Courtesy

I’m staying in a hotel tonight (since I’m going through the dreaded Military Medical Processing (MEPS) tomorrow), and I found this hanging on the towel rack in the bathroom. I thought it was neat, and I’ve never seen a hotel that mentioned this, so I thought it was worth sharing.

Sometimes I just throw my towel on the floor in a hurry, not because I want them to give me a new one. Having a simple little reminder could go a long way!

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Piggyback Posting

I just read a friend’s Ishmael blog, and she had such a brilliant post that I decided to share my own thoughts on it. You can read the original blog at +Jackie Boyer‘s blog: My Blog.

To start off with, I never really made the connection of The Matrix and Ishmael being so similar in nature. In the same way Neo has to choose between the red pill and the blue pill, Daniel Quinn’s readers have to choose between taking action and not.

Morpheus says (like in the picture), “I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.” Morpheus showed Neo what the real world looks like, the same way Daniel Quinn showed his readers the negative (and very permanent) impact we’re having on the Earth.

Making a decision like this… choosing between the red or blue pill, is a very hard decision. I’m sure we’d all like to think that we’d choose the red pill and be opened up to the reality of what the world is, but the idea of the blue pill can be very tempting.

Going back to one of my previous posts, one girl (whom I quoted) wrote that she was surprised that Ishmael didn’t have as much of a profound affect on other’s lives as it did on hers (paraphrased). I guess this is true in some cases, but from what I’ve read, people either didn’t take it seriously, they hated it, or they thought it was a good read but not life-changing. What I may suspect (and I may be wrong) is that maybe some people are just too afraid to take the red pill.

I think that some people, after reading Ishmael, are inspired and want to make a change, but they feel like they are going to fail and fall back into the repeating cycle of obeying Mother Culture. This may just be a theory of mine (and may be completely wrong), but I read one post on Reddit (a while ago) by [Deleted] that read, “I find it hard to take anything that proselytizes and encourages a secular form of evangelism seriously. And like another post said, it is predictable.”

After reading this I was pretty blown away that someone thought it was predictable. If it was so predictable and people already know this, why aren’t we doing anything about it? That is a model example of Mother Culture’s cunning persuasion. Saying “Yes!” isn’t easy when someone is yelling “No!” in your ear.

Georgia Guidestones

World Population Graph (billions)

Since reading Ishmael, I have spent a lot of time looking at how Ishmael impacted other people. After looking at this population graph, I started wondering what other people thought about population after having read Ishmael. I came across these photos of the Georgia Guidestones. They have inscriptions in them from several different languages and four ancient dialects. They list rules or “guidelines” that the human race should follow. I’m not sure if we really should listen to what they say, but I found them kind of interesting.

The Georgia Guidestone in English
There are a few people who think that they were created after someone read the Story of B, but looking at dates, that’s not possible unless someone in the future invented time travel. Still, it lists a lot of things that seem to be brought up in both Ishmael and The Story of B, including population control.
Interestingly enough, they look really old and are giving Ishmael and The Story of B a lot of attention. The enscriptions are in English, Chinese, Swahili, Russian, Arabic, Hebrew, Hindi, Spanish, Classical Greek, Egyptian Hieroglyphics, Sanskrit, and Babylonian, reading:

  1. Maintain humanity under 500,000 in perpetual balance with 
  2. nature. 
  3. Guide reproduction wisely — improving fitness and diversity. 
  4. Unite humanity with a living new language.
  5. Rule passion — faith — tradition — and all things with tempered reason.
  6. Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
  7. Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.
  8. Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
  9. Balance personal rights with social duties.
  10. Prize truth — beauty — love — seeking harmony with the infinite.
  11. Be not a cancer on the earth — Leave room for nature — Leave room for nature.
Entire Georgia Guidestone monument

The “be not a cancer on the earth” portion really rings true in our current state. The engraved tablet seems to list all of the fundamental actions we should NOT take in order to successfully survive on the planet, and yet, it seems that we have completely ignored it.

I can’t say that the principles on this stone tablet are completely valid and I’m not trying to say we should follow all 11 rules, but taking it into consideration might shed some light on our current situation.

Maybe we can get more people to realize that we have a problem here and get them on board to help repair the damage we have already created.

To end the post positively, I came across a quote on the web by Ralph Waldo Emerson that reads, “We are all inventors, each sailing out on a voyage of discovery, guided by each private chart, of which there is no duplicate. The world is all gates, all opportunities.”

How has Ishmael affected you?

I recently just found a community forum on Reddit (though I’m not really a regular user) and I read the message from the girl who started the thread:

I’ve recommended the book to too many people who say they liked it a lot and that it was really interesting, but I can tell they aren’t changed. Do you find that Ishmael allows you to just put it away and move on with your life?
Granted, in my opinion, Ishmael makes it dangerously easy to do just that. That’s why I always emphasize that further reading is essential when recommending it. Ishmael only introduces you to a new world. Reading the rest of Quinn’s works (especially My Ishmael) pushes you through the door and locks it behind you. When Ishmael was the only book I’d read I was still more affected than most people I know, but I almost wished I hadn’t read it. I didn’t want to read more. I was afraid in some weird way–I honestly didn’t get a good feeling from it. The knowledge was some kind of horrible burden and, somehow, I felt even more imprisoned. I remember saying to someone about the book, “I’ve always felt that we are living in some kind of prison, the only difference now is that I can see the bars.” It was only after I worked up the courage to continue reading that I became the Quinn evangelist that I am today. Perhaps it’s because the ideas are deepened and clarified and brought to life. You begin to understand that the point isn’t to go backwards and that there are better worlds out there to be discovered. Still…I’d like to see more people respond to the first book more dramatically, at least in the way that I did. It seems like it’s a fine line.
Does anyone else have any thoughts on the book’s effects personally, or on other people you know?

Through the entire class, I’ve been asking myself what the point of reading this book was. I felt similar to they way she described:  “[like] we are living in some kind of prison, the only difference now is that I can see the bars.” I am going to continue to read Quinn’s works, and who knows, maybe I’ll continue writing on this blog even after our assignment is done.

Since reading the book I have spent a lot of time looking at issues in our natural environment that are anthropogenic in nature. I have found a lot of interesting issues, but the one that puzzles me most is that we see these negative impacts on the environment and we still lay back and are comfortable sitting on the couch doing nothing.

A lot of people who have read Quinn’s work call him an anti-civ, but I just don’t think that’s true. Quinn wrote in My Ishmael, “There is no one right way to live.” When I originally read the book, I thought Quinn was trying to convert us all into “leavers” and make us go live in the woods and wipe our butts with dandelions and wet leaves. After leading a discussion in class I was informed that this was not the case, and it made sense.
My professor told me that Quinn wasn’t trying to convert us into “leavers”, but he was trying to take us out of our “taker” story and put us on the path to writing a new chapter where the “takers” and “leavers” can co-exist in harmony (haha, cliche I know). But seriously, the idea that Quinn wasn’t trying to convert us really took me aback and I started wondering what led me to think that he might be trying to.
I concluded that a large part of why I thought that was that I got defensive about what he had to say. It’s no secret that Quinn takes a hit on religion (and specifically Christianity). When I read all of the things that he had to say about my way of life [religion, civilization, grocery stores, my dreams of running a corporate business or being a lawyer or doctor (or whatever, I don’t really know what I want to be)], I got really defensive and tried to find flaws in his logic, but really, he was just trying to make his point clear.
There are a lot of things that Ishmaelians have done to spread Ishmael’s message, including bumper stickers, graffiti (wall art), posters, rebellions, petitions, plays/script writing, books, blogs, organizations, book clubs, and artistic expressions (possibly including the Georgia Guidestones), but the biggest discouragement is that their voices aren’t being heard. A large portion of people write them off as tree-hugging greenies and ignore what they have to say.
I mean, I’ve never been much of a greenie. I don’t know a lot about sustainable energy or environmental conservation, but I’m doing my best to make a difference. Reading Ishmael really changed my life and made me realize that there really isn’t one way to live. We can’t make indigenous cultures assimilate into American culture because that way of life just doesn’t work for everybody. Our attempts to make that work are beginning to prove fatal to our planet.
So I guess Ishmael has changed my life. It has changed the way that I look at things and the decisions I make in my life. Being a part of the small community of individuals in Alaska that are trying to make a change makes me proud to be alive. It has helped me realize that these messages on repeat in my head shouldn’t make me feel bad because they’re a part of ONE way of life that I am choosing not to be a part of. Now, it’s just time to make the change.

What is the way of the human being?

BAM! The question hit my conscience like a bullet train. What is the way of the human being? Well, heck, I sure didn’t know. Isn’t one of the main lessons in Ishmael that there is no “right” way to live, thus meaning that there is no “way of the human being”? Well, that’s what I thought…

Our discussion today kicked off with that question and it seemed as though everyone else was just as puzzled as I was. I tried to think about the question. Really think about it. But my mind just kept drawing blanks each time I tried to take my thoughts in a specific direction.

The discussion moved on quickly and I didn’t have much time to think. A while later we started talking about why we should save native cultures. More specifically, why we should save the Alaskan Native culture from drinking itself to death. As a class we listed the following reasons:

  • We can still learn from the native culture
  • If our way of life fails, we know that we will have another way of living
  • The natives know how to live here (in Alaska)
After we finished listing reasons to save the native culture, I started getting really upset. One of the most important lessons I got out of Ishmael was that we should take care of our community because it is the right thing to do. We should care for each other, Mother Nature, and planet Earth, otherwise our mission to succeed as a species will fail.
Caring for each other in my book means that we don’t have to get a gain out of something. We have talked this entire semester on and off about how we should do things to conserve our planet because it’s where we live. Alaska is where we live and taking care of each other is a huge step in the right direction. If we want to be able to put energy and time into conserving Earth’s natural environment, we have to be able to fix the problems that we have within our community.
I know extending my community to include all of Alaska is a bit of a stretch, but Alaska is just kind of like that. We are cut off from the rest of the United States so we’re a little different in that way. We’re supposed to take care of each other. The same kind of Taker culture that works in the lower 48 alright doesn’t work well up here. We’re secluded and we don’t have an escape unless we want to go through Canada (and anyone that’s done that will know how hard it is) or on a gas-guzzling airplane.
The reasons we listed brought me back to the Taker mindset. Sure, they were all valid ideas, but they contained the idea that we have to get a gain out of something or it’s not worth doing (which is the opposite of the native mindset). In the native culture, you do things because it benefits your community as a whole, not because it benefits you. Actions are done and decisions are made with future generations and the impact on the community as a whole in mind. Thinking like that makes sure that everyone benefits in the end and the community is lifted as a whole, rather than benefiting an elite few and throwing the rest into poverty.
I know this post is rather negative, but I was just really upset when I realized that our inspiration for saving something was drenched in Taker motives.

Totalitarian Agriculture

In the Story of B, Daniel Quinn writes “The Tak had the remarkable and unprecedented idea that everyone should live the way they lived. It’s impossible to exaggerate how unusual this made them. I can’t name a single other [tribalistic] people in history who made it a goal to proselytize (formally defined as the act of attempting to convert people to another religion or opinion) their neighbors.”

When I read this, I started thinking about what they DID do. Well, I guess it’s true that they didn’t really try to convert them, but they would take their land and enslave them OR just murder all of the members of the opposing tribe. While I think that making everyone assimilate into the “Taker” lifestyle leads towards negative results, I think that it’s a political improvement from what we used to do (granted, politics have really fallen in the past couple decades.).

Quinn also wrote “Malthus’s warning was about the inevitable failure of totalitarian agriculture. My warning is about its continued success.”. While that method didn’t work out socially, it was really great for population control. With the exponentially growing population we have on this Earth, we could really cause some permanent damage. We have to do something to get this problem under control.

I think that it might be impossible to keep everyone that is on this planet, on this planet, still doing what we’re doing and fulfill our goal of saving the planet itself. No, I’m not suggesting that we all move out to space and I’m not suggesting we begin mass genocidic warfare against each other. I’m not really sure what I am suggesting (or if I am suggesting anything)… I just know that we can’t have it all.

We can’t always have everything that we want and this is a perfect example of that. We can’t have population control and peace at the same time. One way or another, either to violence or famine, if we don’t make a change, our species will fall. I think this is something that a lot of people recognize, but can’t find the solution to. We’ve studied ecology and mathematics and science and economics and still we can’t find a solution to this problem, and maybe that’s because it’s not a question at all. It’s an ethics argument.

There are two sides of the coin and there are going to be people fighting for both ends at any given time. We can talk about totalitarian agriculture and the root of our problems as much as we would like to, but that’s just going to be another thing to sit in a room and argue about that’s going to waste time. We have to look at this problem as something new. It’s something that we’ve never faced before and we can’t look at our actions in history to try to solve this problem. We’ve never had this problem.

.We have to approach the problem from a new direction. Destitus ventis, remos adhibe.