Justin's blog

The evolution of music festivals from 1967 to How Weird 2017


People have been gathering to enjoy music and dancing for as long as there have been humans. Festivals of all sorts occur around the world. All these gatherings used to be tied to religious events or political events, or time-based events like the solstice. The idea of a festival of art and music for its own sake is a new invention. The seeds of which were the many different countercultural gatherings of the early to mid-1960s.

The first major gathering to bring many of those groups into a cohesive whole was the Trips Festival on January 21–23, 1966. It was the biggest of all the Acid Tests, a three day extravaganza at the Longshoreman’s Hall in San Francisco. Diverse groups of people came to check it out, curious to find out what all the technicolor hype was about.

The Trips Festival main stage, Merry Prankster Ken Babbs speaking with effects.

Later that year, an experimental gathering called the Love Pageant Rally took place in San Francisco. It was organized as a freeform protest and performance art happening. It was at that event, on October 6, 1966, that the concept of a Human Be-In was formed. It was envisioned by Michael Bowen and Alan Cohen as a way to bring all the different tribes of countercultures together. They wanted to use the event to raise people’s consciousness, and spread waves of peace and love around the world at a time when it was much needed.

Invitation to the Love Pageant Rally.

The Gathering of the Tribes for a Human Be-In took place on January 14, 1967 in Golden Gate Park of San Francisco. The event did bring all the tribes together, to enjoy each other’s company and soak in the music, art, talks, and prayers that happened that day. So many people came, that it created a sense of destiny being fulfilled. The Human Be-In was the prototype of the modern music festival that we enjoy today. Before that, groups of rock bands had never performed together outdoors in a festival environment. It was also the beginning of the fabled Summer of Love, the first “festival season” of modern times.

The Human Be-In on January 14, 1967.

Soon there were Be-In’s in every major city, joined by Love-In’s and weekend concerts, all growing in popularity. On June 3-4, 1967, the KFRC Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival at the Mount Tamalpais Amphitheatre molded the concept into more of the shape we know today. It featured a full line-up of psychedelic rock bands, blues artists, and performers, and it called itself a “music festival”. The cultural phenomenon was refined further two weeks later at the Monterey Pop Festival on June 16–18, 1967. Here the festival structure was exposed to a mainstream audience, and they loved it. The entire summer of 1967 was filled with many festivals, gatherings, concerts, and happenings. These would continue year after year, reaching a peak at Woodstock in 1969. The idea of a festival season spread rapidly, and by 1970 there were music festivals everywhere. They have continued to evolve ever since.

The posters for the Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival
and the Monterey International Pop Festival. Below that the crowd at the Fantasy Fair.

Then the next generation came of age, and embraced a new form of music and art made possible by digital tools. The evolution of electronic dance music led to a creative blossoming in 1988-1989 called the Second Summer of Love. It was then that the seeds of a music festival for electronic music were formed, inspired by the beach parties of Ibiza and Goa. They called these gatherings raves, and lived by a motto that was the same as in 1967… peace, love, unity, and respect. This new generation of music festivals took their form from the many rock and art festivals that had preceded them, combined with the rich history of tribal cultures and traditional music and dance. The new culture spread rapidly, filling every corner of the planet, becoming the most widespread culture ever known.

As it grew, electronic dance music culture diversified and branched into different genres, becoming specialized tribes with similar cultures. It was one of these genres, psytrance music, that took root in San Francisco and embraced the inspirational history of experimental psychedelic culture. Beginning with a group called the Consortium of Collective Consciousness, some truly transformational gatherings were created. From this tribe, came the How Weird Street Faire. The faire was envisioned as a way to bring all the different tribes of electronic dance music together, and allow them to experience each others cultures, and basically become one big diverse family. It was a way of creating peace within our own community, and being an inspiration to others.

Now, 18 years later, the How Weird Street Faire has become the official start to San Francisco’s famous festival season. The faire is the modern equivalent to the Human Be-In, representing the next generation of experimental gatherings. How Weird fuses many types of events together to make a unique blend. There are elements of electronic music festivals and rock festivals, art festivals and craft festivals, circuses and performances, Burning Man and regional events, clubs and raves, cultural and neighborhood street fairs, peace and activist activities, parades and protests, community events and spiritual services, and just plain weirdness. Combined they represent all the different countercultures of today. How Weird brings them together for one day, to celebrate our similarities and appreciate our differences. And the public is invited to join in the experience. By doing so, we are contributing to the connection and expansion of consciousness, and the evolution of humanity. Join us as we take gatherings, and ourselves, further. We still have a ways to go.



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Spring Mobilization to End the War in 1967


On April 15, 1967, the largest peace demonstration in American history up to that point was held to protest the Vietnam War. It was called the Spring Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam. There were around 100,000 people in San Francisco, and over 125,000 people in New York City. In SF, they marched from Second Street and Market (just a block from where the How Weird Street Faire takes place) to Kezar Stadium at the edge of Golden Gate Park. In New York, Martin Luther King, Jr. led the walk from Central Park to the United Nations building.

The Spring Mobilization marked the emergence of a new era of peace protests, creating a national coalition of anti-war activists. The Mobilization followed a week of anti-war activities on college campuses across the United States. By the spring of 1967, more than 365,000 US troops had been sent to Vietnam, and the number of casualties had risen to more than 6,600. There was a sharp increase in public interest and scrutiny of the war, which by 1967 had affected most people’s lives either directly or indirectly.

In San Francisco, Kezar Stadium was packed with a diverse crowd of protesters. Music was provided by Country Joe and the Fish, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and Judy Collins. The speakers included Coretta Scott King (wife of Martin Luther King Jr.), Eldridge Cleaver, Morris Evenson, Rabbi Abraham Feinberg, Julian Bond, and Robert Vaughn (from the hit TV show "Man From Uncle"). Vietnam veteran David Duncan gave the keynote speech.

The growing anti-war movement was credited for eventually ending the war. Abbie Hoffman later said "The lesson of the sixties is that people who cared enough to do right could change history."

On April 15th, the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood held a Clean-In to prepare the area for the influx of people expected after the march and rally. Streets were sweeped, windows were washed, and trash was removed. The march itself passed near the Haight on Fulton Street, before heading south along Golden Gate Park.

There were many concerts held in support of the peace protest, including a free concert by Country Joe and the Fish in the Panhandle of Golden Gate Park on April 14th, and a Peace Poets Dance the day before that. The merging of the creative countercultures and the political countercultures was on full display in San Francisco on April 15, 1967.


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Confronted with the fierce urgency of Now



Fifty years ago, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a speech called “Beyond Vietnam” which tied the civil rights movement to the growing peace movement. On April 4, 1967, King delivered a harsh critique of the Vietnam War at the Riverside Church in New York City. He rallied against the hypocrisy of standing up for the poor and oppressed in America, while America goes to war against the poor around the world.

He received a lot of criticism for that speech, but King realized that there can be no true civil rights until there is peace. King anticipated the reaction, and understood the risks. In the speech he mentions those who did not want to discuss peace, who said “peace and civil rights don’t mix”. His response was, “They do not know the world in which they live.”

In the speech, King called for a “true revolution of values” that would lead to a life of love, and a “beautiful symphony of brotherhood”.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed exactly one year after this speech. He explained soon before that “only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars.”


Here are some excerpts from the speech “Beyond Vietnam”…

It is with such activity that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments. I am convinced that if we are to get on to the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin, we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies.

A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, “This is not just.” The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.

A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.

This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind. This oft misunderstood, this oft misinterpreted concept, so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force, has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I’m not speaking of that force which is just emotional bosh. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John: “Let us love one another, for love is God. And every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us and his love is perfected in us.” Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day.

We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. As Arnold Toynbee says: “Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word.”

We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.

We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent coannihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors.

If we will only make the right choice, we will be able to transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of peace. If we will make the right choice, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.

If we will but make the right choice, we will be able to speed up the day, all over America and all over the world, when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.



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Human Libraries educate us about each other


The Human Library is a new way of challenging prejudices through conversation. Human Libraries are an international movement that use social contact to break down barriers and discrimination. They use the language and mechanism of a library to facilitate respectful interactions that can positively change people’s attitudes and behaviors towards members of communities who are at risk of exclusion and marginalization. The Human Library is where difficult questions are expected, appreciated, and answered. In spite of all the violence and conflict taking place in the world today, the Human Library is a simple way for people from all different demographics to sit down together and have an open exchange of ideas and perspectives.

Human Libraries

Just like in a real library, a visitor to a Human Library can choose a Book from a range of titles. The difference is that the "Books" are people, and instead of reading there is a conversation. Social contact is known to be among the best ways to challenge prejudice, and the Human Library enables it to flourish. The Human Library provides a safe environment for people to engage in conversation within a framework of respect, and with permission to respectfully ask questions and share experiences. The dialogue that the Human Library facilitates has the potential to challenge prejudice, stigma, and discrimination. Some of the popular Book titles are Muslim, Refugee, Gay, Transgender, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Young Black Male, Handicapped, Blind, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Downs Syndrome, Recovering Alcoholic, Teenage Mother, Substance Abuser, Unemployed, Autistic, Learning Disability, Facial Disfigurement, Obese, and Homeless.

In practice, the Human Library celebrates the diversity of our communities, raises awareness of many different reasons people may experience exclusion, and takes positive action to address some of the issues that can lead to bullying, abuse, and hate crime. Book titles deliberately acknowledge and provoke the assumptions and common prejudices that we, or society, may have. Readers are empowered to choose from a broad range of titles, and challenged to engage with the people behind the labels. The experience generates instant appeal and is a practical way to engage the public with big issues such as equality, diversity, and human rights. The Human Library is easy to organize because it not expensive to produce. The biggest ressources needed to facilitate a Human Library are time and volunteers, which has made it possible to stage events in a wide range of countries, including Denmark, Romania, Iceland, Poland, Italy, Holland, Slovenia, Belgium, Portugal, Israel, Philippines, Thailand, Australia, Canada, and the United States.

Human Library checkout table

The first Human Library was created for the 2000 Roskilde Music Festival by a group of Danish activists who formed in response to a violent hate crime. Their idea was to use the language and mechanism of a library to facilitate conversations that challenge prejudice, thereby reducing the risk of tension and violence. In 2008, the Human Library Organization was formed in Copenhagen. From there, the creators and founders of the Human Library Organization have helped the movement to grow steadily across the world. It is currently active in over 70 countries. http://humanlibrary.org/

The story of the Human Library really begins in 1993, when five teenagers - Ronni Abergel, Erich Kristoffersen, Asma Mouna, Thomas Bertelsen, and Dany Abergel - created a Youth NGO called Stop The Violence. Their inspiration to form Stop The Violence was motivated by the brutal stabbing of a mutual friend in Copenhagen. They sought to reduce youth violence and challenge some of the negative stereotypes of young people in Denmark that had surrounded the reporting of their friend’s attack. By 2000, Stop the Violence had over 30,000 members and had organized a range of engagement and awareness-raising activities across Denmark. Then Leif Stov, the Director of the Roskilde Festival, asked Stop The Violence to create an activity that would challenge prejudice, encourage dialogue, and build positive relationships between festival-goers at the 2000 Roskilde Festival. Ronni Abergel, Asma Mouna, and Christoffer Erichsen created the "Human Library" - an event where different sub-cultures and groups that are often hostile to one another could connect, engage, and converse. They recruited so many volunteers from the festival-goers that the first ever Human Library featured 75 Human Books. "I figured that if we could make people sit down with a group attached to a certain stigma they don't like or even know about for that matter, we could diminish violence," explains Ronni Abergel.

The only permanent reoccurring Human Library event has been in operation since the fall of 2014. More than ten events have been organized at Denmarks biggest library, the Copenhagen Central Library, and the events are continuing to happen. Readers are invited to choose between more than 25 titles published from the Copenhagen Human Library Book Depot. The services of the Human Library are always free to Readers.

Human Library in Denmark

The Human Library in Copenhagen, Denmark featuring a handicapped "Book".

The Human Library is made up of Human Books, which are people who volunteer to challenge prejudice and stereotype through respectful conversation with members of the public. By volunteering, Books give their permission for people at a Human Library event to ask questions about their life, and to talk openly about prejudice, stereotype, and discrimination. With the help of their Organizer they choose a Book title that directly relates to the prejudice, stereotype, or stigma that they want to challenge, such as issues related to asethnicity, sex, age, disability, sexual preference, gender identity, religion/belief, lifestyle, or other aspects. They receive training beforehand where they have the opportunity to meet other Books from different backgrounds, learn how the Human Library works in practice, and explore the potential questions people could ask. Although the role of the Book might appear to be similar to storytelling, the Human Books are not storytellers. The Human Library encourages active and engaging conversations, rather than storytelling. Books are encouraged to ask as many questions as Readers, and sometimes the Books will ask the first questions. This could be as simple as "Why did you choose me?" or "What did you expect me to look like?"

Human Library shelf of Books

Don't judge a book by its cover.

Many individual or societal prejudices are based on stereotypes or lack of knowledge. Sometimes our opinions and attitudes are based upon prejudices that we might be unaware that we have. Think about the first thing that comes to mind when you encounter terms such as "Schizophrenic", "Drug Addict", "Transgender", "HIV+",  or "Asylum Seeker". It is likely that all of our responses will be influenced to some degree by pre-existing ideas. It is only by reflecting the diversity of our communities that the Human Library can effectively challenge prejudices.

Inclusion is of vital importance because the Human Library supports all groups, communities, and individuals who experience discrimination. The Human Library does not highlight a single issue or cause because they believe that prejudice and discrimination has to be challenged in the widest possible context. That is why Human Books are recruited from a wide-range of backgrounds to represent and potentially challenge the multiple prejudices and stereotypes that can be experienced. This is not only a powerful statement of inclusion, it allows for a wide-range of social contact between the volunteers and Readers, exposing them to different experiences and perspectives.

Choice is a vital component of the Human Library. Readers must be given a choice from a range of titles. This is why the mechanism of a library was chosen, and why the Human Library is so effective. Not all Readers will be aware of their own prejudices, let alone motivated to publicly declare and challenge them.

It is important these days to understand what life looks like through another's eyes, which leads to empathy and encourages compassion. The Human Library is a powerful step towards peace.

The Human Library


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Music is a path to peace


When two people are in conflict, they are focused on what separates them. During war, there is a divide between people that makes it difficult to relate to each other. If there was some way to bridge that divide and find a way for opposing people to understand each other, then there would be a path towards peace. There are ways, and one of them is music.

Music is one of the few things that all people can relate to and appreciate. Music makes us human. It is a fundamental part of our lives. Music is found in all cultures and all nations, from the very beginning of our history. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said, "Music is the universal language of mankind." Music has an amazing ability to bridge divides between people. Music can increase empathy and teach us how to relate to others. Music can directly lead to peace. It only takes understanding one person to break barriers of fear, separation, and misunderstanding.

One powerful example of music directly leading to peace was during World War I, in Northern Europe at the end of December 1914. The war had been raging for 5 months, and the soldiers were tired and homesick. In southern Belgium, at the epicentre of the fighting along the Western Front, there were 100,000 soldiers divided by a small empty space known as "no-man's land". On one side were British, French, and Belgian troops. On the other side were German and Austrian troops. On Christmas Eve, near the tiny village of Ploegsteert, an amazing thing happened. The British soldiers started noticing that the German soldiers were decorating the tops of their trenches with candles and Christmas trees. Then they heard a familiar tune, the Christmas carol Stille Nacht, which changed their way of thinking about the enemy. The tune was the same as the song Silent Night, which they had grown up with. The British troops responded by singing O Come All Ye Faithful. And then the Germans joined in with the Latin words to the same song. The mutual appreciation of music had an immediate effect on the soldiers on both sides of the divide. Suddenly, they no longer saw the others as enemies, but rather as potential friends that were similar to them. Finally, a German messenger raised a white flag and strode boldly across the snow dusted no-man's land to broker the Christmas ceasefire.


Christmas Truce in 1914

The Christmas Truce of 1914

The troops then walked out into the empty space and greeted each other. They exchanged food and drinks and buttons and badges. They told stories and jokes, and even played a game of soccer. One German barber gave haircuts to British “customers” in a crater, while others posed for pictures. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle described that time as “one human episode amid the atrocities which have stained the memory of war.” A British officer wrote to his wife that a further truce had been fixed for New Year’s Day as “the Germans want to see how the photos come out”. But that never happened, because as soon as their commanders back home heard about the truce, they ordered it ended and began rotating in new troops who had not been humanized by the sharing of music. British Lance-Corporal George Dyce, who participated in the truce, said of the Germans: "They don’t want to fight any more than we do; they are as fed up of this game as we are fit to be. They told us that they would not shoot if we did not, so we have had a holiday for the last two days we were in the trenches... I thought peace was
proclaimed, but no such luck. I am sure if it was left to the men there would be no war."

Another example of peace bridging the divide between opposing people happened in South America in 2008. The Peace Without Borders concert took place on the border between Colombia and Venezuela, at a time when there was much conflict and mistrust between the two countries. Tens of thousands of people, on both sides of the border, came together to hear music that was popular throughout the region. "It’s not that a song is going to change people. But music becomes an excuse to send a message, that we’re all here together building peace, that we are here as citizens and this is what we want, and we have to be heard. We don’t want to get involved in conflicts between people," said Juanes, a Colombian musician who played at the concert.


Peace Without Borders Concert

The Peace Without Borders Concert

There are many other examples of music bringing opposing people together. There have been Indian and Pakistani musicians playing together, Israeli and Palestinian, Russian and American, North and South Korean, as well as different groups of religious, political, and cultural backgrounds. And these have had a lasting impact on many people. Music touches us deeply, speaking directly to the emotions. This is why the connections that we make through music can be meaningful, and lead to a greater understanding of others.

Music festivals are an excellent way to bring a diverse group of people together and have them co-experience music together. Here in the United States, a concert or festival in a major city like New York or San Francisco brings a very diverse audience together. People from different countries, cultures, and identities, come together to share their love of music. Everyone can find common ground through music, and once that is done, the "other" is no longer unknown. The other is just a different version of yourself. You grow understanding and connections by appreciating the same thing, which leads to peace.

The World Peace Through Technology Organization produces an event every year that brings together many different types of music and people called the How Weird Street Faire. It uses music and art to create an atmosphere where anyone can find common ground with others. The event encourages people to accept and appreciate our differences and what makes us unique, while embracing the things which we share, like good music. The event has enabled friendships to form where before they were unthinkable. We know that music is a path to peace, because we see it happen year after year with an extremely diverse crowd of tens of thousands of people from around the world.

Music is a great uniter, bringing people together. Music crosses all bridges, borders, and time zones. Music transcends all ideologies, politics, religions, languages, cultures, and wealth. Music is oblivious to race, gender, age, and appearance. With so many things to divide us and separate us, it is important to find things that can connect us. Music connects us all.

Music connects people

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Three short films about peace


Errol Morris, the acclaimed filmmaker and writer, just produced three short films about peace. Each film highlights an inspiring moment in the lives of Nobel Peace Prize winners Leymah Gbowee from Liberia and Lech Walesa from Poland, and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Bob Geldof from Ireland. He was able to interview these subjects through a Visa commercial being filmed to air during the World Cup games. The commercial was interviewing these subjects about soccer. Morris asked if he could also ask them about peace, and everyone agreed. The results are three thought provoking films that show the possibilities of what one determined person can do.

Errol Morris explained how he "interviewed five of the world’s greatest peacemakers, and chose to feature the three who told the most compelling stories on camera. But it was a privilege to meet and to interview every one of them. David Trimble, whose participation in the Good Friday Agreement helped bring an end to Northern Ireland’s Troubles, and Oscar Arias Sanchez, who brokered the Esquipulas peace agreement that ended decades of internecine strife in Central America, were no less inspiring than the three included here."

When Morris asked Leymah Gbowee "whether the women’s movement in Liberia needed her. She said no. It was the opposite. She needed it. Through her activism, she was able to restore her own faith in humanity and in the power of each and every individual to effect positive change. I was truly moved by her remark, perhaps because I feel the same way. I needed these people to remind me that there is still the possibility of doing good in this world and the possibility of helping other people. That one person can make a difference."

Below is the first of the three films, featuring 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee, the peace activist who brought the women of Liberia together to stop the civil war there. You can watch all three films here: http://www.nytimes.com/peacefilms


The Dream - featuring Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee


"We have various ideas about what makes a hero. Courage, determination, and fearlessness. But, often what makes a hero is a refusal to accept the status quo...
a persistent refusal to accept the world the way it is." - Errol Morris



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The reality of war


World Beyond War is a global movement to end all wars. They have listed some of the myths and facts about war, and why it's bad for everybody...

War is not inevitable.

War has only been around for the most recent fraction of the existence of our species. We did not evolve with it. During the most recent 10,000 years, war has been sporadic. Some societies have not known war. Some have known it and then abandoned it.

War is not “natural” or healthy.

A great deal of conditioning is needed to prepare most people to take part in war, and a great deal of mental suffering is common among those who have taken part. In contrast, not a single person is known to have suffered deep moral regret or post-traumatic stress disorder from war deprivation.

War is not a permanent part of our culture.

Any feature of a society that necessitates war can be changed and is not itself inevitable. The military-industrial complex is not an eternal and invincible force. Environmental destructiveness and economic structures based on greed are not immutable.

Ending war is possible.

Human societies have been known to abolish institutions that were widely considered permanent. These have included human sacrifice, blood feuds, duelling, slavery, the death penalty, and many others. Ending all war is an idea that has found great acceptance in various times and places. It was more popular in the United States, during the 1920s and 1930s, then it is today. It is the reason that the United Nations was created. In recent decades, the notion has been propogated that war is permanent. That notion is new, radical, dangerous, and without basis in fact.

War is not “defense”.

The U.S. War Department was renamed the Defense Department in 1947, and it is common in many countries to speak of the war departments of one’s own and all other nations as “defense.” But if the term has any meaning, it cannot be stretched to cover offensive war making or aggressive militarism.  If “defense” is to mean something other than “offense,” then attacking another nation “so that they can’t attack us first” or “to send a message” or to “punish” a crime is not defensive and not necessary.

War preparation is also not “defense”.

The same logic that would claim that attacking another nation is “defensive” can be used to try to justify the permanent stationing of troops in another nation. The result, in both cases, is counterproductive, producing threats rather than eliminating them. A defensive military would consist of a coast guard, a border patrol, anti-aircraft weapons, and other forces able to defend against an attack.  The vast majority of military spending, especially by wealthy nations, is offensive.

Defense does not need to involve violence.

Evidence shows that the most effective means of defense is, far more often than not, nonviolent resistance. The mythology of warrior cultures suggests that nonviolent action is weak, passive, and ineffective at solving large-scale social problems. The facts show just the opposite. People under attack can refuse to recognize an attacker’s authority.  Peace teams from abroad can join the nonviolent resistance.  Targeted sanctions and prosecutions can be combined with international diplomatic pressure. There are alternatives to mass violence.

War makes everyone less safe.

War mythology would have us believe that war kills evil people who need to be killed to protect us and our freedoms.  In reality, recent wars involving wealthy nations have been one-sided slaughters of children, the elderly, and ordinary residents of the poorer nations attacked. And while “freedom” has served as a justification for the wars, the wars have served as a justification for curtailing actual freedoms.

War does not bring stability and is not moral.

War can be imagined as a tool for enforcing the rule of law, including laws against war, only by ignoring the hypocrisy and the historical record of failure. War actually violates the most basic principles of law and encourages their further violation. Murder is the one crime that we’re taught to excuse if it’s done on a large enough scale. Morality demands that we not so excuse it. War is nothing other than murder on a large scale.

War erodes our liberties.

Just look what is happening in America now, as a result of our endless wars. Freedom is being compromised in the name of security. The War on Terror and the War on Drugs have been the excuses used to increase control on the population, and limit what we do.

War threatens our environment.

The world's militaries are the leading cause of pollution and environmental degradation. Plus a major motivation behind some wars is the desire to control resources that poison the earth, especially oil and gas, which are then used instead of clean alternatives.

We need the money we spend on war for other things.

It would cost about $30 billion per year to end starvation and hunger around the world. That sounds like a lot of money to you or me. But if we had trillions of dollars it wouldn’t. And we do. It would cost about $11 billion per year to provide the world with clean water. Again, that sounds like a lot. Let’s round up $50 billion per year to provide the world with both food and water. Who has that kind of money? We do. But we're spending that money on war, which is impoverishing us. The world spends around $2 trillion every year on militarism, of which the United States spends about half, or $1 trillion. The effects of war and other violence cost the world trillions more. A study published by the Institute for Economics and Peace found that violence cost the world $9.46 trillion in 2012 alone. That’s 11 percent of gross world product. By comparison, the cost of the financial crisis was just 0.5 percent of the 2009 global economy.

Of course, we in the wealthier parts of the world don’t share the money, even among ourselves. Those in need of aid are right here as well as far away. But imagine if one of the wealthy nations, the United States for example, were to put $500 billion into its own education (meaning “college debt” can begin the process of coming to sound as backward as “human sacrifice”), housing (meaning no more people without homes), infrastructure, and sustainable green energy and agricultural practices. What if, instead of leading the destruction of the natural environment, the United States was leading the world in creating a sustainable future.

The potential of green energy would suddenly skyrocket with that sort of unimaginable investment, year after year. But where would the money come from? $500 billion? Well, if $1 trillion fell from the sky on an annual basis, half of it would still be left. After $50 billion to provide the world with food and water, what if another $450 billion went into providing the world with green energy and infrastructure, topsoil preservation, environmental protection, schools, medicine, programs of cultural exchange, and the study of peace and nonviolent action?

U.S. foreign aid right now is about $23 billion a year. Taking it up to $100 billion — never mind $500 billion — would have a number of interesting impacts, including the saving of a great many lives and the prevention of a tremendous amount of suffering. It would also make the nation that did it the most beloved nation on earth. A recent poll of 65 nations found that the United States is far and away the most feared country, the country considered the largest threat to peace in the world. Were the United States responsible for providing food and schools and medicine and solar panels to the entire world, instead of military actions, then the idea of anti-American terrorist groups would be laughable and probably non-existent.


Imagining a world without war.


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Rethinking our priorities


Hayes Brown wrote a column for Think Progress on how Americans have spent enough money on a broken plane to buy every homeless person a mansion. We are giving much needed money to a few private companies to continue the racket that is war...

Just days before its international debut at an airshow in the United Kingdom, the entire fleet of the Pentagon’s next generation fighter plane — known as the F-35 II Lightning, or the Joint Strike Fighter — has been grounded, highlighting just what a boondoggle the project has been. With the vast amounts spent so far on the aircraft, the United States could have worked wonders, including providing every homeless person in the U.S. a $600,000 home.

It’s hard to argue against the need to modernize aircraft used to defend the country and counter enemies overseas, especially if you’re a politician. But the Joint Strike Fighter program has been a mess almost since its inception, with massive cost overruns leading to its current acquisition price-tag of $398.6 billion — an increase of $7.4 billion since last year. That breaks down to costing about $49 billion per year since work began in 2006 and the project is seven years behind schedule. Over its life-cycle, estimated at about 55 years, operating and maintaining the F-35 fleet will cost the U.S. a little over $1 trillion. By contrast, the entirety of the Manhattan Project — which created the nuclear bomb from scratch — cost about $55 billion in today’s dollars.

Buying Every Homeless Person In The U.S. A Mansion

On any given night in 2013, the Department of Housing and Urban Development concluded, there were an estimated 600,000 homeless Americans living on the streets. Numerous studies, however, have showed that rather than putting money into temporary shelters or incarceration, communities have saved millions of dollars by investing in permanent homes for the homeless. A recent report showed that in one Florida community, it cost taxpayers an estimated $30,000 to take the homeless off the streets through traditional methods, but only around $10,000 per person to give them permanent housing and provide job training and other support. Expanding that concept to the Federal level, even taking into account things like varying real estate prices around the country, it’s possible that $7.4 billion would be more than enough to start a program nationwide. With the full amount spent on the F-35 at its disposal, the U.S. could afford to purchase every person on the streets a $664,000 home.

Boosting Funding Needed To Rebuild America

The United States is falling apart. A lack of funding for bridges, roads, and other infrastructure has led to collapses across the country and the more than 63,000 bridges that have been labeled as “structurally deficient.” The Department of Transportation’s total budget request for next year is $90.1 billion, part of a four-year budget of $302.1 billion with $199 billion set aside to rebuild America’s roads and bridges. Obama has for the last two years called for a $50 billion lump sum to be added to the on top of DOT’s budget to help address the growing need, and twice Congress has rejected this proposal. If the U.S. were to have channeled the $298 billion is has spent so far on the F-35 — and continued spending at that level for the next six years — the U.S. would be halfway towards closing the $1.1 trillion gap in investment needed in infrastructure, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. In addition, a report from the Center for American Progress, citing Moody’s Analytic’s chief economist, estimates infrastructure investment generates $1.44 of economic activity for each $1 spent. That sort of claim can’t be duplicated in the spending on the F-35.

Imagine what we could achieve with peace, and different priorities.

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.” - Dwight Eisenhower, 1953


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Hugs not war... in space!


On Tuesday May 27, 2014, the three astronauts preparing to blast off for a six month stay on the International Space Station held a press conference at the Russian cosmodrome facility in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Alexander Gerst of Germany, Maxim Surayev of Russia, and Reid Wiseman of the United States answered questions about their trip, the 40th expedition aboard the ISS. For weeks, hostility between Russia and the US and Germany had been building, with their international cooperation in space at risk. The topic of politics, and the ongoing situation in Ukraine came up when a Russian journalist from NTV asked, "Because of the events in Ukraine that we all know about, the relationship between the United States, Russia, and Germany became pretty tense. Do you feel this tension on the level of your team?”

Instead of answering out loud, the three astronauts stood up and hugged each other. “This is our answer,” astronaut Wiseman said in Russian. “Yes, this is our answer for everyone to see,” cosmonaut Suraev added.

Commander Maksim Suraev then gathered his crew together for a collective self portrait of three smiling friends, with all of the journalists in the background. “Space is without borders, we fly to an international space station where we do experiments that come back to Earth and benefit all of us – they benefit all humankind,” he said.

The crew docked safely with the ISS early Thursday morning, six hours after blasting off, and are currently in orbit around the Earth.

"Space is without borders."



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The Space Apps Challenge


This weekend is the third annual International Space Apps Challenge, a NASA incubator innovation program. The challenge is a global collaboration between government agencies, organizations, academic institutions, and individuals from across the planet. Over 9,000 people participated simultaneously in last year’s event from over 50 locations. This year features almost 100 locations spanning six continents, including 31 locations in North America, 29 locations in Europe, 15 locations in South America, 10 locations in Africa, 9 locations in Asia, and 4 locations in Australia and New Zealand.

In San Francisco, the Space Apps Challenge will take place at Constant Contact, located at 85 2nd Street, just a few feet from where the How Weird Street Faire takes place. San Francisco’s event is organized and run by former Space Apps winners SpaceRocks. The SpaceRocks team was one of two San Francisco teams selected for global judging in the 2013 NASA Space Apps Challenge, winning an honorable mention globally in the "Galactic Impact" category for the SkyLog social stargazing app.

The 2014 worldwide hackathon will take place April 12-13. Participants from all around the world will develop mobile applications, software, hardware, data visualization, and platform solutions that could contribute to space exploration missions and help improve life on Earth. The challenge encourages entrepreneurs, technologists, thinkers, and developers to create and deploy data-driven visualizations and simulations that will help people understand and solve problems related to life on earth and space. More than 200 data sources, including data sets, data services, and tools will be made available. This event will bring tech-savvy citizens, scientists, entrepreneurs, educators, and students together to help solve challenges relevant to both space exploration and social needs. This year, the challenges will be organized in five themes: Earth Watch, Technology in Space, Human Spaceflight, Robotics, and Asteroids. About half of the challenges are in the Earth Watch theme, which supports NASA’s focus on Earth science in 2014. The challenges range from turning your smartphone into a satellite to monitor air quality, to designing a space-greenhouse.

According to NASA, "the event embraces collaborative problem solving with a goal of producing relevant open-source solutions to address global needs applicable to both life on Earth and life in space.” One of the winners from 2013 was the Greener Cities Project, which was honored in the “Galactic Impact” division. The Gothenburg, Sweden based team behind Greener Cities Project set out to complement NASA satellite climate data with crowd-sourced microclimate data obtained through low-cost sensors, network connectivity, and urban gardens, thus providing higher resolution environmental monitoring capability. The Kansas City-based Sol project, which was described as the world’s first interplanetary weather application, won last year’s Space Apps Challenge for "Best Use of Data". Sol allows users to select a planet and view the weather on that world.

Everyone is encouraged to participate in the challenge, even if they have no programming experience. The International Space Apps Challenge is an opportunity for people to build, create, and invent new solutions to challenges of global importance. NASA explains that "the exploration of space is, by necessity, a unified international effort - and diversity of experience and perspective inevitably produces a better product. The Challenge exemplifies the principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration by utilizing openly available data, supplied through NASA missions and technology, and the talent and skill of passionate volunteers from around the planet to advance space exploration and improve the quality of life on Earth. The idea of a Challenge is so compelling because it acknowledges the fact that the world is facing serious challenges - and that we all have to work together to approach them. While there are prizes offered for great solutions, the main challenge we focus on is enabling 48 hours of highly engaged collaboration- and discovering what we can create when that happens."


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An empathy revolution


Roman Krznaric spoke at TEDxAthens in 2013 about how to start an empathy revolution. The goal is to go "from me to we, seeing the world from other perspectives, understanding others and our connection to them." He talked about how to harness the power of empathy through technology and tools. Empathy can be taught when you bring diverse people together to meet, and they begin to see life through each other's perspectives. Differences spark curiosity, that can be used to find connections.

Roman Krznaric is a cultural thinker and writer on the art of living. This talk is based on his new book Empathy: A Handbook for Revolution. Roman is a founding faculty member of The School of Life in London, and advises organisations including Oxfam and the United Nations on using empathy and conversation to create social change. He is also founder of the world's first Empathy Library. He has been named by The Observer as one of Britain's leading lifestyle philosophers.


Empathy can be taught and shared.


"Empathy is like a universal solvent.
Any problem immersed in empathy becomes soluble."

-  Simon Baron-Cohen, Professor of Developmental Psychopathology at Cambridge University


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The Overview Effect: cosmic consciousness and the big picture



The Overview Effect is the psychological, emotional, and spiritual results from viewing the Earth from space. The term was used by Frank White in his 1987 book The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution to describe the incredible stories from astronauts who describe the feelings and thoughts they had when viewing the Earth from the outside, and the changes that the effect inspired. What happens to many astronauts is a shift in perception and understanding as the they clearly see that everything on the Earth is interconnected and functions as one planet, soaring through space with its celestial neighbors. Humanity's unity and the arbitrary nature of boundaries become obvious.

In addition, the Earth's atmosphere is seen for what it really is, a thin blue haze covering the Earth like an egg shell. The delicate and fragile view of the planet inspires people to return to Earth and work on ecological and environmental issues, with the understanding that such a tiny layer of atmosphere needs to be protected. And then there is the emotional response to seeing your home, the only place you've ever known, from someplace else. A home that looks more beautiful than anything you've ever seen, against a backdrop of empty darkness and distant stars. The effect far exceeded the astronaut's expectations, even the ones already familiar with the Overview Effect. It has been described as "instant global consciousness", a chance to experience a cosmic perspective, and the "big picture". Astronaut Edgar Mitchell described it as a "spontaneous epiphany experience", more meaningful than walking on the Moon.

Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the Moon, was deeply humbled not by the first view of our majestic satellite, but by the sight of the Earth, our ancient home. "It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small." Another astronaut, Alan Shepard, agreed, "If somebody'd said before the flight, 'Are you going to get carried away looking at the earth from the moon?' I would have say, 'No, no way.' But yet when I first looked back at the earth, standing on the moon, I cried."

Frank White states that "the Overview Effect is a message from the universe to humanity. The message is that the Earth, when seen from orbit or the moon, is a whole system, where borders and boundaries disappear, and everything is interconnected. Our planet is a tiny spaceship in an enormous universe, which is itself a whole system, of which we are an important part. We are the crew of a natural spaceship called Earth, which is hurtling through the universe at a high rate of speed. In a very real sense, all of us are astronauts, but we do not realize it because we normally do not experience it. As so many people around the world have realized, humanity stands at a crossroads, and we will either choose to hear the message of the Overview Effect, or we will continue on a path that is destructive to ourselves and our planet." The implications of the Overview Effect were explored in Buckminister Fuller's idea of Spaceship Earth, in which the visionary scientist discussed ways of creating peace and cooperation, in order to better manage or "steer" this planet.

Apollo 15 astronaut James Irwin, the 8th person to walk on the moon, said that "the Earth reminded us of a Christmas tree ornament hanging in the blackness of space. As we got farther and farther away it diminished in size. Finally it shrank to the size of a marble, the most beautiful marble you can imagine. That beautiful, warm, living object looked so fragile, so delicate, that if you touched it with a finger it would crumble and fall apart. Seeing this has to change a man, has to make a man appreciate the creation of God." Sultan Bin Salman al-Suad, the first astronaut from Saudi Arabia, explained how "the first day or so we all pointed to our countries. The third or fourth day we were pointing to our continents. By the fifth day we were aware of only one Earth."

Astronaut Edgar Mitchell wrote about his life-changing experiences from space in his book The Way of the Explorer. From the window of the Apollo 14 Command Module, he stared at the "blue jewel-like home planet suspended in the velvety blackness from which we had come. What I saw out the window was all I had ever known, all I have ever loved and hated, longed for, all that I once thought had ever been and ever would be. It was there suspended in the cosmos on that fragile little sphere. I experienced a grand epiphany accompanied by exhilaration, an event I would later refer to in terms that could not be more foreign to my upbringing in West Texas and later, New Mexico. From that moment on, my life was irrevocably altered."


Overview Institute

In 2008, Frank White and philosopher David Beaver launched the Overview Institute to promote and study the effect. They encourage "thinking about populations, places, and problems as highly interconnected. It’s the opposite of targeted, focused advocacy, especially if that advocacy comes at the expense of other areas of need. Belief in the need for collaboration underpins an Overview philosophy. It posits that exposure to space travel has tremendous power to inspire sincere enthusiasm to solve big, interrelated environmental and social problems facing the world." The institute is made up of astronauts, writers, artists, activists, and people in the space business. They believe that the Overview Effect will change the world.

Last year, Frank collaborated with the artists at the Planetary Collective to make a film about the Overview Effect. The film, called Overview, attempts to share that experience with you, and inspire a greater connection with this planet. The Planetary Collective was founded in 2011, and believes that "the root of the environmental and social crises facing humanity is the misperception that we are separate – from each other, the planet, and the cosmos as a whole."

Frank White describes the film as "a complex message that includes several components. First, it is true that there are no borders or boundaries on our planet except those that we create in our minds or through human behaviors. All the ideas and concepts that divide us when we are on the surface begin to fade from orbit and the moon. The result is a shift in worldview, and in identity. Second our planet is, in the words of panelist Ron Garan, a fragile oasis and we need to take care of it. So there is a strong environmental component to the message. Third is that we are one species with one destiny as we move out from the Earth and begin to explore the universe."

Overview the film

Astronaut Ron Garan, who served on the International Space Station, was profoundly affected by the overview of the Earth. Ron explained that he had "returned to Earth after that first space mission with a call to action. I could no longer accept the status quo on our planet. We have the resources and technology to solve many, if not all of the problems facing our planet yet nearly a billion people do not have access to clean water, countless go to bed hungry every night, and many die from preventable and curable diseases. We live in a world where the possibilities are limited only by our imagination and our will to act. It is within our power to eliminate the suffering and poverty that exist on our planet. We have the technology that can enable true global collaboration that is consistent and world changing. Our real challenge is demonstrating how vital and valuable collaboration is, despite the real and perceived risks. Open collaborations make solutions better through the pooling of resources and information. Working together multiplies cost-effectiveness while reducing duplication of effort. It is the only real way to enable economies and solutions of scale. Perhaps most importantly, collaboration encourages greater accountability and fosters trust."

Ron Garan was so inspired, that once back on Earth he worked with NASA to form Fragile Oasis, a grassroots initiative to connect the orbital perspective of astronauts who live and work in space with people who want to make a difference here on Earth. Fragile Oasis has several projects, including one that focuses on collaborations called Unity Node, which is working to unify efforts to provide collaborative platforms, and is striving to create a universal open source platform for global collaboration. Ron thought, "There has to be a way for all to collaborate toward our common goals. An effective collaboration mechanism will pair together challenges with solutions, bringing together different unique pieces of the puzzle and enabling us to learn from each other’s successes and failures and make all these organizations’ technologies and approaches considerably more effective than they would be otherwise. Since there are multiple organizations looking to develop tools to enable collaboration, it is critical to unify those efforts."

TEDxSalford, where Ron Garan gave a talk about Unity Node, described it as "an unprecedented endeavor to change the world in a profound and positive way: it aims to bring together millions of scattered charity organizations around the world by developing a central data tool and a menu of applications. The effort is unique in many ways; not only it leans on a celestial point of view helping people to perceive the bigger picture, but also it strives to bring unity between many social collaborative platforms. The international team of people and organizations together form Unity Node aiming to build an open source platform, unifying the efforts of various sectors to address and respond to humanitarian needs. If anything, the International Space Station is a proof that everything is possible. The space facility created by a collaboration of 15 nations working together is a truly one of a kind achievement showing that collective efforts have far-reaching effects."


Unity Node is connecting humanity's changemakers

Ron Garan spent 178 days in space, traveling 71,075,867 miles in 2,842 orbits around our planet, including 4 spacewalks. Recently, he wrote about what it was like to see Earth from space. "We all have moments in our lives where something shifts, clicks into place. For me it was in June of 2008, when I clamped my feet to the end of the robotic Canadarm-2 on the International Space Station. With me firmly attached to the end, the arm was flown through a maneuver that we called the 'windshield wiper', which took me across a long arc above the space station and back. As I approached the top of this arc, it was as if time stood still, and I was flooded with both emotion and awareness. Here I was, 100 feet above the space station, looking down at this incredible man-made accomplishment against the backdrop of our indescribably beautiful Earth, 240 miles below. Witnessing the absolute beauty of the planet we have been given from this perspective was a very moving experience. But as I looked down at this stunning, fragile oasis — this island that has been given to us, and has protected all life from the harshness of space - a sadness came over me, and I was hit in the gut with an undeniable sobering contradiction. In spite of the indescribable beauty of this moment in my life, I couldn’t help but think of the inequity that exists on the apparent paradise we have been given. I couldn’t help but think of all the people who don’t have clean water to drink or enough food to eat, of the social injustice, conflicts, and poverty that exists throughout the Earth. Seeing the Earth from this vantage point gave me a unique perspective – something I’ve come to call the orbital perspective."

Ron Garan looking out the ISS windows
Ron Garan looking out the International Space Station window

Frank White pondered the potential for creating peace through the Overview Effect when he wrote, "How would everything change if we began to think of ourselves as a seven billion member team, a crew on a spacecraft? What if we expanded our thinking to include other sentient life as part of that team, and perhaps even beyond, to consider everything on the Earth as team members? Would it reduce all conflict on the Earth? No, there are conflicts on teams and crews, disagreements about the best way to proceed in winning a game, a battle, or a trophy. However, the balance between cooperation and conflict might well be restored to something more appropriate to a species seeking to evolve and prosper. From orbit, we see the unity of the Earth, while from the surface, we see its diversity. From orbit, we also see a new diversity lying beyond the unity of our home planet. Neither unity nor diversity is the complete picture. If we are to understand the philosophy of the Overview Effect, then, we must understand the principle that our awareness of ourselves, the Earth, the solar system, and the universe changes with our physical perspective. This awareness then affects our knowledge of who we are and our behavior in relationship to our environment."

"Returning to the definition of philosophy as 'a theory or attitude that acts as a guiding principle for behavior,' we can say that the Overview Effect points to the principle that one of the primary rationales for space exploration is that it transforms how we think, how we see ourselves - our world view. A second principle is that we, and our world view, will constantly evolve, and that this is both necessary and inevitable. Another way to describe 'space exploration' is to call it 'evolution into the universe'. As humanity begins to explore the larger environment beyond the Earth, we will evolve, and as we do so, the universe itself will also evolve because we are a part of it. One of the most immediate results of the Overview Effect to date is that it has given impetus to the environmental movement. This has already produced a new philosophy of Earth that guides our behavior relative to the planet. We no longer see it as limitless, to be exploited continuously for our own needs. Increasingly, we see it as a limited whole system that must be treated with great care, for our own survival and for the planet’s benefit. Yet, there is more to it than that. We are also realizing that the various systems of which we are a part, through us, may be said to become aware of themselves."

James Lovelock, author of the Gaia hypothesis, said: "Gaia is now through us awake and aware of herself. She has seen the reflection of her fair face through the eyes of astronauts and the television cameras of orbiting spacecraft."

Frank White expanded on Lovelock's idea to suggest that, "Building on the work I have done concerning the Overview Effect and on Lovelock’s suggestion that the Earth is a living system, I have posited the 'Cosma Hypothesis'. By this, I mean that the universe is also a living system with a degree of self-awareness. By definition, this must be so, since we are alive and conscious, and part of the universe. The question is whether, as we evolve, might our purpose be to help the universe become increasingly self-aware? Might our philosophy of space exploration, our guiding principle, be to transform not only our own world view but also that of the universe itself?"

The universe is a single living, conscious being of which we are a small part.
And our expanding awareness may be helping the whole universe become more aware.

You don't need to go out in space to receive the Overview Effect. A lesser version of the effect is achieved through photographs and video, and even these minor effects have had profound implications on humanity, and our understanding of ourselves. In 1950, astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle made a prediction on BBC radio, “Once a photograph of the Earth, taken from outside is available – once the sheer isolation of the Earth becomes known – a new idea as powerful as any in history will be let loose.” That prediction came true, embodied in the three most widely known examples...

Blue Marble
The Blue Marble - Dec. 7, 1972

The Overview film's release was timed to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the famous image of the whole Earth referred to as "Blue Marble", the most widely distributed image in human history. The image, along with other Earth images, is credited with inspiring the environmental movement, and an interest in global consciousness. The photograph, named AS17-148-22727 by NASA, is credited to the three astronauts aboard the Apollo 17 spacecraft - Eugene Cernan, Ronald Evans, and Jack Schmitt. The photograph is a part of a series of the only images of the full Earth ever taken by humans, and possibly the most beautiful one in existence. It has been shown as an example of Earth's frailty, vulnerability, and isolation amid the vast expanse of space. Astronaut Jack Schmitt stated, "I'll tell you, if there ever was a fragile appearing piece of blue in space, it's the Earth right now."

The Apollo 17 mission was the last manned flight to the Moon, and the last time humans were far enough away from the Earth to see it as marble in space. The Blue Marble photograph was taken on December 7, 1972. To the astronauts, the Earth had the appearance and size of a glass marble. At the time the picture was taken, the astronauts were 28,000 miles above the planet, moving at 40,000 km/hr. They were on the way to the Moon, where they would leave behind a plaque inscribed with the words, "May the spirit of peace in which we came be reflected in the lives of all mankind." That plaque sums up the potential impact on humanity, not just from being on the Moon itself, but from looking up and seeing the Earth from that perspective.

The Earthrise - Dec. 22, 1968

The "Earthrise" photograph, named AS08-16-2593 by NASA, was taken on December 22, 1968, by the crew of the Apollo 8 spacecraft, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and William Anders. They were the first humans to leave the gravitational influence of the Earth and orbit another celestial body, against uncertain odds of succeeding. They are the only humans to ever witness an Earthrise, but thanks to photographic technology we are all able to see it. The photo ignited the imagination of humanity, and is considered one of the most significant photos ever taken. It happened spontaneously, when the astronauts were suddenly in awe of the view. Here is the conversation which took place between the astronauts:

Borman: "Oh my God! Look at that picture over there! Here's the Earth coming up. Wow, is that pretty."
Anders: "Hey, don't take that, it's not scheduled."
Borman: (laughing) "You got a color film, Jim?"
Anders: "Hand me that roll of color quick, will you..."
Lovell: "Oh man, that's great!"

Three days later, the poet Archibald MacLeish wrote Riders on the Earth, in which he described the response to seeing Earthrise, "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." Apollo 8 astronaut Jim Lovell stated at the time, "The vast loneliness up here at the moon is awe inspiring, and it makes you realize what you have back there on Earth. The Earth from here is a grand oasis in the big vastness of space."

Pale Blue Dot
The Pale Blue Dot - Feb. 14, 1990

Up till now, there have only been 24 people who have able to see the Earth from far enough away that it appears complete. And there have been just over 500 people who have left the Earth's atmosphere and seen the planet from above. But there have been many unmanned spacecraft which have taken photographs of the Earth, and other planets. And from one of those robotic probes, the Voyager 1 spacecraft, came the third most inspiring photograph of the Earth called the "Pale Blue Dot".

The Pale Blue Dot was taken on Valentine's Day 1990 by the first human built object sent to leave our solar system. Four billion miles away from Earth, Voyager 1 turned its camera back towards its home planet and took a picture. The picture features a hazy view of black, with a couple of light streaks across it from the sun. Nothing exceptional, except a little blue dot that was almost missed. The command sequence that controlled the timing for each photograph’s exposure was developed by two University of Arizona scientists. One of them, Candice Hansen-Koharcheck, was working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab viewing the images when she noticed the dot. Later she explained, "It was just a little dot, about two pixels big, three pixels big, so not very large. You know, I still get chills down my back because here was our planet, bathed in this ray of light, and it just looked incredibly special." The full image size was actually 640,000 individual pixels, including the Earth at a mere 12% of a single pixel, but that was still big enough to make a huge impact on humanity.

Carl Sagan, who had worked with NASA on the golden record attached to the Voyager spacecraft, was the one who had suggested that they turn the craft around and take a picture of Earth. Vice Adm. Richard Truly, the head of NASA at the time, recalled the suggestion, "I did get a visit from Carl Sagan. We talked about a lot of things. And somewhere in that conversation he mentioned this idea. I thought, heck, with Voyager so far away, if it could turn around and take a picture of the different planets including the Earth, that that would really be cool."

Carl Sagan would later write his famous ode to the Pale Blue Dot, "From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ‘superstar,’ every ‘supreme leader,’ every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there — on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the only home we’ve ever known. The pale blue dot."

Carl Sagan reading "The Pale Blue Dot"

However powerful the photographs of the Earth may be, they are subtle compared to the effect of actually seeing the Earth from space. Part of the difference is in the fact that there is nothing in our lives that can relate to the experience. Part of the difference is that the trip from our planet, and the weightlessness and darkness of space, contribute to the effect. Radically new sensory experiences force the brain to reorganize to give meaning to the new information, which is the root of the Overview Effect. Apollo 11 Astronaut Michael Collins explained how "those who saw pictures of the Earth and then thought ‘Oh, I’ve seen everything those astronauts have seen,’ were kidding themselves… an image alone was a pseudo-sight that denies the reality of the matter."

Astronaut Edgar Mitchell described his experience returning from the Moon, "There was a startling recognition that the nature of the universe was not as I had been taught. My understanding of the separate distinctness and relative independence of movement of those cosmic bodies was shattered. I experienced what has been described as an ecstasy of unity. I not only saw the connectedness, I felt it. I was overwhelmed with the sensation of physically and mentally extending out into the cosmos. I realized that this was a biological response of my brain attempting to reorganize and give meaning to information about the wonderful and awesome processes that I was privileged to view."

The awe experienced when seeing pictures of the Earth for the first time offers new sensory information that may shift our worldview, but the images do not have the psychological, emotional, and spiritual effects of the real experience. That is why the Overview Institute is excited about the potential of private space travel, which will allow for many more people to experience the Overview Effect personally. The challenge will be to provide that experience to people beyond the wealthiest who can afford that travel.

Astronaut Gene Cernan said, "You wonder, if you could get everyone in the world up there, wouldn't they have a different feeling?" Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins stated, “The pity of it is that so far the view has been the exclusive property of a handful of test pilots, rather than the world leaders who need this new perspective, or the poets who might communicate it to them."

Philosopher and author David Loy explained in the film Overview that "to have that experience of awe is, at least for the moment, to let go of yourself, to transcend this sense of separation. So it's not just that they were experiencing something other than them, but that they were, at some very deep level, integrating and realizing their interconnectedness with that beautiful blue-green ball." Astronaut Edward Gibson said of his experience in space, "You see how diminutive your life and concerns are compared to other things in the universe. The result is that you enjoy the life that is before you. It allows you to have inner peace." Astronaut Gus Grissom said, "There is a clarity, a brilliance to space that simply doesn't exist on Earth. And nowhere else can you be so awed." Cosmonaut Oleg Makarov said, "Something about the unexpectedness of this sight, its incompatibility with anything we have ever experienced on earth elicits a deep emotional response. Suddenly, you get a feeling you’ve never had before. That you’re an inhabitant of the Earth."

Frank White wrote, "From space, the astronauts tell us, national boundaries vanish, the conflicts that divide us become less important, and the need to create a planetary society with the united will to protect this 'pale, blue dot', becomes both obvious and imperative. Even more so, many of them tell us that from the overview perspective, all of this seems imminently achievable – if only more people could have the experience!" Space tourist Richard Garriott explained, "It was like drinking from a fire hose of information. I had heard of the Overview Effect, but having done many extreme things in my life - skydiving, mountain climbing, visiting the Titanic and Antarctica, I didn't think it would greatly affect me. That is until, I got into space! My life has changed because of my space experience."

Astronaut Don Lind said, "Intellectually, I knew what to expect. I have probably looked at as many pictures from space as anybody, so I knew exactly what I was going to see. But there is no way you can be prepared for the emotional impact. It brought tears to my eyes." Space tourist Anousheh Ansari agreed, "The actual experience exceeds all expectations and is something that's hard to put to words. It sort of reduces things to a size that you think everything is manageable. Peace on Earth – no problem."

How can the Overview Effect be felt by those on Earth? Perhaps new immersive media environments can recreate the experience in such a way that it has transformative effects. There are other things which subtlety mimic the effects of overview, including airplane rides, deep connections with nature, and views from extremely tall buildings. It can even be said that the Internet provides a sort of Overview Effect. Hanne Hvattum wrote in a blog post, "Isn’t this perspective quite similar to what we are all experiencing as we are drifting around in cyberspace? Through the World Wide Web we are able to view humanity from a distance, not through the windows of a spaceship, but through the windows of our computers. For the first time in history, our stories and ideas are woven together in one huge and complex picture, as people from all over the world are sharing their thoughts, questions and knowledge, their hopes, fears and dreams. Never before have we been able to see ourselves more clearly than we do today. And the more stories we put into this virtual picture of humanity, the more detailed it gets. Through the Internet, the majority of the world’s population is given the chance to experience The Overview Effect! I believe this will change us. That it will help us make the shift into global awareness, by reminding us that we are all interconnected. We are all astronauts in cyberspace!"

"Earth bound history has ended. Universal history has begun."
- Edwin Hubble

The project to send men to space and the Moon was a triumph of large-scale cooperation and collaboration, and shows the power of collective intention. It was a journey of the human spirit and an example of its potential. As a reward for our effort, we received the magic of the Overview Effect. Many people have noticed that the most profound effects from our travels in space have not been discoveries made on the Moon, or on other planets, but on our understanding of ourselves and our home planet. David Beaver describes the Overview Effect as the "impact of space travel on the human mind and society." "In outer space, you develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty," explains astronaut Edgar Mitchell.

We are living, as Frank White says, "at a critical moment in human history. The challenges of climate change, food, water, and energy shortages as well as the increasing disparity between the developed and developing nations are testing our will to unite, while differences in religions, cultures, and politics continue to keep us apart. The creation of a "global village" through satellite TV and the Internet is still struggling to connect the world into one community. At this critical moment, our greatest need is for a global vision of planetary unity and purpose for humanity as a whole." Indeed, the only way to solve problems on a global scale in such an interconnected world is through cooperation and shared purpose, while being conscious of our actions and their effects. The Overview Effect provides an effective and inspiring lesson on understanding and finding the solutions. Astronaut Russell Schweickart stated, "You look down there and you can’t imagine how many borders and boundaries you cross, again and again and again, and you don’t even see them. There are hundreds of people in the Mideast killing each other over some imaginary line that you’re not even aware of and that you can’t see."

The story of our travels in space brings out awe and wonder in people from around the world. It is the most profound story of our time, in contrast to the most horrific story of our time - our continuous spoiling and disregard for the Earth and each other. The stories from space resonate far greater than the popular stories of division and conflict and greed, because they come from a much higher place. But more than that, it is the inspiration for action to protect the world and its people that gives the story added importance.

Around the year 30 BC, Marcus Tullius Cicero said that "the contemplation of celestial things will make a man both speak and think more sublimely and magnificently when he descends to human affairs." Forever bound to the land, he could not have imagined the impact of actually experiencing celestial things, and perhaps more importantly experiencing this planet in a celestial light. According to astronaut Jeff Hoffman, "We have to start acting as one species, one destiny. We are not going to survive if we don't do that... And a part of that is to come up with a new story, a new picture, a new way to approach this and to shift our behaviors in such a way that it leads to a sustainable approach to our civilization as opposed to a destructive approach."

Earth and Moon from Mercury
The Earth and Moon as seen from the Messenger spacecraft near Mercury
(the two brightest dots, close to each other on the left side)

"We have been evolving from the beginning of civilization to a larger and larger perspective of life, but the next natural evolution is understanding the life in space. That is, the earth, as Buckminister Fuller used to say, is a spaceship... Spaceship Earth," says David Beaver. As we travel beyond the Earth and our solar system, the Overview Effect also expands our awareness beyond the global level, eventually to the galactic and universal levels. Frank White explained that "we need to understand that the Overview Effect is not only about seeing the Earth from space but, as my colleague David Beaver likes to point out, also seeing it in space. We are in space, we have always been in space, and we always will be in space, whether we leave the planet or not. In a very real sense, all of us are astronauts, members of the crew of Spaceship Earth, and the time has come to realize that this is so."

After seeing this planet from the outside, astronaut Ron Garan said, "As I looked back at our Earth from the orbital perspective, I saw a world where natural and man-made boundaries disappeared, I saw a world becoming more and more interconnected and collaborative, a world where the exponential increase in technology was making the impossible possible on a daily basis. Thinking about the next 50 years, I imagined a world where people and organizations set aside their differences and work together toward their common goals. They set aside their differences and realize that each and every one of us is riding through the Universe together on this Spaceship we call Earth. They realize that because we are all interconnected, we are all in this together and because we are all family, the only way to solve the problems we all face is together."

After all, we are all on this ride together....

Image from the Imaginary Foundation

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Technological Wisdom


What is humanity's relationship to technology? And what does it mean to be technologically wise?

Dr. Allen Kanner, co-founder of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and co-editor of the book Ecopsychology, recently wrote an article in Tikkun magazine on technological wisdom, in which he describes the illusion of technological neutrality and the need to shift from technological progress to technological wisdom. Allen warns that "our species is at a technological crux, a moment when it needs to examine its ability to create as never before. Collectively, we are having a manic-depressive reaction to our inventions. On the one hand, we can but marvel with giddy anticipation as scientific and technical wizards spin out one stunning innovation after another. On the other, we are horrified with disbelief as we witness these same innovations destroying complex life on the planet. Obviously, we need to find a more even keel, an internal equilibrium in which we can fully absorb all the wonders and dangers of each invention and then decide, with full use of our rational faculties, if the gains are worth the losses. This would be the beginning of technological wisdom."

We have become dependent on our technology to exist, and have come to believe that only technological solutions can solve our problems. The technology we develop is wholly dependent on our intentions. By relying on tools instead of improving our understanding, we are travelling on a path to destruction and separation. Wisdom is found in the users of tools, not in the technology itself.

Futurist Neil Postman described our society's relationship to technology in his book Technopoly: "Technopoly is a state of culture. It is also a state of mind. It consists in the deification of technology, which means that the culture seeks its authorization in technology, finds its satisfactions in technology, and takes its orders from technology. This requires the development of a new kind of social order, and of necessity leads to the rapid dissolution of much that is associated with traditional beliefs. Those who feel most comfortable in Technopoly are those who are convinced that technological progress is humanity’s supreme achievement and the instrument by which our most profound dilemmas may be solved."

But technology is also responsible for most of our problems. Modern technology requires many natural resources, found spread throughout the planet, to be harvested, processed, and distributed. The use of a tool can not be separated from its physical origin, just like humans can not be separated from our natural environment or from the tools we use. Allen wrote, "Thus, the value of any technology is only partially determined by the security, comfort, and convenience it confers. We need also to know if it draws us closer to the land, to each other, and to the cosmos. These relational, political, and spiritual/ethical dimensions are always present in our inventions and are part of their inherent pull."

Whether we have technology or not is not an issue, humans are inherently designed for making and using tools. It is a specialty which should be respected and nurtured. We are developing the tools to do anything we can imagine, but our imagination is caught in an isolated web of fear and greed. Open source technologies represent a different approach, enabling collective intention to determine what is made and how. There is also a global movement to be more conscious of what is needed to produce technology, exploring ways to work sustainably in harmony with our environment. But most importantly, we need to re-connect with the rest of our planet, and stop replacing that connection with material objects and anger.

"At present, much that we manufacture is, in a word, junk. As consumer society transforms into a technologically wise one, far fewer things will be made, allowing those items that remain to be of much higher quality and to be produced under considerably more favorable circumstances than the modern factory affords. People who work with wood, metal, or stone will know the local forests, caves, and mountains from which their materials come," says Allen. "Our technological potential is unfulfilled, and unfulfillable, when it is divorced from the spirit of the Earth."

The Native American perspective on technology is explained by Jeannette Armstrong, co-founder and director of the En’owkin School of International Writing, the first accredited Canadian writing school operated solely by and for Aboriginal people. In Ecopsychology, Jeannette shares the technological wisdom of her people, the Okanagan: "We are tiny and unknowledgeable in our individual selves, it is the whole-Earth part of us that contains immense knowledge. Over the generations of human life, we have come to discern small parts of that knowledge, and humans house this internally. The way we act in our human capacity has significant effect on the Earth because it is said that we are the hands of the spirit, in that we can fashion Earth pieces with that knowledge and therefore transform the Earth. It is our most powerful potential, and so we are told that we are responsible for the Earth. We are keepers of the Earth because we are Earth."

Dr. Kanner explained, "Human beings are destined to mold the Earth. Gifted with exquisite hands, passionate imaginations, and boundless curiosity about how things work, we need to tinker, prod, poke, and build. It is in our genes, and our souls, to engage so completely with our physical surroundings that we alter them, just as the abundant fertility of the planet could not help but produce us. Indeed, our propensity to construct and redo may be a flamboyant expression of the generativity of our evolving world, which in its four-and-a-half-billion-year history has never ceased to cast itself anew. To be against technology is to deny a crucial part of human nature. Today, however, it has become extremely difficult to fully appreciate or ponder our ability to make things. Instead, we are caught in a tragically flawed philosophy called “technological progress” that blinds us to the numerous choices we have, the various ways open to us to become both wise and creative technological beings. It is as if we had decided that the only proper use of our legs is to run, and run as hard as we can, at every possible moment."

"At present, our modern machines are polluting the Earth, increasing the pace and stress of daily life, and transforming our environment faster than we can comprehend. We are experiencing one wave of future shock after another and cannot seem to slow down long enough to figure out why. We can only have faith that the next set of advances—nanotechnology, bioengineering, virtual reality—will magically save us.

As an ecopsychologist, I am interested in the personal relationships we each have with the natural and built worlds and how these relationships interact. Our many inventions and devices are not only altering the face of the planet, but also radically changing our connection to nature, to each other, and to ourselves. These are profound changes worthy of our most serious attention. Yet at present there is no “psychology of technology,” if by this we mean a systematic examination of the myriad influences of each innovation on our psyches, our relationships, our identities. This is a curious state of affairs, especially since psychology has turned its magnifying glass onto so many other aspects of our lives. But my profession is itself caught up in the sweep of technological progress and assumes that each “advancement” is ultimately positive, inevitable, or both," Allen continued.

"An alternative view, and one that ushers in the full psychological complexity of technology, conceives of our capacity to mold the Earth as engaging in a two-way relationship. As we enter into this relationship, we will be transformed. In this act of transformation, certain questions emerge. What happens to us, and the world, when we do not try to build it up as fast as possible? What happens when we do? Is there such a thing as technological walking, skipping, strolling, and meandering, as well as running, and how do our experience and treatment of our selves and surroundings differ in each of these modes?"

As we become more aware, and more connected with the rest of the planet and beyond, our technology will follow. We, not our tools, are the captains on this living, moving planet. And just as our technology becomes an extension of our hands and eyes and brain, humans are the hands and eyes and brain of the Earth itself.

In a sense, it could be said that humanity is a technology of this planet to better care for and understand itself.

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Urgent statement from American indigenous spiritual elders


Today begins one of the most dangerous missions that humanity has ever attempted, the removal of over a thousand nuclear fuel rods from Reactor #4 at the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant in Japan. The potential release of radiation is beyond anything that we have experienced before. We can only hope that everything goes smoothly with this operation, which could take years. At the same time, an even greater disaster is slowly and relentlessly unfolding around us each day, through the many ways we are comprising the planet's biosystems and making irresponsible short-term decisions. We are clearly living out of balance with the earth.

"Powerful technologies are out of control and are threatening the future of all life."

On October 31, 2013, an urgent message from the Indigenous Elders and Medicine Peoples Council, comprised of the wisdom keepers of the native peoples of the western hemisphere, was delivered by Chief Arvol Looking Horse, the spiritual elder of the Sioux Nation (Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota tribes). "This statement reflects the wisdom of the Spiritual People of the Earth, of North and South America, working in unity to restore peace, harmony, and balance for our collective future and for all living beings." The words express "deep concern for our shared future and urge everyone to awaken spiritually."

Today, modern society is desperately searching for ways to be more sustainable. The indigenous elders of the earth already have the answers, and are begging us to listen.

Council Statement

The Creator created the People of the Earth into the Land at the beginning of Creation and gave us a way of life. This way of life has been passed down generation-to-generation since the beginning. We have not honored this way of life through our own actions and we must live these original instructions in order to restore universal balance and harmony. We are a part of Creation; thus, if we break the Laws of Creation, we destroy ourselves.

We, the Original Caretakers of Mother Earth, have no choice but to follow and uphold the Original Instructions, which sustains the continuity of Life. We recognize our umbilical connection to Mother Earth and understand that she is the source of life, not a resource to be exploited. We speak on behalf of all Creation today, to communicate an urgent message that man has gone too far, placing us in the state of survival. We warned that one day you would not be able to control what you have created. That day is here. Not heeding warnings from both Nature and the People of the Earth keeps us on the path of self destruction. This self destructive path has led to the Fukushima nuclear crisis, Gulf oil spill, tar sands devastation, pipeline failures, impacts of carbon dioxide emissions, and the destruction of ground water through hydraulic fracking, just to name a few. In addition, these activities and development continue to cause the deterioration and destruction of sacred places and sacred waters that are vital for Life. Powerful technologies are out of control and are threatening the future of all life.

The Fukushima nuclear crisis alone is a threat to the future of humanity. Yet, our concern goes far beyond this single threat. Our concern is with the cumulative and compounding devastation that is being wrought by the actions of human beings around the world. It is the combination of resource extraction, genetically modified organisms, moral failures, pollution, introduction of invasive species, and much much more that are threatening the future of life on Earth. The compounding of bad decisions and their corresponding actions are extremely short-sighted. They do not consider the future generations and they do not respect or honor the Creator’s Natural Law. We strongly urge for the governmental authorities to respond with an open invitation to work and consult with us to solve the world’s problems, without war. We must stop waging war against Mother Earth, and ourselves.

We acknowledge that all of these devastating actions originated in human beings who are living without regard for the Earth as the source of life. They have strayed from the Original Instructions by casting aside the Creator’s Natural Law. It is now critical for humanity to acknowledge that we have created a path to self destruction. We must restore the Original Instructions in our lives to halt this devastation.

The sanctity of the Original Instructions has been violated. As a result, the Spiritual People of the Earth were called ceremonially to come together at the home of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe Bundle. These Spiritual Leaders and those that carry great responsibility for their people from both North and South America came together with the sacred fire for four days at the end of September 2013 to fulfill their sacred responsibilities. During this time it was revealed that the spirit of destruction gained its’ strength by our spiritually disconnected actions. We are all responsible in varying degrees for calling forth this spirit of destruction, thus we are all bound to begin restoring what we have damaged by helping one another recover our sacred responsibility to the Earth. We, the Original Caretakers of Mother Earth, offer our spiritual insight, wisdom, and vision to the global community to help guide the actions needed to overcome the current threats to all life.

We only have to look at our own bodies to recognize the sacred purpose of water on Mother Earth. We respect and honor our spiritual relationship with the lifeblood of Mother Earth. One does not sell or contaminate their mother’s blood. These capitalistic actions must stop and we must recover our sacred relationship with the Spirit of Water.

The People of the Earth understand that the Fukushima nuclear crisis continues to threaten the future of all life. We understand the full implications of this crisis even with the suppression of information and the filtering of truth by the corporate owned media and Nation States. We strongly urge the media, corporations, and Nation States to acknowledge and convey the true facts that threaten us, so that the international community may work together to resolve this crisis, based on the foundation of Truth. We urge the international community, government of Japan, and TEPCO to unify efforts to stabilize and re-mediate the nuclear threat posed at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. To ensure that the Japanese government and TEPCO are supported with qualified personnel and information, we urge the inclusion of today’s nuclear experts from around the world to collaborate, advise, and provide technical assistance to prevent further radioactive contamination or worse, a nuclear explosion that may have apocalyptic consequences.

The foundation for peace will be strengthened by restoring the Original Instructions in ourselves.

Prophecies have been shared and sacred instructions were given. We, the People of the Earth, were instructed that the original wisdom must be shared again when imbalance and disharmony are upon Mother Earth. In 1994 the sacred white buffalo, the giver of the sacred pipe, returned to the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota people bringing forth the sacred message that the winds of change are here. Since that time many more messengers in the form of white animals have come, telling us to wake up my children. It is time. So listen for the sacred instruction.

All Life is sacred. We come into Life as sacred beings.
When we abuse the sacredness of Life we affect all Creation.

We urge all Nations and human beings around the world to work with us, the Original Caretakers of Mother Earth, to restore the Original Instructions and uphold the Creator’s Natural Law as a foundation for all decision making, from this point forward. Our collective future as human beings is in our hands, we must address the Fukushima nuclear crisis and all actions that may violate the Creator’s Natural Law. We have reached the crossroads of life and the end of our existence. We will avert this potentially catastrophic nuclear disaster by coming together with good minds and prayer as a global community of all faiths.

We are the People of the Earth united under the Creator’s Law with a sacred covenant to protect and a responsibility to extend Life for all future generations. We are expressing deep concern for our shared future and urge everyone to awaken spiritually. We must work in unity to help Mother Earth heal so that she can bring back balance and harmony for all her children.

The text of the statement can be found here.


Chief Arvol Looking Horse quote

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The 1st Compassion and Technology Conference and Contest


On December 6, 2013, Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) is holding the inaugural Compassion and Technology Conference at the Stanford Medical School in Palo Alto, California. Scientists, engineers, social entrepreneurs, and compassionate people will converge at Stanford University for discussions and presentations on the cutting edge of compassion. Plus there is a contest to design technology to enhance compassion. The conference is a collaboration with CCARE, Facebook, 1440 Foundation, HopeLab, and The Dalai Lama Foundation.

 Compassion and Technology Conference and Contest

The conference’s purpose is to support a dialogue around innovative practices on compassion and technology. Expert researchers and technology leaders who have successfully implemented and fostered compassionate action through the use of technological advancements will present talks on compassion. Conference attendees will learn how compassion can be trained using technological education tools, tracked geographically through mapping tools, used to inspire, and implemented as an intervention in communities where it is most needed (e.g., war zones, prisons, at-risk schools, trauma populations, and healthcare systems).

"While compassion is a fundamental part of every religious tradition, there is an ever enlarging body of scientific evidence that technological advancements have an immense positive impact in terms of increasing compassion and altruistic behavior on both the community level and the individual level. This conference will highlight these aspects from a technological aspect as well as a scientific aspect in an effort to promote awareness and progress, and reward those who are working towards these goals. We at CCARE are very excited to initiate and sponsor the conference and contribute to this expanding field," says Dr. James Doty, Founder and Director of CCARE.

Compassion and Technology Contest

The Compassion and Technology Contest calls for innovators, engineers, and designers to present a technology design or product that will help people learn, practice, or improve qualities of compassion, empathy, social connectedness, or altruism. Some examples of compassionate technology are a website using knowledge from compassion science to help “build compassion muscles”, compassion education apps, and compassion-inducing video games.

The technologies will be judged on whether they:
    1. Help people learn, practice, improve, and share one or more of the following qualities: compassion, empathy, social connectedness, altruism.
    2. Use technology (broadly defined as tools, apps, social media, etc.) to effectively reach a wide audience and increase the scalability of the idea.
    3. Apply to one or more of the following areas: learning, practicing, increasing, and spreading compassion.
    4. Are easy to use, so that people without technology expertise can easily access and use it.
    5. Are scalable, sustainable, and financially viable.


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