We Can Change Our Programming!
We Can Change Our Programming! is the second section of We Can Change!, all of which is available free on the website www.wecanchange.us. If you haven’t already, please read the first Introduction, which provides a concise summary of all of the We Can Change! material. If possible, please also read, or at least skim through, the first section of content, We Can Change Our Wicked Problems!
If you read or even skimmed We Can Change Our Wicked Problems!, congratulations! That is not easy. In it, 25 dimensions of U.S. social systems were explored, using publicly available facts and research, produced by others, to expose brokenness and unsustainability in U.S. society. In summary:
Climate Change: Humans evolved as parts of an extraordinary system of life on Earth, healthy and balanced, with astonishing diversity of environments and life we can learn deeply from. The vast majority of our scientists agree our actions are contributing to global climate change, and our best minds predict we have a decade to change radically, or it will be too late. We already see changes in environments around us, wherever we live. Future changes are predicted to include: drought and water shortages, catastrophic loss of forests, raging wildfires, increased storm damage, flooding of most coastal cities, expanding deserts, massive loss of life and incredible hardships, for humans and most life. This issue alone is an essential call to action, to everyone. We change now, or we suffer harms later.
Pollution and Other Environmental Harms: Climate change is the tip of an iceberg. We are also badly poisoning and harming our environments, our bodies and minds, and most other forms of life on Earth with all kinds of dangerous pollution we produce, everywhere. This issue alone makes a compelling case for the need for radical, widespread and fast human change. It’s not sustainable. We’re making life sick.
Science and Technology: We have given control of most science and technology to business, which rushes and controls them for exploitable private intellectual property, creating and studying scientific and technological benefits and harms after they’re released into the world. That’s causing great harm. Government oversight and efforts to protect against those harms are being increasingly dismantled. Without accompanying wisdom, that is not sustainable and leads to enormous systemic problems. Wisdom is not evolving as quickly as science and technology applications, and greed to exploit
Energy: We’re addicted to using enormous amounts of cheap energy, even if it only seems cheap because we’re ignoring many great harms we produce with it. We give away our power to get energy. There’s no plan for what to do with huge amounts of nuclear waste, the worst poison invented, which lasts thousands of years. We suppress clean energy sources that work today, in favor of existing power. We’ll run out of fossil fuels and have to change in 50 years or so, anyway. Why not just change now?
Telecommunications and Deregulation: We’re allowing natural monopolies to become deregulated, which will inevitably result in abuse of monopoly powers, which create great harms and makes no sense.
Transportation: It would be hard to conceive of a less efficient and more harmful transportation system than ours. We’ve built the equivalent of 301 U.S. roads to the moon. 60 need but don’t get repaired, and we add another lane every year. These roads carve up and harm natural environments and species, and take half of lands in our cities, where they ruin water and life systems. We’re increasingly miserable wasting our time and resources in traffic on them, in expensive vehicles, which are doing massive harms. We dismantle alternatives. That does not make sense. These systems are not sustainable.
Physical Infrastructure: We’ve deferred $10 trillion and decades of critical infrastructure maintenance, needed to make our society and lives work efficiently, creating current and risking great future harms. That is inefficient and not sustainable, and it is constraining well-being for and harming many of us.
Agriculture and Food: We’re doing great harms to environments, people and other life with the ways we do agriculture and food. Those create and exacerbate various health crises. It doesn’t make sense. We are destroying forests, soil, water, insects, life webs and entire ecosystems. We’re making life sick.
Gun Violence: The U.S. has an average of a mass shooting per day now. Since John Lennon was shot, more U.S. people have died from being shot by guns within the U.S. than have died in all U.S. wars. School shootings are epidemic, about one a week now. This is getting worse and is not sustainable.
Health and Healthcare: The U.S. healthcare system is the most expensive in the world; its costs are rising faster than most; and its performance is worst compared with other developed Western nations. The #3 cause of death in the U.S. is things that happens to us in our healthcare system. Many die and suffer from lack of healthcare. Many are bankrupted by healthcare costs. Healthcare problems abound. The system is incented to profit from harms to health, rather than prevent them. It is broken.
Drug, Alcohol and Tobacco Problems: We spend huge amounts of money on a failed War on Drugs, created and still serving to disenfranchise voters. Legal and illegal drug abuse and deaths are epidemic, as we self-medicate for largely ignored, epidemic mental health crises coming from Wicked Problems. Deaths of despair, suicide and overdoses are reducing U.S. life expectancies. Addictions are rampant. Unhealthy relationships with substances are harming us. That is not sustainable.
Prisons and Incarceration: The U.S. is the largest police and prison state in the world, with about 1 in 35 adults in its prison system, somehow. The U.S. imprisons its population at a rate 5.4 times the average, and a higher percentage of its black population than South Africa did at the very height of apartheid. We spend more to keep someone in prison than it costs to send them to Harvard. It makes no sense.
Legal: Our legal system allows laws to be written by special interests. We have libraries full of laws, rules and codes ignorance is no defense against when accused of breaking them, but there is no effort to inform people of them. Most people cannot afford expensive legal representation; but the rich can, so the system is inherently unfair. We live in a culture of fear from predatory legal attacks. Broken.
Income and Wealth Inequity: A small percentage of people at the top get most U.S. income, already have most of the wealth, and are rapidly getting more and more, while a growing majority of people are stressed and struggling just to live decent, simple lives, harming health and well-being. Three-fourths of us are living paycheck to paycheck, in stress. That’s not sustainable. How do all Monopoly games end?
Community, Family and Poverty: U.S. communities, relationships and families are increasingly failing, largely because of financial stress, with three-fourths of people struggling to be OK financially, and poverty levels much higher than officially acknowledged. This doesn’t make sense and isn’t sustainable.
Housing: Nobody paid legal minimum wage can afford a 2-bedroom apartment in any city in the U.S. Huge numbers and percentages are homeless, in the world’s wealthiest nation. It doesn’t make sense.
Taxes and Debt: The U.S. has an extraordinarily burdensome, expensive and complex tax system, unfairly benefitting its rich. It borrows to spend more than its revenues most years, and citizens borrow to spend more than we earn. Collective debt in the U.S. is $1 million per household. Not sustainable.
Economy, Banking and Finance: Economics is an invented science trying to create what it seeks via mass psychology, getting us to believe and behave as desired, more like a religion does than science. We’re fanatically focused on economics, business and money. Money isn’t real. It has no intrinsic value. It only has value if we believe in it. Our government gave away its right to create and control it, and that power now resides in a corrupt private banking system, literally creating all money as debt to itself, and holding and manipulating the power to control the economy and money at will. Increasing business concentrations have already decimated small farms, businesses and communities. It’s not sustainable. We are wasting and destroying real wealth playing artificial games with money. We’re doing harm.
Education: The U.S. spends as much per pupil as most countries on education, but it performs poorly. Only a third of primary and middle school students are proficient, a fourth drop out of high school, and less than half its high school graduates are college or career ready. Many adults are underperforming. Modern society and government cannot function well with an ignorant population. Not sustainable.
Immigration: Although everyone in the U.S. is ultimately an immigrant, the U.S. currently scapegoats immigrants and asylum seekers for its own wicked problems, after helping create conditions in other countries that cause people to flee. It illegally abuses asylum seekers’ children in concentration camps.
Empire and Its Agents: The U.S. operates the world’s largest empire, by most measures, and, unlike most countries, it is still trying to expand it, after contributing to killing 200 million people so far. It has, by far, the world’s largest and most expensive military, spending more on its military than the next 10 largest militaries in the world, combined, 77% of annual discretionary Federal Government spending. It’s surveillance and spy systems are the biggest and most invasive in the world. It has 10 times the overseas military bases of the rest of world, combined. It’s the world’s biggest arms dealer, and it’s the most feared country in the world. These costs are bankrupting the nation and people. Unsustainable.
Human Rights and Freedoms: The U.S. has gone from the Earth’s greatest champion of human rights to one of the biggest abusers of human rights, and the rest of the world can’t stop us. Unsustainable.
Marketing, Advertising, Selling and PR: U.S. people are inundated by 5,000 ads a day, harming us with attention disorders and causing us to put up shields against interacting humanely with other humans. Our privacy and thinking are invaded and abused without regard to the harms that produces.
News, Information, Entertainment and Distraction: U.S. people are burying our heads in media sands. Screen time averages 11 hours a day, more than most people sleep. We’re rewiring our brains, so we can’t pay attention and focus. 90% of news media is controlled by six companies, corrupting a critical “4th branch of government” which informs the public, and we don’t trust it. Propaganda is everywhere. Media addictions are rampant and causing great harm. We’re being programmed constantly. Technologies intended to improve communication are impairing it. Entertainments are dulling us.
Government Corruption: Our governments and both of our political parties are fundamentally corrupt, including: our elections, 2-political-party duopoly, campaign finance laws, gerrymandering, and voter suppression and manipulation efforts. Government is deeply corrupted by money in politics, with donors and lobbyists demanding and getting preferential treatment from officials they buy into power. Lobbyists and think tanks corrupt government. The U.S. Congress and Presidency have been deeply corrupted, with our critical balance of power between government branches almost destroyed. Government corruption is the #1 issue for the U.S. people, and we do nothing about it. Not sustainable.
Corruption of the People: It’s not possible for things to reach this level of brokenness without corresponding brokenness in U.S. society’s human beings. We are producing the brokenness.
In part, We Can Change Our Programming! is additional exploration of our corruption as a people. When something is seriously broken in most U.S. social systems and issues, knotty, wicked problems that are not easy to solve, and which do not seem to be getting solved, that suggests deeper problems, problems in the underlying cultural, value, worldview and belief systems of U.S. people.
When a human body’s physical systems get sick and no longer function well, and are not getting better, that often indicates deeper problems, somewhere in the person’s spirit, emotions, psychology, behaviors or beliefs. Our subjective states of being, a complex blend of what we think and don’t think, what we do and don’t do, what we feel and don’t feel, what we do and don’t pay attention to, what we work to create, and don’t, what we are and aren’t, interacts with our physical bodies. When something is off in intangible areas, that can cause something to be off in our tangible, physical bodies. Dis-ease.
Wholesome, healthy, thriving states and ways of being manifest healthy, thriving bodies. If something is sick in our spirit, thoughts, feelings, behaviors, psychology or beliefs, there is often corresponding sickness in the physical body. Truly healing the physical body often involves and requires healing the non-physical thoughts, emotions, psychology, behaviors and spirit. The subjective and non-physical being needs to be in harmony for the objective and physical being to be brought back into harmony. Humans are energetic beings. Our thoughts, emotions and beliefs create energy in our bodies and lives. If we hold or suppress harmful energies, they produce physical harms. We must tune up our energies.
Similarly, if something is off in many U.S. social systems, that indicates something is off in the underlying spirit, soul, beliefs, worldview, values, psychology, behaviors, emotions, thoughts and/or culture of the U.S. people. In order to make observable, real world U.S. social systems wholesome, healthy and functional, we must make the underlying, subjective, spiritual, psychological, emotional, worldview, thoughts, beliefs, behaviors and values wholesome, healthy, harmonious and functional.
When we think there is something wrong outside ourselves, in Syria, Iran, Afghanistan or wherever, with terrorists willing to destroy themselves, overriding even their own life preservation instincts, in order to do us harm, that indicates there is something wrong inside ourselves. Any problem “out there” has a corresponding problem “in here.” We must examine and fix internal problems to fix outer problems.
When so many U.S. social systems are essentially broken, and we are unable to fix them, that indicates other sources of problems that are deeper than the social systems themselves. If our social systems are broken and not being repaired, that points to foundational issues even deeper and more basic than social systems. Something is broken in our basic worldviews, mythologies, values, principles, beliefs, behaviors, and/or aspirations. Identify and repair those and the social systems built on them can also be meaningfully and effectively changed. Fix our inner subjective states, and we can fix our outer states.
So, what is healthy and unhealthy in U.S. culture, beliefs, behaviors, worldviews, values, dreams and thoughts? What is wrong with the U.S.; what is wrong with us? Let’s dig into that some in a series of explorations, in no particular order. There is a relationship between subjective and objective realities. These explorations are subjective, not supported by external objective facts, like the first section was. You don’t have to agree with them. They are explorations. If you disagree, rather than just abandon it, think about what you disagree with or don’t like. That surfaces deeper values - what we’re trying to do.
The final section attempts to consolidate subjective findings into a set of 10 Principles for Earth Citizens, drafts of actionable guidelines for living we may be able to agree on and use to create positive change.
Let’s be honest. In We Can Change Our Wicked Problems! we explored and documented 25 dimensions of brokenness in U.S. society. As part of that, we brought up lots of things each of us can do to improve. We are complicit in these systems and their harms, at least if we are going along with them passively, and we can change. We can each figure out how we relate to each of these things and change that. Truly, there are things each of us can do to make a difference! We can change!
However, to achieve the scale, the breadth and depth of change required to avert pending collapses, and to achieve necessary changes as quickly as we must in order to avoid pending collapses and harms, we need something more powerful, effective, actionable and motivating than leaving it up to each of us, without any structure or assistance. We need some simple tool that creates powerful leverage.
We need something we can each grasp and work with personally, to structure and propel our efforts. We need something concrete but succinct we can share, communicate about, focus on, be, do and feel. We need some deep-level code that affects many resulting thoughts, behaviors, decisions and actions. We need something universal and human that finds common ground with many of us, wherever we are.
This section attempts to consolidate experience, knowledge, wisdom, advice, suggestions and actions surfaced in the 60 explorations of deeper programming and We Can Change Our Wicked Problems! into 10 things. 10 is the number of fingers on a typical human hand. We can get our heads around 10 things. That list is small and simple enough to retain, understand and work with, creating big changes as we do.
To achieve the scale and speed of changes that are currently needed to fix our many wicked problems, we need to achieve scale in getting human beings to change inside, to become better human beings, and we need tools or guidelines for those changes. What are 10 things we can change about ourselves that would collectively create the kinds and scale of changes we need in ourselves and our worlds?
Current systems of creating, enforcing and punishing transgressions of extraordinary volumes of detailed laws, codes and rules are not working. There are too many, and there is little effort to inform people what they are, in spite of holding people accountable to rules we’ve never been informed of. The system has been corrupted politically, with wealthy and powerful interests giving money to politicians and influencing their elections, in return for getting laws and rules made that benefit them. Only wealthy can afford specialized lawyers to advocate for their interests in our byzantine legal system.
We want something simpler, more powerful and useful. We come up with 10 principles, one per finger.
If we follow these guidelines, we will change, for the better, becoming more virtuous human beings. Changed and better human beings following these guidelines will be able to fix the problems are not. That is actually simpler and more efficient than continuing to try to incrementally patch fundamentally failing systems with the same conflicting mentalities and states in which we are creating the problems.
If we each take on living by these 10 Principles for Earth Citizens, we will change, and the world will too. With humility, these may not be quite right. They could be better if we work out together on that more. Hopefully, this material convinces some of us that would be worth our time. It would be worth our time to change how we are and behave, and what we do, to improve lives and ecosystems and reduce harms.
Love and respect to all! May we change, becoming higher and better humans, and create from there!