July 5, 2015 ~ Declaration of Interdependence

United We Stand. Happy Interdependence Day!

The Declaration of Independence on display at Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

The Declaration of Independence on display at Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

“In a separated world, I can attend to my needs or to your needs, not to both. In a chosen interdependent world, I can embrace both.”
~ Miki Kashtan, The Little Book of Courageous Living

Sunday, July 5, 2015 ~ Declaration of Interdependence

We’ll work with holding the intention of interdependence

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NVC Concepts | The Center for Nonviolent Communication

Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is sometimes referred to as compassionate communication. Its purpose is to:

  1. create human connections that empower compassionate giving and receiving
  2. create governmental and corporate structures that support compassionate giving and receiving.

NVC involves both communication skills that foster compassionate relating and consciousness of the interdependence of our well being and using power with others to work together to meet the needs of all concerned… (italics, mine own — continues here)



One of the most challenging skills, to achieve any true measure of mastery in the practice of NVC, is that of holding an intention for interdependence (balancing our own needs with those of others).  It requires two aspects that are not typically modeled in contemporary society, that of authentic self-connection (i.e. awareness of our own needs/values) and efficacy in negotiating strategies that work for all (i.e. holding the needs/values of others with an equal measure of care, as our own).

For a further exploration of this, please see:  Wanting Fully Without Attachment

As it happens, this blog was born of a call that began — by an accident of mutual convenience — on the 4th of July.  I recall thinking of the concept of NVC & “interdependence” as a quaint ideal, at the time.  Being raised, as is typical of any American, on the cherished principle of independence — interdependence seemed elusive, if not illusory.

Recently on The Diane Rehm ShowDanielle S. Allen the author of “Our Declaration” spoke of the choice to drop Locke’s phrasing of “life, liberty and property” and replace it, instead, with the turn of phrase, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.  One thing I’ve often noted about this revision is that, in so doing, our founding document, or national birth certificate, contained a phrase that — as with NVC’s [universal human] Needs/Values — lies in the realm of values/ideals rather than more closely honing to material reality.  And the catalyst for this alternative phrasing was rooted in deep divisions as to the ethics of slavery.

Why did Jefferson change “property” to the “pursuit of happiness”?

1776 and Slavery

In an earlier draft of what would become the Declaration of Independence, The deleted slave-trade clause in Thomas Jefferson’s draft of the Declaration of Independence, 1776:

Rough draft of the Declaration Of Independence – PBS

Rough draft of the Declaration Of Independence

Click here for the text of this historical document.

“What to the Slave is 4th of July?”: Frederick Douglass’ Historic Speech

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE | The Abolitionists – Frederick Douglass & William Lloyd

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‘Amazing Grace,’ a song of suffering to pull us together

In a sense, in forging independence while leaving slavery intact, our nation’s identity was born from a kind of original sin that entailed a disregard for interdependence (the equal valuing of needs that arises from a sense of the inherent dignity of all).

Jumping forward to our more contemporary era, and its burgeoning economic inequalities that more and more resembles feudalism/serfdom, it’s become increasingly clear that the concept of interdependence may indeed be far less idealistic than I’d previously imagined.  As I’ve become more deeply acquainted with the dire predictions of climatologist, of impending global warming and the planetary catastrophe that it portends in the coming century, I’ve come to accept that these seemingly intangible values — such as that of ‘interdependence’ — may indeed be key to any plausible way of salvaging an inhabitable planet.  While the microeconomics, the ‘invisible hand’ of each person pursuing for his or her own happiness, may remain more or less intact*, the macroeconomic picture, our SOP of how we collectively deal with resource management, how we strategize towards an urgently needed shift in the modes of production (and all the restraint that this will inevitably entail, throughout each corner of the earth), will have to shift radically and almost unrecognizably.  And while this seems implausible, the alternative is unfortunately even more unthinkable…

Six Degrees Our Future on a Hotter Planet.jpg

* On my phrasing of how the invisible hand may remain ‘more or less intact’ (although certainly not unfettered), I appreciate Andy Revkin’s insightful anecdote from Dickens, commenting on a review of Mark Lynas’s book, Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet (London: Fourth Estate, 2007):

The value of the approach taken by the book, and the IPCC process, is that it takes us on a sobering journey into various futures, just as Dickens’s Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come did for Scrooge. Scenarios are a vital tool for designing responses. It’s very distinct from some of the popular tactics used lately, which Eric rightly questions above.

The question remains, will humans shift gears, like Scrooge did, or will current needs win out over future risks, however disconcerting? Andy Revkin (http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com)

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Chart beneath via:  Definitions of Needs – Maslow, Rosenberg, and Others

ATTENDING TO NEEDS:  What is one way you attend to each of these needs?
Physical well-being / safety
Interdependence /

Connection with others

Recreation / play

  Needs Wheel

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In a blog post titled Choosing Interdependence, Miki Kashtan writes, “Conscious interdependence as a practice includes in it a commitment to everyone’s well-being. This commitment is a clear and profound antidote to the legacy of separation and scarcity that we have inherited. It is the most surprising principle of Nonviolent Communication for many people I encounter.

The idea that in any given situation – be it with co-workers, vendors, children, lovers, or anyone else – we can commit to making things work for everyone comes as a profound revelation to people. When able to take it in fully, they tend to feel energized, liberated, and ready to apply themselves. New options arise spontaneously with which they are eager to experiment. That said, much of the time this idea doesn’t occur to most of us. When presented with this approach, many people experience significant obstacles to its application. One familiar barrier to this aspect of active interdependence is a challenge in seeing others’ humanity, such that the care for their well-being is absent. The other is a real difficulty in caring for ourselves, valuing our own humanity sufficiently to put our needs on the table at all, or strongly enough to withstand the pressures of negotiation without collapsing.

This dual challenge is, in itself, a symptom of the move away from community and social living into social separation. In a separated world, I can attend to my needs or to your needs, not to both. In a chosen interdependent world, I can embrace both. Each aspect involves significant work. Trusting that we and our needs matter is no small task when almost all of us have been taught not to want or need anything, to tie our basic human worth with what we could produce, and to minimize the gifts we bring to the world. Similarly, learning to accept everyone’s humanity, even when their actions, thoughts, words, or lifestyle are at odds with ours, requires us to shift from the world of right/wrong thinking into which we have been socialized into the world of caring for everyone’s needs and trusting that strategies could exist to attend to those needs. No small task. And essential for us to be able to restore our capacity to align our actions with our awareness of interdependence.”

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James Hansen – Sea Level Paper on CNN Fareed Zakaria

See also:  Dr. James Hansen gives his idea to curb climate change on Fareed Zakaria GPS

World’s Top Climate Scientist: It’s Worse Than We Thought

James Hansen just released a terrifying new study on rising sea levels.

​James Hansen, the legendary former top climate scientist for NASA, is the lead author of a sobering new study that suggests that sea levels will rise as much as 10 feet in the next 50 to 100 years. The study, published and peer-reviewed in real time in the open-access journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, brings attention to what is called a “feedback loop” in the oceans around the glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica: cold water from the melting glaciers forces warmer, saltier water deeper into the ocean, where it warms the glaciers further, resulting in faster melting. If the process continues at this rate, the study argues, meltwater will fully shut down the transport of warmer water to higher latitudes, which creates a planet with warmer tropics and colder poles, triggering more powerful winter storms. Evidence from the study suggests that coastal cities like New York may only have a few decades of habitability left. As for whether there is anything we can do to stop or slow the process, Eric Rignot, one of the study’s co-authors, wrote his own study last year that concluded that the glacial melt is now “unstoppable.” (continues:  http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/news/a36583/sea-levels-rising-study)

James Hansen: ‘Emergency Cooperation Among Nations’ Is Needed to Prevent Catastrophic Sea Level Rise

“Roughly 10 feet of sea level rise—well beyond previous estimates—would render coastal cities such as New York, London, and Shanghai uninhabitable.” Photo credit: Woodbine

Excerpt:  …A summarized draft of the full report was released to journalists on Monday, with the shocking warning that such glacial melting will “likely” occur this century and could cause as much as a 10 foot sea-level rise in as little as 50 years. Such a prediction is much more severe than current estimates contained in reports issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—the UN-sponsored body that represents the official global consensus of the scientific community.

“If the ocean continues to accumulate heat and increase melting of marine-terminating ice shelves of Antarctica and Greenland, a point will be reached at which it is impossible to avoid large scale ice sheet disintegration with sea level rise of at least several meters,” the paper states.  Continues:  http://ecowatch.com/2015/07/21/james-hansen-climate-report


A New Climate-Change Danger Zone? – The New Yorker

Archives (2009 piece on Hansen):  The Catastrophist – The New Yorker

James Hansen Spells Out Climate Danger Of The ‘Hyper-Anthropocene’ Age

See also:

Natural Resources and the Environment - Dot Earth Blog - NYTimes.com

Natural Resources and the Environment - Dot Earth Blog - NYTimes.com

Andrew C. Revkin on climate change and the environment.  Read Dot Earth »


A Rocky First Review for a Climate Paper Warning of a Stormy Coastal Crisis

A new climate study warning of abrupt coastal flooding gets dipped in the acid bath of open peer review.  Read more…

Whiplash Warning When Climate Science is Publicized Before Peer Review and Publication

An important, but unreviewed, climate science paper gets tangled in a publicity push.  Read more…

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Interdependence – Wikipedia:  Measuring international interdependence  

Measuring international interdependence

International disintegration is entirely consistent with a high degree of international interdependence. For interdependence exists when one country by unilateral action can inflict harm on (or provide benefits to) other countries. Competitive protectionism, devaluation, deflation, or pollution of the air and sea beyond national boundaries are instances.  Interdependence is measured by the costs of severing the relationship (or the benefits of developing it). The higher the costs to one country, the greater is the degree of dependence of that country. If a small country benefits more from the international division of labor than a large country, its dependence is greater. If both partners to a transaction were to incur high costs from severing economic links, there would be interdependence.[2]

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In Paris, Scientists Chart Varied Paths to a Sustainable Human Relationship With Earth’s Climate

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BBC David Attenborough’s Frozen Planet – On Thin Ice

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This simplistic diagram illustrates the interdependence among the growth (reinforcing) loops of consumption, the economy and resource depletion. Material desires instigate purchases intended to bolster significance which fosters more materialism; purchases increase GDP which creates jobs and financial well-being and facilitates more purchases; more production to raise GDP using carbon-based resources also depletes those resources. This interdependence has locked society into what psychologists call a social trap, i.e. pursuit of short-term individual gains which leads to a loss for the group as a whole in the long run. (Source: Financial Whirlpools, Elsevier 2013)

This simplistic diagram illustrates the interdependence among the growth (reinforcing) loops of consumption, the economy and resource depletion. Material desires instigate purchases intended to bolster significance which fosters more materialism; purchases increase GDP which creates jobs and financial well-being and facilitates more purchases; more production to raise GDP using carbon-based resources also depletes those resources. This interdependence has locked society into what psychologists call a social trap, i.e., pursuit of short-term individual gains which leads to a loss for the group as a whole in the long run. (Source: Karen Higgins, PhD, and her book Financial Whirlpools, Elsevier, 2013) — http://www.elsevier.com/connect/economic-growth-and-sustainability-are-they-mutually-exclusive

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The Economy’s Missing Metrics by Adam Davidson

Statistics guide policy and move markets — which is why they should measure what really matters.

The Economy’s Missing Metrics

GDP and life satisfaction: New evidence

By Eugenio Proto, Aldo Rustichini, 11 January 2014

Income, GDP, and life satisfaction

The debate on the link between income, or GDP, and life satisfaction is still open.

  • On one hand, Easterlin (1974) reported no significant relationship between happiness and aggregate income in time-series analysis.

For example, Easterlin shows that US income per capita during the period 1974–2004 almost doubled, but the average level of happiness showed no appreciable upward trend. This puzzling finding, appropriately called the Easterlin Paradox, has been confirmed in similar studies by psychologists (Diener et al. 1995) and political scientists (Inglehart 1990), and has been confirmed for European countries (Easterlin 1995).1  

Continues:  http://www.voxeu.org/article/gdp-and-life-satisfaction-new-evidence

“People in the West have got no happier in the last 50 years.  They have become much richer, but they are no happier.  This shocking fact should be the starting point for much of our social science.”
~ Richard Layard, author of Happiness: Lessons from a New Science

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Chilean Economist Manfred Max-Neef

Human Needs and Human-scale Development

Conventional western ideas of development and progress are seen by many as a root cause of rainforest destruction and other aspects of the global ecological crisis, but what are the alternatives? Development as it is usually conceived is based on a particular view of human nature. This view, which is taken for granted by economic rationalists, assumes that human beings are driven by a limitless craving for material possessions. Max-Neef’s conception of what human beings need, and what motivates them, is fundamentally different. If decision-makers operated according to his assumptions rather than those of most economists, then the choices they made would change radically. This article by Kath Fisher outlines Max-Neef’s ideas on human needs and Human-scale Development.

Human Needs






physical and
mental health

food, shelter

feed, clothe,
rest, work

living environment,
social setting



social security,
health systems,

plan, take care
of, help

social environment,


respect, sense
of humour,

with nature

share, take care of,
make love, express

intimate spaces
of togetherness


curiosity, intuition

teachers, policies

analyse, study,meditate

schools, families


sense of humour

duties, work,

dissent, express

parties, churches,



games, parties,
peace of mind

relax, have fun

intimate spaces,
places to be alone



abilities, skills,

invent, build,
design, work,

spaces for


sense of
belonging, self-

religions, work,
values, norms

get to know
oneself, grow,
commit oneself

places one
belongs to,


passion, self-esteem,

equal rights

dissent, choose,
run risks, develop


Via http://www.rainforestinfo.org.au/background/maxneef.htm

Chilean Economist Manfred Max-Neef on Barefoot Economics, Poverty and Why The U.S. is Becoming an “Underdeveloping Nation”

See also:  Shifting to Needs Consciousness

This view of the rising earth greeted the Apollo 8 astronauts as they came from behind the moon after the lunar orbit insertion burn.
‘The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all. At the global level, it is a complex system linked to many of the essential conditions for human life’. Earth, seen from the moon. Photograph: ©Bettmann/Corbis

On Planet in Distress, a Papal Call to Action

Laudato si’

An extract from Pope Francis’s encyclical on climate change, the environment and inequality:  The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish. Industrial waste and chemical products utilised in cities and agricultural areas can lead to bioaccumulation in the organisms of the local population, even when levels of toxins in those places are low. Frequently no measures are taken until after people’s health has been irreversibly affected… (continues)

The Pope’s Ecological Vow

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See also:  Laudato Si | Crux & New York Times – Laudato Si

Touring With the Pope After ‘Laudato Si’

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Climate Marchers Gather to Show Rousing Support for Pope
In-DepthNew York Times

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Choosing Interdependence | The Fearless Heart

Via Miki Kashtan’s blog (index here and an introduction to the blog here)

This entry was posted in interdependence on July 4, 2012

Excerpt:  Many spiritual traditions converge with certain aspects of modern science in a basic understanding of life as one interdependent whole. In the natural world, for example, if predators are removed from an ecosystem, the herbivores multiply beyond the available grass and the entire ecosystem is endangered. Our global economy is now recognized to be interdependent as well: if one country falls into an economic crisis, a cascading effect can destabilize the entire global economy. On the human plane, recent developments in neuroscience lead many to conclude that our apparently separate brains are interwoven: others’ responses and expressions affect us in a direct way through mechanisms such as the firing of mirror neurons. These phenomena and so many others are examples of interdependence as a fact of life.  At the same time as our awareness of this level of interdependence is growing, our capacity as individuals to engage in behaviors that recognize and engage with our interdependence is diminishing. Interdependence as a practice invites us to consciously engage with ourselves and others in ways that honor and nurture our connection with all of life.

From Self-Sufficiency to Self-Responsibility and Self-Reliance

“Each of us lives in and through an immense movement of the hands of other people. The hands of other people lift us from the womb. The hands of other people grow the food we eat, weave the clothes we wear, and build the shelters we inhabit. The hands of other people give pleasure to our bodies in moments of passion, and aid and comfort in times of affliction and distress. It is in and through the hands of other people that the commonwealth of nature is appropriated and accommodated to the needs and pleasures of our separate, individual lives. And, at the end, it is the hands of other people that lower us into the earth.” — Jim Stockinger

We evolved as social beings to live in community, leaning on each other in simple, ordinary ways to meet our most basic needs. Some cultures in the world continue to live in line with this fundamental aspect of our nature. Our modern industrial civilization, on the other hand, continues to encourage and press us to separate from others. As a result, many of us have developed a sense of autonomy that often feels threatened in interactions with others. We have also been taught to aim for self-sufficiency and to disdain any sign of need or vulnerability. Last year, for July 4th, I wrote a blog piece called Redefining Independence, in which I addressed some of these issues from the perspective of what independence can mean: more capacity for choice from within, and a shift from what I see as the illusion of self-sufficiency to the freedom that comes when we can accept our dependence on others for the fulfillment of our needs. Given how deeply entrenched the notion of self-sufficiency is, I feel motivated to elaborate on some of these themes.

Many of us are realizing that our very survival as a species depends on our newly appreciating how interdependent we are with our planet and each other… (continues)

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Margaret Thatcher on Global Warming

Conservatives’ collective tantrum over the pope has been a wonder to behold

Americans, Politics and Science Issues

One of the key trends in public opinion over the past few decades has been a growing divide among Republicans and Democrats into ideologically uniform “silos.”

Continues:  http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/07/01/americans-politics-and-science-issues

TimesMachine – Browse The New York Times Archive

NYT circa 1989:  Governments Start Preparing for Global Warming Disasters

IN the quickening international debate over global warming, the spotlight has played mostly on the question of how and whether to control the growing emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that trap heat in the atmosphere.

Now another concern is starting to come to the fore as well. No matter what action is taken, some scientists say, there are already enough of these ”greenhouse” gases in the atmosphere to cause a major warming, and more are certain to accumulate before the buildup can be halted.

As a result, climatologists, social scientists, planners and government officials are beginning to focus on how society might adapt to rising sea levels, shifting agricultural zones, changing climates and other problems that global warming would bring if it occurs on a significant scale.

Already, state and local governments along the coast of the United States are starting to plan for a possible long-term rise in the sea level, and a few have taken action to cope with it. In the Netherlands, planning is well advanced for an expansion of that country’s system of dikes, dunes and other coastal defenses, and the Dutch are also offering their expertise to Indonesia and the Maldives… (continues)

Exxon knew of climate change in 1981, email says – but it funded deniers for 27 more years

Tugboats tow the oil tanker Exxon Valdez off Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound 05 April 1989

Tugboats tow the oil tanker Exxon Valdez off Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound 5 April 1989. Exxon became aware of climate change as early as 1981, according to a newly discovered email. Photograph: Chris Wilkins/AFP/Getty Images


World’s Top Climate Scientist: It’s Worse Than We Thought – Esquire


Excerpt:  …Coping with the grim reality of climate change is the subject of John H. Richardson’s feature in the August issue of Esquire. In the piece, Richardson interviews several climatologists and touches on the same idea of the “feedback loop” in the opening of the story, which is excerpted below.

The incident was small, but Jason Box doesn’t want to talk about it. He’s been skittish about the media since it happened. This was last summer, as he was reading the cheery blog posts transmitted by the chief scientist on the Swedish icebreaker Oden, which was exploring the Arctic for an international expedition led by Stockholm University. “Our first observations of elevated methane levels, about ten times higher than in background seawater, were documented . . . we discovered over 100 new methane seep sites…. The weather Gods are still on our side as we steam through a now ice-free Laptev Sea….”

As a leading climatologist who spent many years studying the Arctic at the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center at Ohio State, Box knew that this breezy scientific detachment described one of the nightmare long-shot climate scenarios: a feedback loop where warming seas release methane that causes warming that releases more methane that causes more warming, on and on until the planet is incompatible with human life. And he knew there were similar methane releases occurring in the area.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

How Climate Scientists Feel About Climate Change Deniers –
Jason Box Tweet Controversy

In the photo: Glaciologist Jason Box, left, at work on the Petermann Glacier on Greenland’s northwest coast, which has lost mass at an accelerated pace in recent years. Box and his family left Ohio State for Europe a couple years ago, and he is relieved to have escaped America’s culture of climate-change denial.
(Photo: Nick Cobbing)

Glaciologist Jason Box, left, at work on the Petermann Glacier on Greenland's northwest coast, which has lost mass at an accelerated pace in recent years. Box and his family left Ohio State for Europe a couple years ago, and he is relieved to have escaped America's culture of climate-change denial.

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