Clarity First Newsletter,
April 1, 2022

“Look closely at the present you are constructing: it should look like the future you are dreaming.” – Alice Walker

Love & Work

A notebook about how we work, learn, love and live.

One our superpowers as homo-sapiens is the ability to imagine alternative futures. And we need alternative futures. There are so many elements of our present that deserve rethinking.

Happy Friday.


War and Peace, Futures Thinking

To end war, we need to challenge the futures fallacies we use to construct reality.

Celebration at the Kolkhoz (1967) by Yuri Vasilevich Chudinov

“One of the best ways to describe wars is in terms of a collective ‘failure of imagination’. This failure of imagination limits futures possibilities to either one, or at best two. If one, the war must be waged as there is no other option. If two, either there is ‘perfect peace’ (read: all that I/we/our side wants) or, alternatively, violence, no matter how lousy, detrimental, damaging, and counterproductive.

“Wars are commonly supported by ‘used futures’ – the term refers to the strategies from the past that we keep on repeating even though they are no longer in line with our desired visions for the future (Inayatullah, 2008). So even when people consciously choose not to engage in violence, the existing system overrides it. The infrastructures of the yesteryears swallow first some, and then all of us. We want peace and security, yet commonly utilise strategies that destroy both. So in addition to replacing narratives, discourses and metaphors which support war and violence, we also need to change the social system and structure. In a nutshell, that means redirection of resources that support militaries into those that support peaceful conflict resolution. Without a simultaneous change of narratives and the systemic strategies to support them, our efforts in creating a peaceful present/future will always fall short.” – Ivana Milojevi?

Article: Not Soon Enough: Meditations on Ending War and Visioning Peace


Futures Thinking

“Perhaps ‘utopia’ should be the start of political discussion rather than the end.”

Biosphere 2 was mocked. Others saw it as something to marvel at. Utopia means stretch.  Image via NEON

“All politics seems to operate under the demand to be realistic. There is no quicker end to a political conversation than to describe someone’s ideas as ‘utopian’. The power of this pejorative draws upon seemingly obvious facts concerning human nature, empirical realities and social constraints. Whether we are considering demands to restructure our economic systems, how nations police citizenship claims and their borders, or our relationship to the environment, when these positions are called ‘utopian’, the assumption is not only that there are constraints but that these constraints are inalterable. However, to determine which constraints are fixed rather than alterable is easier said than done.

“Perhaps ‘utopia’ should be the start of political discussion rather than the end. When we engage in political debate, we attempt to argue for what we believe should be our priorities and establish the constraints of reality. It would seem that utopia violates this agreement by trying to argue for priorities that can obtain only outside the constraints of our world. To some, it would be nonsensical to claim as a political position that ‘we should abolish the police even though that is not possible’. The non-utopian could respond: ‘That may very well be true for some hypothetical world. But here and now we have crime. You must be realistic.’ The issue is that utopia challenges what we take to be realistic. And so the breakdown between utopians and non-utopians is not over the question of whether we are fated to obey the constraints of reality; the political debate concerns what is inalterable and what is changeable in our social life.” – William Paris

Article: Utopian Thinking Prompts Us to Get Real About Society’s Needs


Good News

Humpback whales are recovering, more girls are in school, and forest owned by indigenous communities has risen 40% since 2002.

“David McCandless acknowledges in his introduction that it can be difficult to see the positive things happening around the globe ‘because we’re fixated on the negativity of the news.’ Through his colorful, attractive, and easy-to-understand infographics, this volume should help readers discover good news and better understand important and complex topics. The infographics are categorized under topics such as health, climate, nature, money, and women and girls. McCandless highlights a variety of inspiring facts; for instance, world hunger has reached its lowest point in 20 years, more women are working in government around the world (compared to 1997), and some endangered animals, such as the snow leopard and the black rhinoceros, are rebounding in numbers. McCandless states in the introduction that he felt a bit brighter—even hopeful—while working on this book; readers will come away from this work feeling optimistic too.” – Library Journal

Book Summary: Beautiful News: Positive Trends, Uplifting Stats, Creative Solutions



How Marshall McLuhan was the patron saint of Wired magazine:

“Many of those influenced by Marshall McLuhan—including fellow Canadian David Cronenberg—did not share the media theorist’s religious views; most of them weren’t even aware that the media seer had deep faith. Yet McLuhan’s religious sense offered structure, symbolism, and perhaps even song for his media explorations. Those persuaded by his media theories are not automatically persuaded by the religious vision that underpins them—yet we might consider that their attraction to a thinker so steeped in God suggests a theological osmosis of sorts. God made his way into media theory through McLuhan, whether it was recognized or not.

“Rather than fading into history like many of his provocative contemporaries, McLuhan has gained traction and credibility as the years have passed. It is fascinating to realize that McLuhan only becomes more of a prophet the further our world turns to the digital. As Paul Levinson notes, McLuhan’s metaphors were extravagant and malleable because they had to be: ‘In overshooting the mark, the metaphor gives the mark—and our understanding of it—room to move and grow. In contrast, definitive, fully documented descriptions of a technology, even if they are correct and thus useful in the present, may tell us little about the future.’ Might McLuhan’s religious vision have captured some ineffable truths that both transcend the digital world and also help us comprehend it?” – Nick Ripatrazone

Book Excerpt: Digital Communion: Marshall McLuhan’s Spiritual Vision



We can learn to learn better.

“Many people mistakenly believe that people are born learners, or they’re not. However, a growing body of research shows that learning is a learned behavior. Through the deliberate use of dedicated strategies, we can all develop expertise faster and more effectively. There are three practical strategies for this, starting with organization. Effective learning often boils down to a type of project management. In order to develop an area of expertise, we first have to set achievable goals about what we want to learn and then develop strategies to reach those goals. Another practical method is thinking about thinking. Also known as metacognition, this is akin to asking yourself questions like ‘Do I really get this idea? Could I explain it to a friend?’ Finally, reflection is a third practical way to improve your ability to learn. In short, we can all learn to become a better study.” – Ulrich Boser (Thanks to reader Nedra Chandler for the referral to this article.)

Article: Learning Is a Learned Behavior. Here’s How to Get Better at It.


Personal Development

“The place where joy and sorrow meet is a gateway to creativity, connection and love.”

“People play the happy songs on their playlists about 175 times on average, but they play the sad songs 800 times. And they tell researchers that they associate sad music with beauty and wonder and transcendence, the so-called sublime emotions. And you know, just think of how many musical genres tap into sorrow, right. There’s Spanish flamenco and Portuguese fado and the Irish lament and American country music and the blues. And then even lullabies, which all over the world we often use our most heartbreaking melodies to sing our newborns to sleep. Why on Earth do we do that?” – Susan Cain

TED Talk: The Hidden Power of Sad Songs and Rainy Days


How We Treat Each Other

“When in doubt, try to err on the side of kindness, mercy and compassion.”

Last week in Utah, Gov Spencer Cox was presented with a bill limiting the participation of transgender kids in interscholastic sports. He vetoed it, “and had the guts to publicly explain why.”

“‘I must admit, I am not an expert on transgenderism. I struggle to understand so much of it and the science is conflicting.

“When in doubt however, I always try to err on the side of kindness, mercy and compassion.

“I also try to get proximate and I am learning so much from our transgender community. They are great kids who face enormous struggles.

“Here are the numbers that have most impacted my decision: ….”

If all politicians could be as sensitive and empathetic we’d live in a very different world.

Article: A Little bit of This, A Little Bit of That


Article: New Campaign Aims to Teach Cannabis Users Benefits of Regenerative Farming
Article: How Open-Mindedness Encourages Growth In Leadership
Article: Google Search Interest in #ElectricCars Reached a Record High in the US in March.

Play List

“Black Pumas co-founder Adrian Quesada teams up with Puerto Rican vocalist Ileana Cabra (a.k.a. iLe) for ‘Mentiras Con Cariño,’ a smoky and psychedelic ballad that celebrates Latin music traditions while also modernizing them. As with his work alongside Eric Burton in Black Pumas, Quesada’s production feels timeless and cinematic as he crafts a perfect backing track for Cabra’s deep, alluring vocals.’Mentiras Con Cariño’ opens Boleros Psicodélicos, Quesada’s upcoming tribute to the tradition of Latin baladas.” – Brian Burns

Article: Adrian Quesada (feat. iLe), ‘Mentiras Con Cariño’

Image of the Week
Harmonie Bataka practices in her neighborhood in Tema. Photograph by Francis Kokoroko/Reuters

“On Sundays, Harmonie Bataka skated in wide curves down a suburban street on the outskirts of Ghana’s capital, Accra, empty but for a scattering of people going to church. Sundays used to be the only time the 27-year-old could skateboard, when the streets were quiet and she didn’t have to work. That was before she quit her job last year to pursue the sport full time, to the dismay of friends and family. ‘They said there were too many boys doing it, boys who were too good for me to win any competitions … but I didn’t care,’ said Bataka.”

Article: Meet the Skateboarding Girls of Accra – in Pictures

What’s Love & Work?

Love & Work is the weekly newsletter by me, Mitch Anthony. I help people use their brand – their purpose, values, and stories – as a pedagogy and toolbox for transformation.

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