The Occupy Movement is About Flaws in the “Progress” of Mankind October 26, 2011Posted by Stephen Dill in Business, Life Experience, Observations, Spirit.
Tags: Declaration of Independence, economic development, Occupy Bucharest, Occupy Wall Street, US Constitution
Key to understanding the challenge I am about to relate is the opening phrase of the following blog post: “I am still reading”. That’s right, I had not completed my reading of the Occupy Bucharest Manifesto before I was moved to write a post about it. As a result, I offered an evaluation of this document based on an assumption that was incorrect. Instead of this being the compilation of a group’s thoughts, it turned out to be one person’s thoughts, someone who was quick to comment on this blog and reach out to me through Twitter, Luca Oprea.
While my premise—that this was a collective product—was premature, my respect for the quality of the ideas and delivery remain true and accurate. Luca is a remarkable thinker, and I look forward to learning more about his ideas and efforts.
I am still reading through this manifesto by the group at Occupy Bucharest, but this struck me as being a remarkable observation:
Occupy Wall Street can be seen as a basic, natural, global response to this fundamentally flawed state of things. The mindless segregation of life and energy flows from human consciousness is what led to the existence of the flowing crowds of Spain and Greece and Portugal and the rest of Europe. They have very little past and no apparent future, and as such cannot be understood through economic theory, although they are created by it. Fundamentally, human communities should cover the full spectrum of evolving life, from primary biological production, through innately collaborative social life, to consciousness and then mind.
Instead, the current state of things sees rural and urban areas feeding off of each other in production cycles that deplete the earth, social ties, and individual lives. The reason is simple – while they may appear to be separate and different communities, in fact they are only one community, its production and social flows stretching over very long distances. Capitalism speaks of competition, consumption, business and trade as essential factors which create value, but the reality is that these are low level processes which only make sense between partially developed communities.
The challenge of writing well is so large that most will never address it, much less accomplish it. But this manifesto immediately establishes itself as a record of deep
thought. Cogent, succinct, and nothing short of visionary, that this document was developed by a collective is all the more extraordinary!
Have you ever wondered how it was the the United States Declaration of Independence was so well written? The language is refined, focused and accurate, so much more effective and compelling than the majority of all written work of that day, and ever since. I have often tried to imagine the mindset of Thomas Jefferson as he wrote the first draft, the level of concentration of John Adams and the others at they read it and suggested edits. What amazing clarity and understanding! We saw it once again in the US Constitution, but not as much in some of the amendments, and even less in the reams of legislation that have been generated by federal and state bureaucrats ever since.
I believe the key difference is in the thinking that comes before the word, perhaps that’s not obvious, given the vast quantities of words with no meaning that are published by the minute. Thomas Jefferson and his colleagues were all focused on an urgent need for freedom from tyranny and how to make that happen, on this they thought long and hard.
No doubt, the people in Bucharest spent considerable time discussing what brought them together. The process of writing well—the distillation down to the fundamental issues and then to convey them in compelling words and phrases—is no mean feat. This evidence of those thoughtful conversations tells me that many of the Occupy sites are having similar conversations, and that alone could be enough to justify the movement, in my opinion. As a species, humans do not gather together often enough to tap into the astounding power within their minds.
Some points about the dark road where capitalism has taken us will be argued by those who feel it is a perfect system. Regardless, in my opinion the writers of the Occupy Bucharest manifesto have done what few writers, much less groups of writers, have done in recorded history. It is well worth your time to invest in reading this document for understanding. I would love to hear your thoughts on this (to include how long it took you to read it!).
A Portal Into The Future of Education May 5, 2011Posted by Stephen Dill in Observations.
Tags: Education, glimpse, start
add a comment
As many of you know, my 150-year goal is to reboot Public Education and build a new system of education that starts at conception and fosters lifelong learning as a societal imperative around the world. The key success factor is this idea is to come up with a way to transition to a new system.
Salman Khan has come up with a way to do it. What if everyone could revisit topics they were no longer proficient in? What if anyone anywhere could learn new things in their spare time and have coaches and mentors available to help them when they got stuck? What if everyone could easily help anyone needing help in those topics they were comfortable in, no matter where they lived?
Watch this TED Talk by Sal Khan as he tells the story of the Khan Academy with a faculty of one. And see what the education system of the future may well look like.
“The Power Broker” Still Resonates Today February 21, 2011Posted by Stephen Dill in Life Experience, Observations.
Tags: biography, Coney Island, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John Lindsay, Jones Beach, Nelson Rockefeller, New York, New York City, Pulitzer Prize, Robert Caro, Robert Moses
add a comment
In a high school English class I was assigned a book to read that was so daunting I can remember today the feeling of shock as it was placed in my hands. It was huge! Growing up along the Jersey shore, I knew for a fact that a book this size could function as a great drag anchor for a small skiff or rowboat. It didn’t matter that the teacher was telling us we would use this book the entire semester, it was over 1000 pages, for God’s sake!
As it turned out, The Power Broker was a fantastic read, and served well as the basis for an equally wonderful course. I ended up reading farther each day and week than was assigned, and the emotional high and feeling of accomplishment as I read the last words were totally unexpected. First, I had tamed the beast. But more importantly, I had persevered to gain insight that even at the tender age of 16 I knew would be important to me for the rest of my life.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
One of my first introductions to the power of good research. A fascinating look into the mind and life of a man who shaped the built environment of the state of New York like no other.
As the book description out on Goodreads tells us:
…winner of both the Pulitzer and the Francis Parkman prizes, The Power Broker tells the hidden story behind the shaping (and mis-shaping) of twentieth-century New York (city and state) and makes public what few have known: that Robert Moses was, for almost half a century, the single most powerful man of our time in New York, the shaper not only of the city’s politics but of its physical structure and the problems of urban decline that plague us today.
In revealing how Moses did it—how he developed his public authorities into a political machine that was virtually a fourth branch of government, one that could bring to their knees Governors and Mayors (from La Guardia to Lindsay) by mobilizing banks, contractors, labor unions, insurance firms, even the press and the Church, into an irresistible economic force—Robert Caro reveals how power works in all the cities of the United States. Moses built an empire and lived like an emperor. He personally conceived and completed public works costing 27 billion dollars—the greatest builder America (and probably the world) has ever known. Without ever having been elected to office, he dominated the men who were—even his most bitter enemy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, could not control him—until he finally encountered, in Nelson Rockefeller, the only man whose power (and ruthlessness in wielding it) equalled his own.
Robert Moses was clearly a brilliant man on a mission to create beautiful recreational shorelines, parks, pools, playgrounds, parkways and pathways in the City of New York and the counties that surrounded it. The fact that he knowingly abused the laws to make these dreams happen could be argued as criminal intent or political genius. Certainly the millions of people who have enjoyed Jones Beach or the Triborough Bridge would never have suspected that the mastermind behind them and so much more had a racist agenda and a near-pathological belief that he was right and no one was going to stop him.
But the life story of Robert Moses was not entirely about manipulation and devious intent. Looking back, I suspect that the strongest impact upon this reader was the remarkable discipline he exhibited every day. He always worked later than his engineers, then woke earlier to have a stack of paperwork and plans ready for his secretary, who would stop by his house on her way into the office. Then he would work in the car as his driver took him to work (he never had a driver’s license, never had a job—instead writing himself into law … you need to read this book!). And while I have taken a much different perspective on life since, this was formative in my mental image of the hard-working world changer I wanted to be.
Certainly NOT what I was thinking as the drag anchor was handed to me in high school!
What’s Happening in America? September 12, 2010Posted by Stephen Dill in Observations.
Tags: hatred America media self-respect
I have been wondering why so much disrespect, even hatred, appears to be rising in America, the land of the free, the country that embraced “Send us your poor” for so long, the nation that was founded on religious tolerance and understanding.
What is causing so many people to curse their neighbors, their leaders, even their President? Peace starts within, by first loving our selves. Is all this due to lack of self respect? Do Americans as a whole not feel confident in their own self worth?
To the media: we need to see role models of people who do love themselves and do respect others because they do not need to be defensive. Please, put the light on the right way to live, not the worst-case scenario you are focused on now.
20 Cottage Street Captured! March 11, 2010Posted by Stephen Dill in Observations.
add a comment
One of the best shots of our house, not because it’s the whole house (missing the barn, but that’s not ‘the house’ in some definitions), but because it captures the 80-year old beech in the middle of the driveway, arguably more impressive than the massing of the house.
Nice job neighbor! (Haven’t arranged to meet them yet!)
Add Me Button October 5, 2009Posted by Stephen Dill in Observations.
add a comment
Here is an interesting conundrum. The text of the button widget said it would mount this button on my site, but not where. Given the choice, I would have said, “Not THERE!” But here it is. Now to test if I can put it elsewhere.
Twitter Poetry July 24, 2009Posted by Stephen Dill in Observations.
Tags: Newsweek, poetry Stephen-Dill Twitter microblogging
add a comment
Trying my hand at poetry in under 140 characters (#140poets):
Because it’s there, I try it once.
If it rewards me, I linger and return.
If not I go away, wiser, undaunted.
The pool is deep.
There is little,
One can do,
In so short a frame,
And characters few.
But I do.
In among the weeds, there must be fun.
For my dog stays in my garden, even when I threaten a gun.
Not sure where THAT urge came from! More to come as the spirit moves me. Such as:
Sustained peace, suddenly interrupted.
Sweet, pervasive quiet, rapidly replaced,
By a dog’s cold nose.
Will I remember?
What have I forgotten?
Can I find the photos?
Does it matter to anyone?
Better check Facebook!
(This one inspired by an essay called “Instant Karma” by Andrew Romano in Newsweek.)
Greatness Passes in Sharon, MA February 11, 2009Posted by Stephen Dill in Observations.
Tags: commitment, George Bailey, MA General Laws, recall, Sharon MA
More and more I believe everyone is great in their own way. Sometimes a person’s excellence is easily apparent to even the most casual observer, sometimes only the most intimate friends know what makes a person uniquely excellent in one or more qualities. A friend of the town of Sharon just made his transition yesterday and leaves many who knew him to miss him, for now, and then to wonder how we will fill the gap of excellence that he leaves behind.
George Bailey (not the fictional one in the picture) was a man committed to his family, friends, town, and state—roughly in that order. He developed an encyclopedic knowledge of everything he had an interest in and an equally impressive recall to provide constant, ready access to his experiences and knowledge. In matters of civics, he knew in detail the relevant sections of the General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and then went about making them available to all those who needed his gift. I suspect that the town of Sharon benefited from George’s mastery of his interests more on a daily basis than did any of the other state agencies and task forces that called upon him to be a member or consultant. During the course of my first 23 years as a resident of Sharon I never served on a committee with George. However, one could not live in Sharon and profess even the slightest modicum of involvement in the town without becoming aware of the value of his amazing recall and total commitment to the progress of the town. He was a fixture at Town Meeting, all the nights of Town Meeting, and could remember key issues, votes, positions, proponents, opponents and virtually any other detail of seemingly every Town Meeting he ever attended – to include the incredible number of Town Meetings he had attended! George’s voice would emanate from the TV in the evening as I passed through the living room and I would know that my wife, Abigail Marsters, was watching a town committee meeting of some sort on the local access cable channel. Abigail and George served on the Charter Commission together and she would often tell me of the nights where George would gently remind the committee or someone being interviewed by the committee of a recollection of a meeting twenty or more years ago that became the foundation for an amendment of those General Laws so that they now define what the committee is charged to do.
Abigail and I recently had the pleasure of speaking with George and his wonderful wife Lucy at a mutual friend’s Christmas party. This was one of the most extended conversations we had ever had with George, and probably the only one that included little to no town politics. The only current events we spoke of were his recent diagnosis of leukemia and the chemo treatments that were soon to start. For the most part, though, George regaled us with tales from that rich trove of memories he had gained as a sailor, a mass transit advocate, a college student, and so many other roles. More than anything I remember thinking, “This is a life well lived!” At some point in the evening before Lucy took him home to rest, George mentioned that he would probably need a mask the next time he saw us as the chemo would weaken his immune system. Karin and David Hagan, our hosts that evening, picked up on that and immediately thought that we should decorate masks for George so when he did host friends at his bedside, he could do it in style and with humor. So just last week David, Karin, Abigail and I met for dinner and a mask decoration session for George.
Unfortunately, the masks were not allowed into the hospital, but George heard about them from his family. And while George had invested heavily, and unwittingly, into being a truly great human being, he was still a human being. And that human left us yesterday. I have been blessing him and his soul that it may make the transition smoothly. I suspect as wise as George was, he knew well of his spiritual nature and was at peace with the process of going back to pure spirit. I now direct my thoughts to his family, and to the town. For while I know that grief will be replaced by joy in having been blessed to know this man we called George Bailey, the many committees of people, the entire town for that matter, will be feeling the loss of his experience for many years to come.
I know there are some who never perceived the greatness of George Bailey. Being a man of principle he had to take a stand on issues and sometimes that positioned him in opposition to his neighbors. But for those who did, immediately or eventually, take heart. George taught us all that person with a calm demeanor and respectful attitude, embodied in a thoughtful listener, and motivated by an inquisitive nature could make quite a mark on this world. Thank you for that lesson George.