Adonis Diaries

Archive for April 16th, 2016

Launching an Era of openness in business

Anonymous companies protect corrupt individuals – from notorious drug cartel leaders to nefarious arms dealers – behind a shroud of mystery that makes it almost impossible to find and hold them responsible.

But anti-corruption activist Charmian Gooch hopes to change all that.

In March, At TED2014, she shares her brave TED Prize wish: to know who owns and controls companies, to change the law, and to launch a new era of openness in business.

I’ve come here today to talk to you about a problem. It’s a very simple yet devastating problem, one that spans the globe and is affecting all of us.

The problem is anonymous companies. It sounds like a really dry and technical thing, doesn’t it? But anonymous companies are making it difficult and sometimes impossible to find out the actual human beings responsible sometimes for really terrible crimes.

So, why am I here talking to all of you? Well, I guess I am a lifelong troublemaker and when my parents taught my twin brother and I to question authority, I don’t think they knew where it might lead. (Laughter)

And, they probably really regretted it during my stroppy teenage years when, predictably, I questioned their authority a lot.

And a lot of my school teachers didn’t appreciate it much either. You see, since the age of about five I’ve always asked the question, but why?

But why does the Earth go around the sun? But why is blood red? But why do I have to go to school? But why do I have to respect the teachers and authority?

And little did I realize that this question would become the basis of everything I would do. And so it was in my twenties, a long time ago, that one rainy Sunday afternoon in North London I was sitting with Simon Taylor and Patrick Alley and we were busy stuffing envelopes for a mail out in the office of the campaign group where we worked at the time.

And as usual, we were talking about the world’s problems. And in particular, we were talking about the civil war in Cambodia. And we had talked about that many, many times before.

But then suddenly we stopped and looked at each other and said, but why don’t we try and change this? And from that slightly crazy question, over two decades and many campaigns later, including alerting the world to the problem of blood diamonds funding war, from that crazy question, Global Witness is now an 80-strong team of campaigners, investigators, journalists and lawyers. And we’re all driven by the same belief, that change really is possible.

02:47 So, what exactly does Global Witness do? We investigate, we report, to uncover the people really responsible for funding conflict for stealing millions from citizens around the world, also known as state looting, and for destroying the environment.

And then we campaign hard to change the system itself. And we’re doing this because so many of the countries rich in natural resources like oil or diamonds or timber are home to some of the poorest and most dispossessed people on the planet.

And much of this injustice is made possible by currently accepted business practices. And one of these is anonymous companies.

Now we’ve come up against anonymous companies in lots of our investigations, like in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where we exposed how secretive deals involving anonymous companies had deprived the citizens of one of the poorest countries on the planet of well over a billion dollars. That’s twice the country’s health and education budget combined.

Or in Liberia, where an international predatory logging company used front companies as it attempted to grab a really huge chunk of Liberia’s unique forests.

Or political corruption in Sarawak, Malaysia, which has led to the destruction of much of its forests. Well, that uses anonymous companies too.

We secretly filmed some of the family of the former chief minister and a lawyer as they told our undercover investigator exactly how these dubious deals are done using such companies. And the awful thing is, there are so many other examples out there from all walks of life.

This truly is a scandal of epic proportions hidden in plain sight. Whether it’s the ruthless Mexican drugs cartel, the Zetas, who use anonymous companies to launder profits while their drugs-related violence is tearing communities apart across the Americas.

Or the anonymous company, which bought up Americans’ tax debts, piled on the legal fees and then gave homeowners a choice: Pay up or lose your home.

Imagine being threatened with losing your home sometimes over a debt of just a few hundred dollars, and not being able to find out who you were really up against.

Now anonymous companies are great for sanctions busting too. As the Iranian government found out when, through a series of front companies, it owned a building in the very heart of Manhattan, on Fifth Avenue, despite American sanctions. And Juicy Couture, home of of the velvet track suit, and other companies were the unwitting, unknowing tenants there.

There are just so many examples, the horesemeat scandal in Europe, the Italian mafia, they’ve used these companies for decades. The $100 million American Medicare fraud, the supply of weapons to wars around the world including those in Eastern Europe in the early ’90s. Anonymous companies have even come to light in the recent revolution in the Ukraine.

But, for every case that we and others expose there are so many more that will remain hidden away because of the current system. And it’s just a simple truth that some of the people responsible for outrageous crimes, for stealing from you and me and millions of others, they are remaining faceless and they are escaping accountability and they’re doing this with ease, and they’re doing it using legal structures. And really, that is unfair.

Well, you might well ask, what exactly is an anonymous company, and can I really set one up, and use it, without anyone knowing who I am? Well, the answer is, yes you can.

But if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to see some of that for yourself, so let me show you.

 First you need to work out where you want to set it up. Now, at this point you might be imagining one of those lovely tropical island tax havens but here’s the thing, shockingly, my own hometown, London, and indeed the U.K., is one of the best places in the world to set up an anonymous company.

And the other, even better, I’m afraid that’s America. Do you know, in some states across America you need less identification to open up a company than you do to get a library card, like Delaware, which is one of the easiest places in the world to set up an anonymous company.

so let’s say it’s America, and let’s say it’s Delaware, and now you can simply go online and find yourself a company service provider.

These are the companies that can set your one up for you, and remember, it’s all legal, routine business practice. So, here’s one, but there are plenty of others to choose from. And having made your choice, you then pick what type of company you want and then fill in a contact, name and address.

But don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be your name. It can be your lawyer’s or your service provider’s, and it’s not for the public record anyway.

And then you add the owner of the company. Now this is the key part, and again it doesn’t have to be you, because you can get creative, because there is a whole universe out there of nominees to choose from. And nominees are the people that you can legally pay to be your company’s owner.

And if you don’t want to involve anyone else, it doesn’t even have to be an actual human being. It could be another company. And then finally, give your company a name add a few more details and make your payment. And then the service provider will take a few hours or more to process it.

There you are, in 10 minutes of online shopping you can create yourself an anonymous company. And not only is it easy, really, really easy and cheap, it’s totally legal too.

But the fun doesn’t have to end there, maybe you want to be even more anonymous. Well, that’s no problem either. You can simply keep adding layers, companies owned by companies. You can have hundreds of layers with hundreds of companies spread across lots of different countries, like a giant web, each layer adds anonymity.

Each layer makes it more difficult for law enforcement and others to find out who the real owner is.

But whose interests is this all serving? It might be in the interests of the company or a particular individual, but what about all of us, the public? There hasn’t even been a global conversation yet about whether it’s okay to misuse companies in this way. And what does it all mean for us?

An example that really haunts me is one I came across recently. And it’s that of a horrific fire in a nightclub in Buenos Aires about a decade ago. It was the night before New Year’s Eve. Three thousand very happy revelers, many of them teenagers, were crammed into a space meant for 1,000. And then tragedy struck, a fire broke out plastic decorations were melting from the ceiling and toxic smoke filled the club.

So people tried to escape only to find that some of the fire doors had been chained shut. Over 200 people died. Seven hundred were injured trying to get out. And as the victims’ families and the city and the country reeled in shock, investigators tried to find out who was responsible. And as they looked for the owners of the club, they found instead anonymous companies, and confusion surrounded the identities of those involved with the companies.

Now ultimately, a range of people were charged and some went to jail. But this was an awful tragedy, and it shouldn’t have been so difficult just to try and find out who was responsible for those deaths. Because in an age when there is so much information out there in the open, why should this crucial information about company ownership stay hidden away?

Why should tax evaders, corrupt government officials, arms traders and more, be able to hide their identities from us, the public?

Why should this secrecy be such an accepted business practice? Anonymous companies might be the norm right now but it wasn’t always this way.

Companies were created to give people a chance to innovate and not have to put everything on the line. Companies were created to limit financial risk, they were never intended to be used as a moral shield. Companies were never intended to be anonymous, and they don’t have to be.

12:30 And so I come to my wish. My wish is for us to know who owns and controls companies so that they can no longer be used anonymously against the public good.

Together let’s ignite world opinion, change the law, and launch a new era of openness in business. So what might this look like? Well, imagine if you could go online and look up the real owner of a company.

Imagine if this data were open and free, accessible across borders for citizens and businesses and law enforcement alike.

Imagine what a game changer that would be. So how are we going to do this? Well, there is only one way. Together, we have to change the law globally to create public registries which list the true owners of companies and can be accessed by all with no loopholes. And yes, this is ambitious, but there is momentum on this issue, and over the years I have seen the sheer power of momentum, and it’s just starting on this issue.

There is such an opportunity right now. And the TED community of creative and innovative thinkers and doers across all of society could make the crucial difference. You really can make this change happen.

Now, a simple starting point is the address behind me for a Facebook page that you can join now to support the campaign and spread the word. It’s going to be a springboard for our global campaigning. And the techies among you, you could really help us create a prototype public registry to demonstrate what a powerful tool this could be.

Campaign groups from around the world have come together to work on this issue. The U.K. government is already on board; it supports these public registries.

And just last week, the European Parliament came on board with a vote 600 to 30 in favor of public registries. That is momentum. (Applause)

But it’s early days. America still needs to come on board, as do so many other countries. And to succeed we will all together need to help and push our politicians, because without that, real far-reaching, world-shifting change just isn’t going to happen.

Because this isn’t just about changing the law, this is about starting a conversation about what it’s okay for companies to do, and in what ways is it acceptable to use company structures.

This isn’t just a dry policy issue. This is a human issue which affects us all. This is about being on the right side of history.

Global citizens, innovators, business leaders, individuals, we need you. Together, let’s kickstart this global movement. Let’s just do it, let’s end anonymous companies.

 

Charmian Gooch.Anti-corruption activist
Charmian Gooch is the 2014 TED Prize winner. At Global Witness, she exposes how a global architecture of corruption is woven into the extraction and exploitation of natural resources. Full bio
Note: The USA financial multinational monopoly is the main culprit in creating and sustaining anonymous and shield companies. And before the USA, the City of London was the base of most of these business dealings

Re-acquiring Lebanese Citizenship? April 16, 2016

Reacquiring Lebanese Citizenship

I would like to inform you that the Lebanese pertinent authorities, pursuant to Law # 41 “Reacquiring the Lebanese Citizenship” dated November 24, 2015, has started taking applications from members of the Lebanese diaspora to reacquire the Lebanese citizenship.

The said Law stipulates that applications should be submitted before November 25, 2025.

Applications will be considered by a committee within the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities of Lebanon.

Applicants can appeal the decisions of the said committee within a month from the time they are legally notified of such decisions at the address they specified in their applications.

Persons eligible to apply should have their names or the names of their paternal ancestors, or male relatives on their father’s side, listed on the records of the census of 1921 – 1924, either residents or immigrants registers, and/or the records of the census of 1932, immigrants registers, available at the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities.

To apply:
At the Consular Section, you or your legal proxy should complete a reacquiring citizenship application and enclose:
1. Transcript of the above mentioned records of the census of 1921 – 1924, either residents or immigrants registers, and/or the records of the census of 1932, immigrants registers, listing your name or the names of your paternal ancestors, or male relatives on your father’s side.
2. Lebanese documents including civil status records (IDs, ikhraj kayd), wills, or national archives, etc… listing your name or the names of your paternal ancestors, or male relatives on your father’s side.
3. American documents including civil status records (birth certificates), or national archives, etc… listing your name or the names of your their paternal ancestors, or male relatives on your father’s side.
4. Parental consent form for minors and applicants under 18 signed by both parents or legal guardians, at the Consular Section or authenticated by a notary public, affirming their consent to the application.

Via certified mail, if you cannot get to the Consulate, complete and sign a reacquiring citizenship application in front of a notary public, and then send it to us along with:
1. Transcript of the above mentioned records of the census of 1921 – 1924, either residents or immigrants registers, and/or the records of the census of 1932, immigrants registers, listing your name or the names of your paternal ancestors, or male relatives on your father’s side.
2. Lebanese documents including civil status records (IDs, ikhraj kayd), wills, or national archives, etc… listing your name or the names of your paternal ancestors, or male relatives on your father’s side.
3. American documents including civil status records (birth certificates), or national archives, etc… listing your name or the names of your their paternal ancestors, or male relatives on your father’s side.
4. Parental consent form for minors and applicants under 18 signed by both parents or legal guardians and authenticated by a notary public, affirming their consent to the application.

Detailed information and forms are available on our website at www.nylebcons.org.

Best.
Majdi Ramadan, Consul General

Hold Refugee Families Together: WhatsApp Messages

“Listening to these messages, I felt these stories had been given a life”

Joanna Choukeir Hojeily shared this link

@olivierclaurent March 28, 2016

Beautiful what’s app voice messages between Syrian refugees and their family member.

“Listening to these messages, I felt these stories had been given a life.”
time.com

They send back messages of love, hope and sorrow. Hundreds of thousands Syrian refugees have fled their homeland for Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and, in increasing numbers, Europe.

But families separated by thousands of miles still stay connected, thanks to smartphones and applications like the cross-platform mobile messaging program WhatsApp.

For the past three years, Jordanian-American photographer Tanya Habjouqa has been documenting the aftermath of the Arab Spring and Syria’s descent into civil war through the eyes of the millions of refugees that have flocked to Jordan and across the Mediterranean.

At the end of a two-month stretch in the Azraq and Zaatari refugee camps, as well as in Amman, Ramtha and Irbid, she came to a crossroads. “Since Alan Kurdi, the imagery around Syrian refugees is ubiquitous,” she says. “We’ve seen everything.”

Looking at her own work, Habjouqa thought her images failed to convey the urgency of this story as millions of Syrians continue to live in squalid conditions in Jordanian, Turkish and Greek refugee camps. Her role, she says, was to make people care for these refugees at a time when public opinion is shifting toward isolationism.

“I was racking my brain,” she says, “trying to find the imagery that said something I hadn’t been said again and again.”

Then, toward the end of her assignment, she saw a mother playing an audio message of her husband singing a lullaby to their child. The woman’s husband had sent his messages from Germany, where he was residing apart from his family. Listening to his messages, she felt that the story gained new life.

Habjouqa gathered dozens of audio messages that her editor and colleague Rabab Haj Yahya edited into this video, to accompany her photographs.

“It felt dignified and humanizing,” says Habjouqa. “Sometimes, the simplicity can be what brings us back to the power of a story. And, in this case, it’s their stories and their words.”

Tanya Habjouqa is a photographer with Panos, based in East Jerusalem.

Rabab Haj Yahya is a documentary and narrative film editor based in New York.

 

Note: Sabine Choucair has been documenting the stories recounted by refugees

We start the Clown Me In tour on the 19th of April and the best part is that the awesome clown/friend Clay Mazing ( with whom Sabine Choucair had the best Clowns Without Borders missions) and his Emergency Circus, Moniek De Leeuw are joining for a week / 8 shows!.
Thank you Embassy of Switzerland in Lebanon / Ambassade de Suisse au Liban Sawa for Development and Aid
Sara Berjawi, Viveva Letemps, Walid Saliba, Hisham Abou Nasr Assaad

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With the support of the Embassy of Switzerland in Lebanon / Ambassade de Suisse au Liban ClownMe In, Clown Me In we will be touring different Syrian and Palestinian camps and local communities, starting April 2016.

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And What could matters at the end of your old life? Raft down the Colorado River?

Posted on: April 16, 2016

And What could matters at the end of life?

At the end of our lives, what do we most wish for? For many, it’s simply comfort, respect, love.

BJ Miller is a palliative care physician at Zen Hospice Project who thinks deeply about how to create a dignified, graceful end of life for his patients.

TED 

“You can always find a shock of beauty and meaning in what life you have left.”

BJ Miller is a hospice doctor who thinks deeply about how to create a dignified, graceful end of life for his patients.
t.ted.com|

By BJ Miller. Palliative caregiver

Using empathy and a clear-eyed view of mortality, BJ Miller shines a light on healthcare’s most ignored facet: preparing for death. He is executive director at Zen Hospice Project in San Francisco. Full bio

Well, we all need a reason to wake up. For me, it just took 11,000 volts.

00:26 One night, sophomore year of college, just back from Thanksgiving holiday, a few of my friends and I were horsing around, and we decided to climb atop a parked commuter train. It was just sitting there, with the wires that run overhead.

Somehow, that seemed like a great idea at the time. We’d certainly done stupider things. I scurried up the ladder on the back, and when I stood up, the electrical current entered my arm, blew down and out my feet, and that was that. Would you believe that watch still works? Takes a licking!

My father wears it now in solidarity.

That night began my formal relationship with death — my death — and it also began my long run as a patient. It’s a good word. It means one who suffers. So I guess we’re all patients.

 the American health care system has more than its fair share of dysfunction — to match its brilliance, to be sure. I’m a physician now, a hospice and palliative medicine doc, so I’ve seen care from both sides. And believe me: almost everyone who goes into healthcare really means well — I mean, truly. But we who work in it are also unwitting agents for a system that too often does not serve.

Why? Well, there’s actually a pretty easy answer to that question, and it explains a lot: because healthcare was designed with diseases, not people, at its center. Which is to say, of course, it was badly designed. And nowhere are the effects of bad design more heartbreaking or the opportunity for good design more compelling than at the end of life, where things are so distilled and concentrated. There are no do-overs.

My purpose today is to reach out across disciplines and invite design thinking into this big conversation. That is, to bring intention and creativity to the experience of dying. We have a monumental opportunity in front of us, before one of the few universal issues as individuals as well as a civil society: to rethink and redesign how it is we die.

So let’s begin at the end. For most people, the scariest thing about death isn’t being dead, it’s dying, suffering. It’s a key distinction.

To get underneath this, it can be very helpful to tease out suffering which is necessary as it is, from suffering we can change. The former is a natural, essential part of life, part of the deal, and to this we are called to make space, adjust, grow. It can be really good to realize forces larger than ourselves. They bring proportionality, like a cosmic right-sizing.

After my limbs were gone, that loss, for example, became fact, fixed — necessarily part of my life, and I learned that I could no more reject this fact than reject myself.

It took me a while, but I learned it eventually. Now, another great thing about necessary suffering is that it is the very thing that unites caregiver and care receiver human beings. This, we are finally realizing, is where healing happens. Yes, compassion — literally, as we learned yesterday — suffering together.

on the systems side, on the other hand, so much of the suffering is unnecessary, invented. It serves no good purpose. But the good news is, since this brand of suffering is made up, well, we can change it.

How we die is indeed something we can affect. Making the system sensitive to this fundamental distinction between necessary and unnecessary suffering gives us our first of three design cues for the day. After all, our role as caregivers, as people who care, is to relieve suffering — not add to the pile.

True to the tenets of palliative care, I function as something of a reflective advocate, as much as prescribing physician. Quick aside: palliative care — a very important field but poorly understood — while it includes, it is not limited to end of life care. It is not limited to hospice. It’s simply about comfort and living well at any stage. So please know that you don’t have to be dying anytime soon to benefit from palliative care.

 let me introduce you to Frank. Sort of makes this point. I’ve been seeing Frank now for years. He’s living with advancing prostate cancer on top of long-standing HIV. We work on his bone pain and his fatigue, but most of the time we spend thinking out loud together about his life — really, about our lives.

In this way, Frank grieves. In this way, he keeps up with his losses as they roll in, so that he’s ready to take in the next moment.

Loss is one thing, but regret, quite another.

Frank has always been an adventurer — he looks like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting — and no fan of regret. So it wasn’t surprising when he came into clinic one day, saying he wanted to raft down the Colorado River. Was this a good idea? With all the risks to his safety and his health, some would say no. Many did, but he went for it, while he still could.

It was a glorious, marvelous trip: freezing water, blistering dry heat, scorpions, snakes, wildlife howling off the flaming walls of the Grand Canyon — all the glorious side of the world beyond our control. Frank’s decision, while maybe dramatic, is exactly the kind so many of us would make, if we only had the support to figure out what is best for ourselves over time.

So much of what we’re talking about today is a shift in perspective. After my accident, when I went back to college, I changed my major to art history. Studying visual art, I figured I’d learn something about how to see — a really potent lesson for a kid who couldn’t change so much of what he was seeing. Perspective, that kind of alchemy we humans get to play with, turning anguish into a flower.

 Flash forward: now I work at an amazing place in San Francisco called the Zen Hospice Project, where we have a little ritual that helps with this shift in perspective. When one of our residents dies, the mortuary men come, and as we’re wheeling the body out through the garden, heading for the gate, we pause. (In the so-called full service retirement community I worked for, dead people were whisked at night so that no one see what happened)

Anyone who wants — fellow residents, family, nurses, volunteers, the hearse drivers too, now — shares a story or a song or silence, as we sprinkle the body with flower petals. It takes a few minutes; it’s a sweet, simple parting image to usher in grief with warmth, rather than repugnance.

Contrast that with the typical experience in the hospital setting, much like this — floodlit room lined with tubes and beeping machines and blinking lights that don’t stop even when the patient’s life has. Cleaning crew swoops in, the body’s whisked away, and it all feels as though that person had never really existed.

Well-intended, of course, in the name of sterility, but hospitals tend to assault our senses, and the most we might hope for within those walls is numbness — anesthetic, literally the opposite of aesthetic. I revere hospitals for what they can do; I am alive because of them. But we ask too much of our hospitals. They are places for acute trauma and treatable illness. They are no place to live and die; that’s not what they were designed for.

 I am not giving up on the notion that our institutions can become more humane. Beauty can be found anywhere. I spent a few months in a burn unit at St. Barnabas Hospital in Livingston, New Jersey, where I got really great care at every turn, including good palliative care for my pain. And one night, it began to snow outside. I remember my nurses complaining about driving through it. And there was no window in my room, but it was great to just imagine it coming down all sticky.

Next day, one of my nurses smuggled in a snowball for me. She brought it in to the unit. I cannot tell you the rapture I felt holding that in my hand, and the coldness dripping onto my burning skin; the miracle of it all, the fascination as I watched it melt and turn into water. In that moment, just being any part of this planet in this universe mattered more to me than whether I lived or died. That little snowball packed all the inspiration I needed to both try to live and be OK if I did not. In a hospital, that’s a stolen moment.

 In my work over the years, I’ve known many people who were ready to go, ready to die. Not because they had found some final peace or transcendence, but because they were so repulsed by what their lives had become in a word, cut off, or ugly.

There are already record numbers of us living with chronic and terminal illness, and into ever older age. And we are nowhere near ready or prepared for this silver tsunami. We need an infrastructure dynamic enough to handle these seismic shifts in our population.

Now is the time to create something new, something vital. I know we can because we have to. The alternative is just unacceptable.

And the key ingredients are known: policy, education and training, systems, bricks and mortar. We have tons of input for designers of all stripes to work with.

We know, for example, from research what’s most important to people who are closer to death: comfort; feeling unburdened and unburdening to those they love; existential peace; and a sense of wonderment and spirituality.

Over Zen Hospice’s nearly 30 years, we’ve learned much more from our residents in subtle detail. Little things aren’t so little. Take Janette. She finds it harder to breathe one day to the next due to ALS. Well, guess what? She wants to start smoking again — and French cigarettes, if you please. Not out of some self-destructive bent, but to feel her lungs filled while she has them. Priorities change.

Or Kate — she just wants to know her dog Austin is lying at the foot of her bed, his cold muzzle against her dry skin, instead of more chemotherapy coursing through her veins — she’s done that. Sensuous, aesthetic gratification, where in a moment, in an instant, we are rewarded for just being. So much of it comes down to loving our time by way of the senses, by way of the body — the very thing doing the living and the dying.

Probably the most poignant room in the Zen Hospice guest house is our kitchen, which is a little strange when you realize that so many of our residents can eat very little, if anything at all. But we realize we are providing sustenance on several levels: smell, a symbolic plane.

Seriously, with all the heavy-duty stuff happening under our roof, one of the most tried and true interventions we know of, is to bake cookies. As long as we have our senses — even just one — we have at least the possibility of accessing what makes us feel human, connected. Imagine the ripples of this notion for the millions of people living and dying with dementia. Primal sensorial delights that say the things we don’t have words for, impulses that make us stay present — no need for a past or a future.

 if teasing unnecessary suffering out of the system was our first design cue, then tending to dignity by way of the senses, by way of the body — the aesthetic realm — is design cue number two.

Now this gets us quickly to the third and final bit for today; namely, we need to lift our sights, to set our sights on well-being, so that life and health and healthcare can become about making life more wonderful, rather than just less horrible. Beneficence.

 this gets right at the distinction between a disease-centered and a patient- or human-centered model of care, and here is where caring becomes a creative, generative, even playful act. “Play” may sound like a funny word here. But it is also one of our highest forms of adaptation.

Consider every major compulsory effort it takes to be human. The need for food has birthed cuisine. The need for shelter has given rise to architecture. The need for cover, fashion. And for being subjected to the clock, well, we invented music.

So, since dying is a necessary part of life, what might we create with this fact? By “play” I am in no way suggesting we take a light approach to dying or that we mandate any particular way of dying.

There are mountains of sorrow that cannot move, and one way or another, we will all kneel there. Rather, I am asking that we make space — physical, psychic room, to allow life to play itself all the way out — so that rather than just getting out of the way, aging and dying can become a process of crescendo through to the end. We can’t solve for death. I know some of you are working on this.  

We can design towards it. Parts of me died early on, and that’s something we can all say one way or another.

I got to redesign my life around this fact, and I tell you it has been a liberation to realize you can always find a shock of beauty or meaning in what life you have left, like that snowball lasting for a perfect moment, all the while melting away. If we love such moments ferociously, then maybe we can learn to live well — not in spite of death, but because of it.

Let death be what takes us, not lack of imagination.

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