Home > Uncategorized > This should be required reading for every college student.

This should be required reading for every college student.

Save yourself.  It shouldn’t take cancer.  Please take a moment to read this essay, written by an advertising “creative” several months after his cancer diagnosis.

He knows whereof he speaks:

http://www.lindsredding.com/2012/03/11/a-overdue-lesson-in-perspective/

But what I didn’t do, with the benefit of perspective, is anything of any lasting importance. At least creatively speaking. Economically I probably helped shift some merchandise. Enhanced a few companies bottom lines. Helped make one or two wealthy men a bit wealthier than they already were.

As a life, it all seemed like such a good idea at the time.

For some reason, the link is problematic, so I’m reproducing the post in full — click on “More” to get to the full post.

Many years ago, when I first started to work in the advertising industry, we used to have this thing called The Overnight Test. It worked like this: My creative partner Laurence and I would spend the day covering A2 sheets torn from layout pads with ideas for whatever project we were currently engaged upon – an ad for a new gas oven, tennis racket or whatever. Scribbled headlines. Bad puns. Stick-men drawings crudely rendered in fat black Magic Marker. It was a kind of brain dump I suppose. Everything that tumbled out of our heads and mouths was committed to paper. Anything completely ridiculous, irrelevant or otherwise unworkable was filtered out as we worked, and by beer ‘o’ clock there would be an impressive avalanche of screwed-up paper filling the corner of the room where our comically undersized waste-bin resided.

On a productive day, aside from the mountain of dead trees (recycling hadn’t been invented in 1982), stacked polystyrene coffee cups and an overflowing ash-tray, there would also be a satisfying thick sheaf of “concepts.” Some almost fully formed and self-contained ideas. Others misshapen and graceless fragments, but harbouring perhaps the glimmer of a smile or a grain of human truth which had won it’s temporary reprieve from the reject pile. Before trotting off to Clarks Bar to blow the froth of a pint of Eighty-Bob, our last task was to pin everything up on the walls of our office.

Hangovers not withstanding, the next morning at the crack of ten ‘o’ clock we’d reconvene in our work-room and sit quietly surveying the fruits of our labour. Usually about a third of the ‘ideas’ came down straight away, before anyone else wandered past. It’s remarkable how something that seems either arse-breakingly funny, or cosmically profound in the white heat of it’s inception, can mean absolutely nothing in the cold light of morning. By mid-morning coffee, the creative department was coming back to life, and we participated in the daily ritual of wandering around the airy Georgian splendour of our Edinburgh offices and critiquing each teams crumpled creations. It wasn’t brutal or destructive. Creative people are on the whole fragile beings, and letting each other down gently and quietly was the unwritten rule. Sometimes just a blank look or a scratched head was enough to see a candidate quietly pulled down and consigned to the bin. Something considered particularly “strong,” witty or clever would elicit cries of “Hey, come and see what the boys have come up with!”  Our compadres would pile into our cramped room to offer praise or constructive criticism. That was always a good feeling.
This human powered bullshit filter was a handy and powerful tool. Inexpensive, and practically foolproof. Not much slipped through the net. I’m quite sure architects, musicians, mathematicians and cake decorators all have an equivalent time-honed protocol.

But here’s the thing.

The Overnight Test only works if you can afford to wait overnight. To sleep on it. Time moved on, and during the nineties technology overran, and transformed the creative industry like it did most others. Exciting new tools. Endless new possibilities. Pressing new deadlines. With the new digital tools at our disposal we could romp over the creative landscape at full tilt. Have an idea, execute it and deliver it in a matter of a few short hours. Or at least a long night. At first it was a great luxury. We could cover so much more ground. Explore all the angles. And having exhausted all the available possibilities, craft a solution we could have complete faith in.

Or as the bean counters upstairs quickly realized, we could just do three times as many jobs in the same amount of time, and make them three times as much money. For the same reason that Jumbo Jets don’t have the grand pianos and palm-court cocktail bars we were originally promised in the brochures, the accountants naturally won the day.

Pretty soon, The Overnight Test became the Over Lunch Test. Then before we knew it, we were eating Pot-Noodles at our desks, and taking it in turns to go home and see our kids before they went to bed. As fast as we could pin an idea on the wall, some red-faced account manager in a bad suit would run away with it. Where we used to rely on taking a break and “stretching the eyes’ to allow us to see the wood from the trees (too many idioms and similes? Probably.) We now fell back on experience and gut-feel. It worked most of the time, but nobody is infallible. Some howlers and growlers definitely made it through, and generally standards plummeted.
The other consequence, with the benefit of hindsight, is that we became more conservative. Less likely to take creative risks and rely on the tried and trusted. The familiar is always going to research better than the truly novel. An research was the new god. The trick to being truly creative, I’ve always maintained, is to be completely unselfconscious. To resist the urge to self-censor. To not-give-a-shit what anybody thinks. That’s why children are so good at it. And why people with Volkswagens, and mortgages, Personal Equity Plans and matching Lois Vutton luggage are not.

It takes a certain amount of courage, thinking out loud. And is best done in a safe and nurturing environment. Creative Departments and design studios used to be such places, where you could say and do just about anything creatively speaking, without fear of ridicule or judgement. It has to be this way, or you will just close up like a clamshell. It’s like trying to have sex, with your mum listening outside the bedroom door. Can’t be done. Then some bright spark had the idea of setting everyone up in competition. It became a contest. A race. Winner gets to keep his job.

Now of course we are all suffering from the same affliction. Our technology whizzes along at the velocity of a speeding electron, and our poor overtaxed neurons struggle to keep up. Everything has become a split-second decision. Find something you like. Share it. Have a half-baked thought. Tweet it. Don’t wait. Don’t hesitate. Seize the moment. Keep up. There will be plenty of time to repent later. Oh, and just to cover your ass, don’t forget to stick a smiley :) on the end just in case you’ve overstepped the mark.

So. To recap, The Overnight Test is a good thing. And sadly missed. A weekend is even better, and as they fell by the wayside, they were missed too. “If you don’t come in on Saturday, don’t bother turning up on Sunday!” as the old advertising joke goes.

A week would be nice. A month would be an unreasonable luxury. I’ve now ‘enjoyed’ the better part of six months of enforced detachment from my old reality. When your used to turning on a sixpence, shooting from the hip, dancing on a pin-head (too many again?), the view back down from six months is quite giddying. And sobering.

My old life looks, and feels, very different from the outside.

And here’s the thing.

It turns out I didn’t actually like my old life nearly as much as I thought I did. I know this now because I occasionally catch up with my old colleagues and work-mates. They fall over each other to  enthusiastically show me the latest project they’re working on. Ask my opinion. Proudly show off their technical prowess (which is not inconsiderable.) I find myself glazing over but politely listen as they brag about who’s had the least sleep and the most takaway food. “I haven’t seen my wife since January, I can’t feel my legs any more and I think I have scurvy but another three weeks and we’ll be done. It’s got to be done by then The client’s going on holiday. What do I think?”

What do I think?

I think you’re all fucking mad. Deranged. So disengaged from reality it’s not even funny. It’s a fucking TV commercial. Nobody give a shit.

This has come as quite a shock I can tell you. I think, I’ve come to the conclusion that the whole thing was a bit of a con. A scam. An elaborate hoax.

The scam works like this:

1. The creative industry operates largely by holding ‘creative’ people ransom to their own self-image, precarious sense of self-worth, and fragile – if occasionally out of control ego. We tend to set ourselves impossibly high standards, and are invariably our own toughest critics. Satisfying our own lofty demands is usually a lot harder than appeasing any client, who in my experience tend to have disappointingly low expectations. Most artists and designers I know would rather work all night than turn in a sub-standard job. It is a universal truth that all artists think they a frauds and charlatans, and live in constant fear of being exposed. We believe by working harder than anyone else we can evaded detection. The bean-counters rumbled this centuries ago and have been profitably exploiting this weakness ever since. You don’t have to drive creative folk like most workers. They drive themselves. Just wind ‘em up and let ‘em go.

2. Truly creative people tend not to be motivated by money. That’s why so few of us have any. The riches we crave are acknowledgment and appreciation of the ideas that we have and the things that we make. A simple but sincere “That’s quite good.” from someone who’s opinion we respect (usually a fellow artisan) is worth infinitely more than any pay-rise or bonus. Again, our industry masters cleverly exploit this insecurity and vanity by offering glamorous but worthless trinkets and elaborately staged award schemes to keep the artists focused and motivated. Like so many demented magpies we flock around the shiny things and would peck each others eyes out to have more than anyone else. Handing out the odd gold statuette is a whole lot cheaper than dishing out stock certificates or board seats.

3. The compulsion to create is unstoppable. It’s a need that has to be filled. I’ve barely ‘worked’ in any meaningful way for half a year, but every day I find myself driven to ‘make’ something. Take photographs. Draw. Write. Make bad music. It’s just an itch than needs to be scratched. Apart from the occasional severed ear or descent into fecal-eating dementia the creative impulse is mostly little more than a quaint eccentricity. But introduce this mostly benign neurosis into a commercial context.. well that way, my friends lies misery and madness.

This hybridisation of the arts and business is nothing new of course – it’s been going on for centuries – but they have always been uncomfortable bed-fellows. But even artists have to eat, and the fuel of commerce and industry is innovation and novelty. Hey! Let’s trade. “Will work for food!” as the street-beggars sign says.

This Faustian pact has been the undoing of many great artists, many more journeymen and more than a few of my good friends. Add to this volatile mixture the powerful accelerant of emerging digital technology and all hell breaks loose. What I have witnessed happening in the last twenty years is the aesthetic equivalent of the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century. The wholesale industrialization and mechanistation of the creative process. Our ad agencies, design groups, film and music studios have gone from being cottage industries and guilds of craftsmen and women, essentially unchanged from the middle-ages, to dark sattanic mills of mass production. Ideas themselves have become just another disposable commodity to be supplied to order by the lowest bidder. As soon as they figure out a way of outsourcing thinking to China they won’t think twice. Believe me.

So where does that leave the artists and artisans? Well, up a watercolour of shit creek without a painbrush. That one thing that we prize and value above all else – the idea –  turns out to be just another plastic gizmo or widget to be touted and traded. And to add insult to injury we now have to create them not in our own tine, but according to the quota and the production schedule. “We need six concepts to show the client first thing in the morning, he’s going on holiday. Don’t waste too much time on them though, it’s only meeting-fodder. He’s only paying for one so they don’t all have to be good, just knock something up. You know the drill. Oh, and one more thing. His favourite color is green. Rightho! See you in the morning then… I’m off to the Groucho Club.”

Have you ever tried to have an idea. Any idea at all, with a gun to your head? This is the daily reality for the creative drone. And when he’s done, sometime in the wee small hours, he then has to face his two harshest critics. Himself, and everyone else. “Ah. Sorry. Client couldn’t make the meeting. I faxed your layouts to him at his squash club. He quite liked the green one. Apart from the typeface, the words, the picture and the idea. Oh, and could the logo be bigger? Hope it wasn’t a late night. Thank god for computers eh? Rightho! I’m off to lunch.”

Alright, it’s not bomb disposal. But in it’s own way it’s dangerous and demanding work. And as I’ve said, the rewards tend to be vanishingly small. Plastic gold statuette anyone? I’ve seen quite a few creative drones fall by the wayside over the years. Booze mostly. Drugs occasionally. Anxiety. Stress. Broken marriages. Lots of those. Even a couple of suicides. But mostly just people temperamentally and emotionally ill-equipped for such a hostile and toxic environment. Curiously, there never seems to be any shortage of eager young worker drones queuing up to try their luck, although I detect that even their bright-eyed enthusiasm is staring to wane. Advertising was the sexy place to be in the eighties. The zeitgeist has move on. And so have most of the bright-young-things.

So how did I survive for thirty years? Well it was a close shave. Very close. And while on the inside I am indeed a ‘delicate flower’ as some Creative Director once wryly observed, I have enjoyed until recently, the outward physical constitution and rude heath of an ox. I mostly hid my insecurity and fear from everyone but those closest to me, and ran fast enough that I would never be found out. The other thing I did, I now discover, was to convince myself that there was nothing else, absolutely nothing, I would rather be doing. That I had found my true calling in life, and that I was unbelievably lucky to be getting paid – most of the time – for something that I was passionate about, and would probably be doing in some form or other anyway.

It turns out that my training and experience had equipped me perfectly for this epic act of self-deceit. This was my gig. My schtick. Constructing a compelling and convincing argument to buy, from the thinnest of evidence was what we did. “Don’t sell the sausage. Sell the sizzle” as we were taught at ad school.

Countless late nights and weekends, holidays, birthdays, school recitals and anniversary dinners were willingly sacrificed at the altar of some intangible but infinitely worthy higher cause. It would all be worth it in the long run…

This was the con. Convincing myself that there was nowhere I’d rather be was just a coping mechanism. I can see that now. It was’nt really important. Or of any consequence at all really. How could it be. We were just shifting product. Our product, and the clients. Just meeting the quota. Feeding the beast as I called it on my more cynical days.

So was it worth it?

Well of course not. It turns out it was just advertising. There was no higher calling. No ultimate prize. Just a lot of faded, yellowing newsprint, and old video cassettes in an obsolete format I can’t even play any more even if I was interested. Oh yes, and a lot of framed certificates and little gold statuettes. A shit-load of empty Prozac boxes, wine bottles, a lot of grey hair and a tumor of indeterminate dimensions.

It sounds like I’m feeling sorry for myself again. I’m not. It was fun for quite a lot of the time. I was pretty good at it. I met a lot of funny, talented and clever people, got to become an overnight expert in everything from shower-heads to sheep-dip, got to scratch my creative itch on a daily basis, and earned enough money to raise the family which I love, and even see them occasionally.

But what I didn’t do, with the benefit of perspective, is anything of any lasting importance. At least creatively speaking. Economically I probably helped shift some merchandise. Enhanced a few companies bottom lines. Helped make one or two wealthy men a bit wealthier than they already were.

As a life, it all seemed like such a good idea at the time.

But I’m not really sure it passes The Overnight Test.

Pity.

Oh. And if your reading this while sitting in some darkened studio or edit suite agonizing over whether housewife A should pick up the soap powder with her left hand or her right, do yourself a favour. Power down. Lock up and go home and kiss your wife and kids.

  1. November 10, 2012 at 10:23 am

    This was very good, Mitch. I don’t where how you found it, but you did well to fish it up, and thanks..

    As ever these days, some of the comments were trenchant, and add a lot to the landscape of the piece.

    Though I’m thinking about it, I’m not so sure we should show this to college students. Any more than the ‘about’ section on the same weblog, which describes with some similar irony and humor the experience of receiving a diagnosis of cancer, and even though these days that is much more often not any more fatal than a job.

    Sure, what the author contrives about are some of the possible realities, at an age, at a stage. But isn’t every part of life lived better in its own imagination, in its particular intent and story of doing the things we humans best enjoy doing?

    I think our satisfactions are there, and somehow the accent in the piece, while New Zealand, brings back as a personal NZ friend does here actually the British sense of life I lived in for a decade or so. I can just see the young, as they are hidden in the office shrubbery of his writing, completely unknowing of this view of what they are about; and their thirties cousins too, who are just beginning to get the rougher scent of it.

    Each of these ages and stages have so much more to them than a glance backwards will show, unless the glancer really consults his or her close memory, to know more actually how all things were.

    Illusion is not only our enemy, I think. Rather, it can be a very valuable sense of perspective.

    Life is for living, not counting up. Same for our political tendencies to see. Vastly important, for anyone who intends on making art, or just appreciating it as a friend along the road, to having fully what that road’s about.

    So I think, anyway, after a storm or two in recent days has passed.

  2. November 10, 2012 at 10:46 am

    Narration,

    Somehow I knew you’d be commenting on this. I agree with you that the comments in response to “Linds'” post enhance the post itself a great deal. I’ve only got through about 20 of the 100 comments, and I’m looking forward to dipping into others when the time seems right.

    I don’t think I’ve ever felt I completely understand what you say in your comments — that’s a compliment, not a complaint, so thank you.

    I grew up in an environment where beautiful young men were dropping like flies and the larger society couldn’t give a shit — left, right, or center. If I’m more aware than most that our society is mostly insane, I credit it to that rather than to any special insight on my part.

    Dis-ease has a way of focusing one’s attention.

  3. Anonymous
    November 10, 2012 at 11:12 am

    That was lovely and thought provoking, Mitch.

  4. November 10, 2012 at 11:36 am

    Mitch, great, and some of us may understand what you are saying at the end here better than may show to you. It was a huge hit on the group I used to hang out with in the evening life of Portland at the time, being both an r&d guy and a musician, which was very mixed in every way with a variety of persons as on these weblog pages.

    In a moment, everyone was terrified, as we had no idea the reach of the disease, nor could our medical friends tell us, brave while very concerned themselves. I believe it resulted in a great turning in most lives — which I think is actually a large, large part of the recent decades of American story. You can run some time parallels on when what had been background movements like fundamentalist religions suddenly became prominent.

    Thank goodness matters seem very much more in control, so that we can think of them more as a manageable condition.

    Let me turn from this to something which wants somehow to be offered — I came across it recently doing some research on a piece for people who want to do a production about an aspect of the Pacific wartime; actually intelligence between cultures, which is what this gentleman has, as Ruth Benedict in another frame, always and in both senses of the word been doing. I felt it makes you want to say, ‘what a nice thing…’ — and think about the Japanese who are often not so easily understood from outside their islands, that in a quite good way also it may be illuminating.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/03/world/asia/with-citizenship-japan-embraces-columbia-scholar.html?src=me&ref=general&pagewanted=all&_r=0

  5. November 10, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    A lot of words to get to the “Simple Truth”: “… do yourself a favour. Power down. Lock up and go home and kiss your wife and kids.” When you get past all the hype, brainwashed propaganda and entrenched beliefs you get to what is most important in life, the most simple – the wife and children. That’s where you find God’s Truth in it’s most basic form – Life.

    It is true, sometimes near death experiences can focus your attention or life on what is really important – it usually never is what you’ve be concentrating upon most of your life. At that time one needs to accept the gift and run with it.

  6. November 10, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    “No sadder words than these: it might have been……” is true no matter your profession. But I think it’s much sadder on a cultural/national scale to look and see that the majority of accomplishments for us as a country in the last couple of decades have been in enriching a select few, and causing death and destruction the world over, all in the name of enriching those same few.
    What was the last “great” accomplishment of the United States? The moon landing? AZT drugs? I wonder.

  7. Hmrm
    November 10, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    But what I didn’t do, with the benefit of perspective, is anything of any lasting importance.

    There’s his mistake. The creative people I know have a ‘hobby’ of doing creative things for schools and nonprofits for free, usually seeking out their ‘client’ because they had an idea of something that could be done for them. You’ve got to find some way to feel like you’ve been useful in life besides helping rich people and corporations sell things.

  8. Plain Jane
    November 10, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    I’m not an artist, but it seems to me that “fine” art would be more personally satisfying than “commerial” art. Art as the product itself rather than the means to selling another product would certainly seem to have more lasting value. But I don’t suppose they are mutually exclusive. If you can paint a scene to sell soap, you can paint a scene to sell.

  9. FoxStudio
    November 10, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    Hmrm- did you miss the part where he said that he essentially had no evenings or weekends free? When would he have pursued this “hobby”? Even if he’d had the time, he probably wouldn’t have the mental wherewithall. He was almost certainly working in a ultra-high pressure urban ad agency, not some laid back HumCo operation. People only have so much focus and attention available in a 24 hour time span. At the point that limit is exceeded, the brain hits the wall and slides to the floor. Believe me.

  10. suzy blah blah
    November 10, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    -a victim of “managmentism” who spent his life serving media-hypnosis and commodity whoring (“ism” = ideology)’ Management is an ideology, albeit cloaked as non-ideology. As ideology it becomes “managementism”. If you like, it is ideology in a minor key. But creativity can’t be managed because it doesn’t follow rules. It does not need the attention of breaucrats. It will come when it comes and it will not produce consensus or complacency. It will tear us apart.

  11. Hmrm
    November 10, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    did you miss the part where he said that he essentially had no evenings or weekends free?

    Yes, I missed that part. Choosing to work more than 40 hours a week was his other mistake. For a talented person, this is a choice.

  12. Anonymous
    November 10, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    Sadly, most of life’s hard lessons needn’t be.

    It takes decades of education to unlearn the lessons of childhood….the sandbox….asking questions…then, questioning the answers.

    Imagine if every college degree had prerequisites in activism, emphasizing how to assert oneself in a field, assuming a student might have some affinity for a career and want to improve upon it, as opposed to just doing what the last idiot did in the job…in the interest of making it to retirement with a healthy bank account.

    Karl Marx was once asked what it means to be human: “To take resources from nature and produce goods and services needed and shared within your community”. This was the basis of his theory of materialism. For thousands of years humans reproduced the best communal products possible that were essential to the shared survival of the community as needed. One’s joy, self-expression, and dignity were inseparable from them…until wage labor came along…now, our massive garages are packed to the ceiling with crap, forcing our massive cars onto the streets, in an instinctual attempt to replace the communal joy and self-expression we once derived from our labor. The more crap we amass, the more we delude ourselves.

    For many, it is never enough….until that day of personal grief, greatly intensified and exaggerated when experienced from behind gated communities guarding what was always meant to be shared.

    To appeal to our new “Gated-Generation”, Humboldt State University has just completed their first locked-gate dorm to attract students from privileged, protected-property backgrounds. It appears to be another successful transfer of public wealth to serve our betters.

  13. November 12, 2012 at 7:43 am

    Anonymous,

    Thank you for the Marx quote and for your thoughts about college. I’m not so sure about your history — I suspect that for 99%+ of humanity, their lives were not so much about self-expression as about accumulating material goods for their owners. Perhaps some lives had room for self-expression (especially if your self-expression was in service of religious control propaganda) but I suspect pre-Industrial life for the majority was bleak and devoted to hard labor at subsistence farming, at least in Eurasia.

    The remarkable thing about today’s times is that the vast material waste and destruction that takes place is performed by a vastly greater part of the population than was the case a century or two back. From an ecological point of view, you could say that’s the problem right there, although no one I know would trade their current life for that of a serf or slave in order to restore the planet.

    It’s barely possible, I guess, that as a species we’re up to the current challenge, just *really* slow in figuring it out. If that’s the case, every bit contributed towards helping our species figure things out is of value. Then again, I suppose it’s also possible every bit’s of value even if we don’t figure things out in time.

    If we can truly learn the universal truth at the core of every religion, a truth dishonored by every hierarchical religious institution, we’ll make it. That truth is incredibly simple and I find it incredibly hard to put into practice: “Love one another.” The “one another” part keeps expanding with time, and almost certainly needs to include at a minimum all sentient beings. The “love” part needs to go beyond sentimental goo, into an acceptance of self-sacrifice.

  14. grouchy
    November 12, 2012 at 11:57 am

    And I want to add to Mitch — very few of us, if any, would want to live today the way the majority of people lived before the industrial revolution, any more than we would truly want to live exactly the way most Native peoples have, in spite of what there is to learn, revere, cherish, and try to revive about these ways of lives. And hardship nourishes creativity only to a point. Serious hardship stifles it. I do like the whole essay, however — although it was a lot of words to state the obvious. I have no wife or children, so I want to add the beauty and always-mysterious complexity of the natural world to the list of things to which people should be paying attention to. But the wife/children thing brings up the point that dependents are “hostages to fortune” as Sir Francis Bacon said so long ago. Or perhaps more correctly they make the “bread-winner” a hostage to fortune. Gotta find a way to reduce the hardship in the lives of those dependent on you somehow — often means compromise. I am not accusing anyone on this blog of the following, but it is a common attitude among young or old single persons managing to get along one way or another without having to work at a “regular job”; that is, in the world of employment — to dis people for presumably selling their souls in the corporate world. Life is a struggle — go home, kiss your loved ones, hug a tree, listen to your music — but in all probability you’ll still have to get up in the morning and go to work.

  15. November 12, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Mitch, while I agree with most of your conclusions regarding organized religion, I’d like point out you only got half of the quote about Christian “love.” The other part is what everybody conveniently forgets. But then, so what? No one actually knows whether it works or not, do they? They only speculate. Oh, the rest of the quote? You can look it up for yourself.

    By the way, that “simple truth” you find so hard to put into practice? I’ve given you the answer to that dilemma multiple times only to be rejected. It’s not as hard as you might choose to believe. Remember, life and truth are in the experience.

    Mitch :
    ***
    ***
    ***
    ***
    If we can truly learn the universal truth at the core of every religion, a truth dishonored by every hierarchical religious institution, we’ll make it. That truth is incredibly simple and I find it incredibly hard to put into practice: “Love one another.” The “one another” part keeps expanding with time, and almost certainly needs to include at a minimum all sentient beings. The “love” part needs to go beyond sentimental goo, into an acceptance of self-sacrifice.

  16. suzy blah blah
  17. Anonymous
    November 12, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    “I’m not so sure about your history — I suspect that for 99%+ of humanity, their lives were not so much about self-expression as about accumulating material goods for their owners. Perhaps some lives had room for self-expression (especially if your self-expression was in service of religious control propaganda) but I suspect pre-Industrial life for the majority was bleak and devoted to hard labor at subsistence farming, at least in Eurasia…although no one I know would trade their current life for that of a serf or slave in order to restore the planet.“Love one another.”

    Except for a tiny speck of time, humans were hunting and gathering, hardwired to do our best in making tools that last as long as possible, that are commonly shared, while doing our best to serve and heal each other for the benefit of the whole, the kind of daily productivity that binds people together forever…unlike the weak emotional bond we call “love” today.

    It has taken a short time to unlearn the values that worked for millennium in exchange for “cultures against mankind” that’s destroying our environment. It’s too simplistic to think we would have to return to the deprivations of hunting and gathering societies just to rediscover such fundamental values. I believe that most people would see little hardship in forfeiting their “right” to burn the last “cheap” oil being used to turn the world into their personal playground…if they understood how self-destructive to humanity our daily lifestyle actually is….hardly a “right”.

    For example, if California prisoner executions were aired on every California TV station…Proposition 34 would have passed by a landslide, regardless of many individual’s perception of justice.

    This Thanksgiving, when all the family gets together they will take turns excitedly describing their international exploits…invariably including the observation, “how could the fools in that town allow (insert tourist outrage here) that to happen…it ruined their city…”? Yet, they return home to Eureka, oblivious to the fact that they literally did nothing to stop their own community’s deepest pockets from turning their town into haphazard, over-developed profit centers serving a tiny minority of greedy shot-callers.

    We are all victims of the most powerful propaganda machine this world has every known. A few observations at Thanksgiving always make it painfully clear.

  18. Anonymous
    November 13, 2012 at 9:55 am

    I don’t believe that a few individuals around here call the shots. This place has suffered from many things, and one of those things is our physical isolation. This has contributed both to the beauty of the area and its lack of more typical economic strength. People of all types have molded this community. Lack of general planning has made it inconsistent, and some of our most lovely areas are slums, the waterfront, for instance, the Samoa peninsula. I don’t give any particular group much credit for having power. If they did, some of our pressing problems would have been solved.

  19. suzy blah blah
    November 13, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    I don’t suppose they are mutually exclusive. If you can paint a scene to sell soap, you can paint a scene to sell.

    -core level ignorance

    If we can truly learn the universal truth at the core of every religion, a truth dishonored by every hierarchical religious institution, we’ll make it. That truth is incredibly simple and I find it incredibly hard to put into practice: “Love one another.”

    -childish fantasy.

    The “love” part needs to go beyond sentimental goo, into an acceptance of self-sacrifice.

    -spare me.

  20. Anonymous
    November 13, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    “I don’t believe that a few individuals around here call the shots.”

    You’re kidding, right?

    The system is identical throughout our nation! A tiny group of deep pockets outspend and win every opposing political candidate in Eureka. There are few exceptions to this rule. Linda Atkins appears to be one of them.

    It would take at least 3 Linda Atkins’ to finally begin to reverse, for the first time, an entrenched agenda that still promises prosperity via less regulations to build more big home subdivisions outside of town and more big boxes…even though it’s an outdated model of growth that has undermined rural economies nationwide.

    Every other local industry has collapsed, but there’s still millions to be made on cheap land, and by God they’re gonna get it… Sound infrastructure, affordable housing, and walkable streets, are others problem.

  21. Anonymous
    November 13, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    How does the Eureka City Council have any say over whether people build more “big home subdivisions outside of town?”

  22. Anonymous
    November 14, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    You’re kidding again, right?

    An independent city council could have demanded that development in Cutten, Myrtletown, Humboldt Hill, and Pine Hill, not exceed Eureka’s infrastructure capacity…beginning 2 decades ago.

    An independent city council could have listened to the professional economic research they contracted in 1999, and limit the number of poverty wage jobs allowed in Eureka. Instead, they unleashed the gates of Hell and act astonished by the poverty, crime, drug abuse and social service demands that followed.

    Who can forget when a Eureka woman with years of experience and a masters degree in urban planning was refused a volunteer appointment to Eureka’s planning commission!? They said she had an “agenda”!

    The “agenda” should be clear to all who live here and try to safely walk, bike, or drive downtown.
    Just ask a tourist what they think of Eureka.

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