By Richard John Stapleton
Earthians are in a Catch-22 damned if they do and damned if they don’t situation; caught between a rock and a hard spot, or the devil and the deep blue sea; up the creek without a paddle; caught behind the eight ball; enmeshed more than ever in a Gordian Knot of rising obscene income and wealth inequality, financial manipulation, environmental destruction, global warming, military hatred, and social misery; sorely in need of rational and benevolent political leadership; being generally ruled at the highest levels by thugs, bullies, and ruffians who have taken over political playgrounds.
Thanks to unbridled sexual urges humans continue to breed children at a geometric rate, adding more and more humans to an already overpopulated Earth, requiring more and more production of goods for humans to consume, requiring the destruction of more and more natural resources, creating more and more pollution of Earth’s atmosphere, creating more and more global warming, which seems to be accelerating more than experts thought it would, creating more and more competition among people and nations for diminishing resources, creating more and more fear and hatred among people and nations, causing more and more production of war materials and military expenditures for military hardware and troops, leading to more and more military tensions around Earth, increasing the probability a madman will shoot off a big nuclear bomb that lands on a big city, setting off a catastrophe that could lead to human extinction.
If nuclear weapons don’t bring on a catastrophe global warming will, as sea levels rise and Earth gets so hot food cannot be grown in most places, assuming significant reductions in atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane do not happen, as seems likely, as humans continue to irresponsibly produce too many new hungry mouths to feed caused by their unrestrained sexual appetites, even assuming abortions are not made illegal by moral extremists in more and more countries, thereby precluding peacefully reducing the human population aboard Spaceship Earth through attrition, natural deaths exceeding births over time, to eliminate the need to destroy more and more natural resources and burn more and more fossil fuel, and on and on, thereby exacerbating and accelerating dangerous global processes and trends causing the Doomsday Clock to tell the time it does.
I have used the word Earthian since encountering it in the 1970s in Buckminster Fuller’s book Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth. It is my understanding that Fuller invented the word Earthian, and the appellation Spaceship Earth, implying Earth is something that has to be preserved by humans monitoring regular interdependent physical processes in the infinity of airless time and space—such as, for example, trees and other plants emitting oxygen that humans and other animals breath; with humans, other animals, and various processes emitting carbon dioxide that plants ingest, to make new oxygen in hopefully never ending interdependent closed systems. Such systems have to remain in synchronous interdependent regularities, requiring not cutting down and burning too many trees, and not putting too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere burning fossil fuels, as humans should know by now given what they have heard, seen, and read in various media about global warming, evidenced first-hand by anyone merely walking outside these days in broad daylight, feeling the heat coming down as if emitted from a heat lamp three feet away—and by daily posts on the Internet about heat and wildfires burning anything that will burn on various spots of terra firma around Spaceship Earth.
What is an Earthian? The term includes more than humans: it includes all species of fauna and flora around Earth.
I made a decision in June of 2018 to encourage the formation of De-Gaming Democracy groups around Spaceship Earth to facilitate relevant face-to-face discussions about ecological, economic, social, religious, and political affairs to hopefully co-construct consensual answers for seemingly intractable problems. It seems to me isolated human individuals spending eight or so hours per day on average looking at TV, computer, and cell phone screens to see, hear, and read fake news, faces, music, stories, gossip, movies, video games, sports, and even some truthful news has not resulted in economic and political progress. Something new needs to be tried.
To paraphrase Albert Einstein, it seems to me it’s insane to do the same thing over and over while saying you want a given result, such as better ecological, economic, and political conditions, and never getting them, which is happening in most organizations and groups, including families, schools, colleges, universities, churches, legislatures, congresses, militaries, and countries, who in reality are only concerned with preserving their status quos and protecting their vested interests, who, like any addict, depend on highs produced by life-threatening economic, political, religious, and military processes and substances they cannot give up.
Supposed experts and power people in organizations and groups often get together in committees or cliques to decide what kind of information, excuse me, party line dogma and doctrine to inflict on their subordinates down the chain of command, usually via the lecture method of teaching with victims, excuse me, subordinates sitting in seats, chairs, and desks in neat rows and columns obediently trying or pretending to memorize what is laid on them for some sort of test or task. Most people enjoy lecturing others standing rigidly erect pointing with their index fingers with a stern look on their faces. Even five-year-old kids can sometimes be seen taking pleasure lecturing other kids.
What I recommend in “De-Gaming and Saving Democracy” is not doing this, but, rather, having learners and teachers of different persuasions sit in circles using a spinner to randomly select a leader of the day to diagnose problems and opportunities, create alternatives, and make recommendations for change, which are then democratically discussed by all group members. This entails everyone being equally ok and having an equal chance to be a leader, which is the essence of democracy. The ancient Greeks used this process, called sortition.
I took my own advice and tried to set up a De-Gaming democracy group in Statesboro three months ago as explained here. I invited 153 people on my Internet list, told them I was hosting a forum in our Stapleton Learning Company offices, what I called the Ogeechee Economic Forum, using principles outlined in “De-Gaming and Saving Democracy,” and announced the time and how to get there.
One person showed up, not enough to democratically de-Game anything, but the discussion was randomly started nevertheless. Something in the person’s mind showing up caused the person to bring up the problem discussed during the assigned hour of the forum, namely the sad state of affairs now bedeviling Georgia Southern University in Statesboro and Armstrong State University in Savannah caused by the University System of Georgia secretly deciding in top down fashion to merge the two universities. It was an interesting discussion and made interesting content for this article.
So, as my experiment during July showed (one person showing up), it will not be easy to set up De-Gaming Democracy groups for bottom-up democratic discussions around Spaceship Earth, the most likely explanation being that many, if not most, humans are afraid of face-to-face democracy. Strange as it might seem, a good case can be built that most people actually prefer being told what to believe and do in authoritarian top-down systems, on TV, on their cell phones, in schools, in homes, in churches, at workplaces, in militaries, etc.
But we should keep trying to foster good democracy, however futile it might be. Otherwise present trends will continue.
I am now teaching a business planning course pro bono, at no cost to participants, at the BIG Building, the Business Innovation Center, at the Georgia Southern University City Campus in downtown Statesboro, Georgia, USA lasting ten weeks, meeting once a week from 7-9 p.m. on Mondays, in which I use a de-Gamed case method process. I furnish free copies of my book Business Voyages to serve as the course bible. The course is conducted much like a Sunday School Class, no tests, no grades, and no teacher evaluations. I have now taught three sessions of the planned ten sessions. Four people showed up the first night, five the second, and three for the third session.
I suggest certain passages from various pages in Business Voyages non-sequentially at various times during the course sessions for group consideration. Most of the time however is consumed by participants talking about their own cases, relating their fact-based cases to passages they find relevant anywhere in Business Voyages, much like a preacher would relate a passage in his/her bible to the topic of her/his sermon on a particular day, except the cases in this business planning course will be discussed by all participants on the spot to help group members make money or achieve other business goals in the here and now. If we add a few more participants I will use a Classroom De-Gamer™ from time to time to randomly select leaders.
Participants may bring up any business planning issue they happen to have on their minds during a class session, personal, local, national, or international in scope.
To get a better idea of what is going on in the course get yourself a free Business Voyages Kindall Unlimited ebook and randomly access its pages.
According to philosopher Karl Popper, it’s possible for humans to know about phenomena in three worlds, as recorded on page 100 of Business Voyages:
“World 1 includes hydrogen and helium, the heavier elements, liquids and crystals, and living organisms; World 2 includes consciousness of self and of death, and sentience or animal consciousness; and World 3 includes works of art and science and technology, human language, and theories of self and of death.”
No one knows right answers for problems that require significant knowledge from all three of Popper’s Worlds. The best hope is to develop consensual answers in democratic discussions that work better than others.
One can build a plausible case that provably true “right” answers do not exist in social, economic, and political affairs.
The problem in most organizations and groups, families included, is that parents and parent-like people—supervisors, CEOs, cops, politicians, prison wardens, FBI directors, managers, preachers, teachers, coaches, sergeants, generals, etc.—enjoy being the boss, and they hog all the power they can get their hands on by precluding one way or another others from participating in democratic discussions, and if this goes on over and over again enough underdogs begin to enjoy it and feel good about it, and begin to withdraw from any sort of dialectical face to face human contact and communication; and if everybody does this a stagnant society will ensue, a society that is only concerned about preserving its status quo, which is about where humans are now around Spaceship Earth, despite mounting evidence significant unplanned changes will soon happen.
As any transactional analyst knows, the most significant human learning is natural script-based authoritarianism. Parents program children before the age of eight to adopt psychologically and socially a unique family life script that lays out the do’s and don’t’s for living their lives.
As recorded on page 159 of Business Voyages, most parents at the social verbal spoken level from their Parent ego states communicate to the Parent ego states of their children over and over helpful things such as:
“Wash behind your ears,” “Clean those fingernails,” “ Study hard,” “Work hard,” “Get along,” “Make something of yourself”, and “Go to church, temple, or mosque.”
As recorded on page 160 of Business Voyages, children are also exposed to psychological ulterior unspoken messages that are frustrating, debilitating, and enfeebling, called injunctions, transmitted from the Child ego states of parents to the Child ego states of children using positive and negative body language signals as children feel, think, and do as events happen:
“Don’t Be, Don’t Be You (the sex you are); Don’t Be a Child; Don’t Grow; Don’t Make It; Don’t; Don’t Be Important; Don’t Be Close; Don’t Belong; Don’t Be Well (or sane); Don’t Think About X (forbidden subject); Don’t Think What You Think, Think What I Think; Don’t Feel; Don’t Feel X, Mad, Sad, Glad, Scared; Don’t Feel What You Feel, Feel What I Feel.”
Some families are relatively free of injunctions and others are relatively contaminated with them, but probably all families produce and experience some of them. Injunctions preclude or forbid feelings, thoughts, and behaviors; what most people need to live fully healthy, productive, and satisfying lives is psychological permission to violate injunctions accidentally and inevitably laid on them psychologically by their parents. Unfortunately most people are unaware of the injunctions they harbor and transmit.
Parent and Child authoritarian messages and injunctions in various combinations stay much the same generation after generation within families as parents pass them down to children like runners passing a baton in a relay track race, while allowing and creating significant differentiation through time between families.
Certain family scripts derived from Parent and Child messages and injunctions fit various kinds of organizational scripts better than others. People with the same kinds of family scripts tend to populate the same kinds of organizations and groups at various levels generation after generation, including political parties and religions, whether liberal, conservative, right wing, left wing, or Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist, of various denominations and sects.
This early script-based teaching in families before humans are eight years old is difficult to change, almost impossible some say, making it even more difficult to change national scripts derived from family scripts. For a succinct explanation of Parent, Adult, and Child ego states and life scripts as they affect organizational learning, development, and praxis, see my book Born to Learn: A Transactional Analysis of Human Learning.
According to Eric Berne, MD, a psychiatrist, and the euhemerous of transactional analysis, script messages transmitted to children in families generally produce three kinds of life outcomes: winner, loser, and non-winner, or banal. In my opinion, the process is grossly unfair for humans not scripted to be winners. It’s an unfair process for which no human can be blamed or praised, caused by an unbroken infinite regression and progression of ineluctable inevitable accidental cause-effect chains, in the infinity of time and space. According to Berne, these scripted outcomes occur in recurrent proportions generation after generation in any society, regardless of the political system, religions, or socio-economic conditions in the society as a whole.
Here is a passage on human scripts I wrote on page 157 of Business Voyages:
“As Shakespeare pointed out, the world is a stage and everyone must play a part. While it is theoretically possible not to act out a part or script in life by autonomously making decisions based on the facts of actual cases using Adult ego states in the here and now, it would be difficult to prove whether anyone has ever actually accomplished such a feat. According to Berne, a script is an on-going life plan decided upon by a child before the age of eight—which includes such basic decisions as the life position of the person (whether I’m OK—You’re OK, I’m OK—You’re Not OK, I’m Not OK—You’re OK, I’m Not OK—You’re Not OK), what type of person to marry, how many children to have, the nature of role in life, the nature of life outcome, whether winner, loser, or non-winner, and who will be around when life ends (Berne, 1970). The early influence and programming of parents and the commitment of a child to the influence and programming determine life scripts. Once the child decides to accept the influence and programming it becomes a part of a script that is acted out on the stage of life. In this sense a child less than eight years old determines most lives. Some scripts work out well and some do not. Criminals, entrepreneurs, saints, and sinners are generally what they are because of scripts, not autonomous feelings, thinking, and doing in the here and now. Therefore they are not to blame or praise. People do in the present what they decided to do in the past regarding important matters. According to Berne, only trivial matters are decided by reason in the here and now.”
It seems to me the best approach for dealing with script-based feeling, thinking, and behaving in a society is by getting people with disparate scripts together in Game-free democratic dialectical discussions that enable participants to experience their script messages in relation to the script messages of others in relation to specific problems and opportunities confronting everyone in the shared environment, so as to construct consensual answers that are acceptable for everyone.
This is hard to do, impossible some say, because “birds of a feather flock together,” and humans generally only associate with their own kind, hearing the same authoritarian messages over and over from their elders, leaders, friends, family members, and managers, preaching to their own choirs, creating a psychological security blanket for group members, which, however comforting, causes feelings, thoughts, and behaviors that will, if similarly caused for humans in all organizations and groups, sooner or later paradoxically cause all organizations and groups to become less secure, probably enemies, since differentiated inbred dogmas and doctrines within organizations and groups through time sooner or later clash with those of different organizations and groups, leading to competition and war instead of cooperation and peace.
In addition to this pernicious chickens-coming-home-to-roost organizational process, as organizations become more powerful and successful through time, power-hoggers at the highest levels in political parties and governments, in the US, UK, India, France, Germany, Russia, China, Syria, Japan, Indonesia, Bulgaria, Ireland, Venezuela, South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, Cuba, Chile, Mexico, Holland, Iran, Turkey, or wherever, and in multinational corporations of any national origin, having no Game-free democratic open dialectical discussions among peers generating consensual answers for problems in shared environments have now brought Spaceship Earth to its most dangerous state of affairs in Earthian history, caused by hogged power being greatly magnified, relative to that of analogous hogged power of the past, caused by the collective cumulated learning of humans through time in Worlds 1, 2, and 3 that enabled humans to learn how to generate electricity to power countless devices, and power automobiles, tractors, airplanes, tanks and other mobile instruments by extracting and burning fossil fuel; learn how to detonate nuclear bombs to kill people in wars; learn how to use two digits, zeros and ones, to create words, numbers, pictures, and sounds in computers and cell phones; learn how to use zeros and ones to create data bases, money, and computer programs capable of controlling almost anything that moves; and learn how to do almost anything but cause ordinary humans to communicate and live together in harmony, peace, tranquility, and satisfaction.
Power hoggers at the top of countries around Spaceship Earth don’t cause ordinary humans to live in harmony, peace, tranquility, and satisfaction in their countries because they need underdogs to polarize in their organizations and groups and agitate against one another, thereby weakening one another, so the power hoggers at the top can continue to hog their power, and the money and wealth their hogged power enables them to take for themselves. Yes, the international behavioral system of trade, commerce, finance and war at the highest power level around Spaceship Earth is a system of unregulated expropriation—all countries’ top power hoggers taking and raking off whatever they can lay their hands on from underdogs in their own countries and from underdogs in other countries, ostensibly for the good of underdogs in their own countries. To think these power hoggers earn or merit their money and wealth by producing through hard and skillful work large quantities of something excellent is ludicrous and absurd.
International laws and courts are almost useless for controlling top power hoggers, as is the case to a lesser degree with national supreme courts, especially the US Supreme Court today, where important decisions are split among nine judges along ideological party lines, insuring inbred biases and prejudices determine decisions and rulings, not the facts of cases based on logic, reason, and fair and just legal precedents. Today’s US Supreme Court is not powerless since it still has police power to enforce its decisions within the US, however illogical, inhumane, and unfair they might be. International courts in contrast are powerless because there is no international police force to enforce their rulings, which is why Earthians need some sort of international Game-free democratic government with real power. The United Nations is almost powerless, and it’s ludicrous to think the world’s greatest superpower, the US, would impartially and fairly enforce the legal rulings of a Spaceship Earth Supreme Court.
Human behavior around Earth is largely an existential matter of topdog/underdog struggles for power and domination, wherein topdog power hoggers continue to apply the time-honored and successful strategy of divide and conquer to exploit underdogs in their countries, bribing, paying, and rewarding favored lackeys to satisfy, muzzle, and corral underdogs down the chain of command under their control, much like kings and barons did to underdog knaves and serfs during the Middle Ages, making sure underdogs stay chained in their places, talking only to one another at their level about local gossip, daily chores, illnesses, sports, movies, video games, children, parents, friends, and what have you, maintaining a banal status quo and moral equilibrium at the lowest level that gets so boring that thousands of local underdogs actually look forward to joining military organizations that will enable them to travel around Spaceship Earth, to possibly fight in wars that can cause them to be killed or maimed, but probably not, and maybe come home a hero, with financial benefits.
General Mad Dog Mattis, who now works in the top power hogger headquarters of the US, the White House, presumably as President Donald J. Trump’s underdog, told his underdog troops before they invaded Afghanistan in 2005 that: “Actually it’s quite fun to fight them, you know. It’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right up there with you. I like brawling.”
Figuring out how to eradicate power hogging, the most virulent, vicious, ubiquitous, insidious, pain-causing, lethal, possibly fatal mental illness contaminating the human species, is the best strategy for insuring indefinite life aboard Spaceship Earth, or so it seems to me today.
Like Don Quixote charging windmills I experience irrational satisfaction giving moral support to Earthians in their battles for survival, jousting like a rikety deranged medieval knight in my blogs for noble causes, having survived countless threats and skirmishes in my seventy-eight years of life, having been retired from college teaching since 2005. I got bored with hunting, fishing, playing golf, and traveling some time ago, especially after being forced to kowtow to TSA agents and put up with their arrogant demeanor, attitudes, rules, threats, indignities, and stress to board commercial airliners, thanks to Bush II’s nitwit quixotic decision to fight a “War on Terror” started in 2003, a so-called war that did irreparable psychological harm to the cultural fabric of the US, not to mention the incomparably greater irreparable psychological and physical harm inflicted on millions of humans and other Earthians in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And the harm did not stop there. It continues with operations occurring in whatever it is Obama and Trump are now calling their wars and military adventures, primarily in the Middle East and North Africa, but essentially all around Spaceship Earth, from eight hundred military bases in seventy countries, providing shelter for US troops and flying objects that can shoot on the ground and drop and shoot bombs, missiles, and bullets from the sky, sometimes aimed with precision to hit targets on the ground by expert shooters staring at computer screens in the US, clicking a mouse instead of pulling a trigger to “shoot some people,” as if playing a video game.
Here is an article I published, “Attacks also Assaults on Global Business,” Savannah Morning News, September 23, 2001, The Business Exchange, p. 7, in which I wrote about my thoughts and feelings regarding 9/11 one week after it happened.
Like most people I believed three towers at the World Trade Center had been knocked down by some amateur Arab pilots who had surreptitiously entered the US who had taken private pilot lessons in the US using piper cubs to learn how to fly in who high-jacked four large commercial airliners and flew two of them into two World Trade Center towers and one into the Pentagon, while crash landing one in a cornfield in Ohio.
I no longer believe this story, having by now read and seen dozens of articles and videos by conscientious ethical authors and presenters including expert testimony by commercial airline pilots, architects, engineers, and scientists who unequivocally assert amateur pilots flying nothing but piper cubs could not have developed the piloting skill necessary to fly airliners into two WTC towers and one into the Pentagon at the speeds and angles at which the airliners were flown; and even if they had developed this piloting skill there is no way the two airliners striking the two twin towers could have generated enough heat to cause three twin towers to collapse in free falls. On top of this, there is now a reputable recorded telephone call from firemen who reached the 78th floor of one of the towers who indicated fires they had observed could be put out by two firefighting companies, shortly before the building collapsed. And there is more reputable evidence from observers on the scene who said they heard multiple explosions. And common sense would tell you Building Seven, assuming you believe the airliners did it, not hit by an airliner, would somehow magically fall in free fall just like the two towers hit by airliners; and common sense would tell you an amateur pilot could not fly an airliner into the Pentagon horizontally in such a way as to knock out a side wall while disappearing inside.
Most likely the so-called War on Terror would not have happened had 9/11 not happened. In my Savannah Morning News article I wrote about my feelings for the brave citizens of the US who would take the 9/11 tragedy in stride and overcome the evil forces that made it happen. Now I am not so sure. The country has become increasingly polarized and dysfunctional. For sure 9/11 did not cause it all, but it is a factor. One can also build a case 9/11 was a major factor in causing the military and political changes, and increasing hatred and conflict, since then in the Middle East and North Africa, and elsewhere, regime changes, population disruptions and dislocations, and widespread human, personal property, and infrastructure destruction, pretty much along the lines of what General Wesley Clark outlined in this video.
See my article “Toward the Creation of Spaceship Earth Incorporated,” published in MWC News (Media With Conscience) for some cheering views on how humans might pull Spaceship Earth out of its nosedive into catastrophe.
Richard John Stapleton, PhD, CTA is a founder, owner, and operator of Effective Learning Company, a profit-making small business, at www.effectivelearning.net.
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