What I Learned about Today

The article The Apple Watch Could Have a Key Role in the Battle Against COVID-19 | iPad Insight by James Rogers triggered the thought that healthcare-related features of the Apple Watch – Series 5 might make it worth the investment. Then again, it may be better to wait for the Series 6 which is rumored to be released this fall according to Kate Kozuch in her article Apple Watch 6 release date, price, blood pressure tracking and rumors | Tom’s Guide. More features at what’s estimated to be near the price of the current Series 5.

Nick Cannon controversy over anti-Semitic comments – The Washington Post How does one ask open questions rather than issue closed statements in order to deepen understanding and not betray one’s ignorance?

How Trump wins in 2020 – The Washington Post So many factors playing out on the field of partisan politics, so few of them really focus on improving the welfare of a majority of the population.

Edited today’s post to GreenerAcres Value Network on WordPress: Daily Bookmarks to GAVNet 07/19/2020

A friend shared the results of a study about planting corn that showed seed orientation influences yield. I did a QUICK search and found this study which concludes seed orientation also makes a difference in emergence and growth: Effect of Seed Orientation on Emergence and Growth of Corn | Agronomy Journal. Too bad the study didn’t include yield data! No doubt many such studies measure yield but didn’t appear in my quick search. Maybe a deeper dive later.

What a well-deserved and well-written tribute: John Lewis on Love, Forgiveness, and the Seedbed of Personal Strength – Brain Pickings.

In the spirit of Congressman John Lewis, Dr. Jason Hickel speaks to our shared moral imperative of dismantling systemic racism in all its manifestations through his article, The racist double standards of international development | Workers’ Rights | Al Jazeera:

In the 21st century, in the era of Black Lives Matter, we can no longer accept the racist double standards of international development. We must reject the logic of apartheid. If we are going to live in a single global economy, then we must demand a single standard for all human lives: that all people receive fair wages for their labour and fair prices for their resources. This is the principle that international development must demand, if it is to have any moral standing. This is what real progress looks like.

A plug for Wikipedia in the article Remember when the internet was supposed to be transparent and democratic? There’s still hope | Salon.com by Paul Rosenberg. He summarizes his interview with Philipp Lorenz-Spreen, lead author on the paper, How behavioural sciences can promote truth, autonomy and democratic discourse online | Nature Human Behaviour. As the titles of both articles attest, the search for truth rarely follows a straight, unencumbered path from here to there.

Still, search we must if we are to learn from the circumstances in which we find ourselves and take appropriate action as evidenced by the Bahá’í World News Service article “What have we learned from the health crisis?” Peace Chair asks researchers:

The Baha’i Chair for World Peace at the University of Maryland has invited researchers to contribute articles for a series titled “Learning During the COVID-19 Pandemic”. Reflecting on the contributions, Hoda Mahmoudi, holder of the Chair, says: “The intention of this series has been to broaden understanding and knowledge, which in turn makes more action possible. Change has always begun when a small group of people with lofty yet realistic ideals and a spirit of hope begin to take determined action.”

Now, there’s a QWERKYWRITER® for those who have a masochistic bent, or haven’t experienced what it’s really like to have to use a typewriter, or they have but the distance in time has filled the memories with nostalgia 😉

Spiritual Reality and the Human Soul

Humans possess physical bodies and spiritual souls. Endowed with the potential to acknowledge this dual nature bestows upon each person a unique capacity to interact with spiritual reality while still in physical reality.

It should be borne in mind, however, that when the light of My Name, the All-Pervading, hath shed its radiance upon the universe, each and every created thing hath, according to a fixed decree, been endowed with the capacity to exercise a particular influence, and been made to possess a distinct virtue.1

  1. Bahá’u’lláh. Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh (Wilmette, IL: US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1990 189). 

Organizing Coordinates and Principles

Organizing Coordinates

Physical reality organizes itself into concrete and abstract “space-time continua”. Concrete forms are defined by three spatial coordinates and one temporal coordinate whereas abstract constructs are shaped by the expression of three principles through thought, narrative, and relationship over time. The diagram below offers a two-dimensional view of this space-time continuum approach.

The German mathematician Hermann Minkowski — one of Einstein’s former teachers — described the resulting four-dimensional entity: While space and time are relative, intervals in space-time are absolute.  1

Organizing Principles

The largest system in the physical realm is the universe. It provides the best examples of organizing principles…

Everyone is in
Everything in the physical realm came from a common source / point of singularity—Big Bang—a grain of sand.

Everything, including us, is made of ‘star stuff’ and everything is part of the same holistic system.

Everyone is interconnected
The universe is filled with attractive forces be they gravity / anti-gravity, magnetism, dark energy, dark matter, etc.

Everything is interconnected no matter how much the universe expands and whatever forms and relationships among particles and waves that make up matter and energy coalesce and evolve.

Everyone’s behavior impacts everyone else
Because everything is interconnected, anything we think, say, or do perturbs the overall system and this, in turn, affects everything that comprises it to some degree—cause and effect on an epic scale.

One is responsible for one’s actions and is held accountable by the system for the consequences of those actions whether intended or not.

Accountability relates directly to justice which entails establishing and enforcing rules that respect EVERYONE (all agents) in the system and, when followed, limit negative consequences due to the behavioral choices by those agents.

Despite best efforts we don’t do rules well.

  1. Falk, Dan, Eleanor Lutz and Olena Shmahalo. “Arrows of Time”. (Quanta Magazine. May 4, 2020, https://www.quantamagazine.org/what-is-time-a-history-of-physics-biology-clocks-and-culture-20200504/#interactiveBlurb, accessed May 6, 2020).

Forgiveness

Because physical reality is a “complex adaptive system of complex adaptive systems,” the behaviors of any one agent influence the choices other agents have either by widening the range of alternatives or clarifying the current set available.

Agents may choose according to physical and natural laws, instinct and reflex, or in a uniquely human sense, by reason and rationale tempered by emotion. But choose they must.

This responsibility to choose foisted upon us puts each of us in a double bind of epic proportions: 1) we are forced to respond to situations created in part through the choices made by other agents in the system we may or may not know, and 2) the behaviors we exhibit through the choices we make will shape the situations facing other agents we may or may not know.

This suggests that others we do not know will make decisions that have a negative impact on our choices for which they are unaware AND there will be consequences of our thoughts, words, and actions which place others we do not know in unpleasantness or peril.

These binds are the seeds of true forgiveness in that we ask for it from those we do not know that we have harmed and grant it to those who have harmed us but do not know.

Justice

The interconnectedness among waves and particles throughout the universe makes them agents in a massively complex adaptive system. Any changes in form, function and relationship as thoughts or actions made by one agent impact all others. To acknowledge cause and effect amid such complexity demands that one take responsibility for choosing what one thinks, says, and does and accept accountability for what happens as a result. Justice, then, is a reckoning for consequences of choices made.

The First Message

The first message conveyed by the spiritual reality was the command “BE”1 2

This command initiated time and gave rise to the physical reality3

Figure 1: Physical Reality after “BE”

This “first message” is an initial singularity — a perfect unity — from which all matter and energy in the known universe emerges and expands into an endless expression of forms and relationships that honor their common heritage.

No matter how far-flung, differentiated, diverse, or distant waves and particles may be from one another throughout the universe, their singular origin generates an inexhaustible attractive force — a divine love — that keeps everything in the physical world interconnected.

  1. Bahá’u’lláh. The Kitáb-i-Aqdas. (Bahá’í Reference Library, https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/bahaullah/kitab-i-aqdas/8#562098992, accessed 01May2020)
  2. Bahá’u’lláh. The Kitáb-i-Aqdas. (Bahá’í Reference Library, https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/bahaullah/kitab-i-aqdas/16#409299255 , accessed 01May2020)
  3. Urban, Tim. “Putting Time in Perspective-Updated”. (Wait But Why, August 22, 2013, https://waitbutwhy.com/2013/08/putting-time-in-perspective.html, accessed 01May2020).

Spiritual Reality

If at some point physical reality did not exist yet it materialized, then a preexistent, non-physical / non-material “spiritual reality” with sufficient imagination, will, and authority initiated it.

Given its preexistence and independence, spiritual reality enjoys none of the limits in time, space, form, or condition imposed on physical reality: it is eternal, ubiquitous, and infinite.

Spiritual reality is at once the perfect matrix1 / medium2 by which errorless communication occurs with physical reality, the messages themselves that are delivered to and received from physical reality, and the accurate and complete recorder of any activity by all forms and conditions of physical reality.

  1. An environment or material in which something develops; a surrounding medium or structure.
    https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/matrix 
  2. An agency or means of doing something.
    The intervening substance through which impressions are conveyed to the senses or a force acts on objects at a distance.
    https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/medium 

Where Am I — How Do I Find Out?

My previous post, Where Am I?, presents a number of cosmic possibilities for where one could be. How to narrow the options, though, is a personal decision. One must choose carefully among many reasoned and compelling theories about cosmology even as they are being challenged, revised, or supplanted through new discoveries, developments, and detours. The goal is to settle on whatever instills sufficient confidence to go forward as a “knowledge broker.” 1

Being lost is not a permanent condition. Being found is to confront the primary challenge mentioned above of knowing what integrity is and addressing the confounding questions honestly and openly. Peeling back the onion-like layers of representation that shroud our integrity is an exercise in independent investigation of truth – —a fundamental endeavor for a knowledge broker. 2

Independent Search after Truth, then, becomes the first of three core activities in the pursuit of knowledge:

Furthermore, know ye that God has created in man the power of reason, whereby man is enabled to investigate reality. God has not intended man to imitate blindly his fathers and ancestors. He has endowed him with mind, or the faculty of reasoning, by the exercise of which he is to investigate and discover the truth, and that which he finds real and true he must accept. He must not be an imitator or blind follower of any soul. He must not rely implicitly upon the opinion of any man without investigation; nay, each soul must seek intelligently and independently, arriving at a real conclusion and bound only by that reality. The greatest cause of bereavement and disheartening in the world of humanity is ignorance based upon blind imitation. It is due to this that wars and battles prevail; from this cause hatred and animosity arise continually among mankind. 3

The second core activity is the apprehension of reality through various worlds of perception:

  • material — one that can be perceived through the senses;
  • rational — one that can be perceived through the intellect;
  • historical — one that can be perceived through traditions and narratives; and
  • spiritual (non-material / suprarational) — one that can be perceived through a conduit or postulated as a theoretical possibility, but cannot be tested (observed) or proven with available knowledge. 4

While each realm is valuable in myriad ways, to regard any one of them as a sufficient pathway to applicable knowledge is susceptible to distortion of information and error in judgement. More useful answers emerge from mutually supportive evidence gleaned from several “worlds of perception” (or “multiple intelligences”) 5 and diverse starting conditions.

The third core activity is the adoption of a disciplined, “scientific method” 6 to follow when processing what one perceives in order to achieve a better understanding. This methodology applies in both material and spiritual realities especially when bridging between them as noted in this statement by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:

It (science) is of two kinds: material and spiritual. Material science is the investigation of natural phenomena; divine science is the discovery and realization of spiritual verities. The world of humanity must acquire both. A bird has two wings; it cannot fly with one. Material and spiritual science are the two wings of human uplift and attainment. Both are necessary—one the natural, the other supernatural; one material, the other divine. By the divine we mean the discovery of the mysteries of God, the comprehension of spiritual realities, the wisdom of God, inner significances of the heavenly religions and foundation of the law. 7

The diagram below by Keng-Laing Huang 8 illustrates how the scientific method provides a disciplined approach by which an independent seeker can sort through spiritual and material perceptions about any topic and secure a firmer grasp on reality:

Armed with independence, perception and process, one forges ahead as a steeled knowledge broker confident to meet any circumstance during life’s journey. Along the way one learns through the merit of one’s logic, the strength and consistency of one’s narratives, and the perseverance of one’s curiosity and imagination to keep after truth. In effect, one maps one’s place in the cosmos and finds what may have seemed lost.

  1. “I describe myself as a “knowledge broker.” With the pervasiveness of ICT capabilities, the roles we play in our work and relationships to one another are a complex mix of saying our truths, aggregating these diverse points of truth into recognizable frameworks of patterns, and putting theories into action we believe will influence the patterns we see and experience. Knowledge brokers move easily and freely among these three roles depending upon the current circumstances in which they find themselves.”
    Bosserman, Steven L., “Welcome,” Steven L. Bosserman Archives (Blog), August 31, 2005. <https://stevenlbossermanarchives.com/2005/08/25/welcome/>
  2. Bosserman, Steven L., “Integrity and Groundtruth,” Steven L. Bosserman Archives (Blog), August 31, 2005. <https://stevenlbossermanarchives.com/2005/08/31/integrity-and-ground-truth/>
  3. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “Talk at Home of Madame Morey, 34 Hillside Avenue, Malden, Massachusetts, 29 August 1912,” The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912, 2nd ed. (Wilmette, IL: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1982), 291. http://www.bahai.org/r/693658082
  4. “Abdu’l-Bahá 1904-1906. “The Four Methods of Acquiring Knowledge”. Some Answered Questions. (Wilmette, IL: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1981, 297-299).
  5. “The purpose of their performance was three-fold. First, make rhythm and dance integral in the design of the leadership workshop as an appeal to the auditory-musical and bodily-kinesthetic intelligences of attendees, à la Howard Gardner and his theory of multiple intelligences.”
    Bosserman, Steven L., “Keeping the Beat with Jump Rhythm Jazz Project,” Steven L. Bosserman Archives (Blog), December 5, 2005. https://stevenlbossermanarchives.com/2005/12/05/keeping-the-beat-with-jump-rhythm-jazz-project/
  6. “The scientific method is an empirical method of acquiring knowledge that has characterized the development of science since at least the 17th century. It involves careful observation, applying rigorous skepticism about what is observed, given that cognitive assumptions can distort how one interprets the observation. It involves formulating hypotheses, via induction, based on such observations; experimental and measurement-based testing of deductions drawn from the hypotheses; and refinement (or elimination) of the hypotheses based on the experimental findings. These are principles of the scientific method, as distinguished from a definitive series of steps applicable to all scientific enterprises.” <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method>
  7. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. “Talk at the Home of Mr. and Mrs. Francis W. Breed, 367 Harvard Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 23 May 1912,” The Promulgation of World Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. 2nd ed. (Wilmette, IL: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1982). 138. http://www.bahai.org/r/988275660
  8. Huang, Keng-Laing, “The Science of Living,” BahaiTeachings.org
    February 28, 2020. <https://bahaiteachings.org/science-of-living/&gt;

Where am I?

At various times in our lives many of us ponder far-ranging questions: Where did this material world / universe come from? Are we alone or are there advanced life forms on other worlds? Will the universe expand forever or eventually collapse into nothingness? In other words, where are we, in relation to everything else?

These often spawn existential where am I queries such as: Who am I? Why am I here? What will happen to me? Collectively, both sets of questions make fodder for thinkers and writers in science fiction and fantasy.

They also generate theories and teachings in cosmology — a field of study that thrives in the interface between science and religion.

Wikipedia posits at least three different aspects of cosmology: physical / scientific, esoteric / religious, and philosophical/secular. Optimally, all three would be mutually supportive rather than contentious, as outlined in the previous post titled, Time4Time About-Reboot. But achieving such complementarity requires those investigating cosmological avenues be clear about how they gain insight and understanding and draw conclusions about what they know and don’t know. The search for this clarity blends the more tenseless and abstract “where are we” with the present and personal “where am I” to generate another set of questions that challenges us to place our existence in an all-encompassing “omniverse” however one chooses to define it:

Despite the promotion of innumerable thought experiments, these questions carry no certainty of being quickly answered, if ever. This, then, creates the intellectual space to entertain spiritual perspectives that can explain or offer proofs for the seemingly inexplicable or unprovable. For instance, in the 1880s Bahá’u’lláh, Prophet Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, stated:

As to thy question concerning the worlds of God. Know thou of a truth that the worlds of God are countless in their number, and infinite in their range. None can reckon or comprehend them except God, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. 2

Verily I say, the creation of God embraceth worlds besides this world, and creatures apart from these creatures. In each of these worlds He hath ordained things which none can search except Himself, the All-Searching, the All-Wise. 3

These statements are quite prescient considering the field of quantum mechanics out of which the theories of multiverses, Big Bang, Big Bounce, etc. emerged was not named and formalized until the 1920s. Furthermore, they illustrate how intertwined spiritual and material perspectives can point to new places where we are and where I am. It’s an adventure that lies ahead for all of us!

More to follow…

  1. Perry, Philip, “The basis of the universe may not be energy or matter but information,” BigThink (blog), August 27, 2017, https://bigthink.com/philip-perry/the-basis-of-the-universe-may-not-be-energy-or-matter-but-information.
  2. Bahá’u’lláh (1978) 1879-91. “Súriy-i-Vafá”(www.bahai.org/r/861851575). Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh. Chatham, UK: W&J Mackay Ltd. pg. 187. ISBN 0-85398-077-2.
  3. Ibid. pg. 188.

Collective Responsibility

My previous post, Local Timebanking, introduced The Five Core Values of TimeBanking by Edgar Cahn. These organizing principles define the role timebanking plays, both as a platform and set of processes, to account for one’s time invested in “forms of work that money will not easily pay for, like building strong families, revitalizing neighborhoods, making democracy work, advancing social justice.”

In the context of Maslow’s Hierarchy, timebanking helps community members take collective responsibility to assure the basic needs of all members are met. Then, with basic needs in place for all, each member is better positioned to take individual responsibility for personal needs related to quality of life.

The rendition of Maslow’s Hierarchy below illustrates more specifically what community members take responsibility for, individually and collectively:

Key takeaway: the more a community provides all its members with their basic needs, the higher likelihood that individual members will enjoy a higher quality of life by whatever subjective factors each chooses.

In effect, communities that honor this commitment decrease the amount of time its members must dedicate to meeting their basic needs which results in them having more time available for quality of life endeavors.

The post, Time Beyond Basic Needs Builds Human Capital, makes the point that more time consumed above the line in the “quality of life” zone has the social benefit of increasing human capital. In other words, it turns Maslow’s Hierarchy upside down so that more time could be dedicated to pursuits beyond basic needs. The diagram below — a variation on “The Human Enigma” graphic in the post referenced above — highlights how the dynamics between the two hierarchies impact a community and its members:

The community takes collective responsibility to manage the accessibility, availability, and affordability of basic needs for all community members.  To be successful, communities develop strategies and underwrite projects along a localization — globalization continuum to assure needs can be met and minimize risk to member for failure to deliver.

In addition, the community applies advances in technology to the flows of basic needs in order to reduce costs, increase control, and relieve community members from onerous tasks. Effectively, this shifts what community members do with their time from activities below the line to those above the line — time for time — which increases their creativity and expands their horizons. The subsequent uptick in human capital benefits the community, internally, as well as individuals and organizations in regional and global interrelationships.

Key takeaways: Timebanking provides the opportunity for community members to account for the time they invest in projects related to management of basic needs and application of technology. It also enables members to exchange time credits they receive for participating in these projects so they can shift their attention from below the line to above the line endeavors. Furthermore, documentation of the cumulative time invested, exchanged, and consumed by community members establishes a demonstrated value of time and skills that incentivizes other individuals and organizations to become timebanking members and offers collateral in proposals to funding agencies.

In upcoming posts I will explore these in more detail with examples from local timebanks. Stay tuned…