This Sustainable Life

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440: Andrés Reséndez: The Other Slavery

Ep. 440

About six months ago the parallels started forming for me between our global economic system today that creates great suffering on the scale of hundreds of millions of people with nightmarish cruelty, but also people benefiting from it looking the other way or saying "what I do doesn't matter" or "the youth will solve it". . . And the systems of slavery.

Also looking for role models who changed systems of that scale.

My historical knowledge of abolition and slavery was limited. You've heard guests Adam Hochschild, Manisha Sinha, Eric Metaxas, and others sharing historical background on the systems of slavery and abolition, as well as individual abolitionists. I believe we can learn from them and honor them by learning from them. Our situation is different, but on the scale of billions and we are alive to act.

Today's guest, Andrés Reséndez, wrote The Other Slavery, a book on the enslavement of Native Americans, mostly by the Spanish. I knew little about it and what I did know was off. Our conversation covers the different character of the Spanish enslaving Native Americans to mine gold and silver, leading to global trade and a different character.

Motivating me was to consider how future generations would look at us. Listeners may recall from, say, my conversation with Rod Schoonover, the scientist in the US State Department who described the suffering facing climate refugees in Central America. Once they cross borders, they face war atrocities. Then there is Syria and more. We can expect those numbers to increase by some estimation into the billions of climate refugees, as one of many places our system generates cruelty for our way of life, which is totally optional. We don't have to extract, exploit, and so on. I believe that there is nothing more meaningful and purposeful than to take responsibility for how our behavior affects others.

What more can we do for the past than to learn from it, to avoid repeating the mistakes of exploitation and discounting where our material wealth comes from?

I ask myself what I would have done then. Would I have accepted the silver?

Would I have said what I did didn't matter?

I have to be honest with myself because I can easily say I would do then what I today would. What do I consider right today? Can I look away from those at the receiving end of my plastic, pesticides, jet fuel, and so on?


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3/23/2021

449: Chad E. Foster: How Do You Handle Huge Challenges? Not Big. Huge.

Ep. 449
How do you face challenges? Not little ones like a pandemic lockdown for a year. Big ones.Regular listeners hear me talk about role models like Viktor Frankl and Nelson Mandela in the context of handling life challenges. During the pandemic, for example, I recognize there was suffering before, there will be suffering after, and there's suffering now. Our challenge is not to take on things outside our control since we can't, but to figure out how to respond, not just to the world but within our hearts and minds.We're locked down. Nelson Mandela was locked down for 27 years. If he could create meaning forced to break rocks, I can find meaning in my home, able to go out every day, with access to communicate with everyone, access all the culture ever digitized, and so on.In the context of sustainability, do we just give up? How do we find hope and resolution to act even when everyone around us says what they do doesn't matter or that only governments and corporations can make a difference? What role models can we find.Today's guest, Chad E. Foster, lost his eyesight as a teenager, but that didn’t stop him from becoming an executive for Red Hat, the world’s largest open source software company and securing over $45 Billion in contracts throughout his career.He is the first blind graduate of the Harvard Business School leadership program and did what Oracle said could not be done; he built a software solution that created job opportunities for hundreds of millions of people. His direct and confident style, combined with a go-for-it inspiring belief system (he is an avid downhill skier… and that’s not a joke), has made him a high-impact speaker for leaders at companies such as Google, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, GE and Microsoft.He also skis double black diamonds, which he talks about learning.From Chad's Quotable Quotes page:Happiness is not a feeling, happiness is not an emotion, happiness is a decision that each of us make every single day when we wake up.You do not know what you cannot see when you cannot see it.The facts are far less relevant than the stories we tell ourselves.Life without obstacles removes opportunity for growth.If you’re not getting outside of your comfort zone, then you’re not growing.Life begins outside of our comfort zone.You have to take advantage of your disadvantages.It is a great time to go blind.This stuff is so easy I can do it with my eyes closed.All of us are blind. Blind in some aspect.Don't let other people define your vision of your future.If you never dare to be great, you'll always be mediocre.Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is doing something despite the presence of fear.If you're not failing from time to time, you're not aiming high enough.