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Radical Life Extension and the Spirit at the Core of a Human Rights Movement

Posted: Sat, January 19, 2013 | By: Activism

by Eric Schulke

A movement occurs when, one, a large number of people have a need that, two, lines up with the necessary ingredients to make it happen, and those two things are sparked by, three, a catalyst of why, why they can and what they can do to get there; this is to create necessary, thorough and sustainable reform that affects a majority of the level of society at hand (i.e. City, State, Country, World, etc…) significantly faster than would otherwise happen. The core creators of movements are individuals of a certain aptitude, they are most generally, the “alpha thinkers”. An alpha thinkers core qualities include mixtures of practicality, vision, charisma, thoughtfulness, critical thinking, enterprise, path development, innovation, guidance and a knowledge of why, why it can be done and what can be done to get there. Each person containing a mixture of these characteristics responds to their unique movement and their unique place within the plans of that movement.  Each core purveyor, that is, each person that dedicates their time to seeing the movement through to completion, is a leader in the movement, forming a rally point, a camp, a bivouac, like a general or colonel, a vicar or a clergy.

These movement leaders are stewards of their circumstances, like people who are born into one situation or another, such as the construction business, the arts, public service, having various mentors, experiencing various lessons, having access to various resources and influences, etc… They are dominos knocked down in various directions because of the situations they find themselves in, charged by fate with pivoting a little this way or that to keep the right dominos cascading down before them. 

They don’t always come in a “timely” manner for every generation, but in the big picture time line, the big scheme of things, they take us where we need to go, showing up as a steady march up the timeline of history and continuously walking that path into the future.

So what are movement for indefinite life extension allies tasked with? They are tasked as those catalysts: the messengers of why, why it can be done, and what can be done to get there. As the main points of the MILE guide outline, the existing cultural and social order needs to be assured that it’s alright to admit the reasons why life is good, they need to know the reasons why we can go there are acceptable, and they definitely don’t know what they can do to to get there, yet. It is up to us to be that catalyst.

If the alpha thinkers of the past hadn’t pulled the triggers when their movements lined up, and hadn’t harnessed fire, created language, the printing press, iron smelting and all the rest, then we wouldn’t be where we are today. We owe it to the future to deliver them to the next great challenges on down the path in the same way that we have been privileged to be delivered here. 

To illustrate the spirit, think of Nick Bostrom’s popular indefinite life extension parable of the Dragon Tyrant. For those unfamiliar with it, it is an analogy to aging as a dragon that reigned over a people, devouring an allotment of them per year for many years until they finally realized: why, why they could and what they could do to defeat it and catalyzed the initiative to make it happen. The dragon held its reign for so long because there had never been a centralized coordinated plan outlining the need, and using all the resources and everybody’s strengths, to expedite the necessary thorough and sustainable assault. The dragon may have been defeated over time anyways. Some people did try to kill it, they might have eventually gotten lucky, and at the very least they were inspiring a few more new generations to give it a new shot here and there. In time the movement may have built up and turned into the comprehensive effort that it needed to be to do the job, but that would have been too slow and uncertain, it could have taken hundreds more years. That would have just been following the slow natural happenstance of things. The people that were under siege by the dragon finally put components like those of MILE together and created a movement to expedite the destruction of the dragon. 

Some of the many great movements for change that had the need and the ingredients, that the world has already seen, include: South Africa’s dissolution of Apartheid, India’s independence from Great Britain, the rise of organized labor, the women’s movement, the earth movement, civil rights, countless political movements, the countless democratic movements in the middle east today, and others. How were: why, why they could, and what they could do to get there an important catalyst to them?

During the industrial revolution, Thomas Edison ran a laboratory filled with inventors. They expedited invention, setting quotas for how many small, medium and large things they wanted made. They were successful because they knew why, why they could, and what they could do to further utilize electricity and invent hundreds of variations on the fuse, conductor, circuit, phonograph, light bulb and so many other things. In knowing this it didn’t matter to them that it (famously) took over 10,000 trials to invent a working light bulb, knowing why they wanted it, and why it was possible, they were content to know they would eventually get there if they went there. Its difficulty and the enormity of the challenge didn’t matter to them. They brilliantly demonstrated the spirit at the core of a movement. 

Nineteenth century gold miners out in Wyoming moved thousands of tons of dirt looking for the mother lode, the El Dorado that gold dowsers assured them would be in the location. Many teams gave up over the decades. The mine sat empty for many years at a stretch, and at last one of the teams that resumed digging hit the mother lode 400 feet later. We keep going, all the way, come strike or no, we dig until there is no more earth left to move. The Beastie Boys would say “No sleep till Brooklyn.” We say, “No sleep until indefinite life extension.” This is the spirit at the core of a movement.

In the Lincoln County cattle wars of the 1800s, the Tunstall regulators were surrounded by gun men who were there to kill. The cattle baron John Tunstall was being handed a revolver, but declined saying, (whether he truly said it or not) “Active participation in a gun battle would negate my life insurance policy.” He was then shot to death. He was at the right place at the right time, but he lacked the internal ingredients to help their movement for justice succeed. The spirit wasn’t in him.

During the political movements, coup de etat’s , revolutions and democratic shifts of Ancient Greece, the wise old philosopher Socrates was put to trial by the city of Athens for advocating that society think, and be taught to think, using reason and logic. They sentenced him to death for this. Socrates had the chance to escape. It is said that his captor’s even half-expected him to escape. He broke Athens’ laws, but accepted her punishment, giving us one of the first examples of civil disobedience in action. This act was so bold and potent with moral and virtue that its mentoring qualities shine through today as strong and bright as the day they were made. They have influenced most of philosophy, helped create a force robust enough to stand up to and defeat the dark ages, helped usher in an age of discovery and inspired an age of enlightenment which itself spurred things like science, the precursors of industry and so many other things. Unfortunately for Socrates, as he seemed to suspect, he didn’t have enough perception of need, or resource for his movement to succeed at that time. He was just beginning to spread understanding of its need. By breaking their laws but accepting their punishment he put forth a catalyst as strong or stronger than any movement has ever used, but he did not have enough supporting ingredients in the people and society around him for his message of reason, logic and honest internal self reflection to take root and sprout forth the fruit of that spirit at the core of a movement.

Think of the American independence movement, the revolutionary war. One of the reasons the British government was so cocky in their resolve to control the colonies was that they thought that their well oiled, well trained and disciplined red coats would be able to lick any sort of force that the scattered colonies might be able to muster, if they could even muster anything. We know how that played out. Without coordination the colonies would have been destroyed, but people like Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, James Madison, Joseph Warren, Thomas Paine, Paul Revere and hosts of others stepped up to the plate. They assembled things like a declaration of independence, a colonial army, an atmosphere of pride and victory in books and extensive pamphleteering, a midnight ride and fearless front line charges to lead the way, it all set the tempo. They released the spirit of the movement for independence. How would it have gone without the actions of people like these? As Thomas Paine wrote in January 1776’s Common Sense, (and I’m sure Socrates and the others would agree) “a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.” They could have waited for time to wear on the British people, the king, and the parliament. They could have said “wait, hold on, let’s see how this goes, work with the Kings mindset.” So what pivotal date would waiting have brought them? Would we have fought for independence throughout the 1800s? Delayed it to the 1900s? As Thomas Paine went on to say, “Time hath found us.” Soon thereafter, July the 4th of that year 1776 brought Thomas Jefferson’s contribution, “The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America.” The rest may be history, but it also happens to be the very bedrock beneath the feet of everybody reading this in the United States. It’s also the additive that allows the glue that holds its society together to hold strong still today. This society allowed them to freely pursue the future grand movements that have come through since, and that stand here in its entry way today. It was a powerful example of the spirit at the core of a movement.

Think also of the long struggle for racial equality that occurred eight decades later. When the 19th century abolitionists were successful in the election of Abraham Lincoln, South Carolina affronted dignity, common sense, and moral virtue by firing on Fort Sumter in April of 1861. Abolitionists fired back with a civil war, catalyzing hundreds of thousands of men and women to fight for the rights of people being held as slaves, and the preservation of the United States. Their action emancipated a nation of slaves. We entered a new world because of this, because of the valiancy displayed by the hundreds of thousands of heroes that affected that great moral victory. The slaves were freed, but though they won a great part of the movement, they failed to see it through thoroughly and sustainably. So then what happened? Tensions were still high, but people went back to daily life. Forty stagnating and slow backpedaling years later, the year 1896 brought us Plessy Vs Ferguson in which segregation was written back into the law. Jim Crow and the unequal de jure interpretation of the constitution reigned over the freed slaves for another 60 years from there. That’s 100 total years for general society to do a fraction of what the Civil War did for the issue in 4 years. Finally, 1956 brought us Brown Vs the Board of Education, a ruling which over turned Plessy Vs Fergusons segregation. People who could have made those changes, who could have made them much sooner than Brown Vs the Board of Education did, lived and died for 100 years, never seeing movement catalyzed in their time. They certainly had the need. They were short on some of their ingredients, which things like 1909s formation of the NAACP, Citizenship schools, the Montgomery bus boycotts, and many other things helped build up during the first half of the 20th century. But most of all they lacked catalyst. They lacked Bayard Rustin and Ella Bakers visionary leadership, the SCLC and the plans that were to bring out the spirit at the core of that movement. To the Negros sleeping in their cars because they were turned away from motels, to the Negros at the bottom of wells who the law turned a blind eye to, to the hearts of the little black girls and little black boys who would see advertisements for carnivals and beaches and were told they were not open to people of color, the wait was far, far too long, unbearably long, life-shatteringly long, deadly long, poisonously long to generations of souls. So then, from behind those long dark choking clouds of hatred and misery: need, ingredients and catalyst once again met up, like it did for Dred Scott, Harriet Tubman, the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Abraham Lincoln, Tecumseh Sherman, Ulysses S Grant, and all of the great abolitionists and Union Army soldiers before them. Like captive gladiators having been chomping at the bit for so long, the movement for equality was finally wakened once more, once more! Triumphantly, with injustice-shattering resolution, to life again, from its centuries-long slumber; a total of sixty people, led by Bayard Rustin and Ella Baker, including Fred Shuttlesworth, Joseph Lowery, Ralph Abernathy, C.K. Steele, Martin Luther King Jr. and all the others, convened to form the great SCLC. They put together the framework for finishing the job, for achieving victory for racial equality. They set goals, they marched, they performed civil disobedience, they met their goals, and they brought change to the nation. For years they were told to wait, but as the purveyors of the movement, they knew that “justice too long delayed was justice denied,” that they would not wait one more day.

That justice became a part of the bedrock that elected the first black president of the United States, a president who brought things like health care to millions of people. I’m a poor activist, and now because of the Civil War and Civil Rights I can finally get my cholesterol levels checked, check my heart and blood, and monitor for cancer and other diseases. We have all of this because they exercised that spirit at the core of a movement.

Need, meets necessary ingredients, meets catalyst, they are the hallmark of a movement. You need all three there at the same time in the right amounts. Civil Rights marchers were often beaten burned or bombed. Are you as brave as them? Do you have those kinds of ingredients? Do you have the courage to step up to some raised eyebrows, some missed income and less material possessions in the name of life when examples like those marchers had the courage to step up to beatings, burnings and bombings for equality?  The SCLC was equivalent to those like the Colonial Militia, the Union Army, and now to the Movement for Indefinite Life Extension. Take heed of their guidance, that is the spirit.

These catalyzing alpha thinkers have always been amongst us, having been called by different names throughout history. Ancient Greece called them the philosophers, the dark ages called its alpha thinkers, like Copernicus and Galileo, heretics. The age of discovery called them explorers. During the enlightenment they were considered intellectuals. The 60s called them hippies, the 90s called them things like Goth and eccentrics and the like, and today they are emerging as agnostics and free thinkers - the alpha thinkers. They are those outside the box living, creative, critical thinking, innovating, pioneering, bull by the horns grabbing, intellectually courageous, problem solvers dedicated to probing the boundaries in search of progress. Like any trade, the best of them rise to the challenges of their day.

So when you can, when you are the one who is prepared and you find yourself facing the timing, that mixture of need, and the reality that the resources are here, then you know that a movement is in the air. Your calling dances in the air waves like CB radio signals, you can’t always see them but they are there. When you see those things line up then you should get nervous because a movement could break out at any moment, catalyzing the elements, if they be present, into reality, broadcasting them through their transmitter like only a transmitter can.

You are that transmitter and you have stumbled across SOS on the airwaves, a message, a plan, a declaration, an SCLC calling card. Pause for a moment to reflect, this is your moment. A movement is waiting at the point of conception to be born. You’ve been christened general by default. A union, an allied advance of leaders is tasked now to move that mountain they were conceived to move. The MILE is your key; the MILE is your filament that you are trying to get to glow in people’s minds. The MILE is your shovel; use it to reach the mother lode. It is your civil disobedience, your marches, your Socratic Method in the streets of Athens, your pamphleteer’s message, your declaration of independence from death. The MILE guide, your guide to the movement for indefinite life extension, contains your arms, is your arms, take them up and hold them to the light, to the public’s attention. It tells the world why they need it, the necessary ingredients are outlined at the movement for indefinite life extension rally point at themile.info, and the catalyst is in your hands speaking to you right now. Now you’re the catalyst, the christened leader. If you understand why, why we can and what we can do to get there then now you are the spirit at the core of this movement~

This essay first appeared HERE 


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