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The collective impact of shifting our basic everyday human behaviors, done differently, how much change could we affect?

Suppose we, humanity as a whole, did what we do, differently, meaning carried out our basic human behaviors well-- differently? Then let's say we focused on applying the potential of that change in behavior on specific objectives (climate change, political shifts, water waste, days of random acts of kindness, What if instead of turning on the water to full open, we habitually opened it just an 1/8 or 1/4 turn etc.) The duration, of the perhaps daily world wide initiative, is open for now, but each day this event would occur. You could easily make this model data driven, regarding the impact-- for the world to see. We have seen glimmers of this such as World Peace Day. How long would it take to have an impact on the "scale" of the UID initiative in India, where their registration is up to nearly 1 billion over just two years (granted that discussion and its implications are debatable on either side). Why are we not doing such things? Could we accelerate the change in overall behavior?

As a cost benefit analysis we could use a portion of the resources saved that could then be reallocated to the neediest people as a form of redistribution. While this could require a massive logistical challenge, perhaps we could find a way to scale it so that the meaning were not lost.

What is it about human nature that often decimates the idea of self preservation relative to the way we view our resources; whether it is our personal energies (more people being more kind) or our attitude towards our natural resources? Are the folkways and mores ingrained in such a way that deviating at this point in humanity creates a threat that deters us from doing what is most right relative to humanity's sense of wellness?

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    Gail .

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    Feb 27 2013: I personally do not turn my faucet on low for the benefit of the world because it would make no difference. The world is owned by profit-seekers. In the USA, a growing number of faucets are being turned into blow torches through a process called fracking (for natural gas). A growing number of irreplaceable aquifers are being polluted through poor farming methods. Global warming (that is at least partly caused by air pollution) is drying up water sources. Overpopulation is siphoning off much more. If we were all to use less water, the water companies' profits would decrease, so they would raise prices to keep profits growing in order to keep CEOs and investors happy.

    It's not just the USA (but it's not all countries). Look at Israel, that in a treaty agreed to drill for water in the West Bank - with all thinking that the water would go to Palestinians, but it didn't say so. So the water is sent to Israel proper and those Jewish settlements who use it to fill swimming pools that poor Palestinians must walk past as they carry their empty jugs to the public spigot that is sometimes miles away. Meanwhile, Israel's own aquifers are being preserved for Israel in the name of national security. Water has been weaponized.

    And that's just the water. Now look at topsoil. 99.7 percent of human food comes from cropland, which is shrinking by more than 10 million hectares a year (almost 37,000 square miles) due to soil erosion - again caused by poor farming methods by mega corporately owned farms, that value profits more than human life. That this occurs during global warming and skyrocketing population is abysmal.

    You asked, "what is it about human nature ...". It's not about human nature. It's about our culture. It values money more than it values human life. It's not the same in ALL countries.

    Get rid of money (in all its forms, including barter) and private land ownership, and most of the problems you worry about will disappear.
    • Feb 27 2013: Hey Lover and good morning

      Wow, not do something that is right, doesn't take a lot of effort, and makes at sense, because it doesn't make a difference based on everyone else's behavior-- that line of reasoning holds substance. If you see someone about to die and everyone else is walking by, would you do the same. And by the way such events have occurred. A rape case in NYC and another in California; in both instances bystanders did nothing despite the cries for help. I would never stand by, not if I could change the outcome regardless of how little. I heard a quote that I love a few years ago "... as long as there is a 1% chance, we will give 100% effort"

      That being said; I here you on the fracking related to aquifers, our deteriorating air quality, soil erosion, and the Palestinian struggle; all of these are excellent points. I am familiar with the study that came out of Cornell University regarding top soil erosion rates 10 times that of the replenishment that can take some 20 years. I would add that each is contingent upon someone deciding to take action and being leader to initiate change. We are each active agents in change. The determination in our spirit sways the outcome in our world. When we develop a kernel of knowledge, we must then decide how it will help us act; it can increase our ability to act or have not impact at all.

      The larger question as I read over your points is how do we then scale up? Where do our alliances lie that would support that upscaling? How do we ensure it's sustainable design and permanence?

      We have been disenchanted by the inactivity of government's ineffectual performance. Fracking continues to deteriorate our natural resources. The EPA reported that 2,221 million metric tons of carbon dioxide were released in 2011. While these figures are down over 2010; we can expect more not less NG drilling as well as that of coal. Of sorts it is a catch 22, remove the dependency on foreign oil-- mmmm ok but ...
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        Gail .

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        Feb 27 2013: We need an entire overhaul of our social structure. But our government systems make us enemies of one another - distrustful on one hand, and willing to sell fracking rights that destroy their neighbors' water on the other.

        With a different social glue (and money IS a social glue), rape, murder, & muggings, etc., would begin diminishing almost immediately - to the point of nearly gone in relatively short order. Such violence is spawned by fear and a perceived need to deny that by overpowering others. (My opinion).

        I do have hope though. No, I have certainty. Our social fabric is disintegrating. Our monetary paradigm (that rewards harming humanity, nations, communities, neighborhoods, and families) is collapsing. When it all comes crashing down (the Humpty Dumpty effect), then people will open their eyes to a new way.

        While all that we know is rotting before our eyes, there is something profoundly beautiful that is growing in its place. It's not an organized movement, but it is movement. It is a worldview that is not based on the vulnerability of the individual; but rather, on the invincibility and power of the individual to use "mind" (mind power) to fill all wants and needs. It is based on the amazing discoveries now being made in quantum mechanics, but it has also been handed down through generations - known as the ancient arts.

        Within this worldview (on a substrate) is the mandate that one must treat others as one wants to be treated, because how we treat others is an indication of what we are manifesting in our own lives. Actions have consequences, so to manifest the most beautiful consequences, one must discover that which is most beautiful about self. This precludes violence and tyranny.

        when religion and $$$ fail, I believe that the God-believers will finally see the light, and believe what Jesus said" You are gods - the light of the world. All that you ask is given. (so if U don't like what U have, examine what you are asking for).
  • Feb 27 2013: "believe that others do not..." I never said or suggested such a thing. You're making a blanket statement-- political positioning (lol) I am much more humble than that my dear FR. Sure there are lots of people doing good things, I never debated that; it should be obvious that we are generalizing and postulating on that which is not occurring by those who are not doing. :-) The variance is significant enough that it warrants conversation, not that no one cares.
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      Feb 27 2013: It was this paragraph in your posing of the question that had given me this impression: "What is it about human nature that often decimates the idea of self preservation relative to the way we view our resources; whether it is our personal energies (more people being more kind) or our attitude towards our natural resources? Are the folkways and mores ingrained in such a way that deviating at this point in humanity creates a threat that deters us from doing what is most right relative to humanity's sense of wellness?" and "Why are we not doing such things?" in the first paragraph.

      No political positioning, just trying to understanding what you were getting at.
  • Feb 27 2013: I could not agree with you more Lover. And yes the stage is being set for religion; "...Change-Gonna-Coooome" as the song goes.

    The fabric of our society is in the midst of evolving to another level as we look at and understand what we are up against. The velocity of change cannot resist the thrust of evolutionary reactants. Hopefully the right people with be there to help ensure it well being.
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    Feb 27 2013: In an ancient Indian kingdom a king wanted a milk lake. He got it dug by great labor and asked his subjects to pour a jug of milk in it by the end of night so that next morning the milk lake could come up. Next morning he saw a huge lake but not of milk, of water. Everyone thought his/her jug of water will not be noticed in so much milk.
  • Feb 27 2013: Hey George,

    I am not an advocate of big government but it would be nice to have an effective government. And despite my feelings against war, your service is appreciate. Values are important and the fact that you could be in Japan and appreciate some of their values says something about your ability to go beyond personal prejudice. To me it says something about shifting our everyday behaviors.

    What law are you speaking to when you say we should pass a law.
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    Feb 27 2013: TED Lover raises a good point. While many people live their lives in a way that follows their conscience as to what is best for the world, regardless of what those around them are doing, there are also people who do not do what they would otherwise believe to be the right thing, if they believe others are not doing the right thing.

    There are people, for example, who will litter or cheat or use more than their share of things, because they think everyone else does it. also.

    There is a concept in game theory called the Prisoner's Dilemma that captures this idea.

    In yesterday's TED conference, singer and anti-poverty advocate, Bono, shared data he argued were very important for people to see far and wide. He shared what the data say about the tremendous inroads that have been made in the areas of reducing the percentage of people with malaria, HIV, and nutrition difficiencies in the most impoverished parts of the world, including sub-sahara Africa. He made a case for sharing these results widely because he beieves that misimpressions in this area cause people to believe mistakenly that what they do will not make a difference.(See data at

    Banerjee and Duplo of the Poverty Action Lab at MIT share results of an experiment in which they show that individual generosity or sacrifice is strongly related to the impact people expect their efforts may have.
  • Feb 27 2013: ...we also need a plan that works. If I can't count on the people that are doing the job, then I will have to decide to either do the job (not employment wise) myself or let the issue go. Either way, we have to determine what type of contributor we want to be-- or become
  • Feb 27 2013: There seems to be ways things get done. In America someone says we should pass a law. Once people said we are progressives and.... Now it's - We are conservatives, and I am against big government, and we should pass a law ...... The other way is cultural. We once did that in America too - Okay I guess we still do but there is always someone..... I spent a year in the Okinawa Profecture of Jaqpan during my three years on active duty as a Marine officer. That seems to work pretty well - culture - in parts of Asia. The criminal lawyers would have been fairly hungry if it weren't for mainly our Marines and to a lesser extent the American airman on the island. I did enjoy working in Japanese Jurisdiction and we all noticed how well family values and culture worked for our hosts.
  • Feb 26 2013: I live my life in this way every day. As I go through life, I constantly ask myself what I can do to be a better human being. I am about as unrestricted as one might hope to be by many standards. I do morning meditations, have learned to work out not because of my appearance but because I want to honor the capacities of my mental and physical being. Despite being part of certain environments I frequently go outside the tradition. You might learn a bit more about me by reading my blog (

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      Feb 27 2013: Ah, so you do live as you describe but believe others do not take the same opportunities or are as thoughtful as you are about being better people.
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    Feb 26 2013: Scotland, perhaps you could turn this question to yourself. How are you personally making an effort to do what you do differently, to be more kind or conserving? If you are not doing as much as you think you should, why not? What folkways and mores constrain you?