April 1st, 2010
"We never heard of another wild animal coming out of the jungle and saving a life of a human. But there are many stories of dolphins doing that. That's communication. That is communication. That is altruism."
Ric has devoted the last 40 years of his life to freeing dolphins from captivity and to educating people throughout the world about these highly conscious, intelligent, and emotional creatures. Most recently his campaign to end the annual dolphin hunt and slaughter in Taiji, Japan, became the subject of The Cove, a brilliant film that won the Oscar for best feature documentary this year.
As a young man, O'Barry captured, trained, and lived with the dolphins who played Flipper in the popular TV series. He experienced a powerful epiphany when the lead dolphin died in his arms. Ever since that day in 1970, he has been arrested many times and risked his life in his quest to protect dolphins from hunters and to release captive dolphins back into the wild. He is author of To Save a Dolphin and Behind the Dolphin Smile. I urge you to listen to this amazing man!
We talked about:
Dolphins in the wild and in captivity ● A man in a tank and living with Flipper ● Communicating with dolphins ● Flipper's death and Ric's epiphany ● Going to jail for liberating dolphins ● The Big Lie and the Schizophrenic Cove ● Why the slaughter? ● Toxic dolphin meat and contaminated oceans ● Rehabilitating dolphins (or not) ● Dolphin trauma and madness ● Making The Cove documentary ● The Japanese cover-up and the power of "Gaiatsu" ● Activism: what works? ● How can we listeners help stop the slaughter? ●
Enjoy the show! (The interview is about 46 minutes.)
Listen at your convenience!
Click through to buy Ric O'Barry's books right from this site in the Amazon sidebar widget to the left.
Earth Island Institute;
The Cove movie site;
The Oceanic Preservation Society
Read a great article on Ric here.
May 24th, 2009
Our society suffers from an urgent need for greater empathy, for citizens with the emotional capacity to “feel with” others and sense what life is like for people in circumstances different from their own. Thought leaders, authors, and futurists Howard Gardner, Riane Eisler, Daniel Pink, and many others, have all placed empathy and ethics on their short lists of requisite qualities for a healthy future.
Personal contact with other human beings in need has proven to quickly and reliably foster such emotional brotherhood. Contact volunteering is a win-win-win proposition. It serves the needy, the volunteer, and the organizations that exist to provide care to the needy.
About half of adult Americans volunteer in some form, but only 8% regularly volunteer for personal contact with the needy. To derive the many benefits we describe below, volunteers must have this personal contact and must do so for four or more hours per month.
Benefits to Individual Health:
Loneliness and isolation pose significant human health risks rivaling those of cigarette smoking, obesity, lack of exercise and high blood pressure. One-on-one human contact volunteers overcome these risk factors, and live longer and healthier lives. They enjoy greater self-worth, self-esteem, and pleasure. They suffer less stress, chronic pain, fatigue, drug and alcohol abuse, overeating, anxiety and depression.
Benefits to Societal Health:
“Strangers” of different religions, races, ethnicities, educational and financial come in contact with each other on a regular basis, and bridge their differences, forming bonds of care, understanding, and trust. Volunteers bring increased job performance, social skills, and productivity back to their workplaces. When unemployed people volunteer, they suffer less depression and feelings of helplessness, and they find new jobs sooner.
How does volunteering work to bring these benefits?
Human beings are biologically hardwired for caring, cooperation, and goodness. When people engage in helping behaviors, they experience well-being, the feeling that things are as they should be. Opening one’s heart and giving to others in need activates the helper’s brain to release pleasure-and-joy hormones: dopamine and endorphins, and these initiate a cascade of physical and emotional changes for the better.
How can we encourage more people to engage in contact volunteering?
Leadership, leadership, leadership! Studies have proved that most people need to be asked repeatedly, and convinced by others, to volunteer. Business and governmental leaders can help in this enormously. Here’s how:
• Reduce health insurance premiums for those who do contact volunteering
• Allow employees to volunteer during work hours
• Promote the benefits of contact volunteering through all media outlets
• Model the excellent habit of volunteering and talk about it! Public figures, leaders, heros and “stars” step up and lead this win-win-win movement!
©Jari Chevalier, 2009
May 1st, 2009
Radical Simplicity! The Living Hero program presents an interview with author, educator, and activist Jim Merkel.
Jim began as a military engineer. Just after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, Jim quit his job and took immediate personal responsibility for his own part in global problems. This meant taking radical actions to scale back consumption and deeply reconsider life in all its dimensions. He subsequently authored Radical Simplicity: Small Footprints on a Finite Earth. Merkel received an Earthwatch Gaia Fellowship to research sustainable living in Kerala, India and in regions of the Himalayas.
He founded the Global Living Project and was hired by Dartmouth College to serve as its first Sustainability Director.
Jim lives the life of radical simplicity—cycling hundreds of miles to give lectures and workshops at colleges , universities, and community centers. He is a homesteader, growing and preserving his own food, and living on about $5,000 a year. Jim has given hundreds of hours of his time as a volunteer to share his wealth of knowledge on the new good life of sustainable living.
We talked about:
• the present pulse of the sustainability movement
• the real root of simplicity
• engaging the heart
• Jim's childhood and influences
• the real challenge of society: the common good
• how radical simplicity crosses party lines
• Jim's revolutionary shift after Exxon-Valdez
• what it means to exceed the carrying capacity of the Earth
• what is an ecological footprint
• Jim's view of the economic crisis
• living on $5000 a year in America
• the roots of violence and fear
• population control, women, and wisdom
• falling in love with the Earth
Enjoy the show! (The program is around 50 minutes)
Listen at your convenience!
February 6th, 2008
". . . the greatest economic competition in the world going forward is not going to be between countries and countries. And it’s not going to be between companies and companies. The greatest economic competition going forward is going to be between you and your own imagination. Your ability to act on your imagination is going to be so decisive in driving your future and the standard of living in your country. So the school, the state, the country that empowers, nurtures, enables imagination among its students and citizens, that’s who’s going to be the winner."
--Tom Friedman (The World is Flat)
from an interview with Daniel Pink (A Whole New Mind)
We are a people longing to see beyond our current dilemmas and dangers to a future that is reasonable and sustainable. But we need more than reason to get to reasonable. We need imagination.
How can we become visionaries and nurture our visions in the reality of community? How can we recognize a vision worth pursuing when one comes along?
The world’s best and brightest leaders, philosophers, artists and inventors have always relied on imagination to envision a better future and to bring it to life through creative expression and invention.
Now it is time for all of us to actively put our imaginative powers to work, to open our minds and to face the imperative of envisioning a future that will truly work for the global community.
This means strengthening and nurturing a healthier balance of thought and feeling, which will bring more wisdom to bear as we imagine, work, create. Getting to this healthier balance in the midst of our high-pressured, busy days is a real challenge and we are all in this together.
Our next podcast (scheduled for late February) will feature futurist Daniel Pink talking with us about how he sees practices such as yoga, art and meditation contributing to the shift he describes in his latest book A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers will Rule the Future. He’ll explain how he came to use the creative genre of manga (Japanese for "comics") for his upcoming business book The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need, due to be released on April 1st.
He’ll also speak about the early adopters and also any resistors of the whole new mind he describes and share what’s on the creative horizon for him after The Adventures of Johnny Bunko.
To make the most of the podcast, please enjoy A Whole New Mind prior to listening! Get it right here!
January 13th, 2008
We have a biological and psychological need to sleep and dream; and in our dreams we synthesize life experience through symbolic, metaphorical and associative imagery. If denied this activity for even a few days, we become irritable, imbalanced and upset. Eventually, we will start hallucinating (dreaming while awake), dissociating from reality for awhile.
In our waking lives, as in our dream states, it is a support to our mental and physical well-being to process our experience metaphorically. In our society, however, the preoccupations of thought, the constant influx of music, TV and other media, the noise of our busy lives, prevents the active circuitry of the brain from receiving deeper, more subtle intimations of the self and engaging creatively with them.
Given the opportunity, these intimations and their imagery will surface and become active in the brain. Allowing for such opportunities, and actually encouraging, cultivating and nurturing them, brings joy, enthusiasm, understanding, and a sense of well-being, as well as bearing forth powerful new raw material for innovative, artistic and creative projects.
Lynn White, Jr., in her Frontiers of Knowledge in the Study of Man tells us "We are beginning to see that the distinctive thing about the human species is that we are a symbol-making animal, homo signifex, and that without this function we could never have become sapiens. We have not only the capacity to make symbols; we are under the necessity to create them in order to cope humanly with our experience."
This post is my prelude to our upcoming Podcast featuring sleep and dream researcher Dr. Robert Stickgold, scheduled for this Wednesday, January 16th.
January 4th, 2008
As I've been reviewing the material for the first two Living Hero shows, I find a common thread that ought to be of interest to artists, scientists, educators, caregivers and business people alike: the capacity of our minds to recognize patterns and harness the advantage of having done so and, most importantly, how to develop this capacity.
Dr. Robert Stickgold, who studies the brain in relation to sleep, memory and dreaming, tells us that in sleep the brain processes the new information received during the day and indexes it in relation to that to which it has already has been exposed, adding to its "maps of probability" and better equipping it to recognize patterns of relationship in the future.
We are urged by Daniel Pink, author of A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future to develop our capacity to not only see the big picture, but also to perceive the many relationships that can make a whole coherent and satisfying, which he calls “Symphony.”
My interest is in HOW we develop these abilities. I think that one key answer lies in both physical activity and deep relaxation.
My work involves teaching people to use integrative movements, acupressure and self-massage, breathing and stress reduction techniques to foster an ideal state for creative work or performance of any kind. There’s a teacher named William Westney who uses movement in what he calls his “unmaster classes” with musicians. Actors, athletes, and body-oriented performers have always used physical warm-ups to reduce anxiety and do a better job.
I am suggesting that physical warm-ups boost performance for all kinds of work, and evidence of this has not shown up in practice enough in schools and in the workplace—yet!
Mindfulness and meditative practices also help develop your capacity for R-directed thinking and you can stay tuned here for more in-depth coverage and exploration of these subjects!
December 31st, 2007
What is a personal vision? It's the way you see the world, the power of your own individual perception, the mix that is uniquely you. In Eastern languages, such as Japanese, adjectives always have "for-me-ness" built into the linguistic expression. (For me) this flower is beautiful.
In English, this personal view is supposed to be implicit, but we often forget to acknowledge our subjectivity in every perception.
Our bodies and minds are processors, synthesizers. We take in all kinds of stimuli the way plants take in sunlight; we convert those stimuli into thoughts, expressions and actions, revealing our own natures in particular and human nature in general.
Think of a large studio drawing class with a model, easels set up all around the room. Each artist is positioned at a different angle to the model and each will bring to the subject interpretive, stylistic and technical qualities. One artist may fill the canvas with large, broad minimal lines to capture the figure. Another may work with great precision to get the proportions as realistic as possible. Yet another may use pointillistic daubs to create a dot-matrix impression of the model.
Similarly, at a cocktail party (which many people may be attending as I write this) each person in the room has a different approach to and perception of the party, a different physical and interpretive angle on it.
We are all positioned exclusively as ourselves, with our own particular perceptions. The artist is the unusual person who revels in this uniqueness and finds strength in it and the will to render it authentically.
Artists convey impressions, images, ideas and views to others, many of whom they will never, otherwise, meet. But how many artists deeply question what's being conveyed by their works? Are you aware of and pleased by what you are conveying, whether or not you are an artist? Are you aware of what you stand for? Do you want to establish a more mature understanding of what it is you convey and what it means to your life and the lives you touch?
You arrive at this type of maturity through inquiry, and through experimentation, and ultimately, through developing a sense of accountability in relation to your work and life.
A person with a strong personal vision has realized his fingerprint, the signature of his being, and thus, wherever he goes, presents a recognizable vision and voice, a style. A friend of the painter Miro once said: "When I pick up a stone it's a stone, when Miro picks up a stone, it's a Miro." There are people in every walk of life who make the world their own, and whose works and expressions we would know anywhere. These are our visionaries.
It will be a happy new year for you and yours, I believe, if you tend to the vision that is yours and yours alone.
November 20th, 2007
Our educational system over-stresses the importance of logical, linear and verbal skills--all of these processed primarily by the left brain. In order to advance our capabilities now, to balance ourselves and come to wholeness, we need to regenerate our innate ability to tap into the irrational, metaphorical, symbol-making, intuitive, tonal and imaginative right brain.
Although most Americans watch a lot of television and see a lot of movies, which are, indeed, image-based, most of us have been rendered passive before images. Pop culture images are predictable and put together by professionals according to formulas.
Our imaginations are stunted. And, as Einstein stated, "imagination is more important than knowledge." So, we need to reactivate and strengthen our right-brain functions and, more importantly, to simultaneously integrate those with our left-brain functions to become whole-brained, integrated beings.
November 15th, 2007
E.O. Wilson, one of our most brilliant living heroes, preciently wrote in his 1999 bestseller, Consilience, "Thanks to science and technology, access to factual knowledge of all kinds is rising exponentially while dropping in unit cost. It is destined to become global and democratic. Soon it will be available everywhere on television and computer screens. What then? The answer is clear: synthesis. We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely."
Many other luminaries have echoed this call for synthesis. One of Howard Gardner's Five Minds for the Future is "Synthesizing Mind," and Daniel Pink devotes a chapter of his recently released A Whole New Mind to "Symphony," the ability to draw together details from many different disciplines while holding in mind the big picture and what it takes to achieve harmony, balance, and beauty.
This whole-brain capacity has been the gifted and treasured realm of artists, writers, philosophers, and spiritual leaders all along, but these are realms of activity that our culture has not rewarded financially. Is this going to change now? How will we see this change?
This blog is devoted to providing a forum for the exploration and discussion of these and related topics. I invite your thoughts and wish to know specifically whom you would most like to hear from in an interview or panel discussion and what your most burning questions on these topics are.