Today, we begin working on the solutions to the crises that we have designed for ourselves.
Life is Messy
A very bright clown, Lunette, once said, “Who made this big mess? We did. We have to clean it up. It’s only fair.”
All I really need to know I learned in Kindergarten.
- Share everything.
- Play fair.
- Don’t hit people.
- Put things back where you found them.
- Clean up your own mess.
- Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
- Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
- Wash your hands before you eat.
- Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
- Live a balanced life—learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
- Take a nap every afternoon.
- When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
- Wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
- Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup—they all die. So do we.
- And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned—the biggest word of all—LOOK.
Love the Other
When we grow up, we learn about how cranky old men decided that only the things that they valued were worth counting. Ever since, we have been ordering our world according to some really gross ideas about how people are more valuable than other people because they have more money.
Economists tell us that we must grow our national economies and account for the wealth of nations according to a number we know as GDP: Gross National Product.
This idea became a world-wide religion where we all worship the idols we created with our own hands, the golden calf we call a brand or a corporation.
Some people even wrote on pieces of paper where they put their confidence. They meant to say, “In God we trust,” but, in practice, their money became their god.
They even killed a man over $20.
“Is that what a Black man is worth? Twenty dollars?” – Philonise Floyd
At the foundation of this belief system is the doctrine that capital has value and humans have value only in relation to their capacity to create or accumulate capital.
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
— Matthew 6:24
Our reality is ordered by the capitalist ideology that builds our entire world on the premise that humans exist to create capital.
We have designed an entire social, economic, and political system that reduces a human’s most precious resources—their time, energy, and creativity—into a value exchange for money.
The metaphysical is that which is beyond the physical. That which is beyond what we can measure in the physical world of cosmology, geology, and biology is what we might refer to as the metaphysical world of human experience: perception, cognition, emotion, and action. That is our metaphysical reality.
How do we measure metaphysical reality? We follow the money. Large technology corporations have created a vast network of machines and devices to watch where we invest our time, energy, and resources. They have designed systems to track us, and algorithms to manipulate our attention and behaviour.
If our value system is based on capital, we will have a belief in scarcity, profit, and surplus. The system is designed for inequality. People profit by taking more than they give back.
Monarchs enlist their subjects to explore the world for resources to enrich their empires. They make laws to justify their actions. They make corporations as the primary institutions for extracting resources from people and from the territories they had “discovered.” They create colonies of settlers to displace the original inhabitants. They create ways to keep people informed about how the commonwealth of nations depends on the civility of the subjects of the Crown.
After over 500 years since Pope Alexander VI issued the Papal Bull “Inter Caetera” in 1493, the Doctrine of Discovery has been imposed by monarchs upon their colonies, and they are continuing with the same colonial project to this day.
However, these monarchs lacked foresight. They lost control of the narrative. They lost control of their colonies. They inadvertently surrendered their technological advantages by providing their trade secrets to the slave labour they were using to build their empires.
The colonizers are being colonized by their former colonies.
Marilyn Waring on Politics
In 1975, 22-year-old Marilyn Waring became the youngest member in the New Zealand Parliament. At the age of 24, she became Chairperson of the prestigious Public Expenditures Committee, which reviewed all the parliamentary budgets of her government. She travelled to over 35 countries in this capacity, and discovered that the rules which governed the finances of her own country were operating worldwide.
Marilyn Waring on Women and Economics
In each country she visited, Waring spent a day with a local woman her own age. She witnessed the enormous, unrecorded, unacknowledged extent of women's work. Women remain more than 50 percent of the world's population, yet hold no more than 10 percent of the seats in national legislatures. In one government in three, there are no women in the highest decision-making bodies.
Thirty Years Later: Are We Still ‘Counting for Nothing’?
Marilyn will reflect on the GDP and changes and strategies emerging since 1989, the year her classic critique was published. What has been critical and radical, what has been sadly strategically astray, and what has added to the destructive power of this over-rated indicator?
Waring is professor of public policy, AUT University, New Zealand. She is an internationally-renowned feminist political economist, human rights activist, development consultant. Her best known work, Counting for Nothing: what men value and what women are worth, was the subject of the best-selling documentary made by the NFB Canada Who’s Counting: Marilyn Waring on sex, lies and global economics.
She was one of the “1000 women for the Nobel Peace Prize” nominations in 2005. Also in 2005, Waring was chosen by Attac-40 as one of 26 Voix Rebelles Du Monde, (Rebellious Voices of the World) including Jo Steiglitz, Maude Barlow, Arundhati Roy, and Vandana Shiva. Waring has been on the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) and was one of two international members of the Board of the Canadian Index for Well Being.
She was awarded the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal, 1977; Amnesty’s Human Rights Defender Award 2013; NZIER Economist of the Year 2014; winner Women of Influence Innovation/Science category; and International Honorary Member Zonta.
- Trump’s presidency has been a global awakening to systemic racism.
- People are not able to recognize their own racism, let alone the racism of an entire social, economic, and political system, because it is the water we swim in.
- We are making the invisible visible.
- Intellectual property is a form of human abstraction that embeds human knowledge into a racist economic system designed for the enrichment of the individual that “discovers” an idea.
- This is a racist idea, called the Doctrine of Discovery.
- A corporation is a form of human abstraction that embeds the concept of property into a racist economic system designed to create monopolies of power and imbue these abstract organizations of human power with legal personhood, according to a racist ideology of a hierarchy of values that can be ascribed to human beings based on an individual’s access to capital.
- Because I do not belong in this world, that has been constructed to destroy my identity and sense of self by proselytizing, neglecting, marginalizing, and silencing, I have learned that my role in this world is to act as a sort of cultural anthropologist, “a stranger in a strange land.”
- “And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.” Exodus 2:22
The 20th-century economists told us a story about who we are, based on John Stuart Mill’s persona of "Rational Economic Man" as purely self-interested, with little regard for the interests of others. “This value in self-interest and competition over collaboration and altruism, this model remakes us. It's incredibly important how we how we represent ourselves. It changes us.”
Building a New House
A letter to Don Golden, Monday, November 18, 2019
I listened to the RobCast this morning, and I am listening to “Building a New House“ again. Your story is compelling, and I would love to find out how I can get involved.
Bau is a Chinese name, meaning “abalone.” In German, it means “to build.” Thirty years ago, I learned about the Bauhaus in college when I was learning to be a graphic designer. It was a school with a vision to rebuild society. I worked for a couple years at a Vancouver design studio. Then I started my own design business to build the house of God, Bauhouse Visual Communications in 1991.
In 2015, I started a corporation called BLDRS Collective Inc to build leaders to design a resilient society. The vision of the builders collective is to connect a creative, collaborative network to respond to the social, economic, political, and ecological crisis. Inspired by the Bauhaus, the idea is to reimagine our social architecture, recognizing the evolution of design from a focus on physical artifacts to the metaphysical: the social, economic, and political in symbiosis with the living systems of the planet.
In your conversation with Rob Bell, you told the story of Stephen giving a history lesson to the Sanhedrin.
I am named after Stephen, and I have been pondering that story about building the house for most of my life.
In your discussion with Rob Bell, a missing piece was added to my understanding: the word oikos and the connection between house and economy. Sally McFague from Vancouver School of Theology just passed away. In memoriam, Tripp Fuller released a couple conversations he shared with Sally McFague. She mentions her studies in economics and her theological ideas about death, love, and God embodied in the world.
CBC Tapestry just released an episode about resilience.
A couple of dancers were brainstorming ideas for the title of their performance and are considering “embodied.”
There is something about these connections that is saying something to me about the next steps in my journey.
I wonder if there is any way I can help you with your work on building a new house.
Stephen Samuel Bau
(Meaning: “A crowned one heard from God: build”)
Emailed to Don Golden. I had a conversation with Don Golden the day the news was released that Iranian General Qasem Soleimani was assassinated.
“It’s almost like if an immigrant nation tried to build a wall to keep out immigrants.” (17:00) @donrgolden @realrobbell https://robbell.podbean.com/e/building-a-new-house-with-don-golden/
The Tribe of Plenty
After the Zoom meeting for the final module, featuring Bonnie DeVarco, the archivist of the Buckminster Fuller collection, there was a group of people who had been inspired by the ideas that I had proposed about reimagining our social architecture.
These ideas draw from the sacred text with which I was raised and that is still very much a part of our metaphysical reality in a world colonized by Western European Christians.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
— Hebrews 10:24-25
I suggested that the root problem is our global economic system that values capital more than humans. There is an asymmetry of power in the relationship between corporations and people. We have ascribed legal personhood to corporations. Corporations can accumulate far more capital than any single human being, and they can be potentially immortal.
We have been more afraid of homicidal machines built with artificial intelligence, but The Terminator has already been built in the form of a corporation. It operates like a perpetual motion machine on its own internal logic, afforded by the social, economic, and political systems that animate the incentives, motivations, and machinery to kill humans in a multiplicity of schemes. We are complicit in the ongoing genocide that started with the Papal Bull of 1493.
However, we have the capacity to change the stories that we have been telling each other for years.
Humans should not be grovelling at the feet of corporations for the privilege of a job, to be enslaved to the security of a pay check, for work that is less than meaningless. The work is to engage in actively enslaving and killing people.
Can we reimagine the kind of work that we do, where organizations need to bid on our time, energy, and resources, because each life is precious and short?
The Gods of Men
Corporations are immortal, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. In comparison to humans, they are god-like.
Brands are symbols of trust. We put confidence in a brand based on the quality of the experience that we have with their products and services. We form tribal relationships with brands. They have become our own personal Jesus.
We pray to our phones and devices every day by giving them all our attention, time, energy, and resources.
Human time, energy, and creativity are the new currency. When our time and love are considered precious, as living, breathing human beings, then money, capital, property, corporations, and nations become worthless abstractions.
Turn on a Dime
If we now realize how we are worshipping the golden calf, the work of our hands, how do we now repent?
Repent means to physically turn in the opposite direction. Interestingly, Jason Reynolds and Krista Tippett were in a conversation recently about systemic racism and repentance.
I remember someone speaking of systemic racism (now I cannot remember where), using the analogy of a circular above-ground pool where people have moved in one direction for so long that they have created a whirlpool effect. To turn around means to fight against the current. But, if everyone stops moving, the current quickly dissipates.
We have discovered the power of collective action, when we decide to value human life more than money. We are saving people’s lives by going to our rooms to think about what we have done.
Now, we can think a little longer before we try to go back to what we were doing before we realized that a pandemic had the potential of killing hundreds of thousands of living, breathing human beings.
Money is a story we tell ourselves
Jesus flipped the tables. It is time that we flipped the tables in this temple that was built to serve and worship the god of Capitalism. Overturn the tables of the money changers. The whole thing has been built on a lie.
The Death of Jesus
Crucifixion is a method of punishment or capital punishment in which the victim is tied or nailed to a large wooden beam and left to hang, perhaps for several days, until eventual death from exhaustion and asphyxiation. It was used as a punishment by the Romans.
I can’t breathe
The world witnessed one who was considered by the empire as “one of the least of these” die by asphyxiation in eight minutes and forty-six seconds.
“I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!”
— Matthew 25:40
The death of George Floyd has been the social, economic, and political earthquake felt around the world.
“Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching
Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done,
they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.”
— Matthew 27:54
I had heard about it, but I hadn’t actually seen Dave Chappelle’s show in Ohio, so I started watching it. I was looking up the verse in Matthew that talks about the earthquake that happened when Jesus of Nazareth died, and Dave Chappelle said the following.
“In 1983, I’m not sure what year it was, but I was in LA. I had smoked a joint, and I was watching the movie, Apocalypse Now. Like, just after four o’clock in the morning, what would later be known as the ‘Northridge earthquake’ happened. It felt like it started in my apartment.”
“However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands.”
“You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him—you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.”
On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem…
The Monopoly on Violence
At around 6:00 p.m. on the evening of June 1, Donald Trump stood before a podium on the White House lawn and announced to the nation that he was prepared to use military force to quiet the demonstrations and riots that have swept the cities of the nation in the wake of last week’s murder of George Floyd by four policemen in Minneapolis.
The Future Earth
Eric Holthaus’s book, The Future Earth, was just released. It amounts to a manifesto for the movement to imagine, design, and build the future together: a builders collective, reimagining our social architecture for the good of all life on Earth. @EricHolthaus
The online series School of Resistance starts off with a speech by the indigenous artist and activist Kay Sara. Her speech should have opened the Wiener Festwochen live on the stage of the Burgtheater Vienna. But COVID-19 decided differently and Kay Sara sends a video from the Amazon. Her message is clear: today’s turbo-capitalist system poses an irreversible threat to the Amazon, the planet’s green lung, and therefore has to be stopped. An accusation, an outcry, a wake-up call.
Kay Sara, an indigenous artist and activist, grew up in the Brazilian state of Amazonas and is committed to the adequate representation of indigenous people and the preservation of their environment against the threat of mining companies and the agribusiness. She will play the role of Antigone in Milo Rau’s production of Sophocles’ Antigone in the Amazon.
Born in 1996, Kay Sara grew up in Iauaretê in the Brazilian state of Amazonas, close to the Colombian border. Her father was a member of the indigenous Tariano tribe, while her mother belonged to the Tukano people. At age 7, she moved with her family to Manaus, where, the same year, she performed in a film for the first time. As a young activist and performer, she is commited to the adequate representation of indigenous people, their way of living and mythological fundamentals in Brazil’s culture, and to the preservation of their environment against the threat of mining companies and the agribusiness. Acting is a tradition in her family and serves as a key strategy of her political involvement. Since her grandparents participated in Hector Babenco’s feature film Brincando nos Campos do Senhor (At Play in the Fields of the Lord, 1991), her parents and other family members performed in many films dealing with the life of the indigenous population of the Amazonian rainforest. Kay Sara appeared in several feature films and TV series, including Un giorno devi andare (There Will Come a Day) by Giorgio Diritti (2013) or Antes o Tempo Não Acabava (Time Was Endless) by Sergio Andrade and Fábio Baldo (2016. In 2018, she left Manaus in search of new opportunities and experiences. She is currently living in São Paulo and also works with several theatre collectives. In 2018, she developed her first solo performance PÊ'TÍA'NÃWE-EXTERMÍNIO.