Thoughtful, committed citizens

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. It is the only thing that ever has.

~ Margaret Mead

Ownership

https://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2012/06/virtual-real-estate/

Ownership is somewhat of a gray area, both with physical and virtual real estate. I use the term loosely here. Ownership depends on how much control you have over the property, so we have a spectrum of possibilities. For instance, if you want to discover who really owns your home, stop paying your property taxes for a while and see what happens.

~ Steve Pavlina

This pull-quote has little to do with the linked article. It simply made me laugh out loud—for real, in the literal sense. If you’ve not owned a house, you cannot aprehend property taxes. I digress.

Just before this article by Steve, I had read a short piece about adulthood and children. A piece about parents who give children too much choice. It contained a thought or three about:

Why would I want to grow up and have to accept all the responsibility, when I already have all the freedom and luxury?

That is one of the Big Questions. The day on which I understood the answer was the 3rd most important day of my life.

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Burnout

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/annehelenpetersen/millennials-burnout-generation-debt-work

The problem with holistic, all-consuming burnout is that there’s no solution to it. You can’t optimize it to make it end faster. You can’t see it coming like a cold and start taking the burnout-prevention version of Airborne. The best way to treat it is to first acknowledge it for what it is — not a passing ailment, but a chronic disease — and to understand its roots and its parameters. That’s why people I talked to felt such relief reading the “mental load” cartoon, and why reading Harris’s book felt so cathartic for me: They don’t excuse why we behave and feel the way we do. They just describe those feelings and behaviors — and the larger systems of capitalism and patriarchy that contribute to them — accurately.

~ Anne Helen Petersen

I was startled (or perhaps proud?) to notice this seems to be the first thing I’ve ever linked to on Buzzfeed. I was also startled to realize this article makes a lot of great points about burnout.

It doesn’t have any suggestions about how to recover. But it does point out the key observation that you cannot optimize your way out of burnout. Been there. Done that. Am there. Doing that.

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Riders on the Earth together

https://www.brainpickings.org/2013/02/14/happy-birthday-pale-blue-dot/

For the first time in all of time, men have seen the Earth. Seen it not as continents or oceans from the little distance of a hundred miles or two or three, but seen it from the depths of space; seen it whole and round and beautiful and small… To see the Earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the Earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold—brothers who know that they are truly brothers.

~ Archibald MacLeish

The linked article is about Carl Sagan’s, Pale Blue Dot, but the quote is from a less well-known poet, Archibald MacLeish. He wrote an essay titled, Riders on the Earth, which appeared in The New York Times on Christmas Day, 1968.

I am well aware that this blog is a long sequence of my ideas which are inspired by others’. There’s a reason I lead with the link to the seed from which each idea germinated.

I recall exactly when, and where, I was when I had the idea to restart blogging. (Aside: Another reason I love my long-standing habit of journaling is the ability to look up things like this to audit my memory.) I cannot imagine where I would be today—frankly, there’s no chance I would have gotten to where I am today—if I hadn’t started this place to unpack my thoughts.

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Embarrassment

https://seths.blog/2012/03/ashamed-to-not-know/

Society changes when we change what we’re embarrassed about.

~ Seth Godin

This is an interesting way to look at societal changes. Since there is no “we”—there is no aggregate, thing which is “the society as a whole” which can feel embarrassed—the only “we” which can be embarrassed is me, the individual.

…and since this blog is about me, I should talk about what embarrasses me. But instead, I’m interested in unpacking the source of my embarrassment:

When my actions and thoughts disagree with what I know is right.

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This explains everything

https://www.brainpickings.org/2013/01/22/this-explains-everything-brockman-edge-question/

Despite the laudatory efforts of scientists to ferret out patterns in human behavior, I continue to be struck by the impact of single individuals, or of small groups, working against the odds. As scholars, we cannot and should not sweep these instances under the investigative rug. We should bear in mind anthropologist Margaret Mead’s famous injunction: ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. It is the only thing that ever has.’

~ John Brockman

There so many ways that you can see this in human societies: The crowd of non-helpers all assuming someone else will help, the herds on social media who are only listening to refute, and the oceans of sarcasm to gain temporary attention.

But there are always a few—surely you’ve spotted them in your life?—who are inspiring. Perk up your ears. Who’s efforts call to you? Are you helping them?

Better yet, what calls to you? Are you thoughtful? Are you committed?

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Making your ideas happen

https://www.brainpickings.org/2013/02/01/dan-pink-to-sell-is-human/

Selling, I’ve grown to understand, is more urgent, more important, and, in its own sweet way, more beautiful than we realize. The ability to move others to exchange what they have for what we have is crucial to our survival and our happiness. It has helped our species evolve, lifted our living standards, and enhanced our daily lives. The capacity to sell isn’t some unnatural adaptation to the merciless world of commerce. It is part of who we are.

~ Daniel Pink

I believe in a very clear definition of “trade:” An exchange of value in which all parties are left better off; That is to say, trade is not zero-sum.

I believe it’s unnecessary to talk about “good” trade. That “good” is superfluous since any trade that isn’t “good” wouldn’t be trade. (It would be deception, cohersion, etc.)

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One word

http://www.raptitude.com/2011/04/four-words-that-make-me-suspicious-of-myself-when-i-say-them/

I find myself using the word “wish” when I’ve decided I don’t like something the way it is, yet I’m not actually doing anything about it. There’s no real reason to declare my wishes. Whenever I start a sentence with “I just wish…” feel free to ignore me, I’m only wasting your time. My whiny face has probably made you tune out anyway.

~ David Cain

Then I have to ask, what does it mean when we say, “I wish you well?”

It means exactly nothing.

If someone is sick, don’t send prayers or well wishes. Instead, tell them you will miss them when they are gone—oviously only in cases where Death is the elephant-in-the-room. In more mundane situations, why not tell someone how much you enjoyed this opportunity to spend time with them. …or how much you appreciate their simply calling to say hello. Don’t “wish” them well. Don’t “try” to keep in touch. (Those are just a few examples that spring immediately to mind.)

Avoiding “wishing” is not easy. I’ve been actively and intentionally working on it for many years. So far, I’ve managed only to become aware of it each time I “wish” or “try.”

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Desperate to sign anything

https://www.gapingvoid.com/content/uploads/assets/Moveable_Type/archives/000896.html

They just assumed I must be just like all the other people they represent- hungry and desperate and willing to sign anything.

~ Jason Korman

People sometimes ask, when the Movers Mindset podcast isn’t available in their favorite podcast-player app, why not?

tl;dr: odious clauses in click-wrap contracts.

You should see some of the things! Obviously, there are “hold harmless” clauses obsolving them of any possible responsibility—sure, ok, that’s fine, I am deriving benefit from having our podcast distrbuted through your thing. But some of them want the right to insert ads—not just run ads before or after. Sure, ok, again, you need to pay for your thing; I get that. But insert ads in the middle? Or how about clauses that bind me to defend them in any lawsuit. Not even just related to the content we created—but any lawsuit. Or how about my not being allowed to mention in our advertising that we’re being carried by their thing . . .

sorry
i digress

These odious cases have arisen because it’s a lovers’ triangle: The thing/app convinces the users that everything is rosy. The users lean on me because they can’t hear the podcast, and then the thing/app extorts me. Which is all very closely related to Jaron Lanier’s comment about “our society cannot survive, if…” (And that’s a link to the web site where you can always listen to the podcast, for free, because we control our web site.)

Please—you reading right now—please start paying for things. Choose a podcast player app which is not free. That makes you the customer, and enables them to build a great app. Then they don’t have to strong-arm me. Choose a messaging system, choose a source of information, choose everything(!) by being part of a fair trade with another party.

If you find yourself in a position, where you’re thinking, “this is great and free!” please look around and try to figure out who is actually being taken advantage of… it’s clearly not you, but I assure you, it’s someone else.

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