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Thoughtful Research

Environmental Philosophy #1

"Nature is a life support system that wastes nothing, that requires no resupply, and that humans already belong to, which is why scientists have long tried to recreate it for long-duration space missions." Jessica Camille Aguirre, "Another Green World," Harper's, February 2022, page 37.

 

Which has precedence, human rights or Nature's rights? The answer must involve which of the two can survive without the other. Obviously, since humans try to recreate it, we know the answer. That's why the Sierra Club went after Disney for trying to build in a wilderness. If you're going to build a new complex, build where there's already concrete and abandoned buildings, rather than tearing down more of Nature. There are always vacant lots. Vacant parts of town. Rundown parts of town that humanity has abandoned. Think about what Nature abandons. Nothing. In fact, Nature will try to take back what was taken from Her.

 

The trick is to believe we're hurting Nature to the point where it appears there's no return. She becomes unable to take back, or reclaim from the damage we do to Her. Yes, I capitalize Nature because She's as much a Goddess as any God you claim to believe in. Your god will not keep you alive if Nature dies. That was the subliminal message in the recent movie, "Don't Look Up." It's not just the non-climate-change believers who will suffer from Nature's demise. And there is no better planet where we can migrate to.

 

Nature is real, but saving Her is a philosophy. We need what Nature provides but some seem to think we're above needing Her. Before humans evolved out of Nature they lived as other animals do. Yes, there is the destructive forces of Nature, but these can be referred to as a cleansingeed. Tornadoes, fires, things humans cannot control, the strong conquering the weak, cats eat bunnies type of Nature, all designed to work as part of Her harmony. We are the ones that invent meaning to everything we see, rather than just accepting Nature at face value. We invented our gods to control Nature.

 

And then as thinking humans, we thought we had the right to conquer Nature, to subjugate Her resources until we pollute and destroy ourselves by using Nature as it was not intended to be used. Digging carbon out of the ground for oil means we're using ancient animals that are meant to stay buried. Here are just two examples (the pandemic could be a third) of what we did to ourselves with our abuse of Nature:

 

The Great London Smog of 1952: They didn't even realize it was happening or how many people were dying at the time. Count is as high as 12,000, noted at one site, but varies at others. The cause was extensive burning of high-sulfur coal. I remember playing in a coal bin in our basement in the late 1950s, and today am allergic only to sulfur.

 

Japanese Minamata Disease of 1956: "Minamata disease (M. d.) is methylmercury (MeHg) poisoning that occurred in humans who ingested fish and shellfish contaminated by MeHg discharged in waste water from a chemical plant (Chisso Co. Ltd.). It was in May 1956, that M. d. was first officially "discovered" in Minamata City, south-west region of Japan's Kyushu Island."

 

I've also done research on Lyme Disease and believe chemicals used by humans have come back to bite them in the form of ticks which can walk around unaffected by the chemicals they carry. "All natural resources should be managed to benefit humans," is a plunder resource philosophy. Most of these chemicals are manmade but developed using natural ingredients not meant to be combined. Many people believe, however, that Nature is meant to be controlled, managed and contained, not protected.

 

But if we recognize that we're dead without Nature, why don't we see Nature as more important than we are? What makes us more important than all other species?

 

Well, that self-importance would be hard to answer completely here, but it relates to that idea that we understand mortality and fear death. This fear of death, of being forgotten, has lead to all this progress that's now destroying us. Kant noted, "Only rational beings have moral worth." But what rational being sees a human as more important than that without which he is dead? Instead, let's argue that instinctual species, those that don't fear death or being forgotten cannot commit a wrong. Your cat might show some intelligence, but never fears being forgotten. They may avoid pain but death is accepted.

 

Murdy says that anthropocentrism is justifiable because human beings have a special place in nature, yet Christians say we live outside of paradise because we committed sin, and only after death will we find that paradise again. I think that attitude causes more suicide than the belief in karma, actually. Why destroy the paradise here on earth? Because that's not where Christian paradise is.

 

Humans have intrinsic value because of our awareness. We can see and think about what's going on around us. We can also do something about it. But it's not easy. It means giving up ease of living; we like our plastics. I read recently how Kwik Trip is going to make you bring your own mugs for coffee. That's a step in the direction we need, but it means we all have to remember our mugs. Oh, heavens, life has just gotten harder.

 

I'm going to argue here that in order to save the planet's ecosystem and thus save ourselves, human society needs to become as egalitarian as Nature herself is. There is a reason we call Nature female; because it's the female of every species that dominates. Now you won't find that information online, because there is an incredible difference of opinion. The male appears to dominate, as there is an alpha male in a wolf pack, for example. But it's the female that they're protecting. In your own experience, which cat, the male or female, is the hunter? Which seems to be in control of the other? That's what I mean by dominance. The male is typically bigger and stronger, but in early human societies, matriarchy was the rule. Once men realized they were the ones getting them pregnant, they started to control women and thus their offspring. Try having two female cats in the same household; one needs to be dominant. It has never worked for me. If you have two males, it's a little easier, but if you add a female, one of the males will become dominant and began to mark its territory. The female, however, still rules. I had a two male, one female grouping once. She often got between them and stopped their fighting.

 

We know Nature is destructive. But there's a reason rabbits reproduce so quickly. But if you want to refer to poor people as the rabbits of the world, let me hasten to remind you that humans sit outside of this ecosystem. We are an anomaly, by reason of our desire to control or alter Nature, rather than living within Her. If bunnies outstrip their environment without natural predators, their populations would crash. So would ours. But the planet's human population has been on a downswing and that's a good thing, except that now there's a movement to prevent abortion. Animals naturally abort when the environment around them dictates they won't be able to care for them. Humans have, too, since the beginning of time. Again, religious orders seem to think they have the right to change the Natural way of things.

 

There is also a growing endeavor around the world to use more sustainable products, to turn junk into stuff that has purpose again. Another good trend. Even in poorer places like Gaza, eco-friendly construction materials are being used in a tech firm called GreenCake. So it can be and is being done. What about Africa? Why don't we know more and care more about Africa? That, too, has to change to make our world more egalitarian.

 

Egalitarian means: All people are created equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities. Socialism is the economic version of this. Communalism is where the leaders are the poorest because they make sure everyone else has enough. And communism in the system we've seen where the leaders are well cared for while the rest at the same level of economic stagnation.

 

There is a very real thing call environmental racism, where the rich can afford to live in cleaner places. An EPA report indicated that ethic and racial minorities are disproportionately exposed to pollutants in air and water. They will take measures to clean it themselves, but there's only so much they can do when the pollutants come from the rich. When I lived in Green Bay, years back, I read about the efforts to lean up the PCBs in the Fox River. But at the same time, the Hmong population continued to fish there, even after the reports came out that the fish were loaded with PCBs. Asking them not to fish was like asking them to change their way of life, something those who still didn't speak English could not do, any more than hunters could see a lyme-infested tick before it bit them.

 

Pushback against climate change issues also includes those who read science skeptic sites that tell them about the cycles of the planet warming and cooling over thousands, even millions of years. (Odd that they accept this and not that the planet is more that 6,000 years old.) Of course we know this was true. We know about glacial effects, about heating and flooding and that alligators used to live in Spitsbergen where they don't anymore. No one is arguing that tornadoes and floods and fires haven't been around for a very long time. What needs to be understood is the kind of death that happens with cancer, with respiratory illness in smog, with diseases that break through from very deep underground when our carbon acts have impacts we don't like to think about, because we are used to our gas-guzzling trucks.

 

Others, like Koonin, noted that "the impact of human influence on the climate is too uncertain, and may be too small, to merit costly action to reduce fossil fuel use. Society, he says, will be able to adapt to warming." Well, I'm not sure we're doing a very good job of that. Not many have moved inland from the coastal areas yet, or out of Florida, where sinkholes suggest that state might just all sink sooner before later.

 

The environmental movements of the 1970s encountered pushback in the 1980s with the wise-use movement, saying that we can achieve a balance between natural sites with need for jobs, energy, food and tourist sites. Sure, maybe. But just who, exactly, is making that determination? Capitalists? Those who view Nature as only resources to exploit? We heard during Trump's administration that all national parks should be opened up to get at those resources. What happened? I'll save that for the next article.

 

My belief is that, in order to save the planet, we have to apply the socialist approach to egalitize (my word) human livelihood. But how would that work? For one, if everyone has equal access to clean surroundings, water, and decent food, will they be more willing to work and do their share? Now I don't intend to go all "imagine no possessions" here, but think about it. Until the global job and pay rates become equalized, where there's no more scrambling to make a living, we won't see the environmental changes to the degree that are being called for today.

 

When I first moved to Madison, alone, to work a $15 per hour job back in 2015, I moved into a low rent district for affordability. My apartment building had two other whites, students, and then they moved out. I was now in an all-black apartment building. The only problem I ever had there, compared to the one I had to move to in 2017, was the amount of litter in the parking lot. That indicates lack of caring due to lack of equality. If you care about where you are, you show that, or your landlords, at least, demand that respect. On the plus side, no one complained about my cat running up and down the stairs like they did at the 2017 apartment; but in their defense, by that time I had two cats running up and down the stairs. They were not in the least intimidating; they were mousers and kept the area free of varmints, but that didn't matter. So if I could move back to one of them, guess which one I'd choose? Where people were friendly in 2015, and liked my cats.

 

The point is that our environment is important to us only if we care about it. In the recent issue of Harper's there's a huge article about how space scientists are trying to recreate Earth's Biome so that we can live on other planets, because, and I quote: "While he doesn't consider himself a pessimist, Staats is increasingly certain that human civilization is on a path to self-destruction. Space colonization, as he sees it, is our only option."

 

Think about what that says. We're going to send humans, who are destroying this planet, into space to recreate our world somewhere else. What makes these space pioneers so sure we won't destroy that, too? What makes this so ironic is that they don't realize that saving a few people with a ton of money (ala the message in Don't Look Up) isn't near as good as saving this planet with that same ton of money. I remember making this same argument in high school way back in 1970.

 

That money would form, and they could provide the leadership on, a socialist network to save this planet. But for some people the only way the learn to care is if some disaster hits them, and even then, they don't wake up. A socialist environment, properly run, like in Denmark, works. The reason Denmark, however, is the cleanest place on the planet is because they have a closed system; limited immigration, 2% black and no national minority group, as we have with Spanish as a second language here. The U.S. is also a much bigger country and thus harder to regulate. England, too, has racist and littering problems, also with limited immigration.

 

So socialist solutions cannot be compared to socialist economic nations, but more to the race to space that should be applied right here at home, in recreating a biome out of a polluted biome.

 

You know this isn't the end of this topic, but only the beginning. I would love to develop this further and will continue to look into the issues raised here, such as who could help lead the way to egalitarian environmentalism so that our planet can be saved. I'll start with those space pioneers. I would love and welcome your thoughts.

 

Sources:

Jessica Camille Aguirre, "Another Green World," Harper's, February 2022, page 37.

Janine Di  Giovanni, "Generation Gaza," Vanity Fair, February, 2022, page 78

Xu Wanting, "Environmental Philosophy." Encyclopedia of Education for Sustainable Development,  http://www.encyclopediaesd.com/blog-1/2018/10/19/environmental-philosophy

"What Does Past Climate Change Tell us," Skepticalscience.com,  https://skepticalscience.com/climate-change-little-ice-age-medieval-warm-period.htm  

"Environmentalism and Social Change," Cliffnotes.com, studyguides/sociology.

Lakhani and Watts, 2020, "Environmental Justice Means Racial Justice," The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jun/18/environmental-justice-means-racial-justice-say-activists 

Marianne Lavelle, "A New Book Feeds Climate Doubters," Inside Climate News, https://insideclimatenews.org/news/04052021/a-new-book-feeds-climate-doubters-but-scientists-say-the-conclusions-are-misleading-and-out-of-date/ 

Barbara Polivka, "The Great London Smog of 1952," National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29596258/ 

M. Harada, "Minimata Disease," National LIbrary of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7734058/. 

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Pensaukee: Voice of a Landscape

Water.  We humans, along with all other living creatures on earth, have thirsted for it since the beginning of time.  They say life emerged from water; water is where life began. Water also destroys  --floods, monsoons, even tornadoes are caused by factors related to water.  Water gets polluted by acts of man and nature and becomes undrinkable.  But nothing can live long without water. The Great Lakes is home to the largest fresh drinking water system in the world.

 

(Map to the left is from "Gift of the Glaciers," The Great Lakes Basin. Pensaukee is 25 miles north of Green Bay, which is at the bottom of the Bay of Lake Michigan. Pensaukee is to the left of the bay. http://seagrant.wisc.edu/home/Portals/0/Images/Great%20Lakes/homepage/all5.jpg)

 

Pensaukee: Voice of a Landscape is a study of the human relationship to water, to land, to trees, and to natural disaster. This study of people will demonstrate how we, the human society, have adjusted our needs around water and increased our footprints. This area, along the Pensaukee River leading to a bay on a lake of the Great Lakes, was pegged to one day be a great city. Its ups and downs are measured in the stars.

 

In January 2006, the Arndt Pensaukee Sawmill was added to the State's Register of Historic Places as an archaeology site, and in March, to the National Register. The Arndt Sawmill Discovery Team worked for four years providing details that demonstrated its validity for this status. This is a pretty amazing story, because the location of Arndt's sawmill disappeared until we were able to recover it again.  Even those who referenced the documented lease for this site tended to ignore what was right in front of them.

 

In 1822, John Penn Arndt moved to Fort Michilimackinc, Michigan, to get involved in the fur trade. Arndt was old school.  He came from back East where there were still a number of citizens who recognized the symbol of America as an Indian woman, before the image of Columbia and Manifest Destiny took over by 1815.  In 1810 the American symbol/, an Indian princess, was painted with such icons as the Washington bust, an American flag and her foot planted squarely on King George III's crown.  The Indians had become a symbol of favorites during the Revolutionary War as a way of identifying with people other than the Brits in the land chosen as their new home. But by 1815, the War of 1812 began the turn away from Indians, seeing them as simply in the way.   

 

Arndt, however, raised with positive Indian symbols, believed that working with them was better than against.

 

In Pensaukee's Beginning

The land was not barren when the first humans arrived.  Let's go back further, to the current Ice Age, which began about 2.4 million years ago and isn't over yet.  Patterns of alternating cool summers and warm winters continue, and perhaps always will. This would make the Ice Age a permanent feature of our planet, and certainly of the location of this particular plot of land in northeastern Wisconsin, which had been directly in the path of the last glaciers. The Pleistocene Epoch, or what we call the "ice age," covered the warmer path of the Tertiary Epoch, which was considerably warmer.  That previous period began 65 million years ago, and was replaced as the earth's climate cooled, by massive movements of northern ice.

 

Today they call the return of the Tertiary "global warming." I prefer to think of it as "global instability." The cycles repeat themselves and warming causes more natural disasters, with or without the presence of humans.  But there's every reason to believe that the impact of humans with their cars and industry has worsened the cycle, to the point where the earth might not be able to cool down appropriately again. Should we wait until it's too late? How many future diseases, along with the recent COVID-19, might be in store for us?

 

Wisconsin is enclosed on three sides by water; the Mississippi River on the west, Lake Superior on the north, and the bay of Lake Michigan on the east. Pensaukee sits on the bay with a river running through it.   

 

Wisconsin is divided into two climatic zones, conifer/hardwood zone of the north and the mixed prairie/deciduous woodlands of the south, what's called a 'tension zone,' which is where the two climates overlap.  Pensaukee could be considered unique in containing features of both zones. Here great farming combined with majestic northern pine trees. Here, those great pines had to be removed so that farming could be increased. Wind and rain and sun -- these are things we cannot control and depend on for our lives. These three things, plus land and trees, had a major impact on Pensaukee's history.

 

Signs of glacial movement can still be found; boulders in fields or woods, polished rock surfaces and striated bedrock.  Pensaukee's land contains only a few features, such as flattened land, strewn boulders and its climate, which, as we will see, started out very cold with only the pine trees and, as it began to warm, other plants moved in. At one time southern Wisconsin was too cold for growing corn, and northern Wisconsin too cold to maintain a deer population. The Pensaukee area and places north now have an active deer hunting season.

 

Imagine what it's like if you were the land, to lay under a sheet of ice for tens of thousands of years, the ice scraping back and forth over your skin, digging up all the blemishes of rock beneath the surface, pushing this debris ever southward, giving you a flatter, cleaner, softer appearance in some places and leaving behind a boulder-strewn landscape of sandy ridges and exposed bedrock in others. As the ices melted in the interglacial, water in torrents formed great lakes, huge river channels and vast outwash plains of sand and gravel. Different kinds of hills formed, what they call dumlins, moraines and kames, and the valleys and deep kettles, as the ice moderates differently wherever it has strewn.  Most boulders you'll see yet today were pushed out of farm fields. On occasion, in the woods in the northern half of Wisconsin, you'll see an occasional boulder that's been sitting out of place for 10,000 years.  

 

The glaciers dug out the Great Lakes, and the melting filled them and the other 7,000 lakes in Wisconsin. Lake Superior is large, cold and deep, and Lake Michigan, down the eastern side, is more likely to be affected by low and high rainfall. Lake Michigan plays a bigger role in our story here because Pensaukee's river mouth opens into the bay "finger" portion of this lake.

 

One way they note glacial vs. interglacial periods is by studying the weather patterns. For instance, the 20th century has been the warmest since 1400 CE, when there was a little Ice Age; there was another in the 1800s. The year 1998 was the warmest since reliable instrument records began 120 years ago. Many who fight environmental efforts say that we are simply in an interglacial period and these rises of temperatures are normal. This may be true to a degree or two, but certainly air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions increase the changes and alter patterns to a degree never seen before.

 

Pensaukee has no natural lead or copper, but raw copper, called float copper, was also deposited there by the glacier's gracious generosity. Limestone is the prevalent layer of rock under the soil surface in Pensaukee, and elsewhere in Wisconsin. Limestone proves that all this land was once water because it is formed from the chemical precipitation of minerals in water and the accumulation of shells. However, because granite is the dominant material in Oconto County, the limestone here is more of the dolomite variety. They call the bedrock geology of Pensaukee the "Platteville-Galena," which is dolomite with some limestone. One would then expect, if they looked, they could find lead here.

 

One particular limestone ledge that formed in Pensaukee, along the river about a mile inland, became a focusing feature of the town that led to its development.  Nature works in mysterious ways.  Humans have learned both to put her resources to good use and to duck in her fury.  You'll see ample examples of both as we study time in a landscape.

 

Sedimentary rock, such as dolomite/limestone, or granite, is quite ugly, grayish and used most often as gravel for driveways and roads.  But when you examine this rock closely, you'll see how pockets of air formed inside them and geodes develop. Even the dullest-appearing rock can be beautiful on the inside.

 

The bay of Green Bay, on which Pensaukee sits, was not always a bay.  Once it was a lush valley through which a river ran to the lake -- technically the bay is part of the Fox River, which extends out of the bay in the Green Bay area, a north-ward, not south-ward, flowing river; another glacial effect. High and low water levels are gradual, and we were still on a downward slide in the natural scheme of things in 2000. James Pogue noted on a visit to Kenosha in 2018 that water levels were at a record high and expected to keep rising; we see more flooding on a regular basis. At the time of this writing, Whitefish Dunes State Park had to close because its shoreline is underwater.

 

Fish distribution in the Great Lakes is related to those in the Mississippi basin; the fish in these northern waters moved south with the movement of the ice sheet and returned north as the cold waters retreated. Migration is a coping and survival strategy in fish and people in pre-European-contact times. Variety of fish included perch, sturgeon, whitefish and trout in the pre-European years. Sturgeon, smelt and salmon, all fished in this area, are anadromous fish, fish that migrate from where they are born out to the oceans and then return to their place of birth to spawn and die.  

 

The spruce forest was gradually replaced by the more fire-adapted species such as the great white pine as the ice age receded and fires swept through the land, fire set by lightning and later deliberately by the natives when conditions were conducive. Forests were conifers, mixed hardwoods, birch, basswood, oak, cedar and hickory, a temperate mixed forest with both soft and hard woods. Originally forests covered 85% of Wisconsin. By 1965 this coverage was at 43%. White pine had been the most sought and most widely utilized of all the early various forest growths of the northeast, along with white oak.  Both grew well in Pensaukee. Pine, however, does not hold up well, being soft wood, to the tough waters of the Great Lakes and was used more for the layers of boats that are protected from the water and for the tall masts. The tough wagons that carried pioneers westward also could not be made of pine; but with those two exceptions, pine was used for everything. White Oak is the other timber found in this area that was used in ship building. Oak is hardy and resistant to fire.  

 

White pine forests arrived in the eastern colonies about 12,000 years ago, preferring soils created by the sheets of ice; young soils of clay, sand, gravel and boulders. White pine also grows on better soils if it can find the room amidst the hardwoods. Red Pine or Norway is found on the sandy pinery areas.  Jack pine was not considered valuable to the Europeans; Indians called it lodge pine. Red pine was neglected until 1870. White pine was found often in relatively small stands throughout the forests, as Norway pine tended to dominate poorer soils and drier areas than the white pine. White pines could dominate a forest, such as shown in the photo below.

 

(Photo From cover of The North Woods Journal of Charles C. Hamilton: an Englishman in Wisconsin's Lumber Camps, 1892-1893, edited by Mary Hamilton Burns. These are not Pensaukee trees but indicative of how big they would've been as well.)

 

Trees in Pensaukee could and did get this big. When they grow in a stand, they all compete for the sunlight, shooting up straight and tall without branches. White pine can live to 600 years or more, and trees never stop growing, until they die -- or are struck by lightning once too often.  

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I VS. U

Ego Vs. Selflessness

(first written 10 years ago)

 

I woke up this morning and read my obituary.  No-no, it's not quite the way it sounds.  What I mean is that symbolically I decided to bury my ego last night, and awoke to its death this morning.

 

I'd like to talk about that process for a minute. It's not really something you can do overnight.  It's not like you can wake up and it'll be gone.

 

I keep wishing I could see my obituary in the paper.  This desire has been going on for some time now, and I think it means I wish I could die and be someone else.  It means I wish I could bury this person who has this ego and be someone who doesn't notice herself so much all the time.

 

But this ego was given to me when I was a kid. It's not something I woke up with one day clinging to my back.  I had so many people when I was a kid telling me that I had something, or that I was something.  My father's last words to me when I was 14 and he was dying were "You look so pretty today."  

 

So I don't see this huge ego—that tells me I have to BE someone—as being all my fault. But it's there, and I'm the one who has to deal with it, right?

 

Nobody should be given the idea that they're going to be great someday.  It made me feel like I didn't even have to try.  It's not called giving someone confidence.  It's called giving someone unreal expectations.  It's something I felt was gonna happen no matter what I did.  I had it and people would just naturally see it.

 

But they didn't.  They don't.

 

And I have to face it.  I'm not that "pretty."  I'm average.  A lot of people have told me that they know my twin (four times at one convention). So thanks, Dad.  I could have used some other final words, you know.

 

I have this attitude that it's me who's important and not anyone else. So I'm here today to bury the "I" and focus on the "U".  The U that is all of us.  I want to focus on how we can go about doing that and become a better in the process.

 

I always thought of myself as a good person. I always thought people liked me.  I thought I was likeable.  But I find myself at age 68 facing loneliness due to friendlessness.  I thought that if I moved, I could be happy somewhere else. But I cannot move away from me.

 

The change comes from within. You know, you hear that all the time.  The change comes from within.  Well, great!  Wonderful!  Whoopee!  They don't tell you how to do that, though.

 

I'm going to try and see if I can make it work for me and if it does, I can share it here. How?  I versus U.

 

You know, I was gonna start this with a little grammar lesson.

 

I and U are so far apart in the alphabet.  It seems they never hang around together at all.  And I comes before U in the alphabet, so doesn't that prove that we always should put ourselves first?  Because if we don't, who will?  And there's a lot that comes between I and U – there's J, K,L – etc.  Just like there's a lot that comes between people and keeps them from communicating.  You can't put JKL together and make a sentence.  All you get for a vowel between I and U is O.  Oh.  But the words joke and poke – they both need an E.  

 

I have an acquaintance I'd love to be friends with, but it's not happening.  I think we have a lot in common but for some reason she keeps herself at a distance from me and I don't know why.  I thought it had something to do with the distance between I and U in the alphabet. I couldn't think of any words that used the two letters together, next to each other.

 

But I was driving one morning to a location on my GPS and I did at double take at the street name.  Muirwood Drive.  Muir was an environmentalist in Wisconsin awhile back.  And that name, with the UI together like that, is one of the few instances where you see the use of those two letters together.

 

Notice the U comes first?  Because when we talk about the environment, it should never be about ego – it should always be about Us. I love synchronicity.  This word, Muir, is very symbolic of what we're talking about here.

 

It seems we all say "I" very often.  I did this. I went there.  How many of us in our conversation say "You did this" or "you went there"?  We can't speak from the perspective of U.  We can only speak using our own eyes, what we witness.  And that gives "I" its importance.

 

We don't have to take away the importance of "I" to get rid of the ego.  But we have to recognize the times when "U" is more important.

 

"I want to do this" has a totally different connotation that "U want to do this."

 

"I am right" is diametrically opposed to "U are right."  Do you see how much better you feel when you recognize and concede to someone else's opinion?  Can you see how much better you make them feel?

 

We may ask others to apologize but how often can we say "I am sorry."

 

The use of I means that we are not intimidating to U.  It's about feeling good – and who should feel good. Do we claim that right, or do we give that right to someone else?

 

That's what we're looking at.  We're looking at how to make U feel more important than I.  And that's the whole basis of being a better person.

 

One way I'm going to suggest doing it is keeping Muir in your head. He asked us to remember the environment, and the environment is for all of us.  Not just me.

 

I only means me.  It is a very self-centered position.  The more you use "I", the less people will listen to U.

 

But let's get to a lesson in using U.  Say you're sitting at a bus stop.  The bus doesn't stop.  You stand there saying "Hey, I'm right here.  What are U, some kind of jackass?  Why didn't U stop?"

 

That's placing the blame on U.  Now try placing it on I.

 

I didn't wave at the bus.  When I saw it, I stepped away from the bus sign toward the place where I thought it would stop, but as I did so, the driver saw me only as walking away from the bus stop and figured that I saw it wasn't the bus I wanted.

 

I was at fault.  I can't blame U.

 

See how that works?

 

The next time you think life is all about I, trying thinking about all the other people in the world. U and I might just get along a little better that way.

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