This book challenges our sense of ethics: who is ultimately responsible for Justice and Liberty? Is it simply existing laws or is it us responsible for shaping those laws?
By Margaret Lindsay Holton
Published July 05, 2017
Mea Culpa. I use Facebook as a news source - an information gathering forum. I attain that by throwing a wide net over a diverse group of people (aka Friends) in order to keep wide my own perceptions and understandings of the world.
In the main, it works. I can witness divergent opinions, access alt videos from all sides, dive into mainstream opinions and see/hear the outrage of various emerging individuals and groups aimed at any prevailing Establishment.
With a reported two billion users now registered with Facebook, out of a global population of seven and a half billion (four billion, by the way, still have no net access), I feel like I am becoming more of a global participant in the ever-rocky evolution of humanity, rather then an isolated tribal member banging away on my own drum down on the shores of Lake Ontario in this very young nation-state of Canada.
It would appear that humanity, from all classes and cultures, is unsurprisingly similar across all religions, races and across borders. Thank you for that, Facebook.
There are, of course, pros and cons to this kind of online affiliation. Pros are as mentioned above and the cons are almost as self-evident. Facebook is a profit-oriented corporation, desirous to achieve even greater global market penetration. They ride the global winds of change while algorithmically harnessing the national and religious gusts of both celebration and defiance.
The leader and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has harnessed this relatively new internet technology to 'connect' us through screens in ways totally unimaginable a mere decade ago.
It's working. But we must remain vigilant. Why? Because Facebook is a business corporation, not a Superior Being. And so goes our social evolution.
Increasingly, instead of mere passive consumers of media as has been the past, we now have the available media tools to become generators and producers of real-time content. Some posts can be as heart-warming and mundane as our favourite dog or cat. Others, by front line activists, can elicit empathy and outrage from their video and commentary. These issues that they present demand social justice - and change.
We share all on Facebook. So much so, that we, the people, are now the media. It's a whole new form of social engagement: immediate, instantaneous and unfiltered.
Illustration of Personality, Gender & Age in the Language of Social Media on Facebook (Image Credit: H. Andrew Schwartz et al., 'Personality, Gender, and Age in the Language of Social Media: The Open-Vocabulary Approach', PLOS One, September 25, 2013, http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0073791)
Recently, one of my Facebook 'friends' commented on a social post I made about my enthusiasm for a new TV series I had discovered on Netflex, the revised Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch. For those who don't know, this version of Sherlock Holmes is an intriguing take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic of a brilliant, eccentric investigator, now operating in our contemporary era of cell phones, internet, and CCTV surveillance.
My initial reaction was delight at this witty and well-played spin. I praised it as "Finally, GOOD TV!". All the ensuing comments on my post agreed save for one sole dissenter, John Lefebvre. John felt it was over-rated, too noisy and distracting, etc. I politely disagreed. We bantered a bit, back and forth, each stating why it both worked and failed, and then, as is the Facebook way, our little civil exchange was over.
But, later, after bingeing on all three seasons of this series, I came to have an appreciation for John's observations. I began to get his overall objections. I finally came to agree with him - albeit because the third and final season seemed, to me, to have been re-designed to dumb down the storylines and juice up the off-beat hamming of Cumberbatch.
I subsequently slid over to Lefebvre's Facebook page to learn more about him. I discovered he had recently written a book. The professional press release presented a rather scintillating portrait of a entrepreneurial Canadian business maverick who'd made his millions, got burned - and burned - served time, and retired to Salt Spring Island in B.C. where he's chosen to do charity work for high-profile mainland environmental groups. And he writes.
I was intrigued enough to ask for a review copy of his latest book, and he complied.
Thank you, Facebook. (Never would have heard or known about him otherwise.)
Lefebvre's teasing little treatise - All's Well: Where are Thou Earth and Why is a well-crafted book product with exemplary old-world book values. It is a pleasure to hold with its gold-foil stamping on the covers and spine, its multi-coloured head and tail bands, its pleasantly illustrated end papers, and a few four-colour 'tip in' illustrations. The paper and choice of typeface are easy on the eyes. All in all, it is an expensively produced little vanity project.
Reading it, though, is a bit of a struggle. As can so often happen when engaging with an original voice, you have to clear your own mind first of the incessant clutter and clatter to truly hear that new voice. It is a tough read precisely because, even though it is an engrossing and intelligent work, Lefebvre's periodic spasms of flippancy and urbane hipness undercut the tempo and fluidity of his otherwise timely arguments. In the end, yes, you do agree with him, but it really hasn't been one of the easiest of conversions.
No doubt, John Lefebvre, as a personality, is a larger-then-life character. This mini-tome is seemingly his parting poke at what ails the world, and how - we - he - me - can all do better to fix it. It's not preachy, per se, but more philosophic, with pop culture references and meanderings. And there is genuine wisdom and useful know-how to be found amongst the 174 pages.
Lefebvre starts with a grandiose proposition, basically a numbers game, amplifying the unlikelihood that we are the sole conscious beings in the immensity of all known and unknown universes. After logically establishing that we can not possibly be the only ones here, he posits the question: so, why then haven't we made contact?
He answers it from the perception of a Superior Being who basically asks, "Would YOU welcome YOU as you currently ARE?"
He then takes us on an inventive mind-stretching ride through the inherent nature of ourselves. We know there are those who wield great Goodness. Equally, we know there are those who exert great Evil (hereafter known as the PRICKS).
He challenges our sense of ethics: who is ultimately responsible for Justice and Liberty? Is it simply existing laws or is it us responsible for shaping those laws? Why and what is the inherent trouble with selfishness?
He amplifies these considerations with well-placed quotes from a diverse library of well-known intellectuals and religious thinkers.
You have to keep up.
As a lawyer by training, and a citizen of the planet by choice, he outlines the idiocy of granting corporations the same Rights as human beings without demanding the underlying ethical Rights that invariably makes humans choose the more ethical and compassionate way.
We have let these soulless corporations, and their out-of-sight stock holders, get off the hook for far too long. Corporations have no legal, let alone ethical obligation, to NOT exploit humanity and the environment. This kind of profit protection for the few has just got to stop.
Equally, we are idiots for allowing national sovereignty to cloud our ethical judgements of wrong doing by these corporatists PRICKS, locally and globally. Lefebvre convincingly uses easy examples of how to cross the borders of our own blind-spots and prejudices to achieve a greater awareness of the powerful universal effect of our combined empathy.
At the core of his belief system is the edict that, fundamentally, we are innately good, and that we generally aspire to do good, for ourselves and for others. Yet, he is well aware that, too often, we permit ourselves to be distracted and seduced by the ever-alluring glitter of geld and the heady intoxication of Power.
These tribal distractions, in turn, undermine our very real capacity as conscious citizens of the planet who have infinite potential for greatness. It is the cultivation of this greatness that will allow us to be ready for the encounter with the Superior Beings (who really are out there...).
The fortunate thing, from Lefebvre's perspective, is that much of what we know now will be obsolete given another 50 to 100 years. Rapid human advancements, built on new perceptions of our world, will force an evolution where Universal Rights can and will be entitled and available to all.
Lebefvre reminds us, through his own intellectual romp through the centuries, that at the end of the day, the only thing that will make Earth a better place - the Eden it has always been - is for each and everyone of us to accept the responsibility of not only our evolving consciousness - but accept the responsibility of our innate and rightly good conscious. We, as human beings, are responsible beings, and we must fulfil out destiny by embracing that responsibility now.
So, back to Facebook. Yes, a whole new digital world is shaping up around us, with the added allure of Virtual Realities and Alternate Realities also at the ready.
If we truly are the privileged part of a greater global humanity, it is high time to address our prejudicial short-comings as they exist on the lower tribal scale. With privilege comes added responsibility. It is time to embrace the fact that there are still four billion unconnected souls who do not have the fundamental rights of life that we take so very much for granted in this reality: fresh water, shelter, medicine, education and the leisure to fritz around Facebook and the internet.
Our broader social conscious, our universal commonality as human beings on a finite planet, dictates that we do something about that. We will never achieve greatness, or be welcome or worthy to the Superior Beings of the infinite universes, unless we help raise up the rest.
Lefebvre has offered some practical suggestions of how to achieve this. (Not as compelling as Naomi Klein's clear-eyed and extensive take on what needs to be done, *No Is Not Enough, but certainly a timely addition to this conscious-raising genre.)
His short treatise stands as a cross between a personal testimony of hope and faith intended for his offspring as well as a more universal offering: Greatness really is possible, it's just up to all of us to do better.
Above all, be kind, and compassionate. No more excuses. "Pass it on." And yes, use Facebook to get all those balls rolling.
See excerpts and illustrations and order All's Well here: http://johnlefebvre.com/alls-well/.
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