With Gaia increasingly threatened, should Captain Planet be called back into action?

I recently read an essay calling for the reboot of the nineties cartoon Captain Planet, where five teenage planeteers from around the world work together to stop evil villains who are hurting Gaia. The author made a strong case, arguing for the diversity of the cartoon cast, the opportunity to introduce viewers to the many countries and cultures (as the planeteers fight around the world), and of course exploring positive, and more nuanced, environmental messages.

Gaia in distress at witnessing the havoc wrought by man. (Still from IMDB)

Some months before that, I had actually shown my son the first episode, remembering it fondly from my own childhood. And while I wanted to…

Are you suffering from COVID burnout? Or just the exhaustion that comes at the end of a long race?

I couldn’t recognize the feeling until just now. I’ve been dragging lately. It’s been hard to motivate, whether writing, sending notes, even doing karate. It’s that feeling when you just want to quit.

Of course, with all the news stories about “COVID burnout,” that’s the easy answer, but it was a feeling I recognized from long ago — something a bit different, more fleeting. Then, finally, it clicked.

Not out of the woods yet…. (Photo by Elena via Flickr)

It’s that feeling in the last mile of a cross-country race. Before you can see the finish line and start the final sprint. Before the adrenaline kicks in but after your muscles…

Maybe it’s not meditation but just better breathing that offers health benefits

(Photo by Emma Li from Pexels)

I recently finished the book Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor, and it taught me a lot about the physiology of breathing — even about why so many of us (including me) get braces and our wisdom teeth extracted in the modern era (short version: growing up, we eat soft food and breathe too much through our mouths).

Most importantly, it helped further ground my meditation practice. I’m not one who trusts tradition unreservedly — there’s been too much recent tradition (e.g. the last 2,000 years or so) that has brought us down some very…

A holistic investigation of the Suez Canal mishap

The Ever Given being towed. (Photo from Suez Canal Authority)

Did you hear? A supersized cargo ship got wedged in the Suez Canal on March 23rd? If you didn’t, you must do pretty well at avoiding the news, social media, and late night TV. But the short of it is: the Ever Given somehow lost control (sandstorm strength winds have been blamed, as have human errors) and crashed into the bank of the canal and lodged itself in.

So what? Is this really news? Or just a sensational story to distract us from the pandemic, which, one might argue, is itself a distraction from the rapid unraveling of Earth’s systems…

Should we really be frightened of getting vaccinated? Or should we be excited?

It’s funny, I just finished watching Utopia, an ultraviolent TV show on Amazon about a group of ‘deep state’ operatives who create a vaccine (and a disease as well, “Russian Flu”) in order to inject everyone with a vaccine that will sterilize 95 percent of the population. Honestly, it was quite an engaging show but I’m not surprised that Amazon declined to make a second season considering, well, the current pandemic raging and worldwide vaccination effort! (EN1)

When that’s in the cultural background, and fearmongering around vaccines…

Sometimes it’s the subtler ways we evolve language and play that can have the greatest effect.

Tree and Rock caught in an ongoing struggle. Though the eventual victor is clear. (Photo by Erik Assadourian)

I was walking in the woods recently when I noticed a tree fighting majestically to grow straight, even as a jagged boulder stabbed into its trunk. This rock certainly appeared to be taking its toll, but then again it will probably help prop up this tree for decades to come. At least until freeze after freeze year after year creates enough micro-fractures to crack that part of the boulder off.

And suddenly it clicked: why, why, do we still play Rock Paper Scissors? We…

Exploring a new forgiveness meditation in eight directions

A map of the world against a wooden background.
A map of the world against a wooden background.
Image by scartmyart from Pixabay

Expanding my meditation practice to encompass forgiveness has helped me in profound ways. It led me to forgive some early — and recent — hurts, be more compassionate and quicker to forgive, and most importantly, it led me to reach out to and reconnect with a dear friend who I thought I had hurt and who I missed deeply.

In karate, in order to become skilled in both form and technique, we practice kata (formal exercises that combine attacks and blocks). Direction is an essential part of katas, symbolizing where your opponents are attacking from.

Often, early belt katas follow…

Grasping at green energy illusions will not bring about a sustainable future.

A few months ago my karate sensei shared with his students the Zen story of The Monkeys Reaching for the Moon. If you haven’t heard it, there are many versions. Here’s mine:

Monkeys Reaching for The Moon. (By Ohara Koson. Public domain)

One evening, as a group of monkeys gathered on a tree branch to go to sleep, they noticed that below them, on the surface of the lake, their branch extended over, the moon was shimmering and rippling. One cried out, “Look! The moon has fallen into the lake.”

Another shouted, “Oh no! We must save her.”

How a die-in at the state capitol helped me see the value of meditating like a corpse.

Some weeks back, my son and I joined a protest at Hartford’s State Capitol against the building of a new 650 megawatt gas-fired power plant in Killingly, CT. If built, it would conflict directly with Connecticut’s goal of carbon neutral electricity by 2040, and make it that much harder for the US, and the world, to stop climate change, which, obviously, is not a good thing.

Part of the protest was a “die-in.” That was a first for me, and for my son…

Too much, unfortunately.

This past week I watched the new Netflix film, Radium Girls. Radium Girls were the young women who painted luminous watch faces with radium paint and were taught by their supervisors to shape the brushes with their lips to keep their work precise. Of course, they got radium poisoning, their bones (where radium concentrates) turning cancerous or crumbling in their bodies — including pieces of their jaws literally falling out.

1921 magazine advertisement for Undark, a product of the Radium Luminous Material Corporation which was involved in the Radium Girls scandal. Retouched version (Public Domain from Wikipedia)

The story focuses on two sisters and two other Radium Girls who sued the United States Radium Corporation for damages. …

Erik Assadourian

Sustainability researcher, ecophilosopher, Gaian, and father of one. www.gaianism.org/reflections

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