By What Measure?

March 1, 2020-

This month has not come in like a lion, at least not in Arizona.  Our forecast had called for rain, but bright and sunny, it was.  It may, or may not, rain/snow tomorrow, and that’s the celestial version of Arizona’s independent spirit.

Today was the first day of the Nineteen-Day Fast, during which every Baha’i between the ages of 15-70, who is in good health, is not traveling and not doing heavy manual labour, abstains from food and drink, from sunrise to sunset, for a period of nineteen days.

With my 70th birthday coming in November, this is my last time of such abstaining.  My work schedule is truncated, this spring, for reasons of my own keeping a mission to help a disabled teen.  Thus, the sacrifice appears, at first blush, to be minimal-but we’ll see what transpires.

I spent a couple of hours, this evening, with a small group of college students, whose own mission is to work at building a sustainable society.  This is another passion of mine, one which does not depend on ideological divides or limiting one’s circle of friends, unnecessarily.  The group is led by a confident and forthright young woman, who is close to her family, and by a very independent young man, who lives in his car-by choice.  The two could not be more opposite, yet both represent the commitment to facing the issues being inherited by the three rising generations.

The six of us who gathered at Sustainability Lounge watched the film, “Princess Mononoke”, an anime story about the seemingly inherent conflict between industry and nature.  In it, a minor Japanese noble is wounded by a demonic creature which is attacking villages in a hateful rage.  The nobleman kills the demon, but not without cost to himself.  He embarks on a journey, to find the source of the demon’s rage, fighting and killing samurai and meeting a cryptic “monk”, along the way.

Eventually, the nobleman finds himself in the home area of the Spirit of the Forest, as well as being brought to its opposite, a dingy industrial fortress, where iron is smelted by a mix of lepers and rescued prostitutes.  It is run by a warrior woman, who reminded me obliquely, of Tina Turner’s Auntie Entity, from “Mad Max:  Beyond Thunderdome”.

The predictable ultimate battle takes place, with sub-battles occurring between competing groups of animals and humans alike.  The nobleman meets a young woman who has been raised by wolves, and the two form a tentative, problematic friendship. There are severe losses, and new beginnings, for all the major characters in the story.

This all begs the question:  By what measure do we determine what is beneficial and what is detrimental?



4 thoughts on “By What Measure?

  1. Hello Eco-Warrior ,,,
    Can we interchange Beneficial and Detrimental with Good and Evil, for a moment?
    A preacher I am familiar, (Tony Campolo) says this about the topic:

    “What ever enhanced the humanity of another human being was good. And what ever dehumanized another human being was evil.” So what is beneficial? That which is good and enhances humanity. What is detrimental? That which dehumanizes another human being.” We could look at it this way, possibly.

    In the quest to be good, to know what beneficial is and means, for the most part, we usually get that right at some point in our lives. It took me a long time to get there myself, because I was stuck in a detrimental way of life that was NOT beneficial. On the other hand, sometimes what we think is beneficial, is NOT. Sometimes we get caught up in our own egos and biases, and ways of doing things,that we miss the forest for the trees.

    Here in Canada, there are those who believe that industry can trample sacred traditional indigenous land for profit and natural gas (read:Pipeline), and call it beneficial. Meanwhile our train tracks have been blocked for more than a month, and industry has been at a standstill for weeks now, by those very same indigenous peoples, that industry is trying to railroad with a pipeline. The pipeline might be beneficial but at what cost to the land, the animals and fish of that land, and the people who live on that land who have lived on that land for centuries? who is right and who is wrong?

    The white man thinks he knows what is beneficial because he believes that the almighty loonie will save us all, at the cost of destroying sacred land and throwing indigenous peoples off that very same land for a pipeline.Those who own the land by right and treaty, never signed that land over to the government, by decree of our Supreme Court more than thirty years ago. They own that land and it is beneficial.

    It is the pipeline that will become detrimental in the long run. All for the almighty loonie …

    So you see, depending on what side of the rail blockade you stand, you decide which side of the argument you want to take? Beneficial or Detrimental.

    In order to know the true value and definition of beneficial and detrimental, one should see both sides of the argument, and then make their Informed decision as to what is beneficial and what is detrimental.

    Because your view might be skewed if you are uninformed, and unable to see the forest AND the trees.
    Both arguments are valid. Stopping commerce across the nation of Canada IS detrimental. And I lobbied for the blockades to come down, in order for the country to move precious cargo and fuel across the country because people were running out of heating fuel nation wide. And food was hung up and grocery stores were bare, in the middle of winter, because of the rail blockade. Was I right or wrong?

    We’ve since learned after a 4 day pow wow in B.C. that the land in question, IS owned by the indigenous peoples of that part of BC. Legally and rightfully. That changes the entire calculus. The blockade might be bad for commerce, but if the indigenous people don’t speak up and become protesters, white Canada is going to railroad them onto another reservation off their land, and more suffering will happen, as IS happening across the country, because the white man does not have time to address what is beneficial to those who have been ignored, and consigned to a life of detriment, squalor, dirty water, sub standard housing and food that costs 500% more on reserves than in urban grocery stores. That is detrimental …

    There you have One Serious discussion of Beneficial and Detrimental for you.

    That’s my two cents …


    Liked by 1 person

    • It has been my own practice, instilled in me by my parents, to look at both sides of an argument, and then make an informed choice. My heart has ever been with the indigenous people, here in North America and worldwide. Too often, the powers that be have taken the most expeditious route to economic prosperity, with no regard for law, let alone for morality. This has been true, through the centuries and around the globe. My Dad always said MAKE TIME for what is right. No one, of any race, wants to live in abject squalour, nor should they be thus forced.


  2. I think it comes down to perspective. We can (and often do) look at benefit and detriment from a personal POV. Will this make Me happier, wealthier, more comfortable? When we take the view of whether an action/decision will benefit society it improves the decision making process – as long as we count ALL the individuals impacted. Unlike Spock it is not always the “good of the many outweighs the good of the one”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sometimes, the good of the many can appear skewed-as in the aftermath of an authoritarian propaganda campaign. I was raised to consider both sides of the coin, before making a choice. My choices have mostly come down to “Will this make the planet a better place for those coming along?”


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