|nothing living anywhere in sight
the sands fused to green glowing glass
the hills scorched dry eroded bare
the lake foul dead radioactive
while on the lifeless plain
a white-eyed skull surveys its handiwork
If you find the last two points somewhat contradictory, you have begun
to understand the depth of the mess which, I maintain, we have arranged
As the cartoon character Pogo puts it, "We have met the enemy, and he is us."
Following our cultural assumptions, many of us seem to regard a calamitous outcome, such as the one envisioned in my poem, as inevitablethe end-product of a supposed, fixed "thing" we call "human nature." I disagree with that view (and regard my poem as part of my dissent). Several years before I wrote that poem, I had encountered the general semantics of Alfred Korzybski (1879-1950), who holds that humans behave in ways analogous to a logical systemthat what we DO follows from what we ASSUME.
By 1952, I had begun assimilating that insight. Through a young adulthood no less confused that that of many other humans, I learned how to uncover my own assumptions, and to revise them when the need becomes clear. Then I generalized that process, learning how to study human assumptions in situ, and shared this process with others.
Our group has disclosed the main assumptions that commit us to seek species suicide and extinction. Further, we have gained experience in using Korzybski's alternative assumptions, which seem more likely to lead us to align ourselves with sustaining life on planet Earth, to fit ourselves into the diversity of the biosphere.
Perhaps the most important next step becomes to test the viewpoints so far built up on these alternative assumptions, and settle the question of whether or not they perform as promised.
But close behind this step comes another main question: How do we go about discarding those assumptions which lead us towards species suicide and extinction, and replacing them with others which may lead us to develop viable and sustainable ways of living?
That forms the main concern of our research group
Further Introductory Materials