Archive for March, 2017

Melting on the roof of the world, Tibet.

I follow environmental and sustainability news fairly closely (alright, not as closely as I’d like to given a work schedule) and I tend to be reasonably well-informed.  However, this particular article brought me up short. It showed me how little we really know about what is going on in the world, how few people appreciate it, and why they need to.  An area of the world that is difficult to access, that we in the US and the west don’t understand well, that impacts billions (with a “B”) of people, is having its own crisis.

What do we do if Tibet goes dry, and takes the Mekong, Yellow and Yangtze rivers with it? We don’t see it, but the results could be staggering in terms of geopolitical stability.

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https://www.chinadialogue.net/blog/7422-Tibetan-plateau-faces-massive-ecosystem-shift-/en

https://www.chinadialogue.net/article/show/single/en/9654-Source-of-Mekong-Yellow-and-Yangtze-rivers-drying-up

 

 

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Shades of Color

As I watched the election unfold, and the reaction (mine and others) since then, I realize that compared to many, I’m very lucky.  As I look at the friends and acquaintances I have through the variety of my connections, they run an interesting spectrum of colors from far right to far left.

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I have friends to the right of me.  Far, far more to the right than I, both politically and religiously. I know folks who believe the Bible literally in every aspect, others who are strong believers in the Doctrine of Ultimate Depravity (which is almost as scary as it sounds). A couple are fervent advocates of the 2nd Amendment above almost all other rights.  And there are others who are just biased (pick a category, every category) and focused only on themselves.

I have friends to the left of me, some to the far left of me.  I’ve known some who are gay or bisexual, while others are ethically polyamorous.  Some are agnostics, some atheists, some just seeking or defining their own higher power. And there are those who are gamers, cosplayers, and even a couple of friends who are furries (look that one up if you don’t know it 🙂 )

Each one gives me aspects of their lives to think about. Each adds a shade, a color, a nuance, a perspective to my own view or positions.  My views on abortion, gay/LGBTQ+ rights, alternative lifestyles, have all changed by knowing people in those communities. There has been at least one case where a columnist has helped me to understand the view of the world from the life of someone of a different color.  In the end, what I had been harboring as a white,male, hardcore fundamentalist view has broadened to include, and care about, a variety of others that I didn’t know before.  It seems difficult, if you don’t know anyone outside of your pale, your tribe, your mindset, to appreciate the diversity as much as you can with broader contacts.

I’m glad for shades of color that help broaden and enliven my world.

Shades of Gray

In a sense, it’s a bit odd that while I am an engineer that you would expect to have a very rigid and formulaic mind, I don’t see things as black and white; rather, I see them in a whole spectrum of grays (not where you thought this was going is it? 😀 )

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One of my major issues with the talking heads and politics these days is that the details, the intricacy of issues, is lost.  No one wants to look at a discussion in-depth, everyone one wants to solve it with a simple pronouncement, one that ignores the raft of depths and complexity of every issue.  Every issue has some degree of intricacy to it, many are incredibly complicated. Reducing a topic to single aspect, a single fraction of the entirety, a single wavelength, violates the integrity of the whole.  And the tendency of society to move from detailed analysis to 140 character tweets or two-line memes isn’t helping to find solutions or even in defining the problems.  It’s like describing an impressionist painting by one dot of paint, trying to build a plane with one pieces of metal, defining a person by a 2-second interaction.

We need to learn to embrace the larger, more diverse, more expansive, more accurate and complete picture. The bigger, fuller picture allows us to find more appropriate solutions, ones that might actually work.  Looking at the bigger picture may allow to avoid more, or even worse, problems in the future.  But that requires us to consider hundreds or thousands of words, to consider the past and the future, to examine ourselves and others.

It requires us to look beyond a world of 140 character. The shrinking world of characters is already the bane of thought, and it may be the death of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flagging Memory

As I come into the gathering hall before church, it looks quiet colorful.  all the low, round coffee tables are decorated with numerous tabletop flag stands, holding flags from all around the world.  The flags are part of the months focus on world-wide ministry.

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The cause me to smile, because they remind me of my youth.  I used to be quite fascinated with flags.  I knew the flags of all the nations, even the lesser known ones of Africa.  One of my fondest souvenirs was a set of paper flags from the United Nations and a trip there.  I remember gluing the flags onto little wooden sticks.  They were so treasured that I had them well into adult-hood….in fact, up until the Great Purge of the last couple of years.

Times have changed.

Names have been changed….Upper Volta, Ceylon, Burma.

Countries have gone….Yugoslavia, USSR, United Arab Republic.

And now there are a slew of ‘Stans, a Balkan’s full of little states, new island states.

And a flagging memory for recognizing them.