Introduction, Overview

Moral Innovators perspectives on seeking knowledge through history

There are different levels of understanding the moral innovation framework. At the top level, it is the balance of innovations with morality. This can also be read as continuous improvements with integrity.

It is easy to introduce innovations without a morality balance. iPhone 7 is a continuous improvement over iPhone 6, and the original iPhone was clearly an innovation. The morality balance is more difficult to illustrate because of the multi-cultural complexities. For example, how do we judge the exploitation of the slave-like Chinese laborers as Apple’s vendors/suppliers get 10% profit when Apple’s intellectual property rights command 90% profit? Apple is among the most valuable companies on earth with these profitable products.

Morality was formalized about 2,500 years ago when the global human population reached 100 million. Socrates in Europe, Ashoka in India, and Confucius in China proposed that humans follow societal rules as we encountered more fellow humans. Humanity as a whole began to diverge at that time, mixed with faith and religion. Socrates followers, through the Roman Empire, became today’s monotheists such as Christians and Muslims. Ashoka followers, through the Persian (Muslim) and British/Portuguese (Christian) influences, became henotheists (e.g. Hindu is generally a monotheist religion at the individual level, but compatible with the existence of many other Gods followed by others). Confucius followers, who were taught “we do not know enough about the living, how can we possibly understand the afterlife?” lead the world of mostly atheists around the world.

Christians and Muslims have inherent conflicts in their beliefs of their God being the only God, resulting in many conflicts that include, but not limited to, the Crusades 1,000 years ago. These conflicts probably drove Christians away from the Middle East. 500 years ago, Spanish Pope Alexander VI and the Portuguese claimed possession of the entire earth through the 1493 Tordesillas Treaty, and later the 1529 Zaragoza Treaty, with no input from the Chinese, Indians, Africans or Native Americans. Note the signers of these treaties were the Spanish and Portuguese. Britain, for example, created economic conflicts among Christians when their pirates looted the mostly Spanish treasure fleets collected from the Americas. After the Spanish Armada failed in 1588 to defeat Britain, the emboldened pirates found an innovative path to the treasures through shareholder risk-sharing investments in the concept of “company” that we know today as stock or equity investments. The British East India Company was incorporated in 1600. The Dutch East India Company (aka VOC) was incorporated in 1602.

Without the corporate governance that we know today, both East India Companies were corrupt with unsustainable immoral practices. VOC took Jakarta, Indonesia as headquarters before the corporate charter expired in 1799. The British East India Company lived longer partly because the British government granted (in 1773) monopoly power to trade opium. This was the nadir of human morality. Opium production was introduced to farmers in India and Myanmar (or Burma), and sold into China in exchange for 70,000+ tons of silver and other treasures earned through Silk Road and other trades. China was the world’s largest economy in 1820 with 33% of the Global GDP when the global population reached 1 billion. In other words, China produced goods and services that represented 33% of all goods and services worldwide less than 200 years ago.

As opium was illegal in China, the opium trade led to two opium wars. China lost over 25% of Global GDP between 1840 and 1940. Even though China has grown very fast in the last couple of decades to reach the second largest economy on earth, her share of Global GDP is only 16% today, less than half the size of economy they commanded less than 200 years ago. Using percentage of Global GDP highlights the relative time scale. In absolute scale, the global economy has grown from $600 billion to $41 trillion (1990$ on PPP basis) between 1820 and 2003. Today, USA is the largest economy on earth and commands 17% of Global GDP.

The outcome: Christianity became the most powerful and wealthy community on earth, with about 35% of humanity following Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant bibles. Most Christians are also capitalists.

After the Chinese revolution in 1911 that established the Republic of China, the capitalist European Christians needed another innovative path to accumulate wealth. Between 1915-1920, Britain’s Mark Sykes (1879-1919) and France’s Francois George-Picot (1870-1951) led the European Christians to decide how the Middle East should be carved up after the first world war. In a region already inhabited by Arab Muslims with rapidly developing nationalist aspirations (called the Committee for Union and Progress), a Sykes-Picot agreement was signed in 1916 that promised the same region to Hashimites, Saudis, and the Zionists of Europe. If not for the dissolution of the Committee for Union and Progress in 1918, death of Mark Sykes due to Spanish flu in 1919, and the 1920 Treaty of Sevres between the Allies and Ottoman Empire, the Middle East may be a very different place today.

In 1948, Israel declared independence with the overwhelming support of Christians in an almost exclusively Muslim Middle East. Christians, especially the USA Protestants, average tens of billions of US dollars subsidy every year for nearly 70 years to help the isolated Jews grow in a Muslim world. Christians are not as passionate as the Jews in reclaiming the Jerusalem homeland, but there is a prophecy proclaimed by Abrahamic religions (that include Judaism, Islam, and Christianity) that lead us to an apocalypse. There are irreconcilable differences to impose a Jewish state in the middle of Islam, especially in light of this prophecy. Even with 7 million brave Jews living in Israel today, this population is only comparable to tiny Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region of China. While Christians are fantastic tourists for the Israeli economy, Jews and Muslims need to return to their moral principles 2,500 years ago that humans must follow societal rules when they encounter fellow humans. Until we have these new societal rules for Jews and Muslims, our world will deteriorate into suicide bombers. The super majority of Americans suffer delays through the airport screenings due to a tiny fraction of potential terrorists, and trillions of dollars wasted down a path of mutual destruction.

In 1973, the fortune turned for hapless Muslims in the Middle East when Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) established oligopolistic pricing, and an average of $2 trillion US Dollars equivalent per year has moved into the Muslim dominated OPEC world. This is the second largest transfer of wealth among humans, behind the Opium Wars. It should not be surprising that the current terrorists are likely financed by such wealth, and Saudi Arabia (the largest oil producer in OPEC) is sponsoring Wahhabism, an extreme form of Islam, into places like Malaysia and Asia, where most of the Muslims live.

What is illustrated here is the increasing conflicts financed by immoral actions. David Cameron, the former British Prime Minister, was asked in 2010 during a TV interview why India’s Kohinoor Diamond (at 186 carats the world’s largest natural diamond) cannot be returned to India: “If you say yes to one you suddenly find the British Museum would be empty…”

Humanity is projected to reach 10 billion people by the year 2100, less than 85 years from now. If we do not educate our children with a moral innovation framework, the opportunity to achieve a homologous world will likely give way to a self-fulfilled apocalypse prophecy that is being called for by the Abrahamic religions. Will 40% of humanity reflected by the Chinese and the Indians have a choice for their own destiny?

That is the basis for the Moral Innovator motto: Thrive with knowledge of your place in the world. Do the right things and make it better.

Communication History, Introduction, Overview, Pre ancient civilizations 5,000 years ago

Moral Innovators’ introduction to the “oldest” Religion

Xingraomiwo (幸饶弥沃, or Shenrab Miwo) was the founder of Tibet’s Bonismo (雍仲本教) Religion. The root of this religion, Bon (本, or Tibetan བོན་), is translated as core or moral character. Using similar methods as Irish Archbishop Ussher’s calculations to show Adam and Eve were born in the year 4004bce, Shenrab Miwo is believed to be born ~ 3,800 years ago, around the time Abraham was born in Ur. We know that followers of Abrahamic religions include Judaism, Christianity and Islam, representing 60% of 7+ billion people today.

While Bonismo was formalized 3,800 years ago, the oral tradition went back over 13,000 years when humans settled from their nomadic lifestyle. This means Bonismo pre-dates all major religions. Note that Bonismo is not the religion of Dali Lama who preaches a form of Buddhism preached by Buddha who lived about 2,500 years ago. Bonismo is also related to Dongba, among the world’s last active pictograph languages and religion popular in places like Yunnan Province, China. I have seen, first hand, the Dongba pictograph written in front of me by a teenager who interpreted what he wrote to me.

The equivalent of the book of genesis in this religion describes developing harmony with nature. The scripture has thousands of volumes and the earliest documents came from the Ali region of Tibet called “Tripitaka (象雄大藏经).” One of the books Kanjur (甘珠尔 or Tibetan བཀའ་འགྱུར ) has 187 sections that include religion, philosophy, logic, literature, arts, astrology, medicine, science and engineering. There is a recorded 4th meeting of this religion in the current day Sri Lanka back in the year 29 bce, over 2000 years ago. There is a Chinese book published in 2006 and reprinted in 2012 translated by ChaCang GaCangCaiDan (察仓尕藏才旦). The book describes the nomadic settlements that were isolated by both the high mountains and the influx of Zoroastrian, Buddhism, Chinese Dao, and other religions that have taken over Bonismo as a religion. Today, over 10% of Tibetans are still Bonismo followers, and Bonismo was recognized in 2014 as a protected cultural heritage by the Chinese government.

Geographically, the Ali region of Tibet is near the 6,721 meter high Mount Kailash (冈仁波齐峰) where the rainfall and melted ice flow into the Indus River and is sacred for Bonismo, Hindu, Buddhism and Jainism religions. As part of the Himalayas, this is where India tectonic plate collided with the Eurasian tectonic plate 50 million years ago. Today, Eurasian plate is still being deformed, and compressed at a rate of 4mm/year, meaning the Himalayas will continue to increase in height over time. The other way to look at this region is the fact that this was the coastal region for the island of Asia when the dinosaurs roamed until 65 million years ago, where the world’s largest volcanic eruption ever occurred over 30,000 years near today’s Mumbai, India that created the Deccan traps, before the island of India collided to become part of South Asia, creating the Himalayan mountain range that includes Mount Kailash. This is also near the region where 38 million year old primates were found in Asia, contemporary to African primates.

So what? So this region has a long history of changes, and their cultural heritage can tell us our long tradition of harmony with nature, living with moral integrity, free from the pressure to maximize wealth and try to join the top 1% of wealthy humans that control a disproportionately large share of wealth created by all humans. Everyone should have a chance to work hard and command their own lifestyles without exploitation of other humans. This, by definition, is zen. Among the visitors to this region to learn the art of zen? Steve Jobs.


Moral Innovator Decisions

Life is a continuous learning process.  We strive for continuous improvements when making decisions, and we usually find from experience that we have blind spots.  Moral Innovators make decisions based on what we think is the right thing to do to make the world a better place.  While we can believe that we never make mistakes because we decide based on the best available information at the time we make decisions, the shortcoming of this view is the fact that often we make assumptions (based on our beliefs) when we make decisions.  It is these assumptions that can either be validated or wrong. 

All humans were born on earth without knowledge.  For about the first 20 years of life, we develop “beliefs” that hopefully we can reinforce/validate through our experiences.  When we go to schools, workplaces, places of worship, and other places to make friends, we gain experiences and learn different perspectives of the “truths” as we know them.  Since each one of us has difference experiences, we are exposed to different “truths.”  When we validate our beliefs with our experiences (or truths), that is when we gain knowledge.  It is important that we understand this (see the Venn Diagram below):

               Knowledge Venn Diagram        

KEY POINT:  We try our best to make decisions based on knowledge, but many decisions must be made with assumptions.  We buy name brands because we assume they have higher value (last longer, look prettier, comes with a warranty, etc).  We buy a home because we assume the house will appreciate and the interest expense and taxes can be deducted from income taxes, lowering the total cost of ownership.  We pay taxes and expect services from our government.  We donate time/money to religious institutions to reinforce our moral standards and faith.

Remember there is one Golden Rule endorsed by most religions, agnostics and atheists:

Do unto others what you want others to do unto you

Each of us may elect to have our own personal relationship with God, and that cannot be questioned.  However, religious institutions (Churches, Synagogues, Temples, Mosques, etc.) that help us define our relationships with our faith have additional motives to strengthen our beliefs sufficiently to receive our donations of our time or money to support their cause(s).  Moral Innovators do not blindly follow what we are told in religious institutions which often confuse beliefs with knowledge.

We know that Christianity did not start in English.  Professor Bart Ehrman found verses in English that were never in the best known original language of the bible.  So, if we read only English, and English has these verses that were not in the best known original version, we have been reading something that should not be in the bible.

The next question is:  How important are these missed verses and/or mis-translated verses?  We know that Mormons believe the Garden of Eden is in St. Louis, Missouri.  Professor Ehrman shares that King James Bible was translated from poorly copied manuscripts to provide more leniency to adultery for the Anglicans in Britain.  We know that Protestants excluded the Septuagint in the Old Testament compared to the Catholics.  We know that Syria, Ethiopia and other countries have different books for the bible.  We know that there is no archaeological evidence to support the stories in the Exodus which is a central theme of the bible.  We know that Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh predates the bible.  We know that a story similar to Noah’s flood is in the Epic of Gilgamesh.  We know that a place like the Garden of Eden is in the Epic of Gilgamesh.  We know that there were millions of humans on earth when both the Jews (through their calendar) and genealogy calculations (by Irish Archbishop Ussher (1581-1656)) based on the bible point to the first human Adam was on earth 6,000 years ago. We know the original Sumerian cuneiform writing was not Semitic, and Sargon I was the Semitic Akkadian Conqueror who changed the writing that evolved to eventually English.

If we focus only on beliefs instead of knowledge, the most obvious issue is the fact that both Muslims and Christians want to convert all humans on earth to their faith.  It is not possible to believe in both Islam and Christianity at the same time.  Since Muslims condemn non-Muslims to go to hell, and Christians condemn non-Christians to go to hell, it is logical to conclude that all humans would be condemned to go to hell, a lose-lose proposition. 

Comparing Abrahamic religions to others:  We know that Hindu (Sanskrit) writing is older than the first known (Hebrew) writing of the Bible.  We know that Chinese writing (i.e. not cave paintings) started close to 10,000 years ago with symbols (the most well-known is the Tai Chi symbol in South Korea’s flag today), and counting with strings and knots (that the South Americans called the Quipu about 5,000 years ago) before the Chinese started writing as we know their writing today.  The Chinese also wrote the first known controlled use of fire by hominids was 1.8 million years ago in Shanxi Province, China, in a November 1998 article of Acta Athropologica Sinica.

Current illustrations:  Our definition of human rights and our desire to apply this definition worldwide within our democratic government is an assumption.  We need facts from our data base to convert this assumption into common knowledge.  Hedrick Smith’s book “Who Stole the American Dream” claims we are losing

1)     our democracy as our government listens more and more to the wealthiest 1% of Americans who captured 93% of our gains in 2010, the first year of the current economic recovery , and

2)     the breadth of our wealth as our middle class has suffered through the widening wealth gap.

While the USA sponsored the Marshall Plan after World War II, we can no longer afford to spend trillions of dollars on ill-defined missions.  USA chose to support Yassar Arafat to represent the Palestinians, ignoring the democratic majority elected representatives from the more radical Hamas in certain regions.  USA supported Nationalist China, South Vietnam, Philippines’ Marcos and Iran’s Shah that did not have the majority support of the Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipinos and Iranians, respectively.  USA has very bad intelligence to pursue terrorists with ill-defined missions in Iraq and Afghanistan when Osama bin Laden lived for years in Pakistan and Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction.  USA lost credibility and wasted trillions of dollars without winning the support of the local people.  We should demand clear mandates from Syrians and Ukrainians to define the objectives of interest with majority support of the local people as we discuss involvement from USA and our allies. 

If we estimate we spent US$5 trillion in these ill-defined wars in today’s dollars, each of the 300 million Americans (including every infant) would get $17,000, and our deficit would be that much lower.  Using Hedrick Smith’s wealth allocation, the 1% of Americans who commanded 93% of gains in 2010 surely did not pay for 93% of the US$5 trillion to finance our wars.  That, in a nutshell, is not reflective of a democracy where the voter turnout is more typically 50% in recent elections.  The Tea Party, with a minority of the Republican Party, shut down our government in 2013.  This is Minority Tyranny.

Let us take a step back and expand our search for knowledge, instead of relying on beliefs and assumptions which will lead to conflicts instead of harmony.

Henotheist World

Moral Innovator perspectives on India and Henotheism

For over 5,000 years, India and China as we know them today have been characterized by foreigners in the English language. We need to view them from the perspective of the local people. The original Sanskrit Sindhu (meaning a large body of water – referring to what we know today as Indus River) was changed by Persians (today’s Iranians) to Hindu to describe “people east of the river” before the anglicized name India.  Hindu was describing a group of people with their way of life, not a religion.

Before our industrialization less than 200 years ago, India and China built advanced civilizations related to commerce and trade that accounted for 50% of the global GDP as recently as the year 1820.  The key difference between India and China today is India’s very young self-governance (less than 100 years). Whereas China grew as a unified nation beginning 2,200 years ago, India continued with regional warlords.  Some regions were colonized as early as 2,500 years ago by many foreigners like Persians, Greeks (or today’s Macedonia), Chinese Mongolians, and Christian Europeans.  Even though Buddha was born in Nepal where Buddhism is still the official religion today, Buddhism is typically associated with India, along with many other religions like Jainism and Sikhism.  When India gained its independence in 1947, it came at a cost of losing Pakistan and Bangladesh.  India would have been the most populous country on earth if its population includes Pakistan and Bangladesh.

India’s moral standards took shape after the Indus Valley civilization, during the Vedas (or knowledge) period between 2,500 and 4,000 years ago.  While the original oral communications cannot be dated, ancient Vedas written words (puranas or ancient times) are older than the written Torah in Judaism.  Vedas has six parts:  1) Shiksha (phonetics, phonology and morphophonology); 2) Kapla (ritual); 3) Vyakarana (grammar); 4) Nirukta (etymology); 5) Chandas (meter), and 6) Jyotisha (astronomy).  It was the rituals Kapla that united the Hindu community into a single civilization.  The Grihya Sutras (domestic ritual), Srauta (ritual of offerings with Verdic chants or Yajna) and Dharma Sutras (righteousness thread), along with Varnashrama Dharma (classes of men) have been Vedas traditions that defined common and criminal law, code of social behavior and relationship, property rights, as well as the social doctrine that prescribes the suitable activities or different stages of life.  Life is divided into four periods, brahmacharya (period of celibate education), grihastha (domestic life), vanaprastha (retirement) and tapasya (ascetic search for divine life).

Ramayana (Rama’s Journey on human values) and Mahabhrata (on the 18 day Kurukshetra War possibly 8,000 years ago) were two epic stories introduced during the late Vedas period 2,500 years ago,  when chaturvarnya (doctrine of the four colors) emerged as a conscious organization of the Hindu society that is now known as the caste system.  The four castes are:  1) Brahmin (to learn and guide); 2) Kshatriya (to fight and protect); 3) Vaisya (to trade); and 4) Sudra (to be common people).  In addition to the four colors, there was a caste of the non-colored called Avarnas or Panchamas (the non-colored), representing a large mass of people who were denied social rights and were held as “unclean.”

Moral Innovators seek knowledge on how best to work with our world.  India is undergoing many changes at this time, including the removal of the caste system, the introduction of democracy as a form of government, and presenting India as a self-governed nation.  The potential is incredible, as illustrated in its ability to demonstrate nuclear capabilities within a short time of China’s demonstration of nuclear capabilities.  India has successfully creolized monotheistic and polytheistic religions living together in a henotheistic world.  The challenge for Moral Innovators is to keep up with the ongoing changes.  Until Indians know how best to work with the Indian government and faiths, the current diaspora will likely continue where Indians continue to shine with their knowledge outside India.