Archive for the ‘communication’ Category

I used to live in Inverness CA, a sleepy, out of the way village near Point Reyes National Seashore in the almost separate state of Northern California. It was named after Inverness in the almost separate country of Scotland. But believe me, they are very different places.  Though we found charming places in the countryside, the Scottish city is somewhat rundown, with a rising crime rate and a lowering standard of maintenance to its buildings. I was expecting no more than a village, but apparently it took more than a village. Inverness CA will always remain in my heart and soul. Inverness UK, even as I sit watching the River Ness flowing by, is fading from memory. Now the outskirts are another matter. We took a tour with a local friend yesterday of Loch Ness, (right, the one with the 1500 year old monster) and charmed by its beauty. No Tahoe, still there is practically no development around it, as that which spoils the California beauty. And it’s not even a protected area. Surprising, since it’s only 30 minutes from the city, indicating Invernessians are not all that connected with nature, or that builders are a bit behind the curve. Anyway, we took a bus and boat trip to Urquhart Castle, at least its ruins. Europeans value their ancient ruins. Wars made them ruins, and Europeans certainly are good at making war. But then once razed and ruined, castles, churches, even ancient rocks and stones of mysterious origins are preserved and honored. In America, we preserve cemetaries, and a few houses here and there, if fought for. New England is the one exception for good wabi sabi subjects.

Inverness UK was also both a baptism and wake to English driving practices. Driving is on the left side. The driver sits on the right side, leaving drivers from continents to the west and east misjudging the curb to the left. This was extremely nerve wracking, and after getting lost twice, I finally decided to give up the car rental and abandon driving in the UK forever forward. We retreated to train, bus, and taxi, and stress levels returned to normal where they should be on vacation.

Our last day in the Highlands of Scotland, which still tries to achieve independence from England to this day, was spent driving through the rain, thanks to local friends who insisted on showing us around. A married couple, he was Scottish and she Brazilian, an odd combination but no less so than me and my own Brazilian wife. He was from Glasgow to the south and possessed an accent that was close to being indecernible. I never did fully get the hang of it, and spent most of the trip nodding my head in benign confusion.

Fortunately our destination was a tour at a malt whiskey distillery and I took the opportunity to defensively muddle my head even more. With whiskey, teenage is best behaved, unlike with people, and 15 years was most agreeable. A castle on the grounds ended the tour and by the time we reached it, I was completely razed but not ruined.

On the rainy ride home–thanks to the angels for getting me out of driving–we drove through Findhorn Community, a place I remember from the 60s when they grew miracle giant vegetables from apparently in-arable sandy soil, but then switched to growing people, with workshops on relationships and sustainable living practices. We missed the tour, but it was obvious that the community still thrives with unique private houses connected within common purpose and simple values. I don’t know if the people have grown that much, but Findhorn is celebrating its 50th year, and judging from all the solar panels and signs favoring people and bicycles over cars, I’d say they’re making progress. Findhorn is 29 miles from Inverness, along the Moray Firth (or bay) which funnels out to the North Sea.

Now back in town, where the rain has deepened the already deep grays of Inverness. Color is hard to find in this capital of the Highlands. Requires a bit of Scotch whiskey and water.

On the train to London, just finishing my breakfast, gazing out at snow on the high plains of Cairngorms National Park. It is May 10. Aye, I did say snow!


Read Full Post »

Hiking on a cliff by the Pacific Ocean recently, I saw Earth: sea, sky, land, shore, sand, people gazing out looking for whales, sighting birds, braced against a stiff breeze. We are Earthlings, and would call ourselves so if we knew there were other planets in the universe with people as us. Unfortunately most of us think we are the only people in the universe and so have divided ourselves into countries, some of which are hostile to others. If we knew there were other inhabited planets, we would see ourselves more as Earthlings than from particular countries. We would spend our time not opposing or competing against other countries but on concentrating on Earth itself, taking pride in our home planet and making it a place of sanctuary and peace. We would be conscious that another people from another planet could visit us, possibly attacking, yes, but more likely exploring to see what we were about. If they attacked we would want to present a united front, with a united front of weaponry, to oppose them. And if they were explorers, we would also want a united contingent to meet them, communicate, share, and get to know them. We would hope to befriend them. We would hope to have a true United Nations. In fact that would be the name of our united planet: The United Nations of Earth or UNE. The League of Nations was a start. The United Nations followed. The United Nations of Earth could be the next level of unity and cooperation.

The key to forming UNE comes out of a news story just a few days ago about exoplanets, or planets that circle around their own star. Hundreds have been discovered, creating the possibility of life on those planets, if conditions were as ideal as here on Earth. As President Kennedy initiated putting a man on the moon within a decade, we could resolve to find other Earth-like planets, and establish communications within a decade. Scientists from relevant disciplines could work cooperatively, and focus their energy and resources to this crucial goal to establish contact with people in the universe. Since most Earthlings think we are the only planet with life as we know it, our attitudes, values, and perspectives are shaped by this superior assumption, a kind of anthropomorphic equivalent to our relationship with other planets. In other words, we possess the only life in the entire universe. Since there is no one else to be “better than,” and as human beings, we seemingly must be better than someone, we have divided and categorized ourselves into being better than others here on Earth, hence we’ve resorted to conflict, war, religious persecution, racism, sexism, ethnic cleansing, holocausts, even attacked our planet itself through environmental degradation and anthropomorphism. It’s my way or the highway. Nothing has succeeded in deterring us from this tendency to shove our ideas down the other  (more…)

Read Full Post »