Career Advice for a Better World: Food, Health, Housing, Education. Pick One.

Food, Health, Housing, Education.    Pick One.

If we pick a big goal, a high goal, a worthy goal, and then work to make a difference, then we might make some progress and avoid some of the classic pitfalls.   A worthy goal, and one that is ultimately unattainable, is helpful because it can be a guide to us through the years.    When there is a time of change, we can check back and see how we are doing and set out once again on our path.

Picking a goal we can attain has that problem of what do you do if you *do* attain the goal.   Laurie Anderson pointed this out in one of her performance art pieces:  What if you are Ahab and you get your white whale, what happens then?   Well, you go down with it.    This seems to be a problem with the “be happy” or “become a millionaire” approach.    Furthermore, if you do not attain your attainable goal, then you might feel that you could have and you are a failure.   Therefore strike out for an unattainable goal, but one that gives direction.

Danny Hillis, a mentor for me, and a student of Marvin Minsky who has been working on such a goal all his professional life:  “Artificial Intelligence”, gave me the advice to strike out for the big goal rather than focus on the incremental steps.    This is not to say to not work on the incremental steps, but I took the advice to mean that I should communicate with the world and with myself what I really wanted to do.   For me that was building “the great library”, the “library of alexandria version 2”.     This turned out to be very good advice, which I took to heart.    It has guided me ever since.    When I sold a company to AOL, and then left it, I was at odds.    I remembered Danny’s advice, remembered my own goal from years before and struck out, once again, to build that library.

Food, Health, Housing, Education.      Each of these goals need real help.   Each of these areas of our lives is seen to be in trouble.    Each needs long term, steady help.     And, as an extra bonus, others perceive these as good goals so they are likely to help those that are striving to help.

Food.    We have figured out how to have robots and servants grow our food.    Neither is a good solution and we are seeing the problems now in the form of land misuse, obesity, labor and immigration issues, overfishing, and periodic food scares.      We can do better than this.   If people not only knew their farmers, but took active part in growing their own food, we would have a safer, healthier people and planet.

Health.    Beyond healthcare, this is Health.   How are we living, eating, and relating to each other.    We have professionalized the health profession to such an extent that we believe our health is fully dependent on others.   We “outsourced” our understanding of ourselves.   To tend to our bodies, we can be living healthier lives– making sure our food, air, water, and daily activities build healthy bodies, families, and communities.    There are new tricks we can use to help us monitor and compare the signals from our bodies.    These tricks are a piece, but health is a broad and important barometer on well being.

Housing.   Some are focusing on Energy, but if we focus on housing instead, including where and how we work, then we may get to broad solutions that save energy, time, and stress.    If we pull up from the issues of how are we going to make more gasoline, and figure out how to keep people from commuting (which no one likes), or excessive business plane travel, we may have solved more problems than just energy.    Housing is also related to how our families and communities work.   The isolation from our friends causes the rise of such things as Facebook.    Isn’t that a poor substitute for being with the people we cherish and learn from?     Focusing on Housing can bring us together while helping us grow and stay young.

Education.    Notice this is not “schooling.”   Everyone has something to learn, everyone has something to teach– lets build lifelong systems of growth and sharing.     It is natural to who we are; we just got out of the habit somewhere along the line.    Lowering the bar to allow many to feel that they are full-fledged teachers.    Lowering the bar so everyone can feel they are still a student.    Changing the success metrics from sticks and tests and awards.    Lets educate our selves, our children, our parents, our neighbors in ways that feels good and healthy.

Picking a high goal and then making a difference can help straighten our paths and give our lives a theme.   If we had a generation focus on Food, Health, Housing, Education, we could have a better world for us all.   If we pick one for ourselves, then others will know how to help us on our journey, and we will know what to put on our tombstone.

Onward!

 

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5 Responses to Career Advice for a Better World: Food, Health, Housing, Education. Pick One.

  1. Hope says:

    I like the idea of a theme for your life. The goal you know you can’t attain, but you don’t feel like a failure about that, because you always know you’re working towards something that others are working towards, too.

    I also like your point about how we’ve turned over our health to other people. Experts. We do it lots of arenas, I think, not just health. Education, too.

    I recently read Moby Dick for the first time. Have your read it?

  2. Hari says:

    It’s an interesting idea, but I’m worried about a few things:
    1. pinning my happiness to an ideal and thus reinforcing the implicit notion that direction and meaning is found through that ideal.
    2. developing a worldview strongly shaped by passion for a particular subject, which might limit opportunities for introduction of novel ideas from other areas that could actually revolutionize things. (I also wonder how many breakthrough technologies or products were conceived by people who’ve been spending their lives attempting to find a solution.)
    3. More philosophically, I think it’s really, really hard to assess whether certain changes – such as those conferred from advances in areas above – are necessarily a *good* thing. Happiness is in our head, right?
    …I realized that these arguments suggest a similarity to religious beliefs. And I see them as analogous, and while I agree they confer benefits (theme, direction, values, community etc), I think it also has the same limitations that we should acknowledge.

  3. Nobodhi says:

    I’m so enjoying this whole blog, I’m jumping in with quick, unpremeditated responsa, like this ——————– :

    Neat!, to delineate a four-fold path, each limb interconnected
    (No bread without a table. No health without learning. Etc )
    Pick one. To touch one deeply, we connect with all the others

    Me, I’ve staked out Health, for my immediate realization of my long-term life goal : health, whole, holy, and hello all stem from the same root. ( Here’s an initial pass, from earlier this year : http://issuu.com/caphepc/docs/choice_means_opportunities_flip )

    I resonate with the percpetion of our having ‘outsourced’ our own inherent natural powers of health (hence the call to become one’s own ambassador, rather than defer one’s choices). I keenly appreciate this definition of health as pertaining to self, family, and community, like concentric rings of a tree ( or a solar system ? an atom ? )

    Clearly, Brewster will never walk alone (Rogers & Hamerstein, 1945 ) : these four thematic pillars each share in not being individual matters : all imply community. Way to go

    Of course it’s not following a pre-set road, but making the road as we go

    Commonly, volition is thought of as picking up a pencil, blinking, crossing a street. A wise, working definition of volition can be (as above) : What do I want to do with my life ? What do I really want? Hardly a facile question. In this way, full volition informs the 10,000 things composing a life: each action genuine, a complete realization, intended even if unexpected

    There is no path to health, health is the path
    There is no path to education, education is the path
    Etc

    The path is the goal

  4. Nobodhi says:

    Am surfing momentum carried over from considering this blog post — & will probably catch another wave after this one

    f o o d

    What does Alice Walters say ? She seems an Obvious Go-To Luminary / Local Vocal Yokel

    ¿ Might s e e d s, particularly seed saving be an apt fit for attention of archivists ? I remembermunching dozens of kinds of apples ( whatever happened to Jonathan Spy ? ) — now maybe half dozen are commonly commercially available Tomatoes are seeing red for being bred to fit squarely in boxes Don’t get me going about GMO

    Have you met Winona LaDuke yet ? She’s offered Ted talks, & comes thru this corner of the universe from time to time. And have you ever visited the Green Gulch zen farm? (Housing researchers will want to check out how the tool shed was made … of earth) Maybe too you’ve already read Gardening at the Dragons Gate, and maybe even met Wendy Johnson ( full-disclosure: sh’s been a beautiful mentor to me. Is it common knowledge now that Zen Center changed the eating habits of the West, via The Tassajara Cookbook? Nietszche points out sometimes revolutions don’t come with cannon fire, but, rather, on little dove’s feet.

    e d u c a t i o n

    ¿ Can we offer a curricula revitalizing the Western canon (my generation was cut-off point for Latin being taught in public school) and reinterpreting ” world ” as the planet ?

    I keenly admire the (above) synopsis from Sumerian cuneirform to Silicon Valley algorithm. Neat!

    I’m curious how does that (to use the buzz-word when I went to UCLA) compare/contrast with nonWestern traditions? For instance, contrast with Chinese our sense of ‘understanding’ : the sound itself implies being subordinate to something higher, to carry on our shoulders. In Chinese, one of the many words in the lexicon is a composite of “broom” + “heart” ( & “heart” itself = both heart and mind ) … opening up, emptying out, rather than accumulating.

    I might draw two take-aways from this. Might we tweak knowledge to include knowing?
    UNIVERSAL access to universal KNOWING
    ( and … not-knowing )

    And, given an internetworked planet, how might we embrace civilizations and cultures previously overlooked or diminished ? ( ” The solution is inclusion ” )

    My own sense of education, and personal agenda:
    growing up ( absurd, as Paul Goodman put it ), I’d wished I coulda studied at Summerhill; in college years, as a creative, had wished I coulda gone to Black Mountain. (We’re all graduates of the Woulda Coulda School, eh non?) I finally found my pedagogy in Buddhism — w/ analogies in the West ( the ‘ gentle empiricism ‘ of Goethe, the phenomenological project of Husserl ) :
    —– life as lab for empirical study, one’s own life as complete manifestation of all of life, thus life-long learning.

    Within that, bringing Buddhist wisdom and ethics to education. My own community, under the guidance of Thich Nhat Hanh and the Plum Village monastics, recently targetted education as primary agenda : we call this Wake Up! Locate us within a broad movement taking mindfulness to the classroom, k-12 and up ( I have a list of links which I need to consolidate into one, but, meantime, search “mindfulness” “schools” etc ). One-pointed concentration. Emotional intelligence (E.Q.) and social intel (SQ) as well as I.Q. Intuition. Essential valuable vital etc

    The sun’s rising above the rooftops & I can smell the neighbor’s pomelo tree thru the window

    _()_

  5. Nobodhi says:

    Am surfing momentum carried over from considering this blog post — & will probably catch another wave after this one

    f o o d

    What does Alice Walters say ? She seems an Obvious Go-To Luminary / Local Vocal Yokel

    ¿ Might s e e d s, particularly seed saving be an apt fit for attention of archivists ? I remembermunching dozens of kinds of apples ( whatever happened to Jonathan Spy ? ) — now maybe half dozen are commonly commercially available Tomatoes are seeing red for being bred to fit squarely in boxes Don’t get me going about GMO

    Have you met Winona LaDuke yet ? She’s offered Ted talks, & comes thru this corner of the universe from time to time. And have you ever visited the Green Gulch zen farm? (Housing researchers will want to check out how the tool shed was made … of earth) Maybe too you’ve already read Gardening at the Dragons Gate, and maybe even met Wendy Johnson ( full-disclosure: sh’s been a beautiful mentor to me. Is it common knowledge now that Zen Center changed the eating habits of the West, via The Tassajara Cookbook? Nietszche points out sometimes revolutions don’t come with cannon fire, but, rather, on little dove’s feet.

    e d u c a t i o n

    ¿ Can we offer a curricula revitalizing the Western canon (my generation was cut-off point for Latin being taught in public school) and reinterpreting ” world ” as the planet ?

    I keenly admire the (above) synopsis from Sumerian cuneirform to Silicon Valley algorithm. Neat!

    I’m curious how does that (to use the buzz-word when I went to UCLA) compare/contrast with nonWestern traditions? For instance, contrast with Chinese our sense of ‘understanding’ : the sound itself implies being subordinate to something higher, to carry on our shoulders. In Chinese, one of the many words in the lexicon is a composite of “broom” + “heart” ( & “heart” itself = both heart and mind ) … opening up, emptying out, rather than accumulating.

    I might draw two take-aways from this. Might we tweak knowledge to include knowing?
    UNIVERSAL access to universal KNOWING
    ( and … not-knowing )

    And, given an internetworked planet, how might we embrace civilizations and cultures previously overlooked or diminished ? ( ” The solution is inclusion ” )

    My own sense of education, and personal agenda:
    growing up ( absurd, as Paul Goodman put it ), I’d wished I coulda studied at Summerhill; in college years, as a creative, had wished I coulda gone to Black Mountain. (We’re all graduates of the Woulda Coulda School, eh non?) I finally found my pedagogy in Buddhism — w/ analogies in the West ( the ‘ gentle empiricism ‘ of Goethe, the phenomenological project of Husserl ) :
    —– life as lab for empirical study, one’s own life as complete manifestation of all of life, thus life-long learning.

    Within that, bringing Buddhist wisdom and ethics to education. My own community, under the guidance of Thich Nhat Hanh and the Plum Village monastics, recently targetted education as primary agenda : call it Waking Up! Locate us within a broad movement bringing mindfulness to the classroom, k-12 and up ( mindfulness having proven successful in health care ). One-pointed concentration. Emotional intelligence (E.Q.) and social intel (SQ) as well as I.Q. Intuition. Autonomy. All essential valuable vital etc

    Well, the sun’s rising above the rooftops & I can smell the neighbor’s pomelo tree thru the window

    o n w a r d s

    _()_

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