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How To Get There 3/3/19

Written By: - Date published: 6:46 am, March 3rd, 2019 - 83 comments
Categories: Deep stuff - Tags:


This post is a place for positive discussion of the future.

An Open Mike for ideas, solutions and the discussion of the possible.

The Big Picture, rather than a snapshot of the day’s goings on. Topics rather than topical.

We’d like to think it’s success will be measured in the quality of comments rather than the quantity.

So have at it!

Let us know what you think …

83 comments on “How To Get There 3/3/19 ”

  1. Ant 1

    Alive today Karl Linnaeus (1707 -1778) would do well finding another name for earth’s top hominid, for what kind of wisdom would have Homo sapiens persisting in wholly unsustainable lifestyles and the slaughter of his own kind by the million?

    Yet amongst us are many who clearly are innately kind, empathic and caring – who could legitimately be named Homo miserator (compassionate man). To be sure many in this apparent category are driven by religious conviction and one could posit theirs is a mixture of caring and/or absurd expectation of heavenly reward.

    But not all; a host of potent lights have carried the impulse to serve, inspire and be kind through inner conviction rather than indoctrinated belief: Bertrand Russell (agnostic), Noam Chomsky (atheist), Waldo Emerson (pantheist/transcendentalist). Richard Dawkins (atheist) to name a few.

    Ethologists long ago showed it was possible to separate apparently identical species on the basis of behavioural differences. While I’m not suggesting Homo miserator’s genotype differs from that of H. sapiens it is tempting to push the parallel. At least within all of us lies the potential of a consciousness shift after which entirely empathic objectives become the motivator. Curious (is it not?) that St Paul referred to beings in this category as “new creatures.”

    But how to get there? Look no further than the words of our PM: “If I could distil it down into one concept that we are pursuing in New Zealand it is simple and it is this. Kindness.” And while One News hammers out all the current horrors with dismal predictability thousands of Kiwis work for voluntary causes each day.

    “Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty” scrawled Anne Herbert on a napkin in 1982. Today NZ is the only country to have a “random acts of kindness” day. Whilst nice, worthy and “feel good” the urgency of our time surely demands that “random” be replaced by consistent. Imagine if kindness became a national trait as urged by our leader.

    And here’s the thing; helping one’s own kind unconditionally sparks the light of kinship. From there the steps to alleviating the appalling mess we have gotten ourselves into become mobilized as fresh purpose crowds out the bondage of former preoccupations.

    • Incognito 1.1

      And here’s the thing; helping one’s own kind unconditionally sparks the light of kinship.

      Amen to that!

    • Ad 1.2

      ‘But how to get there? Look no further than the words of our PM: “If I could distil it down into one concept that we are pursuing in New Zealand it is simple and it is this. Kindness.” ‘

      You will not get there with kindness.
      Kindness is lovely but as Ardern is figuring out, it gets no nowhere in politics.
      It doesn’t even get you a second term. Even Jesus wasn’t particularly kind most of the time.

      You won’t get there by redefining the species.
      No one cares.

      You will get some way there if your volunteer work is more than ameliorating, and heads towards a full movement.

      You will get there by figuring what “there” is, and what “get” means.

      • RedLogix 1.2.1

        I don’t like Ant’s attempt to separate the human race into ‘good and bad people’.

        Certainly the left attracts people who are strong on empathy and openness to experience, but these are not specifically virtues in themselves. The left wing catastrophes of the 20th century demonstrate clearly what happens when these impulses drive to an extreme.

        Hell we see it here all the time, lefties who like to think of themselves as caring, empathetic, inclusive and good people … yelling abuse and relentlessly demonising other people who happen to come to the table with a slightly different alignment of values. This idea that ‘because my ideology is so virtuous it justifies any amount of vile behaviour on my part’ is incredibly common. And utterly wrong.

        At the heart of this debate is the idea of ‘unity within diversity’. It’s that very specific notion of ‘loving your enemy’, embracing their differences, understanding them and doing the hard work negotiating the consensus you can both live with.

        We either all ‘get there’, or none at all.

        • Muttonbird

          What’s your response to Hamish Price’s Momo tweet – cuddle him?

          • RedLogix

            It’s a good question.

            The key is understanding that people don’t have ideas; ideas have people. Or in other words, the art of separating the out what they are thinking at this moment, from who they are as an individual.

            Once you have that distinction clear you can respond robustly and forthrightly to the idea you disagree with, without de-humanising them as a person.

            But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, Mathew 5:44

            If you attack the person inevitably you generate an emotional response that does two things, they will not listen to any argument you may have, and they will cling to their existing ideas even more firmly. It’s deeply counterproductive.

            At the same time it’s naive and simplistic to think you will get everyone to agree with you; that’s not how it works. What we can achieve is to get conversations to ‘converge’ on a common goal, reach an understanding of what is important to both parties and agree on a course of action.

            But common action is predicated on mutual trust; and trust is instantly eroded the moment we attack the person, not the idea.

            • Sam

              The correct response for some one with quite obvious mental health issues, I mean you just have to read this guys tweets to understand Payless isn’t just wanting to restrict immigration, he’s a huge germaphobe. He’s not just simply wanting to restrict immigration, he’s perfectly fine with people who look like him immigrating but when they deviate even a little bit then wholly shit it all comes out. The only way for use to cure this kind of delusion is to double down on public health funding not just domestically but internationally as well, or just in Oceania.

              • RedLogix

                One of our core emotional responses is disgust. It evolved to serve as a protection from disease and danger; all humans have this faculty in common.

                But we don’t all express or respond to the same things in the same way; nor are all of our responses rational. (For instance if you ask most people to swallow some phlegm or snot they’ve just coughed up, they’ll refuse even though it’s just come from within them.)

                These are deep subconscious reactions and vary considerably. While most left wing people are very open to new experience, and we like to consider this a virtue, it isn’t always. When a new experience, or new outsiders, turn out to be a threat of some kind (disease, aggression etc) we are the ones most likely to die first. Evolution selects against us in this context.

                At the same time, people who are very closed to new experience and prone to feel revulsion at strange things, will be more protected and safe. But over the long run this isn’t sustainable either; fully closed communities stagnate and become pathological. Evolution will select against them in that context.

                As a result humans have evolved a range of responses; each individual expressing their own unique pattern of open/closed according to their temperament and experience. Collectively this a very powerful tool and enables us to adapt very efficiently to a wide range of environmental challenges. It’s part of why we are such a dominant species.

                In my view, a closed or open temperament is a neutral; it’s neither innately good nor bad, but actually depends on the context. Of course there is nothing humans cannot take to some pathological extreme, and this guy whose tweets we’re talking about sounds like he’s gone too far and stepped outside the bounds of acceptable discourse.

                That’s ok, we can make it clear his ideas are wrong and over the top, without necessarily turning him into an outcast as a human. We could have reason to be compassionate even.

                • Sam

                  I’d offer Payless a job cleaning up horse shit.

                • Sam

                  One of the ideas Payless tweets about is how brown people don’t nurture there children. How should brown people respond to such accusations when inside is a burning fire but if you think about it the right way to respond is to ask what is Payless doing it for, and he’s doing it for a simple reason because 270,000 kids are living in poverty. That is the result of very specific policy which is reported by The New Zealand Herald. There are certain policy that are driving people to suicide and well you can’t report that in the Herald so y’need cover so Payless will say alcoholism or some other thing he may have heard from Jordan Peterson or the YouTube/twitter, y’know the bastion of right wing science and intellectual masturbation. Once you understand that, then y’know how to deal with it.

                  • RedLogix

                    If there was a simple, uni-dimensional answer to that Sam, then smarter people than you or I, would have worked it out millennia ago.

                    But here we are it’s 2019 and we’re still grappling with all of this. And most of the reason why is that we keep yelling slogans and insults at each other, instead of listening.

                    The art of successful negotiation is to listen carefully for what is important to your opponent, and then find a way to give them a win, while maintaining what is important to you. This is basic, basic shit, and you have to get good at it if you are going to achieve ANY damn thing in life.

                    Try this, every time some says something which triggers an emotional response, ask yourself why. It will always be because they are saying something which expresses an underlying value structure in conflict with yours. Now realise that all of us have unique value structures, we share a great deal in common, but we place different weights on each component and order them differently. There is good reason for this.

                    But crucially understand that everyone will at some point say something you will react to. You cannot go through life being triggered by every damn stupid thing any random person says; it’s chaotic and ineffectual.

                    Instead look to understand their values, reflect what they are saying to win trust and connection, look to express what you want in terms of their framework in a manner that makes sense to them.

                    Build connections, establish trust, understand values and interests, agree on a mutual action. Get good at it, repeat on a larger scale.

                    • Sam

                      You can make a case for ideological possession but social science says to understand them transparently for what they are, I mean a real socialist nationalist culture which is hardline and dedicated to obscuring the most simple truths and there for are able to produce these things on the front page of The New Zealand Herald and well there is the world we are living in and if you can’t understand the emotional reaction then it’s understandable but it’s not the right one.

                    • RedLogix

                      Some of your opponents will be entrenched in extreme, radical positions that are not acceptable. They will be dangerous and difficult to deal with. It will take courage that most people will lack.

                      You defeat Nazi’s not by punching them (they will only take that as a licence to punch back harder); but by understanding their motives, exactly why they are wrong and fearlessly saying so to the best of your ability.

                      Also you will make mistakes, you will fuck up and sometimes it will cost you. There are no magical shortcuts here.

                    • Sam

                      Well Simon Bridges would just absolutely break your heart having him out on the world stage as a Prime Minister negotiating an FTA with the U.K, discussing climate change with Micronesia/Melanesia/Polonesia. Simon Bridges would absolutely break your heart with ideological nomes like Payless in his top pocket whispering sweet nothing out into the ether. And I congratulate Jacinda for doing a good Job on Bridges in The 2017 election. I am not a huge fan of conspiracy theories but you can see the argument.

                    • RedLogix


                      When John Key was PM I didn’t waste one second being ‘broken hearted’ over it. The left lost the 2008 election because we were not good enough and we lost the trust of the middle voters, and Key did a better job of selling his brand.

                      It’s competence that wins elections, not mushy sentimentality.

                    • Sam

                      Would you agree that The Don, The Doland J Trump, Presedent Of The United States of America, would you agree that Trump is “component?” Perhaps Bashar Al Assade, would you agree that people like these are…, “competent?” These people also won free and fair elections. It takes a literal genius to be able to ignore the truth of the matter.

                    • RedLogix

                      Quit making excuses; Trump was the second most disliked candidate in all of US political history. Only the Dems decided to put up against him the most disliked candidate of them all.

                      You metaphorically had to be the village idiot to be beaten by Trump, but we managed this feat all the same ….

                    • KJT

                      We defeated the Nazi’s, by shooting the shit out of them. Sometimes it has to be, war.

                    • RedLogix

                      @ KJT

                      Yes, but war is the manifest, abject failure of politics, and the most avoidable accident of all.

                    • KJT

                      Agree with Churchill, jaw jaw is always better than war war.

                      There wasn’t much choice against the Nazi’s however.

                      A bit like your publican with the shotgun. Eh?

                    • Andre


                      Hillary was in fact only the second most disliked candidate of all time. She couldn’t even win that spot. Beaten to the all-time most disliked position by the Combover Con.


                      That Jabba the Drumpf now sits in the Oval Office and Hillary doesn’t is some combination of geographic weirdness in how those dislikes were distributed, and people putting on full hazmat suits and voting for someone they really disliked anyway.

                    • Sam

                      There’s a name for austerity in economic theory and the policies of reducing public health and education during a recession, it’s called “Herbert Hover Principles.” That’s what lead to the Great Depression. Every time the Herbert Principles are reinstated it leads to another recession on the advice of business interest. Austerity is an experiment to see if the kind of policies that have been a disaster in the past and will be a disaster again if The National Party of New Zealand are allowed to press go in there Education and Health policy agenda based on cutting taxes to the already wealthy and experiment on there low wage beneficiary subjects. Whether or not that should be allowed, and well that’s up to people who don’t really believe in Jacinda and her cabinet to respond. As far as education I mean you don’t have to believe me, teachers themselves will be telling everyone’s children how wonderful things are because they are responsible for there own curriculum so I don’t need to talk about them just pay my taxes and vote for the one that will meet education and health resources with demand the best, always better.

                  • greywarshark

                    I don’t follow twitter, too busy just looking up information trying to keep up with the world. Is this Payless something to do with shoes? What has brought him to the fore?

                    I got this vid link that says something about shoes. It also shows that people will pay more because of the brand – he put
                    $20 shoes in a fancy setting and was selling them for $100’s.

                    • Sam

                      Marketing did a good job convincing stupid people to buy stuff wealthy people want them to buy.

            • Poission

              No the individual looks at the problem,and solves it by innovative means.

              One of the cleverest arguments I have seen is by a 10 yr old where the proposition changes under reciprocal translation (Double entendre).


              • RedLogix

                Indeed all new ideas come from an individual spark of creativity; yet turning ideas into useful action demands some level of collective agreement and will.

                And that requires we build trust.

                Incidentally your link is an excellent example of how a change of perspective is such a powerful tool. It’s used very commonly in mathematics to progress problems that are otherwise too complex; and is a very good intellectual habit to develop.

        • greywarshark

          I preach on Sunday (and every other day) that what is needed is a duo team like Batman and Robin.The team is – Kindness-Practicality. Be as kind as is reasonable, but try not to go forward without thinking ‘Is there a better way, a good way of doing this’?

          There has to be some rain or pain in everyone’s life. ( And don’t we actually desire the rain at the moment.) But it is like going to the dentist and knowing something had to be done for your teeth – the dentist says it is small, you could probably cope without an injection of pain-killer. You make a decision as to how kind you think you have to be to yourself. It’s looking for the best thing to do in the present circumstances, and planning for good practices next time in a template for the future.

          I’m sick of the hard man approaches I often read here and in other places. It may be necessary to harden up, grow a pair, whatever. But once people grit their teeth and forge ahead without caring, it’s hard to soften up, The not caring becomes locked in. There is a fearing about attempting kindness, like a weakness that must be stamped out. But it actually is a perfect time for the use of another of our traits, and that is deviousness. Can we get what we think is necessary by going round the obstacle, or using it to advance our plans in a way that we hadn’t conceived before?

          Charging directly at the goal may not be the best way. Thinking about different techniques in asymmetrical fighting led to the guerilla method. Instead of forming a square and marching at the other side, the buggers ducked and dived from behind trees and were gone before everyone that hadn’t fallen down could fall in again. Malcolm Gladwell discussed winning as an apparent loser in his book David and Goliath – Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants.

        • greywarshark

          I’m a looming cloud here. But I am trying to listen to the scientists and those who would show us how to make the best of our time on earth as part of a community, one animal in a group that was built from the earth. As WH Auden put it, made of a mixture of Eros and dust.

          if we are kind and practical we will make our own and others’ lives better in the time we have personally and that the world allows us. To go out from life still trying for a personal nobility and intelligent kindness to all would be, should be our guiding hope. That’s what I think should be our aim and demeanour right to our end of intelligence.

          We won’t all get there RL. Only some. That has become clear with all the CC stuff coming forward. Also we had a period after WW2 when we could take a close look at how we were living and in an uncomprising and objective way, could have dragged out our wants and needs and plans for the future and aired them in sunlight..

          It’s no use doing all that hippy stuff that didn’t work then as guidance for society. It ended up in cults with some people playing the guitars and others doing all the work for board and lodging and a feeling of being part of a society, that they could try to exit but could never leave. Hippies often used drugs to take them away from dealing with present problems. Coming back and looking at the way we set harsh systems up is a chore. And so we put our thinking aside and follow others who often desire to dominate and don’t encourage individual thinking and learning.

          My observations of society now is that there are a lot of platitudes but the old class system is descending and in an effort to escape, in the classes below the top, they are fracturing off into different thinking groups, some sexual identity, and some sports-driven, some religious, and so on. But humanity seems bound to attack and divide into groups seeking to bind together and dominate and steal others commons, and so diminish their opportunities which are subsumed to the dominant group.

          That is why we must have kindness and practicality mixed. I have referred to The Day of the Triffids before. The male actor in that is presented with a disaster that has immobilised society and will result in mass starvation.
          There has to be triage; he tries to help where he can but limits himself as to what is sustainable and what not. He has to be cautious, he has to be wary, he has to have tools to hand, he has to have knowledge of how to use them,
          he must understand each situation he finds himself in.

          It is such a contrast as to how we don’t consider things in these days of looming misfortune. I look at my world and think all this cannot survive as it is, though if enough people set themselves a task to build a sustainable situation, some will. People ought to be seeking out similar others, who have similar values, and will discuss problems openly and know each others’ expectations and have commitment to the group, both giving and receiving. I
          have mentioned this to family but they are too embedded in the old values, the classy house, the lifestyle, the showy machinery, the tech, the expectation that the good life and someone will always be there for them.

          • Poission

            Also we had a period after WW2 when we could take a close look at how we were living

            The post war dream (roger waters)

            if it wasn’t for the nips
            Being so good at building ships
            The yards would still be open on the clyde
            And it can’t be much fun for them
            Beneath the rising sun
            With all their kids committing suicide

          • RedLogix

            No-one, least of all me, can predict the future; but we can all plan for it. Or perhaps to put it another way, plans are useless, but planning is everything. What we aim it is what we will most likely hit.

            Over many years I’ve embraced all of the gloomy, apocalyptic predictions you allude to; there is every rational reason to despair of how humans have so carelessly treated this beautiful planet. It’s not unthinkable to wish a mass die-off, a kind of Pyrrhic revenge on humanity for our callous, cavalier behaviour.

            Yet this cannot be accepted in any ethical sense; we must aim at something better than this. Why would anyone trust us otherwise?

            • greywarshark

              This is part of what I said as I looked at and around our looming problems.
              I think that is a reasonable way for good people to approach the future.

              if we are kind and practical we will make our own and others’ lives better in the time we have personally and that the world allows us. To go out from life still trying for a personal nobility and intelligent kindness to all would be, should be our guiding hope. That’s what I think should be our aim and demeanour right to our end of intelligence.

    • Jenny - How to get there? 1.3

      And the meek shall inherit the Earth

      • Andre 1.3.1

        …. if that’s OK with the rest of you.

      • bwaghorn 1.3.2

        That saying was most likely made up by some plundering mongrel to give the meek hope while he pillaged them . The same can be said for charlatans selling Hope’s of a glorious afterlife.

      • Bazza64 1.3.3

        …. but not the mineral rights !

    • Gosman 1.4

      Except very few (if any) people carry out compasionate actions with no expectation of an upside for them.

      • WeTheBleeple 1.4.1

        I’m sorry you live in such a nasty social set Gosman. Maybe it is indicative of the need for change.

        Yesterday a neighbor gave me a lift home from a class. Expectation zero. Last week I watered a chaps garden as he was away. Expectation zero.

        Yesterday morning I spied a homeless man. I crossed the street to meet him, I made out to shake his hand and filled his hand with coins. Expectation, his day is improved.

        So, you might speak for yourselves, but don’t include me or my neighbors (in well to do Westmere where many vote right) in your cynical crap.

        And I’m PTSD. I see the world as hostile on default setting yet I’m surrounded by good people. What’s your excuse?

      • KJT 1.4.2

        Not my experience.

        But, I’ve noted that people tend to get treated, the same way they treat others.

      • RedLogix 1.4.3

        OK so Gosman has expressed a view of compassion that doesn’t sit well with the common view here. Most of us like to think of compassion as something open-ended, unconstrained and without conditions.

        But in my experience, neither is Gosman entirely wrong. It depends very much on exactly how we interpret the notion of an ‘upside’. And in the very broadest sense I agree with what he says; we do compassion because in some sense we believe it will reduce suffering and make the world a better place in general. And in some fashion, whether direct or indirect, we expect this will be of benefit to ourselves.

        Worth reading in this context is Kollberg’s idea of the Stages of Moral Development:


        It’s a complex and interesting story.

        • WeTheBleeple

          That was a good read. I really enjoyed the feedback the article gave the ideas as well. I think most psychologists talk absolute horseshit for a living. You seem smart enough to know, get to the top of any field, what have you got – people winging it. Making shit up and nobody to challenge it.

          For me, with kindness, it is this saying.

          ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’

          So my desire for a better world is an ulterior motive? A selfish gesture the giving of time/resources?

          I think these cynical shits will say anything to excuse themselves from participating in, rather than parasitising on, society.

          • RedLogix

            I think most psychologists talk absolute horseshit for a living.

            Well yes the further you move away from pure mathematics, the more likely it is you need to be a least a little skeptical of what is being said. But having said that, in the past few decades there has been a lot of fascinating research done which is not too well understood by the general public.

            At least part of Jordan Peterson’s popularity is that he’s done a good job of communicating his take on what some of this means. If he does nothing else but prompt people to be more curious about how our minds work, this will not be a bad thing.

            I think these cynical shits will say anything to excuse themselves from participating in, rather than parasitising on, society.

            Cynical shits are not confined to the right; they’re found everywhere.

        • patricia bremner

          Doing good deeds…The upside is you feel better about yourself.
          A great number of people feel unable to make meaningful change. The idea of brightening someone else’s day is a simple idea most can relate to, without expectations of a return.
          In my experience when help is offered and accepted two gain. The trick is to being open to offers of help and to accept being helped.
          Accepting help makes some feel vulnerable but those who offer help in such a way you feel you are helping them, have that special form of gracious kindness which never belittles.
          We seek these people out because they encourage our better selves and grow our feeling of usefulness. We feel content and uplifted in equal measure and ready to do more.
          I think our current PM is one of these people, and the reason she has the unwavering support from her team. She brings out the best in people she works with.
          Ant, your idea of our attitude to the natural world, so true, but I think of pets and how they enrich lives, and how the pet fits in with the household or owner. Cheers

          • Ant

            “In my experience when help is offered and accepted two gain. ”
            In my experience too. And I wholly agree with Robert’s kindness to all life forms on earth as well.

            • greywarshark

              I’d like to add to that – accepting help, a compliment, in a pleasant and gracious manner is a gift. We often are hard on ourselves or have spent too long amongst devious people. We get suspicious at a compliment automatically expecting that it’s a put-down or that we don’t deserve it really. So a quiet acknowledgement of thanks is something to practice. And sometimes it’s just being polite, as in when you feel superior to the speaker and their judgment.

          • KJT

            Agree totally.

          • Pat

            +1 (more)

        • greywarshark

          What is unattractive about miserable people like Gosman is that when a good action is mentioned they want to open it and inspect it. Mention that people can make a better society by doing things kindly and without payment, they must have it that there is a reward in the doing, and want to measure and weigh it. For every balloon blown up they have a pin. Every exhortation not to be self-centred, they wish to smear with something that smells a little pungent.

          One needs to be wary of what is said and promoted, but too much suspicion is shabby and takes wariness to an absurd level. Acknowledging people for doing something good encourages more selfless acts; the opposite stultifies good-natured gestures.

          • RedLogix

            is that when a good action is mentioned they want to open it and inspect it.

            Yeah I know what you mean. He’s a bit of a black hat; the kind of person who drives everyone nuts in any meeting by analysing in detail why any new idea cannot possibly work.

            Yet given that 99% of ‘new ideas’ are probably crap anyway, people like him do serve a useful purpose. You just have to relish those 1% of occasions when they’re proven spectacularly wrong 🙂

            • greywarshark

              But think of how many ideas don’t get mentioned because he is going to shred them. What’s the use people think. It is really important that he doesn’t criticise until his comments are asked for.l How can we ever develop a thinking society where keen, bold people speak up, and also the quieter ones can put their own point of view and have it included in the Minutes. Just about any time older people are asked for ideas they don’t have any. And that’s because the loudest mouth gets listened to, gets precedence.

              • RedLogix

                And that’s because the loudest mouth gets listened to, gets precedence.

                The first five years here in Aussie the electrical engineer I worked with was exactly like this. For quite I while I found him depressing, frustrating and embarrassing.

                You know how I eventually learned to deal with it? One day it occurred to me that he was in fact my best ally. When I knew I had to go up against him I made sure I had my shit together; stuck to the top two or three facts that I knew I was solid on … and took it to him. I learned to back myself, but without attacking him. I learned to listen to exactly what he was saying, and respond to exactly that without any diversions or distractions.

                The moment I did that something astonishing would happen; he would turn around and back me! And when our Tech Director saw us both reach consensus on something we could live with … he’d sign off on it every-time.

          • patricia bremner

            Greywarshark, Perhaps sadly they don’t believe in altruism?

        • Robert Guyton

          “Most of us like to think of compassion as something open-ended, unconstrained and without conditions.”
          I don’t. Unconditional love doesn’t require you to behave as if there are no boundaries or consequences, it just asks that you don’t condemn; it’s not your responsibility; the wide world will do the judging and sentencing as it will.
          Those who exhibit behaviours that can be considered kinder than usual draw the criticism from those less kind, of being weak, flakey, foolish, whatever and in some instances that is true, but real kindness is none of those things, Imo. Kindness is the state where you are he, she and them and they you, so treating that throng with kindness is like looking in the mirror and truthfully assessing your appearance, dispassionately and sharing those observations freely, if asked 🙂 It’s all about kind, kinder, kin, akin.

      • Incognito 1.4.4

        I highly recommend self-flagellation.

        If you fail to nurture a baby, it’ll die. Unconditional love.

        If you fail to treat a sick person, they’ll die. Unconditional love.

        If we fail to look after one another, we’ll die. Unconditional love.

        If you fail to breath, you’ll die. Innate and instinct and controlled by the so-called autonomic nervous system.

        It has been said that we have forgotten who we are that we have lost our ways. Maybe because we started to worship Mammon, who knows. If so, we may not need to learn new things but simply remember who we are …

        Some say that kindness and kinship won’t get us there. To these people I’d say that without these companions and guides our life/evolutionary journey may well reach a dead-end.

        Are compassionate people better people? No, I don’t think so but they sure as hell will have a more interesting journey and make more friends along the way.

        Are they “new creatures”? Is a butterfly a different creature from a caterpillar? Which one is “better”? Their DNA is identical yet they look different …

        Our psychological/spiritual nature is not static; it has evolved and still is evolving. Perhaps compassionate people have undergone a psychological/spiritual transformation that others haven’t yet …

        • RedLogix

          Are compassionate people better people? No, I don’t think so but they sure as hell will have a more interesting journey and make more friends along the way.

          Maybe, but disagreeable (the opposite of compassionate) people will also have their own vital journey. They will often be the ones who are entrusted with high levels of responsibility because they are capable of dispassionately making the difficult decisions necessary in such roles.

          We are a mosaic species, it’s the diversity of our temperaments, experiences and interests that when woven into a collective whole that makes us strong.

          Consider two brothers; one is adventurous, curious and exploratory; the other more cautious, conservative and stable. It’s easy to imagine how their relationship could be soured by their differences. Yet let us imagine them both understanding and valuing the other’s strengths; the adventurous one bringing new ideas and opportunities to the table, while the cautious one tries them out, detemines the good ideas from the bad, and turns them into productive systems.

          As a team both are playing to each others strengths, while protecting each other’s weaknesses. Together their diversity is now a great deal stronger than each on their own. (Incidentally as I write this I’m very much reminded of the two brothers who have made Whittakers Chocolates such a successful business. I met them years back, and it’s exactly this team dynamic which works so well for them. )

          Now imagine if the naturally progressive and conservative people in society collectively found a way to transcend their historic antagonism, re-built trust and began to act in this constructive mode. How much stronger, healthier would we be; what problems could we not solve?

          • Incognito

            I don’t disagree with what you wrote but please let me explain myself a little better, if I can, and expand on my comment – one thought leads to another.

            I agree that each of us is on a journey, a personal one, and that no journey is better or worse or less or more than another.

            Yes, we are a species, and as a species we are also on a journey, a collective one. Our individual journeys indeed are interwoven with the collective one. This won’t go down with many, but I’m starting to think that the collective journey is the one that matters but is also vitally dependent on the individual ones. I can’t really explain it (better).

            You said (it) @ 1.2.1:

            We either all ‘get there’, or none at all.

            Teamwork, collaboration, collegiality, complementarity are all important but I think there’s something special about compassion, and love, that sets it apart from the more ‘mundane’ attitudes towards others.

            Fact is that people who practice compassion use different parts of their brain. This has been scientifically demonstrated. That’s not to say that teamwork, for example, doesn’t have its own reward system in the brain but I’m not aware of it. So, physiologically, compassion is different.

            Lastly, compassion has a transformative power that other human ‘skills’ lack. So, compassion is key.

            • RedLogix

              Yes. That’s definitely on a good track; yet I’d respectfully suggest it omits the vital complement to compassion, that is justice.

              As lefties compassion is in many ways the easy one for us to grapple with. It’s closely allied with empathy and openness, and it associated with warm fuzzy emotions we can readily experience. It is everything you say on it’s behalf.

              Justice on the other hand is a much cooler, cerebral creature. It’s much harder to experience in a positive sense, although we all understand how it feels when we’re cheated or not dealt with fairly. It embraces ideas around even-handedness (dealing with like cases similarly), fairness (reciprocity and trustworthiness) and punishment (balancing of the karma and shaming).

              These two qualities stand in tension with each other; yet we seem to need both to operate effectively in order to maintain cohesive and healthy societies. It’s my sense that compassion is the more personal, individual concern, while justice is more naturally located in our hierarchical institutions.

              Yet far too often we seem to invert this; as individuals we’re quick to judge others, while expecting our institutions to dole out compassion on our collective behalf. This I suggest muddles things.

              Politically we should therefore be wary of demanding too much empathy and compassion from our governments; they are first and foremost rule driven structures that depend on a chain of constitution and firm precedent to derive their legitimacy. More than anything else the core idea that all citizens stand equal before the law, demands of our institutions even-handedness, due process and clear cut probity. They live and die by the letter of the law, and it’s agreed meaning. Justice opens the door to trust and order, it maintains the complex exchanges and trades of our economic and social life in balance. Without it we tumble into chaos.

              By contrast without compassion we fall into tyranny. The nature of compassion demands from each of us to first be kind to ourselves, understanding our weaknesses and failures, doing the hard work to overcome them. Only then can we truly be of use to others, only then can we move beyond a useless, maudlin sentiment to acting effectively and wisely to help others. As any professional will tell you, helping other people is an extremely difficult task; misguided efforts will almost always make matters worse.

              But what we almost all can do, with little chance of harm, is to encourage each other. We’re all broken, deficient or damaged in some way; yet with just some courage, and some discipline, we can find a path to healing and redemption if we have safe shoulders to lean upon.

              I’m not entirely satisfied with this contribution, it’s too abbreviated and lacks nuance. But it will have to do for now …

              • Incognito

                Thanks again. You packed quite a bit in your comment and I would like to let it sink in first before I follow up. One word appeared almost instantly: forgiveness.

            • Robert Guyton

              Incognito said:
              “I don’t disagree with what you wrote but please let me explain myself a little better, if I can, and expand on my comment – one thought leads to another.”
              Seems to me the kindest possible approach to conversation and remarkable to read on a blog, where examples of disfunctional responses abound. Thanks, Incognito, for modelling such kindness.

              • Incognito

                Way too much credit; I’m merely modelling the change I want to be and it is a work in progress.

                But I take it as a compliment nevertheless, thank you Robert 😉

      • bwaghorn 1.4.5

        Of course the upside could be as simple as feeling good for being kind .

  2. Robert Guyton 2

    Ant, yours is a wonderful, world-changing contribution and I thank you for it. If nothing else is ever written on this “how to get there” topic, instead your words taken on board by every reader, our mission will be accomplished. If I could add something, I’d ask that the kindness you write of should be extended, not only to every other human, but also every non-human being and those, by my reckon, are legion and ubiquitous.

    • Heather Grimwood 2.1

      A wonderful read on this glorious morning….the golden rule embodied, embellished, and written to and for a universal readership in superbly crafted way for our times and its problems.

  3. Jenny - How to get there? 3

    How to get there?

    How to turn back climate change?

    Collective political action, over individual consumerist response.

    In a New York Times opinion piece David Wallace-Wells, author of the forthcoming book “The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming.” in a slightly differently framing, of the question, “How can we get there?” Wallace-Wells asks, “What can we do?”

    And gives us his answer.

    So what can we do? And by the way, who’s “we”? The size of the threat from climate change means that organization is necessary at every level — communities, states, nations and international agreements that coordinate action among them. But most of us don’t live in the halls of the United Nations or the boardrooms in which the Paris climate agreement was negotiated.

    Instead we live in a consumer culture that tells us we can make our political mark on the world through where we shop, what we wear, how we eat. This is how we get things like The Lancet’s recent dietary recommendations for those who want to eat to mitigate climate change — less meat for some, more vegetables — or suggestions like those published in The Washington Post, around the time of New Year’s resolutions. For instance: “Be smart about your air-conditioner.”

    But conscious consumption is a cop-out, a neoliberal diversion from collective action, which is what is necessary. People should try to live by their own values, about climate as with everything else, but the effects of individual lifestyle choices are ultimately trivial compared with what politics can achieve.

    …….politics is called a “moral multiplier.” It is also an exit from the personal, emotional burden of climate change and from what can feel like hypocrisy about living in the world as it is and simultaneously worrying about its future.

    ……we shouldn’t ask anyone — and certainly not everyone — to manage his or her own carbon footprint before we even really try to enact laws and policies that would reduce all of our emissions.

    That is the purpose of politics: that we can be and do better together than we might manage as individuals.


  4. greywarshark 4

    One improvement we can make is to make more things for NZs who will pay more for them and buy less.

    This is what we need a lot of to have a happy working country. Audio on this link.

    An engineering company is ready to employ Maori and Pasifika but they are not available with skills required. They have 70% NZ pakeha graduates.

    So let’s help Maori get the education they need, Maori don’t hate the idea of charter schools, they see they have a place if run well. Maori with aptitude could go to a school with others intending to have a career. Make it a good education that suits Maori and with tikanga. I believe that a lot of Maori disadvantage in education levels comes from a dumbing down through peer pressure. Someone aiming higher than the others is regarded as a smarty-pants. This would cut through that. The methods would have to be better than at that older Maori colleges that seemed to have disappointing results and had violent episodes erupt too often.

  5. KJT 5


    “I used to think that top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that thirty years of good science could address these problems. I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy, and to deal with these we need a cultural and spiritual transformation. And we scientists don’t know how to do that”.

    Selfishness, greed and apathy.

    • greywarshark 5.1

      Link from the Canadian Association for the Club of Rome. Does everyone know about it? It has been going for many decades.

    • RedLogix 5.2

      And we scientists don’t know how to do that”.

      Well of course not, science is the domain of observable facts; while the transformation of the human heart is the about values, inspiration and connection.

      How about reframing these three words:

      Selfishness. Instead how about viewing this as responsibility, the act of people looking after themselves and taking care of their own needs as best they can. Now expand this idea to widen their definition of ‘needs’ to include the environment and the wider planet.

      Greed. Instead we can frame this as aspiration, the desire of people to excel and succeed. Expand the definition of success from the narrowly material, to include virtue, competency and a sense of recognition and place within community.

      Apathy. Tell people they’re apathetic and their brain will guarantee you more of the same. Counter this with connection, prove to them in small ways that they can have control over their lives, and together communities will generate huge meaningful change.

      This is just my poor, off the cuff attempt, but can you not see the difference? One approach closes off the conversation, and leads nowhere. The other expands it, inviting people to make their contribution and find their own place within it.

      • Sam 5.2.1

        Every Captian needs a Spook. Although The Original Star Trek series in fiction, it helps illustrate how stoicism and logic go hand in hand with wisdom to reduce self deception and bullshit. Climate change is perhaps the greatest challenge humanity will face and yes, self deception and bullshit is very high.

        For examples guys can desire going on a diet and losing weight but that comes with to monsters in the testicles and stomach namely appetites. How does a man truely turn something off that has been apart of him since birth, it’s almost impossible. So we construct these moralising behaviours so if I run I can eat 2kgs of vegetarian food instead of a 300 grams of steak. Depending on your mood and attitude it’s always good to have logic and qualitative and quantitive analysis.

        • Robert Guyton

          Moralising for the sake of controlling behaviour isn’t something an individual should have to do alone. Codes of behaviour are best forged by communities particular to space and time. Stories, told and retold by members of those communities are the best method of keeping all aware of the mutually agreed standards of behaviour.
          Where does such a system operate nowadays? Psychotic behaviours by individuals and communities; nations even, across the globe indicate that the system I’ve described is broken, but all things can be repaired.

          • Sacha

            “Codes of behaviour are best forged by communities particular to space and time.”

            That works for homogeneous groups; not so much if you are a minority. These days people who are part of disadvantaged groups are deriving strength from connecting across time and space, all around the world. Could help power our shared future.

            • Sam

              Personally I tend to believe that an agricultural society intolerant of change is unable to produce an industrial revolution capable of producing enough guns for a Mad Max gun culture that effects schools and minorities disproportionally and any attempt to claim that a society with out any decent domestic gun smithing can produce a mad max gun culture is smoking the electric puha real hard.

      • greywarshark 5.2.2

        In looking at those three things much of the good that is to be gained is from thinking about how people can do better for themselves, in the environment and in the community. The idea of community seems to be that is self supporting; that the individual can tap into it and get a place within. But that is too a large extent what the thinking is now. We need something more.

        Being able to be part of the community, give and take, move in and out is what is needed. And the opportunity to meet and discuss and ask for policies to be considered and implemented is necessary. Participatory involvement, having some ideas, not leaving all to authority and then wanting individual needs met is how it is now with representative democracy, that has led to apathy.

        Taking community out to others who haven’t the means or the knack of self–advancement is what is needed. And they should be able to choose what help they receive, apart from mandatory health check-ups and so on. What is needed is to look outwards – to be strong in community – and keep building the community that allows individual satisfaction, yet being with other people, all having a place that fits their wishes at their level of affordability.

      • Stuart Munro 5.2.3

        Scientists might know more about these things than they think, if they check the literature. Ben Franklin and friends reckoned they could synthesize the moral content of multiple world religions down to the maxim, “Be just, and good”. Adam Smith’s identification of sensibility, a means of perceiving others and the effects of our own actions on others, drove much of enlightenment thought in England back before post-modernism laid waste to the intellectual landscape.

        And the likes of E O Wilson in our own time have sociobiological researches that validate a prosocial approach to human problems that would render the dark Platonism of Strauss or of our trolls obsolete, were it not obsolete from its inception.

        • greywarshark

          Interesting that E O Wilson is known for his study of ants. I was gobsmacked by their inbuilt systems that enable them to flourish. I can understand why he thought they were worthy of study when I saw this Brazilian story.

          We are so combative amongst ourselves I guess because we are capable of thinking of many possibilities and then fight about which one wins. We can trade in ephemera while ants deal with practical matters.

          Do ants dream? Margaret Mahy wrote a story about a keen little ant Mona Minim – she was so imaginative and her actors usually managed to come out on top of problems.

          I looked up Wilson’s theory on altruism relating to kin selection from 1975 (actually Hamilton’s), and then came across his disavowal of it in 2004. What he then said about altruism was basically the saying ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’.

          The alternative theory holds that the origins of altruism and teamwork have nothing to do with kinship or the degree of relatedness between individuals.

          The key, Wilson said, is the group: Under certain circumstances, groups of cooperators can out-compete groups of non-cooperators, thereby ensuring that their genes — including the ones that predispose them to cooperation — are handed down to future generations.

          This so-called group selection, Wilson insists, is what forms the evolutionary basis for a variety of advanced social behaviors linked to altruism, teamwork, and tribalism — a position that other scientists have taken over the years, but which historically has been considered, in Wilson’s own word, “heresy.”

          I guess that my point – about finding other people who want to live in a good way and be committed to each other, being honest about doubts and faults, not cutting off other similarly committed at the knees, is the way forward. And it can be good fun working together – you just have to keep checking what your purpose is and your mission, goals and actual practices are.

          • Stuart Munro.

            Yes, I think that this group cooperation was in fact a character of preDouglas NZ society, and preventing the formation of such an active consensus is the raison d’etre of negative forces like our trolls. Something Popper was trying to tell us in The Open Society and its Enemies.

            E O Wilson is also one side in an ongoing debate with the execrable Richard Dawkins, who, without so much as a shred of research evidence came up with the polar opposite of Wilson’s sociobiological stance, which may be inferred quite readily from his notoriously illogical The Selfish Gene, which Stove discusses here: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/chat/841182/posts

            The ‘hard man’ Darwinism of Dawkins is neither Darwinist (it was Huxley’s) nor does it reflect animal behavior. Like our own Gosman, albeit much more literately, Dawkins was never a biologist at all – merely a polemicist recycling long abandoned ideas which flatter the self-styled elite.

  6. greywarshark 6

    Your comments are so interesting Stuart Munro – opening up new vistas and understandings that I find real, helpful, and enlightening. More than ever we need to find our firm path of reasoning and imagining to tread in NZ; we don’t want to stray aside and end up in bubbling boiling pools with our goose cooked. Mixed metaphors there! Thanks.

    • Stuart Munro. 6.1

      It’s kind of you to say so, really I’ve just been fortunate enough to have a few good students, who made me work through some of this stuff 🙂 .

      • greywarshark 6.1.1

        To paraphrase a saw about women and education – ‘Educate a blogger and you educate the (sentient) world.’

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