Welcome to Panacea and Earthrise, a podcast and essay collection that seeks to explore, uncover, and narrate the story of how we, the human species, collectively navigate the winding road from the systems of punishment, scarcity, conflict, and fear of today to the forgiveness, abundance, peace, and equanimity of tomorrow.
Over the course of this project’s unfolding, we will search for and propose all sorts of potentially elegant solutions to seemingly intractable problems…
…like how combining a fungus called mycelium and an organic compost-esque charcoal product called biochar with the ancient practice of farming hemp allows us to transform the melting glaciers of the Arctic and Antarctic from an apparently fearful, even menacing symbol of environmental collapse into an incredible, life-expanding opportunity that also dramatically reduces carbon in the atmosphere:
(Hint: You bury the biochar, crop dust mycelium spores on top, and drag glaciers out of the ocean, put them on top, and plant hemp after they melt.)
…or how, within a decade, we can combine the coming wave of immersive computing devices with a federated network of next-generation communication satellites to make a world-class vocational education nearly free and accessible to almost everyone on planet Earth.
This first season starts at the intersecting systems of justice, psychiatry, and healthcare in the United States, using a profoundly painful, disorienting, and life-altering 12-month experience I had at the crossroads of all three as a starting point, and from there set out in pursuit of imminently practical solutions for repairing and restoring those broken systems.
Among other things, we will explore Norway’s shift to restorative justice, which treats nearly all crime as a desperate call for help from a human being in deep distress, and structures the whole justice system accordingly…investing heavily in prisoners’ mental and physical health, offering high quality vocational training and reducing the percentage of convicts who return to jail after release to 20%, down from the 50’s…
And Portugal’s profoundly successful overhaul of its approach to substance abuse from an issue of crime to one of public health, where instead of punishing drug users with incarceration, the state gives them safe places to use the drugs of their choice while offering free access to supportive counseling and when they are ready to heal..
…And has seen heroin use drop 80% nationwide and the mortality rate from drug overdoes plummet to 1/50th that of the United States.
We will push into the frontiers of our understanding of consciousness, and explore how deepening awareness of the extraordinary connections between the mind and the body light the way to effective, scaleable approaches to fostering widespread health and well-being…
…and explore what it might take to bring American “justice” out of the realm of punishment into the realm of restoration.
The one strange thing about all the potential solutions we’ll propose is that, like this rough-draft of a plausible solution to climate change, they are all designed to significantly expand the size of the pie and every slice of it, so the people and organizations with the most value vested across the world’s keystone industries simultaneously keep the core essence of the value they’ve built and expand it exponentially while everyone else also reaps the benefits…
We will present things like coherent, entirely plausible, and imminently attainable path to turning mass scale automation from a harbinger of social decay into an opportunity to transcend scarcity of all kinds, evolving the concept of work from “jobs to pay for stuff” to “discovering one’s specific gifts and applying them towards personal and collective health, happiness and well-being.”
Some of the concepts we explore may seem like they’re straight out of utopian science fiction but are technologically and economically practical within the next 1-10 years…
First and foremost, we aim to tell these stories through the people that are already in the thick of this work.
The inventors, leaders, executive directors, and policy wonks, the healers and the teachers, the dreamers and explorers and the doers and the skeptics and everyone in between.
Along the way, you will encounter concepts that, depending on the narratives and belief systems you subscribe to, may seem illuminating and enlightening, challenging, inflammatory or upsetting, difficult and painful, and in some cases maybe even debased.
…like with the case we’ll make in Season 1 that forgiving ourselves, everyone who has ever hurt us, and all the people (usually men, but plenty of women too) responsible for some of the most painful moments in the the past and present (yes, all of them) is the most powerful, direct, and low-risk path to a safe, healthy, and peaceful world.
Or the one where we explore the long forgotten practices of sacred prostitution that Emperor Constantine and his fellow Roman elites purged and scrubbed from the books when they took over the mantle of Christianity and make the case that the world would be dramatically happier, less alienating and violent place if we brought it back.
We cannot promise that everything will be comfortable, or easy, pleasant, or fun to think about, hear about, or confront.
In fact, there are likely to be occasional moments that seem quite the opposite.
If the technology existed to instantly translate everything in here to the specific frames and belief systems of each individual person consuming it, we would deploy it without hesitation.
But for now, it does not, so all we can promise is that everything here comes straight from the heart, a place of relentless and expanding unconditional love and compassion, with as little ego as we can muster and still believe we have something worthwhile to share.
Because if we do this right, the story we seek to discover is about humanity forgiving itself and each other and through that simple act becoming more humane.
It is about making way for the flow of life, the rightful re-ascendance of the feminine to a place of equality in the pantheon, and the design of systems that align the generation of wealth with human well-being, and both of those things with the health of the Earth and all of the other life we share it with.
Accordingly, much of what you will hear about here tests and sometimes breaks the conventional boundaries between science, spirituality, and metaphysics.
Because the central thesis that led to this podcast and essay series is that we, individually and collectively, already have the solutions to every single one of the most pressing, threatening, and allegedly impossible challenges the present and future seem to hold.
Some are in the lab. Others are sitting on a shelf somewhere, under lock and key, buried under a thicket of classified documents and defended under threat of violence or imprisonment.
But as strange and initially unbelievable as it may sound, the majority of these solutions are not OUT THERE, but already inside of us…tucked away in the deeper reaches of the mind, obscured behind long-standing and deeply internalized stories of separation, fear, self-denial, and self-doubt.
While I cannot say for sure because no one has run that experiment yet, my hypothesis is that each and every one of them…
…all the mysteries of creation, life, the universe, and everything else…are accessible in varying degrees of depth to every human being with a brain and a heartbeat willing to do the work necessary to upgrade our egos…
….forgive ourselves and everyone that has ever hurt us, including our families, enemies, and ancestors…
…open our minds and hearts, face down the fears and insecurities and traumas and doubts that we’ve been carrying for far longer than most of us know, and release them one by one.
Yes, this inevitably involves A LOT of crying and more than a few difficult conversations.
But one day…maybe you’ll be going inward and imagining an ex you loved and who broke your heart, surfing on a beach with her dad in Costa Rica, with the dog you both raised together and gave her after you broke her heart with your incompleteness…
…and you’ll be crying intensely for her pain and your pain and suddenly you’ll hear something you’ve never heard before: that the sobs surging through your body actually contain the sound and weight of laughter…
And then maybe you’ll just start laughing…
…because sometimes, even through the hardest pains, life suddenly reveals itself as so mysterious that you can’t help wonder if whatever put this whole weird universe together has an absurdist sense of humor…because what else could possibly produce the duckbill platypus?
And then…as the crying recedes and you can take slow, deep breaths deep into your belly and chest and eventually find your calm, grounded, centered happy place, come up with the biggest, most wondrous question you’ve always wanted an answer to and fill your body and mind with the sensations of curiosity, reverence, awe, and love.
Keep doing that and maybe no matter where or who you are, whatever bad, evil, horrible, unforgivable things you think you’ve done, the answer may eventually make itself available to you.
But don’t take my word for it: Try it for yourself.
If this hypothesis is correct, here’s what may happen: one day, after you’ve done enough of the necessary work of self-forgiveness and internal healing…which may or may not take a while…
…you will spontaneously discover that somewhere inside, some part of you has the answer to the big question you’ve been asking or it’s been revealed to you in another way…like a highly relevant book recommendation from a friend or stranger or an article in your newsfeed.
For those are you that are fairly far along the path to self-Illumination, some or many of the concepts, ideas, and solutions presented over the course of this podcast may be an echo of something that was already bouncing around inside your head. You may have thought of them yourself in some form, and sometimes verbatim.
If so: awesome. You probably have improvements, refinements, and other great solutions that aren’t yet in here and should be.
For others, the experience of hearing this may feel a bit like a sense of remembering, like “yes!!” as if the words you encounter here are merely giving structure to feelings or insights you had, but had not yet developed into words.
If what you encounter here strikes you as totally novel, intriguing, or exhilarating, but feels like something you doubt you would have ever considered yourself, that’s ok, too.
It simply means you are beginning to open up, and the further you go inside that feeling, the more you will discover how much of it was already there.
And if your reaction to these concepts is deep skepticism: that’s great, too!
It means that you are officially invited to play the role of red team: picking apart every claim, finding every hole and inconsistency, and revealing to the rest of us everything that is either legitimately implausible or could easily go wrong.
Through the refinery of your skepticism and your passionate desire to find the truth, every worthwhile concept here becomes stronger, more resilient, and more practical, and everything that cannot adapt to the fire of your scrutiny gets reconsidered, re-evaluated, redesigned, or disposed.
The greatest challenge is for the cynics and deniers, those who are attached to closed-off belief systems, and those claim to they only have a commitment to the truth but balk at evidence that the truth they hold dear is incomplete at best, most especially those that mistake their reflexive dismissal for reasonable skepticism:
If your reaction is that none of these concepts can be true or that most of these things will never work because the currently-accepted scientific consensus hasn’t validated it yet or a few internet sites said it wasn’t true…
…or it’s a dead end because you have no direct experience of it for yourself so it cannot possibly exist, you are, of course, welcome to your beliefs.
However, if the wet smoky coals of reflexive denial, rather than the burning fires of reasonable but open-minded skepticism color your reactions, we encourage you to practice the underutilized disciplines of silence, stillness, and patience.
Don’t believe me. Just watch.
Stay with it and you may find yourself at least mildly surprised at what the deeper reaches of the mind can do.
As a last note: if this preamble strikes you as arrogant, it may be useful to know that none of the insights or concepts in here are mine.
I did not create them, nor invent them, and accordingly I neither deserve nor desire any credit for them.
My central role here has been that of a note-taker, observer, and flawed transcriptionist, not an originator or inventor.
I simply opened myself up to what was already here, and wrote down or synthesized the most interesting stuff that arrived.
Admittedly, the word “simply” is a bit deceptive.
SBecause getting to the place where I realized how simple it was to tune in and listen to the universe inside myself was neither simple nor easy.
In fact, it was a long road that felt, at times, almost unbearably difficult.
And in the first episode, you will hear the beginning THAT story…a story that begins on a sunny Spring morning in San Francisco, when I experienced a completely overwhelming sense of oneness and connection to all that is…
Then lost the ground underneath my feet.
Along the way, I accidentally break a friend’s porcelain toilet in half by hugging it.
Some of my closest friends send me to a dark, heartless place called Zuckerberg General Hospital, where despite my gentle insistence that I am no threat to myself or others and that I have a history of trauma related to psychiatric pharmaceuticals, I end up held down on a bed by three men, in a dark windowless room with a steel door, where, even though I go limp and put up zero resistance, the doctor decides to inject with a needle full of them.
Later, after an unexpected trip to the 5th dimension, an ER in Denver very nearly ejects me into a snowy street in a completely delirious, exhausted state, without bothering to ensure someone was coming to help.
And finally, I descend into the Heart of Darkness of the American Justice System, which would more accurately be called the American System of Punishment, where 12 months later, the things I see and experience are rattling in my bones and triggering spontaneous bursts of intense crying.
Should you choose to join this adventure, you’ll hear a lot of strange things, some of them heart-rending and painful.
But many others that are much more like “whoa, did that really happen?”
Spoiler alert: yes.