The WHY Manifesto
“History repeats itself” and “The laws of natural selection” are concepts which each demand a distinctive perspective. The former, in order to survive, one must know their position in the cycle, as to acquire the right resources or equipment for what’s coming next (if fall is coming, to buy a warmer jacket). The later to understand and respect the forces of nature, to recognize how a random evolutionary mutation must be judged to be beneficial or a weakness, against factual criteria.
As an innovator, I’ve devoted my career to refining the ambiguity of choices that lead to great design or lead us off to delusion. I love to geek-out on creating tight little concepts, stories and metaphors to act as useful building blocks. These building blocks to assemble effective algorithms to help simplify much greater challenges in making the right choice, because our choices create our reality.
As to history repeating itself, let’s take the expansion of the Wild West in America. As immigrants piled off ships from the crushing confines of European poverty, to step onto a land that on its western front, had an unlimited expanse, free for colonization, it must have been an endorphin high like no other. Take that, along with the prevailing ethos of “free will and radical individualism”, the “doctrine of discovery” coupled with “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and what you have, is almost a mob scene of desire and intoxicating greed.
This moment held in it, a starting point repeated hundreds of times, over the history of the human-race. Mayan Culture of Central America didn’t collapse by A.D. 900 from a plague, but from overpopulation and an exhaustion of resources. This failure of leadership led to every-man-for-himself turf wars. Sadly, the U.S. expansion, like the Mayan’s, was lacking anyone wise enough, potent enough or influential enough to stand up and sound an alarm, certainly not a white landowner.
Let’s look again at the laws of nature. Whether one calls them facts, cause and effects or ramifications, some things cannot be done without a clear trade-off or having an impact on something else. It’s as simple as the laws of physics where two things cannot occupy the same space at the same time. One good example of this is how just contemplating moving west, to homestead land occupied by hundreds of tribes of indigenous people, there would be no stopping point. Once expansion was set in motion, how that expansion would destroy the culture, art, plant medicine and a thousand-year history of community living in harmony with nature was completely ignored. Not only did we ignore that fact, but we willfully exterminated millions of people (and their buffalo) then drove them off their land, because they were savages, and because the land was there for the taking, if not taken by the first, then someone else would. The justification for such violence played out in thousands of well-crafted, dog-whistle like stories nodding in unison with each other.
Colonization demands a superior WE group, or superior race be created so the OTHERS can be labeled servants. The WE who know they are in the privileged group best stay in line, because if they stay in line, they may eventually reach the front of a line which looks out over limitless free resources.
The laws of nature don’t go away if we don’t pay attention to them. Look at the level of pollution, disease and cancer today to not wonder if plant medicine or a more natural living style might have helped. The unlimited expansion and consumption of natural resources always have limits. No amount of battery technology research will solve the fact rare-earth metals in batteries are in limited supply and not recyclable, or to mention are found in remote locations, subject to corruption by small countries, possibly displacing indigenous people and are vulnerable to trade wars. If that’s true, the unlimited electrification of our transportation system is a George Jetson fantasy.
Without the very forces of nature being the metric technology is measured against, even well-crafted technology development has nothing to do with natural selection in becoming an advantage. Agencies such as the EPA, FDA, FCC, FTC, OSHA and SEC all play a role in attempting to hold the line on unchecked commercialization, but these agencies are now being gutted because they are bad for business and unlimited colonial expansion.
It seems half the technology we buy today is to calm some form of anxiety or fear. If I don’t buy the GPS child tracker, I’m a terrible dad. It just blows my mind how gullible and easily conned investors, politicians and the average consumer is when they are fed some Utopian “Hyper-Loop” vision, when the thing that’s stopping a West Coast high speed transportation system is land-use laws in Silicon Valley (not in my backyard). The same type of problem sits at the middle of Autonomous Driving technology. It’s not that the tech may get there (I’d doubt it) or the cities eventually allow driver-less taxis to roam the streets, it’s the one law of nature, human nature, that will kill it.
Sitting in a city transportation planning meeting in Portland OR, I heard a panel member say the following before the room went silent, “If what the auto industry is designing toward, a fully autonomous driving car, one that can go pick-up my kids at school and drive them to soccer, because anything less doesn’t really offer much beyond cruise control with some crash avoidance. . . and if everyone is free to purchase such a car, then at any given moment, 100% of all these cars will be on the road twenty-four-hours a day in gridlock. People will set their phone App to have the car go get them a Latte every morning, or make extra Uber money with it, or rent it out to Amazon for deliveries. No amount of government intervention can solve that problem. If we had that much government cooperation, we could solve world hunger.”
As CEO of RYNO Motors, my single wheel electric motorcycle company, I was featured repeatedly in the press, invited onto national television and spoke at countless transportation and technology-based events. Since I’m not a car company, I routinely took the liberty of offering radical ideas on how to get cars off the freeway, how since 30% of all urban traffic is people looking for parking, high speed parking was the real solution. I also proposed saving TIME, not cost, as a more effective motivator to people trying to make better transportation choices. Over and over I would ask the question at the end of a talk, “Who in this room has the authority or access to leadership to implement any of these kinds of visions?”. Crickets. . .
Picture this, the colonization-based culture we’ve built for ourselves includes a fancy Titanic style luxury liner docked just out of sight, the name on her bow “The Top 1%”. There’s a long waiting line to get on. The line is strategically curved like at Disneyland where no matter where you stand, you can’t see the beginning or the end. The closer one gets to the front; people must pass through additional admission gates that charge a little bit more cash. It’s frustrating, you look at minorities in front of you and wonder if they deserve to be there, but the choice; is to either get out of line or open a Hot-dog Stand next to the thousands of other Hot-dog Stands paralleling the waiting line. The closer to the front, the higher the fever pitch of Barkers hustling passes to get ahead in line, upgrades to your cabin, deck chair rental coupons, parasols to shield you from the sun. . . Really close, the crowd compresses as you start hearing tales there is no ship. You hear some say the ship left weeks ago, some say it left years ago. You finally face the guy at the last admission gate, you’ve come so far, bet the farm, convinced your wife to believe you, there’s just no turning back, it’s double or nothing. . . you lay all you cash on the table, he takes it, as he looks away you giddily walk around the corner to see nothing but seagulls and rotting dock pilings.
I ask then, who is in charge, the top 1% or the people in line? How is it possible we keep talking ourselves into paying admission to get on a cruise ship that left fifty years ago? Oh wait. . . maybe that’s someone else’s fault, I just did what I was told. . . I wonder why the top 1% would tell us to do these terrible things. Because they knew we would, to keep our place in line and because they had the privilege to feel like it?
Can you see now how allowing history to repeat itself comes from the distraction of playing a game of musical chairs? When the music is playing, everyone is running around in a tight little circle trying to keep their eye on an open chair. As resources diminish, those in charge just remove another lounge chair on the deck of the Titanic, while the music just keeps on playing.
In contrast, living from a place of natural selection or being in harmony with nature, requires a constant accountability to the physical world around us. Every decision made, must be held to the effect it will have on all those concerned. Gee. . . let’s see, oil well fracking under the Gulf of Mexico, what could go wrong.
By living inside real accountability, there is no religion to ask forgiveness from, there is no “other” to blame it on, being accountable to one’s own choices and feeling the effect of those choices in the tissue of the body, at a cellular level, is the only way we each can train ourselves to navigate in harmony with our environment. These somatic skills are coded in our DNA just like every other living creature on earth. My mission is simply to awaken our natural senses and then trust each individual to know better the choice at hand.
Most people don’t understand the oppression they’re in. They don’t realize without any real POWER, all we have left is our emotionality. We either yell a bit louder or align behind a dominant leader who has a bigger emotional megaphone to “speak for us”, until the crushing din of chaos is so high, there can be no resistance to it. This noise is designed specifically to allow those who hold the keys to the money, to do anything they want.
There’s no Wild West left; we’re back in the Europe everyone left in the 1700’s. There is so much cash accumulated at the top now there’s no place to put that cash to make it work. In Germany, people now PAY to keep their money in the bank. Look at Silicon Valley to see how billions of dollars are recklessly being lost as start-up valuations go up and down. I’ve been to Dubai, there’s a twenty mile stretch of highway on the way downtown from the airport, lined with gorgeous High-rise office buildings and condos, all empty, all used I suspect for money laundering. I stopped counting the number of business-people I met there that knew a guy that had a great deal on a condo. The point is, the business model of digging something out of the earth, adding some cheap labor to it and selling it for a big profit is unsustainable.
Except for a few impact investing funds and some who support women entrepreneurs, Silicon Valley has degenerated into an Epstein infested unicorn hunt. It’s finally the perfect corrupt book end to Washington DC, squeezing the life and cash out of the country in between. I pitched to hundreds of investors in the valley during my west coast investor tour leading up to funding RYNO Motors in 2014. Even then, I felt like the “entertainment” and not a business opportunity. There was a small period in the early 90s when Media Labs or the founding of the TED Talk franchise had noble intentions but underestimated how hard it really is to use technology to effect social change. After that, as many tech writers have noted, technology isn’t about helping people as much as creating a sleek system for generating valuation, even if the business model is unsustainable (Uber, AirBnB, Tesla, WeWork etc.)
Now that I’ve worn you down a bit, allow me to talk about how we all got duped into all this, men and women.
I believe it all started with the assignment of gender roles.
The first step was to get men to fall in line and be obedient to the WE (or what and how) group, while preserving their motivation. To accomplish that, their alignment to the laws of nature had to be replaced with a new code of ethics, one that would tolerate obvious cruelty, violence and theft. The only way to accomplish that was to shame workers for using their own question of why things were being done a certain way. Men had to find an escape from feeling effected by the horrors being played out in front of them. The feelings and emotions these horrors generated, in what was sensitive, kind and loving men had to be eliminated.
To assure emotions were perceived as “bad” (not a source of empathetic strength) men aligned to power, tied emotions to physical weakness. How? They pointed to the gender we call female, and labeled her as being weak and, as such, emotional. It’s a cunning bait-and-switch. Worse, this female avatar was and is still, systematically marginalized and ostracized from the male-dominated culture, while reminding men to be terrified of being feminized against his will. The bait-and-switch trick that most men don’t see is that their own WHY discernment has been compromised. Again, colonization requires total lock-step loyalty.
Boys aren’t shamed for being emotional; they’re shamed for asking WHY. Other than physical pain, the emotions boys experience tends to be a byproduct of how “what they are told to believe”, doesn’t match what they know is right in their hearts. When boys see someone being bullied, it’s confusing — not because of the violence, but because no one is challenging the bully, or asking WHY he’s acting that way. The shame of “boys don’t cry” comes down to demanding conformity with a threat of disconnection. To ask WHY is to challenge authority — which is exactly what those in charge DON’T want to hear.
To embody the full measure of how this gender stratification was affecting me, I literally resorted to dressing in drag to discover the reality of this con-job. I started building Las Vegas Showgirl like costumes and going to galas and dance parties. There I allowed myself to be objectified and celebrated for looking so gorgeous. It felt euphoric at times, but I couldn’t help feeling like an outsider around conventional men. As a white male, this was the first time I experienced what it must feel like to be a minority or worse, a woman, because there was no available access to my privilege. At times I even feared for my physical safety walking to my car.
The gender range exploration I’m on, isn’t to discover my narrow gender expression and place it somewhere between the poles of masculine or feminine, it’s to feel into the full range of gender awareness and then choose where in that range I want to make my choices from.
In my forties, as an engineer in the Detroit Auto Industry I operated from a place of “over-achiever”, in my fifties more of a competitive “It’s all about me” kind of visionary, then once I humbly wound down my startup company, having learned from my ethical COO how to own my own choices, I settled into a full time cubicle job for the first time in eight years at a multi-national manufacturing company. As Senior Research and Development Engineer I was hired to reinvent their faltering product lines and envision a new brand strategy. It didn’t take long to realize my boss had no interest in the change the company wanted from me.
By this time, I was well into my gender explorations. There I learned to recognize how men use intimidation to trigger women into their emotionality, in doing so to get her to relinquish their power. What started out as being abandoned by my boss to wander around undirected as I tried to calibrate myself, to then be embarrassed in front of other for making mistakes, I finally went to HR where they suggested more weekly 1x1 meetings with my boss. There the intimidation continued in the form of grooming me to accept the status-quo and the bonus structure my boss relied on in the past. In these meeting there was no effort at understanding my perspective, only a subtle wearing down of my boundaries like an elder man preparing a schoolboy to be abused.
Since I was keen to know exactly what was happening, and making a personal goal not to resort to exercising my male power (staying in my feminine), I never took the bait in staff meetings where the challenges to my ideas could result in an power struggle or worse, an emotional response from me to tap-dance for him. Seeing these dynamics played out, gave me so much empathy for what women, with no allocated power, go through. By staying calm, I realized how much women must resort to silence and how strategic they must be to advocate for themselves. The only way I was going to win, was to get my boss to reveal his own transgressions. To do this, I simply started naming the hidden agendas he was using in group meetings, calling out what was obvious. . . for what it was, in contradiction to the grooming he was using on me in private. Boy did he get pissed off.
Walking out of a big Friday staff meeting, after having worked there for almost five months, he pulled me aside and said, “I don’t understand how we keep getting so out of alignment?” my response, “That’s because you burn up all the time taking about yourself.” The following Monday in our weekly 1x1 he was so visibly agitated, when I sat down, all he could say was, “So knowing I take up all the space, it’s your meeting, what do you want to say?” There was so much disrespect embedded in the tone of his voice and his posture as he leaned way back, arms crossed in his chair. I sat stunned for a second and said, “I don’t even know where to start.” Then I sat there collecting my emotions which ranged from screaming bloody murder, crying from the crushing disappointment of how unfair this was and then looking at him as if staring at the “Grinch Who Stole Christmas” to see if his heart was going to crack open with one ounce of empathy.
About three seconds went by before he said, “Well if you aren’t going to talk, I have five things I need to say.” . . . I then calmly stood up, grabbed my notebook off the table and said, “I have to go.” and walked out of his office and out the front door of the building, never to look back.
I made that choice because if I said one more thing, it would either be something to regret later or basically agreeing to be his little bitch. Worse yet, to negotiate the terms of my role as his bitch. Luckily, I didn’t have kids to feed or a mortgage to pay or I may have had to choke that shit down in a soul crushing gag reflex.
In the name of innovation, I share this much detail to make a point in how a mindset built on power and coercion does nothing but create silence or at best, minimal engagement. To effect change, if the influence one is trying to impart (asking why) is not received in a way where that influence may make a difference, not all the time but occasionally, people start to believe they have no power, worse they think they are incapable of good ideas, and worse yet, to passively take their position in the work force.
What this all is leading up to is to clearly illustrate how men who accumulate power and privilege, and the women who enable them, perpetuate a culture of total disregard for anything that could be considered natural progress or social evolution. I believe men are labeled masculine, so they are easily talked out of their natural questioning of why. As for women, I believe the question of why, is somaticly coded deep in their DNA. Women are the walking, generative, benevolent embodiment of the question of why. To exclude this filter or fact checker or litmus test from any decision-making process will always lead to tragedy and destruction. It’s not about equal pay for women, it’s about equal influence.
Unlimited colonization as a motivator to standing in line, is being replaced by a real-time Roman Colosseum style fight to the finish. Those who have been labeled the “others” stand in the back rows watching in slack-jawed disbelief as those with enough privilege to change something, are totally distracted by their own frantic game of musical chairs, vying for VIP seats in the front row.
Sadly, there never has been a global level of organized leadership immune to the temptation of colonization. There is no 100-year plan let alone a 1,000-year plan. Strangely, more and more fringe groups are hoping some form of outer space Aliens will come down with enough power to make it all STOP.
It’s time to begin the hard work of building cultural systems not as tribal entities but built as a fabric to signal how we are open to helping EACH OTHER, no matter how little is left for us to share. Giving the chaos silence, as way to keep our own emotional reserves high and maintain our focus to stay in our intuition, will allow us to stay in contact with our own question WHY. As such, our trust in women will be critical to this transition.
How we do that is to stop responding to the demands for conformity and believe that our natural human nature will come back online as we start to make choices based on real cause and effects. This perspective change from that of a landowner to one who make choices based on the shirt on their back, is heroic. Action can take place one choice at a time, a choice made by looking at all the factors , ones that take in the genocide that may be created, the deforestation, the sea-level rise, all affected by that action, with a readiness to be accountable to the results.
My choice, my reality.