was tearing into him) the McCain campaign clearly saw an advantage in positioning their guy above the fray, as the “kinder, gentler” candidate — the better to pick off supporters of the loser in the Democratic primary race. Thus McCain’s promise to run a “respectful campaign.” (He didn’t explain that what he meant was respect for HIM.)

    But McCain and his new team of Rovian handlers now realize they won’t have a prayer in November unless they can motivate the conservative base and (to use Lee Atwater’s charming phrase) “strip the bark” off Obama. And they have to do it NOW, so McCain can pivot back to a softer, more upbeat message in September.

    So that’s exactly what McCain is doing – instantly, unapologetically, without shame or embarrassment. His enormous cynicism about the political process and his contempt for the voters – not to mention his vast sense of self-entitlement – have led McCain to take exactly the same low road as the Bush family and its various henchmen (Atwater, Rove): Whatever works; whatever it takes.

    Billmon quit blogging at Whiskey Bar a few years ago, but I never unsubscribed — it’s the only dinosaur in my feedreader! Needless to say, I was thrilled to see this new post at the Great Orange Satan. It’s a lengthy post, but well-worth the read, and I guarantee you will never see anything written about McCain that’s as open or brutally honest as this is.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that George W. Bush’s Republican party is hell-bent on preserving the political and economical status quo in America with the election of John McCain. Baring that increasingly impossible feat, they will stop at nothing to destroy anyone who attempts to call any of their policies into question. Which is the perfect segue into this:

  • Me: “Scepticism is effortful and costly. It is better to be sceptical about matters of large consequences, and be imperfect, foolish and human in the small and the aesthetic.” Rules for Living from Nassim Taleb by Barry Ritholtz.

I have had this inverted for much too long. Even as I railed against the powers that be, my skepticism has always been directed inward. At me. Never willing to trust my instincts. Always questioning the fitness of my ideas and doubting my power to critique, curate, and communicate a more considerate and compelling narrative.

If you read through any of my earlier posts, you’ll see this theme emerge time and time again. Until now, I never realized the barrier was my own relationship to my strengths and the things that make me, well, me.

Truly, finding my voice and using my gifts to bring about a more honest and equitable world is not a matter of large consequence, it’s small and aesthetic. It’s what I do. It’s who I am. And that freedom to be imperfect, foolish, and human is incredibly liberating.

Every bit of that’s got to change.

For some added perspective, please see my previous post for my thoughts on Al Gore and George W. Bush. There’s no pressing need to rehash it line-by-line, but I will reiterate that Al’s brilliance continues to outshine his dimmer rival, time and again.

This man is a true visionary and a great inspiration, single-handedly rising above mere politics to viscerally challenge not just the American people, but the entrenched and powerful agents of the status quo. His message is clear and well-considered, and after seven plus years of Republican misdirection and malfeasance the American people are ready to rise up and embrace this moment.

Together, we can meet the challenge. We can solve the climate crisis.