Pronoia News Network, Volume 1(excerpted from the revised and expanded edition of
Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia)
For even more good news, go here and here.
Current human life expectancy, already at age 78 for Americans, is steadily increasing. Men now live an average of 27 years longer than they did a century ago, and women 31 years. Many scientists believe there is no absolute limit to the human life span. Some expect that by 2070, life expectancy will be 100.
As of 2007, crime in the U.S. was at its lowest level since it was first officially tracked. Between 1973 and 2005, the violent crime rate decreased by 56 percent, while crimes against property shrank by 70 percent. The report comes from the Bureau of Justice's "National Crime Victimization Survey."
According to the FBI, the years 2005 and 2006 brought a small increase in violent crimes, but by 2008, the rate had fallen even lower than it was in 2005. Crimes against property have steadily continued to drop. The most dramatic decline has occurred in the number of rapes. The frequency of that crime per capita is down 85 percent since the 1970s.
A Canadian moose can now walk in peace and safety all the way to South America, thanks to Harrison Ford and other celebrities with wealth and influence. They quietly worked together for years to purchase land along corridors that connect various wildlife refuges and national parks.
Meanwhile, Canadian government officials announced that their country, the second largest in the world in terms of physical size, is creating ten giant national parks and five marine conservation areas. The new sanctuaries, when added to the existing 39 national parks, will double the amount of protected land.
CONVERSATION WITH ETERNITY
Beauty and Truth Lab researcher Firenze Matisse traveled to Antarctica. On the first day, the guide took him and his group to a remote area and left them alone for an hour to commune with the pristine air and unearthly stillness. After a while, a penguin ambled up and launched into a ceremonial display of squawks and stretches.
Firenze responded with recitals of his favorite memorized poems, imagining he was "engaged in a conversation with eternity." Halfway through his inspired performance of Thich Nhat Hanh's "Please Call Me by My True Names," the penguin sent a stream of green projectile vomit cascading against his chest, and shuffled away. Though Firenze initially felt deflated by eternity's surprise, no harm was done. He soon came to see it as a first- class cosmic joke, and looked forward to exploiting its value as an amusing story with which to regale his friends back home.
Beauty and Truth Lab researcher Michael Logan was the first person to hear Firenze's tale upon his return from Antarctica. "You might want to consider this, Firenze," Michael mused after taking it all in. "Penguins nurture their offspring by chewing food -- mixing it up with all God's enzymes -- and then vomiting it into the mouths of the penguin babies. Perhaps you weren't the butt of a cosmic joke or some Linda Blair- esque bad review, but in fact the recipient of a very precious gift of love. Who knows?"
Now Firenze has two punch lines for his tale of redemptive pronoia.
PNN is made possible by Mary Oliver's poem about sunflowers, in which she writes that the long work of turning their lives into celebration is not easy.
IMPOSSIBLE DREAM FULFILLED
The world's largest private bank, Citigroup, agreed to stop financing projects that damage sensitive ecosystems. It promised to invest more in projects that use renewable energy and to pursue policies that protect indigenous people. How did this impossible dream come to pass? The humble but dogged environmental group, Rainforest Action Network, creatively pestered Citigroup for years until the corporation gave in to its demands.
THE EVOLUTION OF ECSTASY
According to ecstasy expert Rapunzel Blavatsky, the very nature of ecstasy seems to be evolving. Researchers at her Berkeley, California-based Beauty and Truth Lab have found that increasing numbers of people are able to cultivate a chronic, low-grade rapture that never fully dissipates. This altered state often sensitizes their perceptions to the presence of subtle miracles that are hidden from others.
Blavatsky's team has also discovered that for these "everyday ecstatics," extraordinary stimulation and peak experiences are not necessary to sustain the constant flow of bliss. The testimony of one such "everyday ecstatic," Sheila Samizdat, illustrates the phenomenon.
"My handmade, fresh-cooked booster dose of euphoria arrived," Samizdat reports, "while I was waiting in line at the post office on a Tuesday afternoon. I already felt pretty good, because a few minutes earlier I'd witnessed a man and a woman squirting each other in the head with yellow squirt guns as they embraced and wrestled and conducted a raucous makeout session in the alley behind the post office.
"But my giddiness really kicked into high gear when an exuberant toddler tipped over a trash can, turned it upside down, climbed up on top, and leaped off as he shouted, 'God sucks!' Meanwhile, the customer behind me in line was telling someone on her cell phone that she kissed a lesbian from Amnesty International outside a pungent-smelling herb shop in Chinatown while a gang of elegantly dressed thugs orchestrated a drug deal in a nearby alley.
"Moments later, a barely-five-feet-tall Vietnamese man in his 40s, sporting shoulder-length black hair and wearing an oversize green silk pajama top, rode a neon pink girl's bike one-handed right through the open front doors of the post office and into the lobby as he sipped a Laffy Taffy Blue Vanilla Slurpee and sang 'The Impossible Dream' from the Broadway musical, Man of La Mancha.
"And suddenly I found myself thrust into the throbbing core of delight, awash in murmuring, quizzical amazement. The center of my gravity exploded like a supernova, instantaneously spreading my awareness out to the size of the universe, turning me into a furious sun-blasted ocean-soaked wind-cured radiance, arriving everywhere at once from the heart of the Only Intelligence There Is. And I was home again, worshiping inside the tabernacle in the wilderness. 'Oh, yeah,' I thought to myself with a rush of eternal glee, 'Now I remember: I am you and you are me and they are we and we are they.'"
SHARING YOUR BREATH
Quoting geneticists, Guy Murchie says we're all family. You have at least a million relatives as close as tenth cousin, and no one on Earth is any further removed than your fiftieth cousin. Murchie also describes our kinship through an analysis of how deeply we share the air. With each breath, you take into your body 10 sextillion atoms, and -- owing to the wind's ceaseless circulation -- over a year's time you have intimate relations with oxygen molecules exhaled by every person alive, as well as by everyone who ever lived. Right now you may be carrying atoms that were once inside the lungs of Malcolm X, Christopher Columbus, Joan of Arc, and Cleopatra. (Source: Guy Murchie, The Seven Mysteries of Life)
You're like an arrow in flight. You're a half-cooked feast, the fifth month of pregnancy, the week before a big election. Have you ever mastered a second language? You resemble the time right before fluency arrives.
SACRED GENIUS OF GENEROSITY
"The Sun, each second, transforms four million tons of itself into light, giving itself over to become energy that we, with every meal, partake of. For four million years, humans have been feasting on the Sun's energy stored in the form of wheat or reindeer, as each day the Sun dies as Sun and is reborn as the vitality of Earth. Every child of ours needs to learn the simple truth: She is the energy of the Sun. And we adults should organize things so her face shines with the same radiant joy.
"Human generosity is possible only because at the center of the solar system a magnificent stellar generosity pours forth free energy day and night without stop and without complaint and without the slightest hesitation. This is the way of the universe. This is the way of life. And this is the way in which each of us joins this cosmological lineage when we accept the Sun's gift of energy and transform it into creative action that will enable the community to flourish." - Brian Swimme, The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos, video
THE INNER VOICE SPEAKS
Scientists have confirmed what we all knew: You do indeed have a little voice in your head that warns you when you're about to do something dumb. It's called the anterior cingulate cortex, according to white-coated authorities at Carnegie-Mellon University. If you're receptive to it, it's as good as having a guardian angel.
"Don't do it," the voice whispers when you're on the verge of locking your keys in your car or leaving the bar with the cute drunk you just met. "Go back," it murmurs as you start to walk away from a huge, though initially inconvenient, opportunity.
PNN is brought to you by this passage from Eknath Easwaran's book Gandhi, the Man: "One of the most radical dis co veries Gandhi was to make in a lifetime of experimentation: In order to transform others, you have to transform yourself."
At a concert in California, devotional singer Krishna Das told a story of escorting his revered teachers, a frail old Indian couple, to an acupuncturist in New York. They had to walk through a neighborhood dominated by strip clubs, prostitutes, and drug dealers. Every few feet, a new salesperson approached with an offer of crack, weed, crank, or sexual adventures.
Krishna Das worried about subjecting his beloved guides to such a degrading experience, but they were unfazed. "This is heaven," said the woman. When a surprised Krishna Das asked what she meant, she replied, "Heaven is any place where one's needs can be met."
TEEN ANGST UPDATE
The juvenile crime rate has plummeted to its lowest levels since 1979. Violent crime committed by teenagers is 40 percent lower than it was in 1994.
Drunken teens are still killing themselves while driving cars, but the rate is less than half of what it was in 1975.
In 60 years, there hasn't been a lower birthrate among teenage girls than there is now. The overall dropout rate among American high school students has declined by four percent in the last two decades, with an eight percent improvement among African Americans. Three-fourths of high school students say they get along very well or extremely well with their parents, and only three percent say they don't get along well.
BREAKING THE PRONOIA TABOO
"The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new." - Socrates
"The basis of freedom is recognition of the unconscious; the invisible
dimension; not yet realized; leaving a space for the new."
- Norman O. Brown, Love's Body
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead
"No work is more worthwhile than to be a sign of divine joy and a fountain of divine love." - Andrew Harvey
"If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven played music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well." - Martin Luther King Jr.
BETTER THAN CLONING A DINOSAUR
Aeschylus, the seminal playwright of ancient Greece, wrote more than 90 plays, but most did not survive. The evidence for his reputation as the "Father of Tragedy" has consisted of just seven works. Recently, however, archaeologists have discovered an eighth, Achilles. It was on a papyrus scroll stuffed inside an Egyptian mummy. In the summer of 2004, a theater company in Cyprus staged the ancient play for the first time in over 2,000 years.
Mirabilia n. events that inspire wonder, marvelous phenomena, small miracles; from the Latin mirabilia, "marvels."
With every dawn, when first light penetrates the sea, many seahorse colonies perform a dance to the sun.
A seven-year-old Minnesota boy received patent number 6,368,227 for a new method of swinging on a swing.
As it thrusts itself into our Milky Way Galaxy, the dwarf galaxy Sagittarius is unraveling, releasing a thick stream of dark matter that is flowing right through the Earth.
A chemist in Australia finally succeeded in mixing oil and water.
Except among birds and land mammals, the females of most species are bigger than the males.
The South African version of TV's Sesame Street has an HIV-positive Muppet named Kami.
In just two minutes, an ingenious octopus at the Bronx Zoo learned to unscrew the lid from a jar to get at the food inside, though it had never experienced a jar with a lid before.
Black sheep have a better sense of smell than white sheep.
There are about 60,000 miles of blood vessels in your body. Every square inch of your body has an average of 32 million bacteria on it.
THE BENEVOLENCE OF PLEASURE
The quest for chemical-induced erections has helped stem the extinction of endangered species. Since the advent of Viagra, demand for traditional aphrodisiacs like harp seal penises and reindeer antlers has plummeted in Asia. The wild animals in possession of the body parts in question are no longer hunted so relentlessly.
"The biggest event of the last 20 years -- the collapse of the Soviet Union -- occurred without violence: the first nonviolent revolution of that size in all of human history, extending from Berlin to Siberia.
"Nelson Mandela went from a prison cell to the President's office in a country that evolved from white supremacy to power-sharing in only seven years.
"The Internet more and more evolves toward the planetary brain once only imagined by visionary scientists like Teilhard de Chardin and Arthur Clarke.
"What some call my 'blasphemous cheerfulness' or my 'cockeyed optimism' just depends on my basic agnosticism. We don't know the outcome of the current worldwide transformation, so it seems sick and decadent (in the Nietzschean sense) when fashionable opinion harps on all the gloomy alternatives and resolutely ignores the utopian possibilities that seem equally likely (and, on the basis of past evolution, perhaps a little more likely)."
- Robert Anton Wilson, rawilson.com
Emma, Isabella, and Madison are among the most popular names for new baby girls, whereas Jacob, Ethan, and Joshua are top choices for boys. On the other hand, Condescensia, Crumpet, and Bucket are some of the least popular girl names, and Beelzebub, Humpty, and Scratch the least favorite for boys. - thevoiceofreason.com
THIS DAY IN PRONOIAC HISTORY
Early last century, marauding boll weevils devoured the cotton crop that was the main product of Enterprise, Alabama. Local farmers had no choice but to diversify the plants they grew. As a result, the town's per capita income tripled what it had been when cotton was king.
In response, grateful citizens built a huge bronze monument to the insect that had forced them to grow richer.
Leo Alard was the first Hispanic to become an Episcopalian bishop in the U.S. His pioneer spirit emerged early on. As a young priest in the 1960s, he headed a racially integrated parish in Chattahoochee, Florida. The bigots of the KKK didn't look favorably on his work, and on one occasion they burned a cross on the church lawn. Alard, who was supervising a youth group on that particular night, brought the class out and had everyone toast marshmallows over the fire.
Here's a message from one of our spiritual underwriters, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: "By means of all created things, without exception, the divine assails us, penetrates us and molds us. We imagine it as distant and inaccessible, whereas in fact, we live steeped in its burning layers."
© 1995-2013 -- Rob Brezsny. All rights reserved