White Supremacy & Sustainable Living

Here’s an unusual report that, on the surface, might cause us to wonder what white supremacy has to do with “Sustainable Living.” Yet, it’s a very important question to ponder.  First the article, then some comments.

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Marshall Cohen


April 4, 2019


Washington (CNN) FBI Director Christopher Wray said Thursday that white supremacy presents a “persistent” and “pervasive” threat to the United States, breaking from President Donald Trump, who has sidestepped questions of whether white nationalists present a growing problem. Wray said at a House hearing:


“The danger. I think, of white supremacists,

violent extremism or another kind of extremism

is of course significant. We assess that it is a

persistent, pervasive threat. We tackle it both

through our joint terrorism task forces on the

domestic terrorism side as well as through

our civil rights program on the civil side

through hate crime enforcement.”


Wray also spoke out against hate crimes and was asked by Democrats what the FBI was doing to crack down on hate crimes, which they say have ticked up during Trump’s presidency.


“We are determined not to tolerate

hate-filled violence in our commu-

nities, so we’re going to aggres-

sively investigate those cases,”


Wray said, adding that there has been an increase in “the reporting of hate crimes,” but that this doesn’t automatically mean more hate crimes were happening. FBI efforts to encourage the public to report hate crimes could be yielding benefits, he said.

These comments aren’t exactly in line with what Trump has said about the topic of white nationalism. Trump, who appointed Wray in 2017, has downplayed the danger of white nationalism and even praised some of the Nazi sympathizers who marched in Charlottesville, Virginia.

After the New Zealand mosque massacre last month, where a right-wing extremist killed 50 Muslim worshippers, Trump said he didn’t consider white nationalism to be a rising global threat. Trump said:


“I think it’s a small group of people that

have very, very serious problems, I guess.”


Muslim advocacy groups in the US said after the tragedy that they would hold Trump responsible for any increase in Islamophobic attacks. An FBI assessment released last year found that there was a 17% spike in reports of hate crime incidents in 2017, compared to 2016.

Trump and his allies have pushed back on accusations that he is soft on white nationalism and that his rhetoric fuels a dangerous climate for minorities. After the New Zealand attacks, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said, “the President is not a white supremacist.”

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 On the same day the above article was reported, 24 July 2019, Stephan Schwartz wrote a preamble in that day’s Schwartz Report:

 “Here is confirmation from the head of the FBI concerning what I have been saying for several years. We definitely have a terrorist problem in the U.S. but it has nothing to do with Muslims. As philosopher Eric Hoffer said back in 1951 … “


“Passionate hatred can give meaning and

purpose to an empty life. Thus people haunted

by the purposelessness of their lives try to

find a new content not only by dedicating

themselves to a holy cause but also by nursing

a fanatical grievance. A mass movement

offers them unlimited opportunities for both.”

Eric Hoffer, “The True Believer”

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Now, what does all this have to do with “Sustainable Living”?

I see sustainable living in two parts. (1) Living with what comes to us naturally, in harmony with “Mother Earth,” and (2) Living joyfully.

We have the technical ability to live – and live well – with what Earth provides with sun, soil, rain, etc.  One of the learnings I’ve had in creating the Garden Atrium Net Zero sustainable homes is that it’s also actually less expensive.

Another lesson I had was: the #1 reason people bought one of our Garden Atrium homes was aesthetics, not the lack of utility bills.  I engaged several talented specialists in different aspects of what we think of as “sustainability” – heating, cooling, water, electricity, etc., to create our Net Zero homes.  And people bought “because it was pretty?”  It took me a while to understand their decision.

Later, I adapted Dr. Arkoff’s “Illuminated Life” course for use in our little community, and conducted it for six adults. Half were Garden Atrium residents.  All made a reasonable living.  And virtually all made major shifts in their lives within a few months of the course’s completion.  While they all made a living, what they were doing lacked purpose …


Their efforts “paid the bills” but

had no meaning for their lives.


When I read Hoffer’s quote, words like purposelessness rang out. I think when we’re engaged in daily activities that feel truly vital and important in our lives – which varies for each of us – we’re feeling more fulfilled and have less need to take out our frustration – in one form or another – on others.

There’s an old Bing Crosby song that seems to fit here …


“You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between 

“You’ve got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum …”


Rather than sitting in fear of what others – whom I don’t control – might do to me, it’s seems more important for me to take hold of my own life, clarify a purpose that feels “right” to me – which isn’t always as easy as it sounds – and pursue it with vigor.

That is the essence of “Sustainable Living.”





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