Standing Rock: A Change of Heart

Posted on Dec 2, 2016
Standing Rock: A Change of Heart

  I am told by Native American friends active at Standing Rock that the elders are counseling the Water Protectors to undertake each action prayerfully and to stay off the warpath. I would like to explain why this advice is not only spiritually sound, but politically astute as well. I would like to translate it […]

The Election: Of Hate, Grief, and a New Story

Posted on Nov 10, 2016
The Election: Of Hate, Grief, and a New Story

This essay has been translated into German as well as Spanish and French.   Normal is coming unhinged. For the last eight years it has been possible for most people (at least in the relatively privileged classes) to believe that society is sound, that the system, though creaky, basically works, and that the progressive deterioration of everything […]

This Is How War Begins

Posted on Nov 7, 2016
This Is How War Begins

  This essay has been translated into German.     “Their stupidity is amusing.” “Stopping Trump is essential. Anyone who says otherwise is either foolish or blinded by privilege.” “People should get hated for voting for Johnson because he is a moron.” “Are Trump supporters too dumb to know they’re dumb?” “Hillbots have complete inability […]

The Lid is Off

Posted on Oct 10, 2016
The Lid is Off

It is getting harder to keep a secret these days. The collective shadow of our society, once safely relegated to the dark basement of the unmentionable, is now exposed to daylight, forcing us to face our contradictions. I’ll offer three examples: Donald Trump’s leaked recordings, Hillary Clinton’s emails and Wall Street speeches, and the endless […]

Of Horseshoe Crabs and Empathy

Posted on Jul 26, 2016
Of Horseshoe Crabs and Empathy

  “That estuary used to be full of kelp and eels when we were kids,” said Stella. “It was full of all kinds of wildlife. Crabs, clams, horseshoe crabs – there was a mussel bed right over there – one time I was swimming in that pond and came face to face with an eel.” […]

The Fertile Ground of Bewilderment

Posted on Jul 7, 2016
The Fertile Ground of Bewilderment

  The other day I was speaking to a small audience at a music festival and thought to allude to Brexit to make a point. Some in the circle looked a bit mystified, so I asked, “Everyone knows what Brexit is, right?” It turned out that quite a few of them did not. “Congratulations!” I […]

By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them

Posted on May 26, 2016
By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them

I’m dealing with massive cognitive dissonance right now. Multiple, contradictory beliefs and perceptions inhabit my mind, each compelling on its own terms. How do I choose? I’ll share two of the most contradictory. Last weekend I spoke at a wonderful music festival near Asheville called Kinnection Campout. I’ve not yet been to a festival with […]

Psychedelics and Systems Change

Posted on Apr 19, 2016
Psychedelics and Systems Change

Originally published (in a modified form) on the MAPS Bulletin (Spring 2016) Many arguments for the legalization of cannabis and psychedelics draw on their relative harmlessness. Countering the rationale of prohibition, we can point out that compared to legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco, psychedelics are extremely safe. Given statistics comparing the annual number of […]

Mutiny of the Soul, Revisited

Posted on Mar 14, 2016
Mutiny of the Soul, Revisited

Over the years, I’ve probably received more mail about Mutiny of the Soul than any other essay I’ve written. The idea of the article has been hugely validating for many readers: that depression, ADHD, anxiety, etc. aren’t chemical malfunctions of the brain, nor spiritual malfunctions of the mind; rather, they are forms of legitimate rebellion […]

Zika and the Mentality of Control

Posted on Mar 3, 2016
Zika and the Mentality of Control

The ruling institutions of this world are quite comfortable with a virus. First with SARS, then H1N1, then ebola and now the Zika virus, mainstream media and official organizations have been quick to recognize and counter the threat with travel advisories, quarantines, research funding, vaccine development, and heightened levels of vigilance. Yet information about other […]

In a Rhino, Everything

Posted on Feb 20, 2016
In a Rhino, Everything

This article has been translated into French and Russian.   I received the following email from a young woman, a student at an elite law school. I want to quote it in full, because it cuts so deep to core issues so many change agents face. I don’t cry very often. But this week I cried […]

Grief and Carbon Reductionism

Posted on Feb 3, 2016
Grief and Carbon Reductionism

  The environmentalist Michael Mielke just wrote to me the following, “We came back over-and-over to the realization that the climate movement must proceed through the several stages of grief to get to Acceptance.” I am happy to see the growing recognition of what he is talking about. The grief is essential in order to […]

From Nonviolence to Service

Posted on Dec 2, 2015
From Nonviolence to Service

Leadership in Miki Kashtan’s Reweaving our Human Fabric I have never been comfortable with leadership. Nonetheless, there I was leading a five-day retreat with twenty-something seasoned leaders, activists, counselors, and other people more qualified than I was to lead it. On day four it cracked. Diverse expressions of a seething dissatisfaction rose to the surface […]

The War against the Self and the World

Posted on Nov 21, 2015

Control is a central theme of The Ascent of Humanity. Whether we speak of the technologist dream of perfecting our control over nature, or the spiritualist dream of perfecting human nature, the basic strategy is to encourage the good and control the bad. Just as the technological answer to a problem is to fix it […]

For Whom was that Bird Singing?

Posted on Nov 21, 2015

“A thrush had alighted on a bough not five meters away… then began to pour out a torrent of song… Winston watched it with a sort of vague reverence. For whom, for what, was that bird singing? No mate, no rival was watching it. What made it sit at the edge of the lonely wood […]

An Experiment in Gift Economics

Posted on Nov 2, 2015
An Experiment in Gift Economics

In the year 2008 I was facing hard times. I was earning maybe $300 a month from book sales, I wasn’t known yet as a speaker, and I couldn’t really get a job because I was a single dad staying at home with three children including a three-year-old. One day, a workshop came to town […]

Sustainable Development: Something New or More of the Same?

Posted on Sep 22, 2015
Sustainable Development: Something New or More of the Same?

This article first appeared in the Huffington Post You can find a Chinese translation of the article here.   Two years ago when he was 14, my son Matthew grew six inches. Last year he only grew two inches, and this year he has only grown half an inch. Should I be worried? Of course […]

On Immigration

Posted on Aug 27, 2015
On Immigration

This post has been translated into Chinese.   I recently received the following question from my contact form. I’ve decided to answer it in public, because similar concerns are woven into the immigration narrative far beyond the UK. “I work for a women’s refuge, recently a Turkish women can to stay with us. Her attitude     […]

The Need for Venture Science

Posted on Aug 27, 2015
The Need for Venture Science

A Chinese translation of this essay can be found here. I just spent several hours down a rabbit hole. The topic was the “electric universe,” an unconventional cosmological theory that emphasizes electromagnetism rather than gravity as the primary structuring force of the universe. It offers alternative explanations of redshift, cosmic background radiation, cosmogenesis, star formation, […]

La croissance ne peut pas nous sortir de la dette, quoique fasse la Réserve Fédérale.

Posted on Jul 2, 2015

Le Président de la Réserve Fédérale (Fed) Ben Bernanke a déclaré au symposium de Jackson Hole que la banque allait aider à promouvoir une reprise économique forte. L’engagement de Ben Bernanke, le président de la Fed, à promouvoir un « reprise économique forte » par un « ajustement additionnel de la politique » (de la Fed NdT) a attiré […]

Qualitative Dimensions of Collective Intelligence: Subjectivity, Consciousness, and Soul

Posted on May 11, 2015
Qualitative Dimensions of Collective Intelligence: Subjectivity, Consciousness, and Soul

This article appeared in Spanda Journal (v. 2/2014) Abstract:  This essay plays with two definitions of collective intelligence, drawing on two meanings of the word “intelligent” that bring to bear relevant arguments from the philosophy of mind, particularly in reference to artificial intelligence (AI) and its distinction between “strong AI” and “weak AI.” One definition […]

The Woman Who Chose to Plant Corn

Posted on May 11, 2015
The Woman Who Chose to Plant Corn

This article originally appeared in Resurgence Magazine: Not long ago, a Diné (Navajo) friend of mine, Lyla June Johnston, sent me a one-line email: “I am not going to Harvard… I am going to plant corn.” Her statement signals a profound divergence from the path she’d set out on when she was an undergraduate at […]

Imagine a 3-D World

Posted on Jan 3, 2015
Imagine a 3-D World

On our way to see the latest installment of The Hobbit, I asked my 10-year-old Philip and his two friends, “Don’t you wish that the real world were 3-D just like the movies?” “Yeah!” they said with relish. “That would be so awesome!” The joke was on me, it seemed. A minute later I tried […]

Shadow, Ritual, and Relationship in the Gift

Posted on Dec 8, 2014
Shadow, Ritual, and Relationship in the Gift

This essay has been translated into Portuguese.   A friend recently asked me a question I get a lot: “How do you manage payment for your time and workshops?” by which she also meant, “How can I do that in a way that works practically and feels right too?” I would like to answer that […]

The Waters of Heterodoxy: A Review of Gerald Pollack’s “The Fourth Phase of Water”

Posted on Nov 1, 2014
The Waters of Heterodoxy: A Review of Gerald Pollack’s “The Fourth Phase of Water”

A translation of this essay into Chinese can be found here.   In The Fourth Phase of Water, Gerald Pollack offers an elegant new theory of water chemistry that has profound implications not only for chemistry and biology, but for the metaphoric foundation of our understanding of reality and our treatment of nature. Let me […]

A Miracle in Scientific American

Posted on Oct 9, 2014

In the latest issue of Scientific American, Michael Shermer describes an amazing and beautiful synchronicity that happened the day of his wedding, just this summer. I hope you read the article, but to summarize, an old non-functioning radio that had belonged to his bride’s beloved grandfather mysteriously started playing a love song as the ceremony […]

A Beautiful World of Abundance

Posted on Sep 10, 2014
A Beautiful World of Abundance

You can find a French translation of this essay here.   Scarcity is one of the defining features of modern life. Around the world, one in five children suffers from hunger. We fight wars over scarce resources such as oil. We have depleted the oceans of fish, and the ground of clean water. Worldwide, people […]

The End of War

Posted on Aug 24, 2014
The End of War

Feedback from my lecture at the Green Party annual meeting has been trickling in, and it seems that the talk wasn’t as well-received as I thought at the time. The people who walked out in the first five minutes – maybe they didn’t have to go to the bathroom after all, as I’d assumed, ha […]

A Restorative Response to MH17

Posted on Jul 23, 2014
A Restorative Response to MH17

  Aren’t they awful? Aren’t they appalling? How could they? They must be monstrous, evil, inhuman. The only way to deal with such people is to stand up to them, destroy them, send them a message, take a stand, deter them, show them it isn’t acceptable, hold them to account. Any other response is soft, […]

Climate Change: The Bigger Picture

Posted on May 28, 2014
Climate Change: The Bigger Picture

The article was originally published in Resurgence Magazine, April 2014 I’ve noticed some parallels among three defining institutions of our civilisation: money, war, and mainstream religion. All three demand, in one way or another, the sacrifice of the immediate, the human, or the personal in service to an overarching ulterior goal that trumps all. Disciplined […]

Development in the Ecological Age

Posted on May 28, 2014
Development in the Ecological Age

Republished from Kosmos Journal   Do you live in a developed nation or a developing nation? If your nation has an extensive system of roads, rail and airports, if it is fully electrified, if it is mostly urban and suburban, if modern medicine is widespread, if literacy and education are near-universal, if most people are […]

The campaign against Drax aims to reveal the perverse effects of biofuels

Posted on Apr 24, 2014
The campaign against Drax aims to reveal the perverse effects of biofuels

Replacing fossil fuels with biofuels may sound a like a good idea but dig a little deeper and there’s a dark side to it   Replacing fossil fuels with biofuels is, on the surface, an attractive idea. Rather than dig fossil carbon (oil, coal, gas) out of the ground, why not recycle the carbon already […]

Gateway drug, to what?

Posted on Apr 1, 2014
Gateway drug, to what?

  You’ve probably heard about those addiction studies with caged lab rats, in which the rats compulsively press the heroin dispensing lever again and again, even to the point of choosing it over food and starving themselves to death. These studies seemed to imply some pretty disheartening things about human nature. Our basic biology is […]

Concern about overpopulation is a red herring; consumption’s the problem

Posted on Mar 28, 2014
Concern about overpopulation is a red herring; consumption’s the problem

Population stability or decline is not an environmental panacea if it is accompanied by continued growth in consumption This article first appeared in The Guardian, on March 28, 2014, and has been translated into Turkish. More than half the world’s population now lives in countries where the fertility rate – the average number of babies […]

Imperialism and Ceremony in Bali

Posted on Mar 2, 2014
Imperialism and Ceremony in Bali

After participating in a fire ceremony in Ubud, Bali, I had a few conversations with local people to clarify my feelings about rituals, tourism, and cultural imperialism. On the one hand, the ceremony had an undeniable authenticity and power that affected me deeply. On the other hand, I am grieved by the conversion of traditional […]

Disorderly Conduct

Posted on Feb 5, 2014

  Last weekend I decided I would get the kids outdoors for a little time in nature. The Susquehanna River was frozen over, with the most remarkable ice formations. Even though the water is not deep in this part of the river, ice somehow piled up several feet. The photograph above is of a chunk […]

Let’s be honest: real sustainability may not make business sense

Posted on Jan 22, 2014
Let’s be honest: real sustainability may not make business sense

Wouldn’t it be nice if the best business decision were aligned with the best ecological decision? Some people say that often it already is, and that if corporations would only wake up and see it, the opposition between profit and planet would diminish. The business case for sustainability draws on several core arguments. Pro-environmental practices […]

Mystery solved

Posted on Jan 18, 2014

A bunch of you have been getting emails from my personal email account with the full text of each essay I post to this site. Even if that post is a Dutch translation! I finally figured out why it is happening — it is because you subscribed to one of my sites a long time […]

Vivienne Westwood is right: we need a law against ecocide

Posted on Jan 16, 2014
Vivienne Westwood is right: we need a law against ecocide

There is a Spanish translation of this essay.   The economic and legal system rewards corporations that bulldoze, stripmine and burn. A new law against ecocide could halt this destruction. First published in The Guardian, 1.16.2014

2013: Hope or Despair?

Posted on Dec 31, 2013
2013: Hope or Despair?

This essay has been translated into Croatian.   “Things are getting better and better and worse and worse faster and faster simultaneously.” – Tom Atlee Was the year 2013 a cause for hope or a cause for despair? Were the positive developments signs that the world is turning the corner? Or were they delusionary exceptions […]

2013: A Year that Pierced Me

Posted on Dec 31, 2013
2013: A Year that Pierced Me

This essay has been translated into French.   The year 2013 began for me with the birth of my fourth son, Cary, and my fourth book, The More Beautiful World our Hearts Know is Possible. In different ways each birth was both easier and more difficult than the ones before, and I think the same […]

Synchronicity, Myth, and the New World Order

Posted on Dec 15, 2013
Synchronicity, Myth, and the New World Order

This essay has been translated into Chinese. Looking out upon the horrid ruin we seem to have made of the planet, in spite of the kind hearts and good intentions of the vast majority of human beings, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that some nefarious force has hijacked civilization, driving it towards ends […]

Fear of a Living Planet

Posted on Nov 7, 2013
Fear of a Living Planet

Does the concept of a living planet uplift and inspire you, or is it a disturbing example of woo-woo nonsense that distracts us from practical, science-based policies? The scientifically-oriented nuts-and-bolts environmental or social activist will roll her eyes upon hearing phrases like “The planet is a living being.” From there it is a short step […]

Gift Circles and the Monetization of Everything

Posted on Aug 21, 2013
Gift Circles and the Monetization of Everything

One aspect of the monetization of life that is proceeding nearly to totality in our time is that someone finds a way to commoditize nearly any movement or concept, even those that were explicitly anti-commercial in their conception. This was the fate of “cool”: what was once an emblem of African-American and Beatnik rejection of […]

The Next Step for Digital Currency

Posted on Jul 22, 2013
The Next Step for Digital Currency

“Today’s national and supranational currencies have become a blight on this planet. Created through interest-bearing debt, controlled by financial elites, tracked by the surveillance state, and necessitating endless growth, money as we know it is a primary agent of inequality, injustice, and ecocide. What to do? One response is to attempt to transform the money […]

The Cycle of Terror

Posted on Apr 17, 2013
The Cycle of Terror

There is a Dutch translation of this essay.  You can also read this article auf Deutsch.   In the wake of terror attacks, politicians are fond of proclaiming, “We will not be intimidated.” By this they seem to mean that we won’t cower in fear, but will boldly root out the terrorists, visit upon them […]

TED: A Choice Point

Posted on Apr 11, 2013
TED: A Choice Point

Originally, the thesis of this essay was going to be that TED, contrary to its reputation for promoting innovative ideas, excludes ideas that are truly radical or disruptive, contributing instead to a slickly packaged narrative of “Gee whiz, thanks to these nifty ideas, the world is getting better all the time.” TED is, I thought, […]

The Cynic and the Boatbuilder

Posted on Apr 10, 2013
The Cynic and the Boatbuilder

This essay has been translated into Spanish.   A few days ago in Stockholm I was walking by the water and was accosted by a youngish man from Ireland who shouted out my name. This is not something that happens to me often –– apparently he is among that small subset of humanity that has […]

Latent Healing

Posted on Jan 7, 2013
Latent Healing

The purpose of this essay is not to instruct the reader on the fallacy of the technological fix. We can assume that by now the environmentally conscious person has seen through the delusion of applying technology to remedy the problems that have been caused by previous technology. It is obvious that a new pesticide won’t […]

2013: The Space between Stories

Posted on Dec 28, 2012
2013: The Space between Stories

A German translation, a Dutch translation, as well as a Portuguese translation of this essay are also available.   Every culture has a Story of the People to give meaning to the world. Part conscious and part unconscious, it consists of a matrix of agreements, narratives, and symbols that tell us why we are here, […]