New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Common Future Identity

March 29, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Politics, Winslow Myers

Erikson’s ‘Golden Rule in the Light of New Insight’ Revisited

by Winslow Myers

Sixty years ago the psychoanalyst Erik Erikson gave a talk in India on the Golden Rule, a formulation that occurs, with some variation, in all the major religions. Judaism: “What is hateful to yourself, do not do to you fellow man.”

Islam: “No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother what he desires for himself.” Christianity: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Erikson’s theme was the creative potential of mutuality — between spouses, parents and children, doctors and patients, teachers and pupils, even between nations. Mutuality, Erikson asserted, is a relationship in which partners depend upon each other for the enhancement of their respective strengths.  The curiosity of a student elicits from the teacher the skills for transmitting the excitement of learning in a way that benefits both teacher and student.

In the case of nations, fear of Hobbesian chaos if leaders relax their futile race toward military superiority makes it difficult to encourage mutuality. Ruthless power relations turn the life-giving spirit of mutuality on its head: do not even think of trying to destroy me because if you do I will destroy you. This paranoia rationalizes the unabated manufacture of ever more destructive weaponry, irrespective of sensible policy goals, by ever more powerful corporations. (more…)

Our Planetary Home

March 25, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Jennifer Browdy

Becoming Part of Gaia’s Cure, Instead of What Ails Her

by Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

I will never forget one hot summer day when I was about eight years old, and a Monarch butterfly took it into its head to land on my arm and delicately lick up my sweat with its long, probing tongue.

Gaia callingI froze, wanting the Monarch to stay with me as long as possible, and watched with total fascination and delight as it balanced on my warm brown skin and enjoyed the salty treat I had to offer.

Eventually, with a graceful swish of its elegant wings, it rose up in the air and twirled off to land on a nearby stand of sweet-smelling pink milkweed flowers.

I felt blessed by the encounter, and ever after, when I see a Monarch I approach cautiously and respectfully proffer my arm, hoping to feel again the light touch of those fragile black legs and tiny tongue.

My childhood connection with Monarchs came to mind this week as I read the deeply disturbing news that “the number of monarch butterflies that completed an annual migration to their winter home in a Mexican forest sank this year to its lowest level in at least two decades, due mostly to extreme weather and changed farming practices in North America.” (more…)

Rude Awakening

December 13, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Jan Lundberg

When and How Will Gaia Take Action?

by Jan Lundberg

When one looks at a blueish star twinkling beyond some silhouetted living leaves in the sky, the beauty and wonder of the natural world speaks to us: this existence we witness as conscious beings is an amazing accomplishment of life on this lucky outpost of the Universe.

Our splendid reverie transforms to a jarring, ongoing realization that hits us first as a rude awakening.  Reluctantly, we acknowledge this new era of unraveling and lethal chaos.  Typically alone in our contemplation of the tumbling health of our Earth, we graduate to a profound level of despair and near disbelief.

As happy bloggers and dime-a-dozen philosophers, we strive to keep on top of our fast-changing tenure on the Third Stone from the Sun.  In keeping with this imperative, together as readers of this biocentric column we now confront — drum roll here — the “Gaia Stamp-Out-Human-Plague? Survey.”  The sole question offered in this study was complex or simple, depending on the respondent:  Why isn’t Gaia acting to put the destroyer species, Homo Sapiens Sapiens, into its place, or perhaps boot it off the planet?  Or has she indeed started to do this? (more…)

Ecological University

September 28, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Economy, Evaggelos Vallianatos

Is a Successful Ecological Civilization Possible?

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

In ancient times people believed in many gods and worshipped the natural world and the Earth. Now our world is primarily a world where most people believe in one god and consider nature a mine for the extraction of “resources.”

Such a dramatic shift from a sacred natural polytheism to a business monotheism does not bode well for human survival.

Of all modern ecological calamities, global warming suffices to bring to an end life on earth. Climate change, the usual name for global warming, is a result of the heavy human footprint on the natural world. This affliction, the human addiction to coal, oil, and gas, is deleterious to human health and to long-term survival.

Unless we slow down and stop dumping into the atmosphere countless thousands of tons of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, our children and grandchildren will surely curse us. (more…)

Life on Mars?

August 20, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Current Events, Randall Amster

Searching for Signs in the Cosmos, and on Earth

by Randall Amster

Forty years ago, David Bowie asked the musical question, “Is there life on Mars?” Bowie’s song embodied an escapist sensibility, a longing for life elsewhere to break the doldrums and despair of living on Earth. Filled with vivid imagery, the song reflects humankind’s eternal longing to be part of something larger than our mundane lives. In essence, it taps into an acute desire to discover that there’s more than meets the eye to this existence.

As such, the search for extraterrestrial life is equal parts theological, philosophical, and practical. With the Curiosity rover now cutting swaths through the stark Martian landscape, we may soon have an answer to this perpetual question, at least partially. More to the point, it’s entirely plausible that (at the least) vestiges of life will be found to exist wherever there is (or was) water, and Mars almost certainly fits that bill. The impending confirmation will do more than alter our creation mythology — it will force us to rethink whether the heavens are merely there for our taking as the sole cosmic occupants. (more…)

Guided by Gaia

April 25, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Jan Lundberg

Sharing with All Life on a Finite Planet

by Jan Lundberg

When I first heard of the Gaia Hypothesis in the 1990s, as formulated by chemist James Lovelock and microbiologist Lynn Margulis, I was skeptical but respectful of the idea.  I didn’t rule it out.  But neither did I feel confident that the Earth is a living single organism.  Perhaps I was too caught up in scientific reductionism, and needed to have proof — such as to sit down with Gaia herself.  So I took note of the notion and kept on trying to save and heal Earth.

About this time, one small deliberate act regardless of the Gaia Hypothesis was that I stopped putting the article “the” in front of Earth, so as to use Earth as a name, or her name.  Is it unscientific or childish for our home planet to have a personal-type name?  If so, we probably need to be less “scientific” and more childish.  Do you remember your child-wonder when you were very young and noticed the trees’ sound in the wind?  I thought they were talking to me. Many years later I remembered this after forgetting it.

As an environmental activist most of my adult life, I have loved nature as I always had. But I could relate to being sufficiently unaware of threats to nature’s health so as to find it easy to keep consuming products, burning fuel, wasting packaging, etc. (more…)

Loving Earth

April 24, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Jennifer Browdy

Developing a ‘Deeply Caring Reciprocal Partnership’

by Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

To save the Earth, we must fall in love with her, writes Robert Koehler, taking his inspiration from the work of Charles Eisenstein, author of Sacred Economics.

Koehler and Eisenstein say that in the trajectory of human evolution, we have been locked in the selfish adolescent phase for a long, long time, just seeking to take what we need from our Earth mother, without thought of giving much in return, or of the reality of finite limits.

When we fall in love, Eisenstein says, “perfect selfishness falls apart as the self expands to include the beloved within its bounds.”

I remember falling in love like that as an adolescent, and as a young adult too.

It’s true that when you’re in love, the boundaries between the self and other dissolve, and you exist in a harmonious utopia of mutual beneficence. (more…)