I posted this on Thanksgiving in 2019. I think it bears re-posting. Have a good day with your friends.

(the following are a few thoughts that went through my mind this Thanksgiving as I was snowed in. Since I was by myself I had time to write them down)

On this Thanksgiving day I want to acknowledge the gentle people. I think of the many native peoples who were erased from this earth [1], or enslaved. I think of visionaries and geniuses who were killed or imprisoned because they thought differently. I also think of women, who did not have access to education and, in too many places on this planet, still don’t. It also brings to my mind the many recluses and hermits who walked into the woods and mountains, to get away from humanity.

For millennia a brutish man could be very successful. This kind of man would offer a sense of security to a mate and could therefore pass on his genes. Because there was always a war, there was always an opportunity for a man of strength to become a hero. Those heroes might have been much more brave than they were intelligent, they were brutal, even psychopathic, but they were considered heroes nonetheless. The bully has been a pretty successful model of a human, at least in terms of Natural Selection. The gentle people paid the price, all over the world. Our genetic programming does not favor the gentle people and in many cases their DNA was lost to humanity. I fear that if human DNA was programmed by Gods, it was a junior God’s first project and he or she didn’t have a lot of experience and very little foresight.

Humans are this planet’s most powerful and utterly dominant predator. Now our survival will depend on turning bullies into gentle people. Can the competitor become a collaborator? We believe that we are better now, more civilized and less violent, but in truth we have only exchanged the physicality of swords and fists for the power of computers, the internet, and social media. The bullying is now done with a keyboard. Instead of practicing sword fighting or aiming a gun at a target, we aim zeros and ones at each other. The effect is worse. Nobody sees the wounds, there is no smell of blood. The victims live to suffer another day. The old bully wore a uniform and carried weapons, the new bully weaponizes words and monetizes data. The old-fashioned bully took his chance in a fight that he might, albeit rarely, loose. There was always that slim possibility that his victim might get the upper hand. Bullying by keyboard involves no such risk of bodily harm. Anyone can do it.

We CAN revolt against natural selection. The planet will heat up, millions of species will be erased. We need to change OURSELVES. We need to grow, despite our programming and against our programming! The great human hack of the 21st century… to become a new species, homo sapiens 2.0.

[1] Estimates, of course, vary greatly, but up to 100 million people lived in the Americas before the Europeans arrived… 90% of them were killed. While most died from the viruses the Europeans brought with them, many of them died in the most carelessly cruel way. And that’s just the Americas…


Over my many years in politics and business, I have found one thing to be universally true: the kindest person in the room is often the smartest.

Daring Fireball: Kindness as a Signifier of Intelligence

I know nothing about the person who said it, but there is a lot of truth in that – click on the link to read more. Cruelty is not a sign of intelligence. 

Two Way Street

Quote from the book Love and Murder in the Time of Covid by Qiu Xiaolong.

i am playing the guitar
i am being played by the guitar

Deciding to do anything deeply, one opens a path through which that very thing one wants to work with also works on us. It changes us physically–the mouth (armature) of a trumpet player or the callus on the finger of a string player are obvious examples–and it also changes us mentally. 

This is true for any relationship we have. 

Cool + Hot

I am reading a recent post by Ted Gioia on his Substack, part two of an essay about cool and hot periods in history, as evidenced not only in economy and politics but also, of course, in music and films. Thanks again Steve, for turning me on to this author! I find the writing very interesting and subscribed to him.

I remember reading a book, years ago, that suggested that art always preceded developments in science and changes in culture, so the connections and evidence Gioia presents doesn’t surprise me. It’s all connected. We are all subject to these cycles, from the personal to the world-wide. Knowing that this is a hot cycle and that it, too, will end is helpful. 

Will the effects of climate change become a catalyst for bringing people together, to work for a common future, or will they further enrage people and lead to more lines in the sand? Will there be a violent event that will turn the cycle or, and I am trying to be very optimistic here, will we just collectively become sick of the anger and rage and negativity and decide that it’s time to move on? The moment that shifts everything will probably pass and only sometime later will we be able to understand what happened. Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards – Kierkegaard.

Have a look at Gioia’s essay over at Substack. It’s compelling and this knowledge that might make it easier to deal with what is happening. 

Music + Philosophy

Music, not philosophy, expresses the innermost nature of all life and existence.

from The World as Will and Representation by Schopenhauer

Phone Finger

Once you get the message, hang up the phone.
—Alan Watts

It is said that when a finger is pointed at moon, one should look at the moon, not the finger.

Ryokan writes about the finger and the moon in the following poem:

Relying upon a finger, we see the moon
Relying upon the moon, we understand the finger.
Moon and finger
Are neither the same nor different.
This expedient analogy is for guiding beginners.
Having seen reality as it is,
There is neither moon nor finger.

You can find out more about his poem here: LINK

More about Ryokan in this Diary: Parallels, Autumn