I will explain to you how being cut off from the natural world can cause depression.
Isabel Behncke in Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression—And the Unexpected Solutions by Johann Hari

I took a trip to East Africa for 18 days of wildlife photography in Kenya and Tanzania. The animals were excited, spirited, and expressive — they ran, jumped, hunted, and played. A pride of lazy lions slept and sunned themselves while mischievous cubs played and irritated their elders who cuffed them gently. Large groups of giraffes loped gracefully across the plains.

Two or three cheetahs quietly stalked gazelles. A silent leopard carried a young wildebeest into a tree to feast on for the next two or three days. Elephants lumbered in front of a gigantic and snow-covered Mount Kilimanjaro as filled with excitement, I fumbled with my camera. The daily drama for food played itself out in front of us. What an authentic and powerful place this is.

I observed how life in the Ngorongoro Crater, a collapsed volcano with steep walls, had evolved and cooperated so all of the elements fit together to create a balanced whole — an ecosystem upon itself.

I watched the chaos of the annual wildebeest migration as hundreds of thousands of animals chased the rain. I began to sense the underlying order, programmed genetically over thousands of years, of their seemingly insane behavior. Hundreds of thousands of wildebeest births occur over three weeks during the annual migration to water. This mass birth preserves the species, for predators cannot kill that many young before they can care for themselves.

Wildlife photographer Mitsuaki Iwago calls this underlying order “Okite — a law of natural life that’s neither glamorous nor indulgently savage.” Nature adapts and designs and all of life plays an authentic role, with an unimaginable intelligence. Order exists beneath chaos — observable, in part, to the mindful. I wondered if the rich diversity of Africa will survive humankind’s abuse, greed, ignorance, and arrogance. I hope so but am doubtful.

When I got home, I visited a zoo and the animals looked different to me: They looked depressed: lethargic, dispirited. Parrots may pull their feather out; horses may start swaying; elephants may grind their tusks down. Many animals lose their desire to have sex, hence the difficulty of breeding in captivity. Africa showed me the authentic life of animals free in their natural environment. I wish we didn’t have zoos that take the life of the animals.

Do humans become more anxious and depressed when they don’t spend time in nature? Many studies tell us we do. And, conversely, depressed people show dramatic improvement when they spend time in nature. We are animals too and need time in nature if we want to be healthy. We need to move. We need to feel alive!

Isabel Behncke said that we create our own mental and physical zoos that keep us captive. Being deprived of natural settings, we can become prisoners of our egos. Our problems seem bigger than they are; our thoughts consume us. Being out in nature, we experience awe: we feel the largeness of the cosmos. We feel our connections with everything around us. Our perspectives change. Our egos shrink. Nature helps us be healthy.

Anne Lindbergh told the story of Andre Gide who was traveling fast through the jungles of Africa. One morning the native guides sat in a circle and refused to leave the camp. When Gide urged them to get moving they looked at him and with firmness said, “Don’t hurry us-we are waiting for our souls to catch up with us.” We need to learn to be present at the moment and be part of and learn from nature. My brother hikes mountain trails and says he does mindful walks: One mile per hour. His photos show his detailed awareness of the natural world.

During the past year of captivity due to Covid-19, I walked in the house. It was good for me. But, I didn’t feel alive. I was doing a task. I couldn’t wait to finish each day. The last few weeks, I walked outside, and I could feel the positive contrast.
I felt alive.


Martin Luther King Jr. once argued that sin is buried so deep in the human soul that sweet words are insufficient to get people to give up their unjust power. “Instead of assured progress in wisdom and decency,” he wrote, “man faces the ever-present possibility of a swift relapse not merely to animalism, but into such calculated cruelty as no other animal can practice. David Brooks, NY Times, 9/4/20

I published this blog on January 30, 2017

I tossed and turned. I thought I was awake. I was lost in the dark movie in my mind. An inner voice told me I was dreaming; the images in the darkness told me the nightmare was real. Everything in my dream was dark. Hollow men came and went in the shadows. I felt angry, scared, and sad.

It was Friday, October 30, 2020, just after the television national news and just four days before the presidential election. President Trump, fearing the loss of the election to Democrat, former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, broke into television coverage and announced that due to massive voter fraud and terrorist threats he was postponing the November 3, 2020, national elections. He called on his followers to stay alert for subversives. 

To defend against terrorists and keep order in urban areas, he nationalized local police departments and the National Guard. He filled the police departments of our largest cities with law enforcement “consultants” to keep order—primarily by suspending the civil rights of citizens. He named Fox News, the only reliable source of news other than Trump himself, as the network of the White House. 

Citing the dishonest and subversive media, all other networks were taken off the air and guarded by the thousands of border patrol agents, added to protect our borders and now Trump’s police force. His generals, now leading all Cabinet departments, took charge of the government and military. 

He long ago gained control of the fossil fuel industry through bribes and threats. Oil and natural gas would be rationed—to distract and control people–until further notice. Congress, led by moral cowards and Trump enablers Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, would report to deplorable Vice President Mike Pence who would continue to lead domestic policy against women, nonwhites, and the LGBT community–anyone different from old, rich white men. 

The hijacking of Democracy in America—led by Republicans and long in the process–was over by 10:00 pm Eastern time. Newt Gingrich smiled—he started it all long ago. Rudy Giuliani jumped, waved his arms, and screeched like a crazed chimpanzee. Sarah Palin lapsed into her best Tina Fey impersonation. Chris Christie, long forgotten, thought to himself: “That could be me.” 

America fell from greatness because citizens went to sleep.

Everything was so obvious in hindsight. The images filled my dream-state.

The pattern had become obvious and routine: Trump went off on someone on Twitter, wrote outrageous things, people responded with outrage and then calmed down until the next time. He ranted and raved against the dishonest and corrupt media daily. Over and over he lambasted phony polls and voter fraud. 

He lied about successes and blamed others for failures. He was a master at manipulating and exploiting the fears, losses, and anxiety of followers. He made everyone who opposed him into a scapegoat and blamed them for his bad behavior. His ego grew, bigger and bigger. His fantasies—stoked by alt-right forces in the White House–grew more grandiose: only he could lead America. 

His followers believed everything he said. He had invited them to feel better by harming others and they felt important and powerful. Many citizens had become desensitized to Trump. Or maybe they were tired from the constant chaos of Trump or just couldn’t care anymore. Few people demonstrated against him anymore and those who did risked jail, assaults, beatings, and even death from roving bands of Trump followers.

I woke up, cleared my head, and realized that I had been dreaming—a dark night of the soul it was.

Thank God, nothing like my dream could happen in America.

September 5, 2020

The big story yesterday (Sept. 4, 2000) was an article by esteemed reporter Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic about Trump’s disparaging soldiers who gave their lives in service to America. He called them “losers and suckers.” He also said he didn’t want disabled veterans at military parades. The Washington Post and Fox News confirmed the story, and the Associated Press confirmed part of it. I expect more stories will come out and more witnesses and news outlets will confirm the stories.

Trump, who lies more than he tells the truth, denied the story. Most damning was the silence of General James Mattis retired Marine Corps General and Secretary of Defense under Trump, and Marine Corps General and former Trump Chief of Staff John Kelly. No support for Trump from them.

Trump spent last week inflaming violence in the streets under the guise of being the law and order president. What a joke! He’s a lawless president surrounded by many lawless punks in and out of government. Everything we see in him shows us but the tip of the iceberg: when he is out of office, investigators will need years to find all of his and their corruption and misdeeds.

Every week he ignores the Covid 19 pandemic. So far, over six-million cases and close to 200,000 deaths in six months. Tens of thousands of deaths can be attributed to his quackery and failure to lead the nation through this crisis. This is the worst failure of any president in American history.

Trump has failed to lead Congress to an agreement on a financial package to help people, cities, and states survive the financial costs of the pandemic.

The economy suffers; almost 14 million people out of work. Forty-two million citizens suffer from hunger. Meanwhile, Trump golfs and Mitch McConnell sends the Senate on vacation for weeks.

Trump is a racist and doesn’t try to deny it anymore. The protests in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Portland, Oregon, and Kenosha, Wisconsin were about police killing black men and about racism in America. CNN reports 93% of the protests were peaceful. Some became destructive often flamed by racist groups encouraged by Trump.

We see Donald Trump’s America. We could go on and on about his failures as a person and as a president. He wants to be reelected as “only” he can fix the crisis. Really? He created this America with lots of help from Republicans. He cannot fix himself or what he has done to America. He can only make it worse.

With the conventions over, Joe Biden has gone on the offensive against Trump and his failures. His speeches touch us. He cares and models compassion. His secret: being himself. Some say they like Trump because he is authentic. The only thing authentic about him is that he models and encourages the dark side of America.

More and more I read articles about trump stealing the election and refusing to leave the White House. His words and actions show his intent. His ego can do nothing else. I am sure he will do whatever he can do—legal and illegal—to be reelected.

I’m not as worried about the military as my dream feared.  Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley: I believe deeply in the principle of an apolitical U.S. military, In the event of a dispute over some aspect of the elections, by law, U.S. courts and the U.S. Congress are required to resolve any disputes, not the U.S. military. I foresee no role for the U.S armed forces in this process. Of course, there is no guarantee of anything when chaos emerges.

We need a record turnout on Election Day. In swing states, you might pack your lunch and dinner and be prepared for a long day. Those who mail in their votes should do so as early as possible as Trump has destroyed the integrity of the Post Office.

Massive peaceful demonstrations for racial equality and an honest election should continue and grow. Destruction and violence only help Trump. If there ever is a time for Americans to demonstrate peacefully, it is now.

First returns may show Trump with a big lead because more Republicans will vote in person, and more Democrats will mail their ballots. It may take some days for the mail-in ballots to be counted. Republicans may claim victory to sow chaos and confusion. Remember, chaos comes to order quickly. I believe the Democratic Party will be as ready as possible to deal with many different scenarios. We each must do what we can to elect Joe Biden—the contrast between him and Trump stuns me. We can all lead and contribute to our unique ways.

But we need more.

We also need extraordinary women and men who go far beyond everyday leadership. People, who move through the chaos with courage, maintain their ideals, carry our hope, and reflect the deep potential within each of us. I learned as a child that patriotism is the love of our country and devotion to the ideals we believe in. Patriots are people who sacrifice and act courageously for their country. I loved America, but never thought of myself as a patriot—that title was reserved for those who sacrificed greatly for the rest of us—usually on the battlefield.

Somehow over the years the definition and symbols of patriotism changed for some to a narrow and shallow aberration disrespectful to true patriots: tough talk, lapel pins, polarization, empty swagger, artificial conflicts, a “my country right or wrong” mentality, and a refusal to admit mistakes or errors of policy.

Today, I  believe that each of us can be a patriot. We need patriots who love our country and believe in our Constitution to lead the way. They will be of every color and nationality. They will be from every age group. They will be rich and poor. They will be students and CEOs. Some will be well known; most will be everyday people. They will emerge from the chaos and self organize around the vision of the Great Experiment of American Democracy.

The election transcends political parties and personal wants: the election is about the idea and the soul of America.

Trump will be the loser and those devoted to him will be the suckers.


December 16, 2020

The American people rose to the occasion and voted in record numbers on November 3, 2020. Joe Biden became the president-elect and Kamala Harris became the vice-president-elect. Trump claimed voter fraud and that he had won the election. More than 50 lawsuits were filed in swing states. They were rejected at every level, including the Supreme Court. New heroes and heroines emerged across the states, and they ensured that the votes were counted accurately and that our laws were followed. Trump used his false claims to get money from mindless followers. On December 14, 2020, the Electoral College cast its votes formalizing Biden’s & Harris’s victory. Trump still hasn’t acknowledged that he lost. His ego cannot handle being a loser. We expect more craziness from him and his followers. But, for sure, on January 20, 2021, Trump will be gone.

Our Founders are proud of America.


By limiting Donald’s access to his feelings and rendering many of them unacceptable, Fred perverted his son’s perception of the world and damaged his ability to live in it. 

Mary Trump in Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.

After four months, America remains in the first wave of the spread of the Coronavirus. We have more cases and more deaths than any other country. Most of the rest of the world quarantined and opened cautiously. They are doing well.

Not us: Trump proclaimed himself in charge. He failed in wishing the virus away and then suddenly abdicated his leadership responsibility after making a fool of himself in his daily press conferences. Every step of the way, his decisions and actions killed more citizens he vowed to protect. He continues his monumental failure of leadership. Probably the worst failure of leadership in American history.

Trump turned responsibility for the virus over to governors so he could blame them if things didn’t go well. Then he tried to control what decisions they made. Hadn’t they long ago learned Trump’s games to protect himself from responsibility and accountability?

Trump pressured red state governors, and the idiots opened their states for business too soon, and the pandemic spread like wildfire. He and his minions didn’t grasp the reality that we won’t restore the economy until the virus is manageable. And, now Trump wants states and communities to open schools too fast to make himself look good. His ego battles the pandemic. He will lose.

Republicans are more a morally nihilistic cult than a political party. They seem willing to destroy the nation to cling to power. Everything is about Trump, the cult leader. Trump controls Senators, Governors, and Representatives with threats and bribes. Others are just bad people freed by Trump to be themselves.

Republicans are afraid of him: they don’t want to be demonized by him and cast out of the cult by his base. They seek not to be outstanding in real ways but to fit in.  They lie, cheat, and steal for him, remain silent when they should speak up, and some begin to act like him in his worst ways. They sold their souls to the devil. Meanwhile, Trump goes golfing.

No one has to go against their values to fit in. We each have a choice to live value-driven and purposeful lives or not.

Today, the South and West (mostly the Red States who followed Trump’s direction) are in crisis, and the rest of the country may follow soon. Testing, which Trump doesn’t want because more cases make him look bad, is a mess. Essential supplies for caregivers run short again. He attacks science and our leading scientist Anthony Fauci because Fauci is more popular than he is. The economy, which has marginally improved, is at risk as the virus spreads faster than ever.  Worst of all: Trump aided by Republicans in government are killing Americans and don’t seem to care. The hollow president is incapable of empathy and compassion.

Trump openly reveals his racism and his support of white nationalists. He re-fights the Civil War, memorializes those who committed treason against America, and divided Americans over wearing masks, which leads to more suffering and death.

He took control of virus data from the CDC. He won’t be able to resist corrupting the data. He sends unidentified and untrained federal troops to Portland, OR, and they pick people up off the streets and violate their civil and constitutional rights. Trump wants violence so he can “dominate the streets” and show us how tough he is. He cuts postal budgets to slow mail delivery so that mail-in ballots can be late. We can see these decisions and behaviors as they happen. Imagine what is going on below the surface in the Trump White House. But then, he told the nation he “takes no responsibility.” At times, he is incoherent and can’t string two sentences together.

By the way, Russia allegedly paid the Taliban bonuses for killing Americans. Not a word from Trump. What’s the deal with him & Putin? Our intelligence services say Russia and China are trying to meddle in our election. Not a word from Trump who appreciates their help.

We’ve watched the cult make horrible decisions, say stupid things, say nothing when they should stand up and speak up, and take the wrong actions. They became part of Trump’s extended dysfunctional clan. After years of seeing who he is, the citizens who will still vote for Trump are now part of the problem.

Character is the first criteria for leadership. The Republican Party marginalized character, and the results are disastrous. I won’t follow them.

Much of our “disconnect in life” is caused by men because we raise little boys to grow up to be disconnected adults. Our mechanistic worldview teaches us people are separate and distinct from nature and others. This philosophy of life teaches us we can disconnect from our spirit and emotions and use our rational minds only. This worldview entitles us to control and dominate nature and others. We believe we are responsible for ourselves (unless, like Trump, you blame your actions on others), and others must fend for themselves. The fittest survive, and the rest must be deficient in some way.

Success and advancement often go to the manipulators and, those most ruthless, not the most caring, creative, or competent. Interactions with others are often dishonest, conforming, competitive, paternalistic, and politically correct. Often we create enemies who we demonize and scapegoat to justify our bad behavior. Such beliefs alienate us from others and ourselves and allow us to harm people with no sense of personal responsibility. We need a new worldview.

The level of abuse and violence perpetrated by men on nature, women, children, and upon each other is so apparent, and so staggers the soul. How we raise little boys is a topic to discuss. Little boys do not get to choose the system they grow up within. But as grown men, we are responsible for ourselves and our behavior, and we can decide to change our beliefs and assumptions about how to live on our threatened planet.

Our most immediate national problem is Donald Trump. He must go before we can save and transform America. Part of the transformation will be to deal with the deeper issues in American from which Trump emerged.

Joe Biden had it right when he said we are in a fight for the nation’s soul.

The Coronavirus, climate change, racial strife, and economic failure call us to wake up. The murder of George Floyd by police officers on the street in Minneapolis pained and opened the eyes of millions of Americans. We feel new energy.

Seize the moment America, shed light on the darkness and create a new America.


This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. The Dalai Lama

The Coronavirus, economic collapse, and the murder of George Floyd by a policeman on the streets of Minneapolis exposed the hollow man Donald Trump.

In real-time, these crises revealed the real Donald Trump: lies, racism, blaming, bullying, ignorance, incompetence, and no caring or compassion for others. He has no substance—everything is appearances created by lies and staged photo ops. He’s a hollow man who hides behind his lies and delusions. Through these crises, we watched him unravel and retrogress. I am so tired of Donald Trump and everything about him.

Not all but many of Trump’s followers are part of the racial problem. Many are alienated from nature, from one another, and from themselves. They cling to delusions taught them by Fox News and conservative talk radio. They want to fight the Civil War again. For them, only white men matter. The insanity we see from the Republican Party is the externalization of a loss of vision, a failure of purpose, and a collapse of values. Their worldview no longer solves our problems, yet they cling to it. The protesters have a different worldview. A worldview in which all people matter.

Those Republicans who are not racists, need to stand up for equality and justice for all. To not do so is to become part of the problem.

The murder of George Floyd was the last straw.

On May 25, 2020, Americans watched as a policeman murdered George Floyd. Three other officers aided and abetted. Floyd’s crime? Allegedly he tried to pass a counterfeit $20 bill—hardly, if true, a significant crime.

The officers were aggressive from the start of the encounter. Too aggressive for the situation. They pulled a gun and handcuffed him. They took him to the ground, and one officer put his knee on Floyd’s neck and pressed down for more than eight minutes. Floyd said, “I cannot breathe.” He pled for his life, he called for his mother, and he died.

The four officers sit in jail cells—one charged with second-degree murder, and three with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

Noble laureate and Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel wrote: We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Whenever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must—at that moment—become the center of the universe.

Demonstrations spread throughout America. Trump wanted the military to occupy many cities (mostly Blue states) and “dominate” the protesters. He hid in a bunker in the White House–already one of the most fortified places in the world. He reeked of racism and showed himself as anti-human.

James Mattis, former Defense Secretary, wrote: I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled. The words “Equal Justice Under Law” are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation.

As the next few days passed, something changed in the hearts of the good people of America. We could see and feel it.

The demonstrators were energized, and they formed organically. Leaders emerged and others led as the circumstances changed. Different groups came together as one. Chaos quickly came to order.

A new encompassing feeling grew each day as the protesters self-organized around common values, a shared vision, and diversity: a massive spiritual awakening—an expansion of consciousness—an expression of America’s desire for justice and equality for all.

Peaceful demonstrators bore witness to evil and injustice. People experienced the life of others and were compassionate. Protesters felt alive. Indifference was no more.

The place where Floyd died became a shrine for him and justice. Massive protests continue today (June 7, 2020). We live in a painful, exciting, bewildering, and frightening time. A good time for transformational change in America.

Donald Trump will lie, cheat, and use threats, defiance, and strong-arm tactics to rig the Presidential Election on November 3, 2020.

Robert Greenleaf wrote in Servant Leadership that there will always be people like Trump. They aren’t the problem; the problem is the good people who have gone to sleep. Have enough awakened to join with others already aware to bring about such a value-driven renewal?

I hope all of us do what we can to transform America: guns, racism, immigration, climate change, income inequality, our corrupt political system, and how we treat one another.

On June 3, 2020, Former Secretary of Defense, James Mattis wrote to The Atlantic

Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens, to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.”

As Mattis wrote, the transformation of a nation will be hard. Many or most people will understandably be skeptical that real change can happen. But it can be done. There will be losses and disappointments, and we will grow impatient. Activists will be demonized and called names. People will get hurt. Armed White Nationalists, a malignancy in America that needs to be healed, already take to the streets, and some police have used unprovoked violence against non-violent protesters.

Alvin Toffler wrote: Humanity faces a quantum leap forward. It faces the deepest social upheaval and creative restructuring of all time. Without clearly recognizing it, we are engaged in building a remarkable new civilization from the ground up.

If we stay united and remain committed, we can be part of the upheaval. We can make America just and good. George Floyd would like that. The alternative is a further collapse of America with injustice for all.

Please keep the pressure on and demand change and accountability.


America feels like it is unraveling.

The Fourth Turning 

William Strauss & Neil Howe


We live in difficult times. I wrote this piece in 2010. Looking back ten years, we can see how prescient William Strauss and Neil Howe were and what American history and deeper patterns of change can teach us.

 In The Fourth Turningauthors William Strauss and Neil Howe identified a recurrent pattern in American history: America transforms herself about every 80 to 100 years. Four turnings each about two decades in length—make up a cycle that comprises history’s seasonal rhythms of growth, maturation, and entropy.

The fourth Turning:

The First Turning is a High: an upbeat era of strengthening institutions and weakening individualism, where a new civic order implants and the old values regime decays. In the current cycle, the First Turning was the American High of the Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy presidencies.

The Second Turning is an Awakening: a passionate era of spiritual upheaval, when the civic order comes under attack from a new values regime. The Second Turning was the Consciousness Revolution, stretching from the campus revolts of the mid-1960s to the tax revolts of the early 1980s.

 The Third Turning is an Unraveling: a downcast era of strengthening individualism and weakening institutions, when the old civic order decays and the new values regime implants. The Third Turning has been the Cultural Wars, an era that began with Reagan’s mid-1980s morning in America and is due to expire around the middle of the Oh-Oh (2000’s) decade….

The Fourth Turning is a Crisis: a decisive era of secular upheaval when the values regime propels the replacement of the old civic order with a new one. The Fourth Turning is history’s great discontinuity. It ends one epoch and begins another.

Strauss and Howe:

The next Fourth Turning is due to begin shortly after the new millennium, midway through the Oh-Oh decade. Around the year 2005, a sudden spark will catalyze a Crisis mood. Remnants of the old social order will disintegrate. Political and economic trust will implode. Real hardship will beset the land, with severe distress that could involve questions of class, race, nation, and empire. Yet this time of trouble will bring seeds of social rebirth. Americans will share regret about recent mistakes—and a resolute new consensus about what to do. The very survival of the nation will feel at stake. Sometime before the year 2025, America will pass through a great gate in history, commensurate with the American Revolution, Civil War, and twin emergencies of the Great Depression and World War II.

The risk of catastrophe will be very high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically, or succumb to authoritarian rule. If there is a war, it is likely to be one of maximum risk and effort—in other words, a total war.

Yet Americans will also enter the Fourth Turning with a unique opportunity to achieve a new greatness as a people. America’s post-Crisis answers will be as organically interconnected as today’s pre-Crisis questions seem hopelessly tangled. By the 2020s, America could become a society that is good by today’s standards, and also one that works.

The rhythms of history do not reveal the outcome of the coming crisis; all they suggest is the timing and dimension. Thus might the next Fourth Turning end in apocalypse—or glory.

Today, in 2010, now already into the Fourth Turning, we share the sense that America is coming apart; a mood of crisis engulfs us. Few trust leaders, institutions, or government. The great spirits at all levels throughout our nation who strive to move America forward face vicious resistance from those wedded to a world view that can no longer solve problems. Americans face economic hardship not experienced since the great depression. Two wars will not end well. Politicians don’t even talk about war or energy policy as they campaign for the November 2010 mid-term elections. Neither political party knows what to do. Yet they desperately seek power. We spiral downward.

In 1997 Strauss and Howe described present-day (2010) America accurately, except we do not yet have a new consensus about what to do. In 2010, we are more polarized than ever, our politics more extreme, entitlement reigns strong, our sense of community weak, and our desire for a quick-fix more addictive than ever. Many Americans remain in denial about our many challenges.

Nihilistic Americans want to say “NO” to the transitions we must make. Heavily invested in ways of doing things that benefit them but no longer solve our national problems, they slow America’s evolution. Frozen in fear and denial, they long for a romanticized time that never existed; we cannot live life in reverse. We can only go forward into the unknown of the future. These people need to believe in values beyond themselves.

Other Americans want a hero to rescue them; they are irresponsible and immature. They don’t understand that real change is hard and calls for them to engage, sacrifice, and be patient and persistent. They need to find their courage and strength.

Strauss and Howe:

History offers even more sobering warnings: Armed confrontation usually occurs around the climax of crisis. If there is confrontation, it is likely to lead to war. This could be any kind of war—class war, sectional war, war against global anarchists or terrorists, or superpower war. If there is war, it is likely to culminate in total war, fought until the losing side has been rendered nil—its will broken, territory taken, and leaders captured. And if there is total war, it is likely that the most destructive weapons available will be deployed.

With or without war, American society will be transformed into something different. The emergent society may be something better, a nation that sustains it Framers’ visions with a robust new pride. Or it may be something unspeakably worse. The Fourth Turning will be a time of glory or ruin.

All of life is interconnected, intertwined, and interdependent—far too complex for anyone to know what will happen and what further dynamics will be set off by what does occur. Other nations have their cycles of change, as does our planet. We are not separate from other countries or nature.

We would be wise to walk boldly into the future. The given is that the global and national transformations brought forth by the seasons of life will occur. We cannot avoid them. The outcome of these transitions is still unknown. We cannot control outcomes; we can only influence them.

Our choice of leaders will affect the outcome of our Fourth Turning and the coming crisis that is the culmination of the last era and the birth of our next epoch. We will have crazy, immature, irresponsible, and even evil people and many rational, wise, sober, and spiritual people who will gain followers as they seek to lead us.  

But followers will have an even more significant influence on our future than the leaders they select. We are responsible for changing what we think about how to live on our planet and in America. Will we remain asleep, entitled, ignorant, and easily manipulated to vote against long-term self and national interest? Will we stay passive, helpless, and irresponsible victims of the tides of change?

Must we suffer even more significant loss as life drags us kicking and screaming to our next era? Or can we walk boldly and proactively into the unknown of the future?

Can we hear deep within us the call for the rebirth of America, and as Strauss and Howe wrote, where “the nation considered no obstacle too big, no challenge too great, no goal too distant, and no sacrifice too deep?”

We need a national “moment of authenticity” where together we shout “NO” to all the dark forces around us and speak up loudly for the best that is within us to come forth as we move to a new era for America.

See: Are We Ready to Change or Not?

See:  Leading in Chaos: Character Comes First


Man was born to turn the world into paradise, but tragically he was born flawed. And so his paradise has always been spoiled by stupidity, greed, destructiveness, and shortsightedness.

Daniel Quinn in Ishmael


Lester Brown of the Worldwatch Institute, Washington D.C., wrote, “A sustainable society is one that satisfies its needs without diminishing the prospects of future generations.”

Our most fundamental problem is that almost eight billion people (10 billion by 2050) are addicted to the consumption of our alive planet. We are consuming our biomass. We cannot sustain this growth.

Two immediate existential threats to life as we know it overshadows population growth.

Climate change has battered our denial for a long time. America’s president denies its existence. The loss of lives and the destruction of property from climate change continues and grows.

Today, we are consumed and quarantined by the COVID 19 pandemic, which spread over the planet in about eight short weeks. Our president denied that too, while the virus spread freely. People got sick and died while the president dawdled.

But this time is different: Coronavirus is in real-time, and we watch it unfold in front of us. The president cannot hide behind lies, distractions, and scapegoating. As COVID 19 silently spreads into the nooks and crannies of the planet, our president undoes environmental regulations that help us fight climate change. What goes on in his mind?

A “Call” is a summons to higher consciousness. America has come to a stop: a significant pause. What we see on our nightly news is our new America. The future is unknown.

Rollo May wrote in Freedom and Destiny,  “In the pause we wonder, reflect, sense awe, and conceive eternity. The pause is when we open ourselves for the moment to the concepts of both freedom and destiny.” I hope we use this pause to think, reflect, and ask ourselves what matters in our lives. John Stuart Mill wrote that no significant improvements could take place in the lives of people until a dramatic change takes place in how they think.

We need to think of our planet as an alive, interconnected, intertwined, and interdependent whole. We need to gain the humility to see that we are but one species more powerful but no better than any other species. We need to live in harmony with nature, not be at war with her. We need to mature. We need to learn how to live.

If we change, we will defend against the virus that threatens us today and those on the horizon, reinvent our economy, value diversity, restore American global leadership, and help save the planet from climate change. We will feel alive. We may experience a new renaissance of ideas and an indefinite future. If we don’t change how we live on our planet, the momentum that carries us to possible extinction may become too great to overcome.

Without change, nature will continue to try to get our attention. Each call will be more destructive than the previous one. Within 200 years, after unimaginable suffering and destruction, we may perish as a species or a few islands of prosperity and privilege may survive surrounded by a sea of misery and violence.

Pogo said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” It is past time to fundamentally change our relationship with nature, not by changing her, but by changing ourselves.

We need to listen to the calls of nature. We need a spiritual awakening, a moment of metanoia, a shift of mind. Scientist Rupert Sheldrake said, “It is like waking up from a dream. It brings with it a spirit of repentance, seeing in a new way. This conversion is intensified by the sense that the end of an age is at hand.”

We are responsible for our collective fate. The significant threats of climate change, deadly pandemics, population growth, species extinction, resource depletion, inequality, and global poverty have called for change for a long time. Are we ready to listen and to change how we live together on this planet?

The change will be difficult, but ease or difficulty is not the issue. The question is: are we ready to change or not? If we are ready, we will create a new vision for how we live on our planet. Let’s not go forward led by crazy people, those stuck in the past, those who profit from America’s decline, or those invested in failed ideas. That would be disastrous.

Whatever we do, something dramatic is going to happen. We will experience an evolutionary bounce or an evolutionary crash. We can choose to act or to be acted upon, and our choices will determine our destiny.


Leadership is about the character of a person: The intellectual and moral texture into which all our life long we have been weaving up the inward life that is in us (Oxford dictionary).

After the 2016 presidential election, someone asked how I made my decision on who to vote for. I replied that I assess a presidential candidate first by character and then by talent, experience, and policy positions.

A person of character models goodness: caring, empathy, and compassion for all of humanity. They are wise, brave, and emotionally mature. The character of a leader stands alone as the primary and essential requirement for presidential leadership. Donald Trump showed us no integrity as a candidate, and he has gone on to demonstrate his hollowness day after day for three years.

The Coronavirus threatens us. We see Trump try to lead the country in a real-time crisis. His performance does not inspire us as his deep flaws as a human being are illuminated. He’s not a person of character he’s not a leader, he’s not risen to the challenge, he has no moral authority, and he’s not worthy of our trust.

First, he denied the virus. Then he minimized the level of threat. A critical time for containing the virus was lost. He blamed others. He said he took no responsibility for the massive issues that face us and the nation’s lack of preparedness. He lied to us. He rates himself a “10” in his handling of the catastrophe. I don’t think so.

A reporter asked him what he would say to the millions of Americans who feel afraid—a softball of a question. This question was a perfect opportunity to connect with and speak from his heart to the American people. Instead, he angrily attacked the reporter and showed us that he is unable to speak from his heart or show empathy for suffering people.

D.H. Lawrence wrote that “the great virtue in life is real courage that knows how to face facts and live beyond them.”

Leaders of character like Governors Larry Hogan of Maryland, Gavin Newson of California, Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Andrew Cuomo of New York, Mike DeWine of Ohio, Jay Inslee of Washington State, and Tim Walz of Minnesota do not attempt to run and hide from painful truths or frantically conceal symptoms of systemic problems with lies, cosmetic solutions, and empty words. They face difficulty with moral courage and honesty and transform the dangers they see into creative actions. Each is a unique combination of an eco-warrior, a servant, an artist, a teacher, a facilitator, and a philosopher. They have risen to the occasion. We trust them and others who model for us how to lead in a crisis.

Perhaps the most exceptional leader in these times is Dr. Anthony Fauci: Trump lies and says idiotic things, and Dr. Fauci stands up and speaks the truth to Trump and the rest of us. Dr. Fauci puts his 80-year-old life at risk trying to eradicate the virus and mitigate suffering.

Under high stress, many people regress to earlier stages of their development. We can choose to reject that response. We everyday people can make significant contributions to the future of humanity by doing what we can, no matter how small, to stand tall against the pandemic.

No one will rescue us; God won’t save us. We are responsible. We can rise to the occasion by being our best selves.


In simple terms, chaos is order without predictability. That is, there are systems, physical and social, that are well understood and yet are fundamentally unpredictable. Thus, chaos is not anarchy or randomness. Chaos is order, but it is order that is invisible.  T.J. Cartwright


This piece, written in 1998, fits the times in which we live. Look for the dynamics all around us in the Coronavirus Pandemic that threatens us. I am heartened by the emerging leadership at all levels of our nation, the creativity of the people on the front lines, and the scientists we can trust and believe.

All living systems, including nature, families, organizations, institutions, and communities are chaotic. Chaos is creativity in process; the place between the breakdown of the old, and the formation of the new. Living systems interact internally and with their environment, connections are made, relationships are formed, information is created, and “choices” are made. This dynamic interaction is messy and constant.

Chaos is not the random, lawless, and meaningless behavior it appears to be. Instead, chaos is stable globally while unpredictable locally. The behavior we observe is bounded by invisible rules, and an overall pattern exists (a strange attractor). When we step back, observe over time, from different perspectives, and from multiple frames, the patterned order may be seen. Although specific behaviors cannot be predicted, if the rules were understood, the behavior would be understood.

The disturbance of chaos can be from near stable to incomprehensibly complex and energized. At the extremes of order and chaos, dynamics are counterproductive to the system. Too much order and change will not cross impermeable boundaries. Too much chaos and the system loses its organization. Along this continuum of chaotic behavior is a place called the “edge of chaos” a location of the maximized activity, balanced order and chaos, and enhanced creativity where new patterns, processes, and structures emerge from self-organization.

A chaotic system is sensitive to small changes. A slight difference at the beginning of a history can have a huge effect at the end of the history. This dynamic is called the “butterfly effect” the notion that a butterfly stirring the air today in Beijing can transform storm systems next month in New York ( formally called sensitive dependence on initial conditions). Butterfly effects, large and small, are prevalent throughout all scales of living systems and produce the rich diversity and creativity in natural systems.

On a human level chaos is present (metaphorically) as long as people are alive. Chaos is the space between endings and new beginnings. At first, this is a place of fear, anger, boredom, anxiety, loneliness, restlessness, a sense of inadequacy, and a loss of the familiar. Many of us try to avoid these feelings because we feel so uncomfortable. Avoidance is a mistake because this is the place and time of freedom where creativity can happen. This is an opportunity to grieve and wander, and a time to quest for a new vision for our lives.

The “edge of chaos” is entered into fully when new possibilities burst through the turmoil. Creativity is in full bloom, synchronicity abounds, and we feel fully alive. We forget ourselves and focus totally on what we are doing. We are in “flow,” and self-organize. The uncomfortable emotions are replaced by anticipation and excitement about new possibilities. Anxiety may be high “at the edge of chaos,” and we need to maintain our discipline and work through the fear. This is the emergence of new growth.

In organizations, chaos is the time when people feel crazy, confused, frustrated, and overwhelmed with data they don’t understand. Old ways of doing things don’t work anymore. The path forward is not clear. People try to return the organization to its comfort level. They clam up, seek experts, try to fix the turmoil, and do what is expected. They try to control others, events, and themselves and individual shadows become externalized. People hope for magic, lie to themselves, and look for quick-fixes.

This avoidance of chaos is a mistake. Organizations and people can get “stuck” in this ugly place and will die eventually. Transformation cannot occur without chaos; chaos is health. The task is to bring forth the emotion of the organization, to put people together with other people, and to provide and generate information. Creativity will emerge if people explore, receive constant feedback, sort out conflicting beliefs, and make choices.

For example, a self-managed team was in conflict and relationships and performance were suffering. I met with them. Afraid they would be criticized, they were apprehensive and distrustful. We talked for two hours we discussed feelings, shared information, confronted inauthentic behavior, and supported one another. Ideas came forth, and plans were made and responsibilities assigned. Pent-up energy was released. At the end of the meeting, everyone felt stimulated and enthusiastic; the team was ready to move forward. This intervention was not a quick-fix. The group worked through their differences and discovered new possibilities. Groups need help at times. This is a facilitation role for leaders to assume.

In organizations, we take advantage of the chaos by providing freedom, sharing information, having permeable boundaries, creating a deeply held and shared vision, and putting diverse and authentic people together in different settings. The many connections increase the possibility of “butterfly effects” in the direction of the shared vision. Experiments, trial and error, and mindfulness of opportunities result in disproportionate outcomes small actions lead to large changes. Leaders utilize judgment to amplify and dampen the “butterflies” that make a difference.

Absent freedom, information, shared vision, permeable boundaries, and participation, butterfly effects (and self-organization) will still happen, but the dynamic will be restricted, fragmented, and driven underground. Outcomes will probably be incongruent with the organization’s objectives. Under these conditions, the fears of letting go are realized.

How can we trust “letting go”? The study of self-organization teaches that when systems undergo a transformation, and behavior appears random, ordered patterns emerge, and they emerge quickly. Every organism, at every level, moves toward constructive fulfillment of the system’s inherent potentials. A natural tendency toward growth and development exists. Outcomes may not be what is expected—they probably will be better. On the other hand, the organization might get “hit by a train.” Life offers no guarantees, but proceeding in harmony with natural dynamics increases the probability of sustainability.

The leadership principle of chaos: Leaders welcome (and sometimes create) disturbance because they understand that creativity and order will not be far behind. They understand that the suppression of chaos, and the accompanying emotions, as taught by Newtonian thinking, is exactly the wrong thing to do. Leaders develop the skills to guide the “chaotic” process (and the accompanying anxiety). Leaders learn how to maximize creativity at the edge of chaos, are mindful of butterfly effects, and use judgment to know which butterfly effects to dampen and which to amplify. Then, they let go

PS: Bad people in positions of power can also create disturbances that self-organize around deluded, destructive, and dishonest values, visions, and purposes. Those people must be confronted and their lies and underlying motives illuminated. Our “war-time president” must be quarantined and his Twitter account deactivated. He is harming the efforts to defeat the virus.





But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change. With the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. Thomas Jefferson


This piece is the second of two posts on worldviews. The first was The Mechanistic Worldview.

The mechanistic worldview has exhausted its ability to solve our most complex and urgent problems. This worldview has been eclipsed by a more encompassing worldview, which I call the ecological worldview that offers new knowledge and understanding for solving the severe threats we face. The mechanistic worldview works for space travel, accounting systems, and other linear processes but not for living systems.

The destructiveness of the dark side of the incomplete mechanistic worldview is apparent. We watch climate change evolve and worsen before our eyes: species go extinct, and forests burn. Mass migrations begin and are met with violence. Droughts make life unlivable. People die. Republican politics and politicians regress: separating children from their parents at the Southern border: That’s not America. We see the decline of our institutions and the lack of integrity in many of our leaders. Corruption is the culture of the White House. Images of these things break our hearts. We live in fear and anxiety. Aggression surrounds us. And our president and Republicans in Congress deny or justify it.

America’s president is the personification of the dark side of the failed mechanistic worldview. Those who want to guzzle, raze, and reduce much of our world to ashes and wastelands for ego, money, power, and greed resist change mightily. When a worldview is in deep decline, and nothing can renew it, those invested in it eventually lie, cheat, and steal to maintain their power.

A significant minority of Americans support this destruction, somehow thinking that they will benefit from it. They are not thinking straight, and their ignorance, blindness, and false beliefs drag the country and their communities down. Robert Greenleaf wrote in The Servant Leader that the real enemy is fuzzy thinking of the part of good, intelligent, vital people…

We still have time to change our thinking and take dramatic actions to save the planet as we know it, but time is growing shorter faster than anticipated. Millions do think clearly and want transformative change. But we need more urgency. Every day of delay leads to enormous suffering, more annihilation, and makes transformation more unlikely.

Patterns of thinking hold us in their grip. If then, we want to change society, we must begin by changing the way that we think — Danah Zohar in the Quantum Society.

Our worldview will not be changed by those who cling to the problems we face. As long as they make money and hold power, the scoundrels will continue doing things they know are wrong. Our view of how life works most optimally will be changed by new thinking from new people.

America needs fresh people with new minds in power. This year’s elections allow us to elect new leaders who are younger, diverse, and with more women at all levels of government.

Changes in how we relate to the world.

Sit down before nature like a little child, and be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abyss Nature leads, or you shall learn nothing.
T.H. Huxley

The ecological worldview began to form with the discoveries of quantum theory early in the last century, followed by the learnings from the study of living systems. This worldview focuses on life itself and the relationships that connect all living things. The ecological worldview is striking in its similarity to the organic worldview of indigenous cultures, most of which were destroyed by the mechanical thinkers of our industrial world. Science is discovering what nonmoderns have known for thousands of years.

When we look through the lens of an ecological worldview, we see the world differently than when we look through a mechanical lens. Ethics, spirit, values, quality, deep awareness, and the five senses again matter. We have new thoughts, feelings, and will see transformative creative possibilities. We speak and write differently.

The universe is alive: a network of dynamic relationships that are interconnected and interdependent–not dead and mechanical. Betterment flows from the totality as the diverse elements interact and self-organize together in patterns that optimize and sustain the essence of the whole. We see life organically rather than mechanically. Change is not linear or mechanistic.

We need to think exponentially. We see networks, processes, patterns, beliefs, and relationships. We can influence events but cannot have total control, accurate prediction of distant events, or certainty. We must shift from unawareness to mindfulness of ourselves and the world around us. Chaos, paradox, and discontinuous change happen faster and faster. They require us to be mindful. Margaret Wheatley wrote, Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful. Absent awareness, we are lost.

The mechanistic worldview is an either/or world. Either/or thinking gives the illusion of control and stability. Dualistic thinking creates enemies, simplifies relationships unrealistically, and establishes boundaries to defend. Either/or thinking is not helpful in the world of quantum physics and living systems.

The ecological worldview is primarily a both/and world. We transcend fragmented parts with rigid boundaries and identify with a more inclusive whole, often with permeable boundaries. Both/and thinking provide space for our creative abilities and relationship skills. Humans are a presence in nature, just like the species of plants and animals. People are part of the unbroken whole–not separate, detached, and superior. This world is the alive and creative world of choices–a world of gray–a both/and world where little is certain.

This world was never as self-evident to me as the day I sat in a small boat in the Baja of California bobbing in light waves. I watched as a 40 foot long and 40-ton great gray whale surfaced beneath the boat and introduced her new child to the boat’s elated occupants. I peered into the large, serene eye of the mother and tried to imagine her life. Her gentle and knowing return of my enthusiastic reaction linked us in a mystical moment. I realized that in one slight movement, she could destroy the boat and kill its occupants. Instead, she chose to form a relationship with us. The mother and child floated with the boat for a few minutes. They allowed the exhilarated people to touch them and to lean over and kiss the barnacle-covered parent before mother and child submerged and disappeared. For a few short moments, the sky, the ocean, the people, the bobbing boat, and the whale and her child were one interconnected living system.

An ecological thinker’s purpose is sustainability. In the subatomic world, elements are life-like, in a relationship, exchange information always, and transform based on these dynamics. Humans are alive and meant to be in a relationship with one another and with the life around them. We develop through our relations with all of life.

We cooperate with our environment rather than be at war with nature in our insane rush to consume her. Living in monocultures is not sustainable; diversity is our strength. To be sustainable requires that growth must be limited, and our economic systems transformed. These “rules” are how life works optimally.

Institutions aren’t the only things that have to stay current with new knowledge. We, people, do too. We would be wise to examine our assumptions and change how we think to adapt ourselves to the insights and illumination that emerge from Quantum Physics and the New Sciences. Life calls us to evolve our awareness and creativity, to engage with others and learn together, lead differently, and transform how we live on the planet, Then we will develop ourselves and live sustainably.

If we refuse this call, we do so at our peril.


From 1991-94, I was privileged to lead a business unit that, I later learned, embraced the concepts of Quantum Physics and Chaos Theory. My first learning about the science merging with leadership and organizations came from author and consultant Meg Wheatley. I recommend her book, Leadership and the New Science (Third Edition).

My eBooks at offer more insight into my learning: Learning to Live: Essays on Life & Leadership and Value Driven Leadership: A Story of Personal & Organizational Transformation.