The idea behind “Reboot!” is very simple: we all have what you can call a Life Operating System that guides and directs our lives every minute of every day. Of course, the analogy with computers is obvious. But the computer analogy is very revealing about our world and about our personal lives.
Take the term "Reboot" itself. The term is derived from the actual phrase, “bootstrapping” the computer, which is a technique for loading the first program instructions that enable the computer to continue to load the rest of the programs and system check-ups that are necessary for running the computer. The computer gets itself going by "pulling itself up by the bootstraps." To reboot is to start that process over again because there is a problem or error going on in the computer.
So think again about what's going on in our world. If you are like the majority of people in our country and around the world, it’s probably safe to say that human society is in sad shape, and perhaps coming to a dangerously critical crossroads. Political vitriol as at an all-time high, with calculated bi-partisan impasses threatening the security, safety and welfare of millions of Americans. Environmental protections and safeguards are being rolled back, climate change agreements are being negated, climate change is being denied even as record temperatures result in more powerful hurricanes, annualized wildfires throughout the West, flooding from increasingly torrential rainfall in the Midwest and Southeast, and rising coastlines.
Maybe you, like me, are wondering if there might be some way to get off this runaway train of corporate greed, religious hypocrisy, white supremacy, environmental destruction, gender suppression, racial profiling, sexual harassment and abuse. Maybe you, like me, have come to think that our world, our society, our humankind has become infected with all sorts of viruses and malware that have seized control of our social operating systems. Maybe you, like me, would like to ctrl-alt-del the whole thing, and start over. Or better yet, download a better operating system entirely.
In computer talk: our life is giving us “error messages” and it is time to disconnect from a dysfunctional system, purge our operating system of the old and download a new Operating System. Time to “reboot.” And not just the world, but also everyone of us who have been infected by the dysfunctionalities of our societies.
Dysfunctional and destructive Life Operating Systems currently in place in the world
We all need to reboot and purge our mental, emotional, psychological and spiritual systems of the patterns of thought and behavior that infect our lives like viruses: sexism, ageism, ableism, heterosexism, racism, industrialism, greed, hypocrisy, fascism, neo-nazism white supremacy... the list goes on and on. Think of the effects these dysfunctionalities have upon people and societies:
Sexism: Women are denied the same earning power as men in identical jobs, which places a strain on families. When women are denied or discouraged from seeking certain positions or occupations, or are shut out from moving into leadership positions, the world is denied the possible benefits of other frames of reference, experience and creative approaches to today's problems and needs.
Ageism: People of mature years are forced out of work in favor of younger (and often under-paid) workers, or are not hired when looking for work, simply because of their age. Think of the wealth of knowledge and experience solving problems, dealing with people, and creatively working with limited resources that remains untapped and under-utilized in business, organizations, and governments.
Ableism: People are judged according to their ability or inability to perform certain tasks, "The practices and dominant attitudes in society that devalue and limit the potential of persons with disabilities. A set of practices and beliefs that assign inferior value (worth) to people who have developmental, emotional, physical or psychiatric disabilities. An ableist society is said to be one that treats non-disabled individuals as the standard of ‘normal living’, which results in public and private places and services, education, and social work that are built to serve 'standard' people, thereby inherently excluding those with various disabilities." (from the Stop Ableism website.)
Heterosexism: "Heterosexism is a system of attitudes, bias, and discrimination in favor of opposite-sex sexuality and relationships. It can include the presumption that other people are heterosexual or that opposite-sex attractions and relationships are the only norm and therefore superior." (from Wikipedia: Heterosexism.) It includes laws that favor or privilege opposite-sex partnerships, or that do not recognize same-sex partnerships as having the same rights, such as insurance coverage, inheritance, pension benefits, etc.
Racism: The Dismantling Racism Works website defines racism this way: "Racism = race prejudice + social and institutional power; Racism = a system of advantage based on race; Racism = a system of oppression based on race; Racism = a white supremacy system, Racism is different from racial prejudice, hatred, or discrimination. Racism involves one group having the power to carry out systematic discrimination through the institutional policies and practices of the society and by shaping the cultural beliefs and values that support those racist policies and practices."
Industrialism: The following definitions begin to describe the problematic nature of our present industrially-oriented and dominated societies: (from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition): "An economic and social system based on the development of large-scale industries and marked by the production of large quantities of inexpensive manufactured goods and the concentration of employment in urban factories." (From The Century Dictionary): "Devotion to industrial pursuits and interests; predominance of industrial interests or activity; also, the characteristics of industrial life, especially of the manufacturing industry." (From Wiktionary): "The socio-economic system based upon the industrial production of manufactured goods, rather than on agriculture." David W. Kidner, in his book, Nature and Psyche, argues that industrialism reconfigures and replaces the natural world as the accepted basis for all life. It does this by defining human subjectivity as being separate and distinct from the natural world – in fact making “human” and “nature” as separate, even opposing categories. Industrialism is also characterized by an unwillingness to accord subjectivity to nature. There is a simultaneous transformation of the physical landscape and human person into the autonomous individual separate and distinct from the natural world in which it is situated. Industrialism reduces the individual into an entity divorced from the “outside world” and reduces the world to a pile of “raw materials” to be consumed and manipulated by the autonomous individual. Because Industrialism developed out of the synchrony of the rise of capitalism, colonialism, and scientific discovery, its presuppositions regarding humanity as separate from nature, and nature as commodity have infiltrated every segment of modernity.
Greed: From the website Inequality.org: "The most visible indicator of wealth inequality in America today may be the Forbes magazine list of the nation’s 400 richest. In 2018, the three men at the top of that list — Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and investor Warren Buffett — held combined fortunes worth more than the total wealth of the poorest half of Americans... In 1982, the “poorest” American listed on the first annual Forbes magazine list of America’s richest 400 had a net worth of $210 million in today’s dollars. The average member of that first list had a net worth of $590 million. In 2018, rich Americans needed net worth of $2.1 billion to enter the Forbes 400, and the average member held a net $7.2 billion, over 10 times the 1982 average after adjusting for inflation. Inequality is skyrocketing even within the Forbes 400 list of America’s richest. In today’s dollars, the net worth of the richest member of the Forbes 400 has soared from $5 billion in 1982 to $160 billion in 2018, far outpacing the gains at either the Forbes 400 entry point or average. Since 1982, just seven men have held this spot: shipping magnate Daniel Ludwig (1982), oil executive Gordon Getty (1983-1984), Walmart founder Sam Walton (1985-1988), media company owner John Kluge (1989-1991), Microsoft founder Bill Gates (1992-2017, except 1993), investor Warren Buffett (1993), and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos (2018). Families that have zero or even “negative” wealth (meaning the value of their debts exceeds the value of their assets) live on the edge, just one minor economic setback away from tragedy. Black and Latino families are much more likely to be in this precarious situation. The proportion of Black families with zero or negative wealth rose by 8.5 percent to 37 percent between 1983 and 2016. The proportion of Latino families with zero or negative net worth declined by 19 percent over the past 30 years but is still more than twice as high as the rate for Whites."
Hypocrisy: Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines hypocrisy as: "a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not : behavior that contradicts what one claims to believe or feel; the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion." the blatant hypocrisies of people in authority such as politicians, governmental leaders, religious leaders, etc., undermines the trust people place in them. Trust is a basic requirement for the functioning of healthy communities and societies. As public trust in the leaders of society erodes, security and safety also erodes.
Fascism: Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines fascism as: "a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition." Wikipedia gives this description of Fascism: "Fascism is a form of far-right, authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and strong regimentation of society and of the economy.... Fascists believe that liberal democracy is obsolete and regard the complete mobilization of society under a totalitarian one-party state as necessary to prepare a nation for armed conflict and to respond effectively to economic difficulties. Such a state is led by a strong leader—such as a dictator and a martial government composed of the members of the governing fascist party—to forge national unity and maintain a stable and orderly society. Fascism rejects assertions that violence is automatically negative in nature and views political violence, war and imperialism as means that can achieve national rejuvenation."
Neo-Nazism: Related to Fascism and White Supremacy movements and ideologies, are Neo-Nazi movements. Wikipedia says this about Neo-Nazism: "Neo-Nazism consists of post-World War II militant social or political movements seeking to revive and implement the ideology of Nazism. Neo-Nazis seek to employ their ideology to promote hatred and attack minorities, or in some cases to create a fascist political state. It is a global phenomenon, with organized representation in many countries and international networks. It borrows elements from Nazi doctrine, including ultranationalism, racism, xenophobia, ableism, homophobia, anti-Romanyism, antisemitism, anti-communism and initiating the Fourth Reich. Holocaust denial is a common feature, as is the incorporation of Nazi symbols and admiration of Adolf Hitler." The Southern Poverty Law Center has a list of current Neo-Nazi hate groups.
White Supremacy: From the website of the Southern Poverty Law Center: "Adherents of white nationalist groups believe that white identity should be the organizing principle of the countries that make up Western civilization. White nationalists advocate for policies to reverse changing demographics and the loss of an absolute, white majority. Ending non-white immigration, both legal and illegal, is an urgent priority — frequently elevated over other racist projects, such as ending multiculturalism and miscegenation — for white nationalists seeking to preserve white, racial hegemony.White nationalists seek to return to an America that predates the implementation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965." From Dismantling Racism Works website (dRworksBook): "White supremacy culture is the idea (ideology) that white people and the ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions of white people are superior to People of Color and their ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions.White supremacy culture is reproduced by all the institutions of our society. In particular the media, the education system, western science (which played a major role in reinforcing the idea of race as a biological truth with the white race as the "ideal" top of the hierarchy), and the Christian church have played central roles in reproducing the idea of white supremacy (i.e. that white is "normal," "better," "smarter," "holy" in contrast to Black and other People and Communities of Color."
Religious Nationalism: Religious Nationalism is any system of thought that equates national identity with a particular religion or faith expression. In the United States, Christian Identity movements target non-Christian persons and groups as being unpatriotic or foreign. Many domestic terrorists have professed belief in some combination of Religious Nationalism and White Supremacy or Non-Nazism. However, other countries have Religious Nationalist movements as well, such as Hindu Nationalists in India, and Buddhist Nationalists in Sri Lanka and Myanmar (Burma). ISIS might be considered to be a Religious Nationalist movement. Religious Nationalists adopt the identity of a particular religion, but rarely actually practice the teachings of that religion. Because religion is a powerful unifying force, the mantle and exterior identity of religion will be used to create an adversarial relationship with anyone not adhering to that particular rendering of religion.