Thom and the late Dennis Weaver discuss ecolonomics.
Thom Hartmann interview with Dennis Weaver, August 25 2004
Excerpt from song, "I'm Proud to be an American" by The Capitol Steps:
Well I've heard that other countries
Are down on the U.S.
A land of mass consumption
Our lives filled with excess
But my daddy wasn't fighting
On Normandy that day
For the right to drive a Hyundai
I refuse to live that way...
[Thom Hartmann] And welcome back. Just consider the song, here.
And I'm proud to be an American
Who gets just five m.p.g.
Though I live alone the car I own
Can seat a hundred three
And I'll gladly park so close to you
When you pull out you can't see
No I'll never trade my Escalade
God bless my SUV.
[Thom Hartmann] And welcome back. It's just a perfect piece of bumper music there. I let it run a little long. The reason why is cos our next guest is an old friend and a brilliant man, an absolutely brilliant man. Dennis Weaver won an Emmy award for his role in television's longest running series, "Gunsmoke". Over the past five decades he's been on stage, television, motion pictures. He founded the organization L.I.F.E. (Love is Feeding Everyone) and the Institute of Ecolonomics. And Dennis Weaver, welcome to the Thom Hartmann program.
[Dennis Weaver] Hey, thank you very much Thom, it's a pleasure to be here.
[Thom Hartmann] Ah, it's always great to talk with you, Dennis. Let's talk about, you know, this little bumper music here, about the SUVs.
[Dennis Weaver] I loved that. I loved that.
[Thom Hartmann] Wasn't that a hoot? I think Jim Terr did that. I think that came from Blue Canyon Productions.com. I may be wrong [yes, it was in fact The Capitol Steps] but in any case, there's a lot of good stuff like that out there. But you have really taken the bull by the horns, and old metaphor, but anyway, you've really taken this thing on. You've invented a word, ecolonomics, and you've started this institute, and now you've created this website, dennisweavernow.com [dennisweaver.com or http://www.ecolonomics.org] to try and get folks involved in it. Tell us, what is ecolonomics?
[Dennis Weaver] Well ecolonomics, of course, it's pretty obvious it's a combination of ecology and economics. It's a word that I coined. It really represents the truth, Thom, that our ecology and our economy are absolutely interdependent; they are two sides of the same coin, if you want to put it that way. And for us to have a sustainable future we need both of those, to be sustainable. We need a sustainable environment which supports, is necessary for human life, of course, and we also need a sustainable economy which is essential for human welfare, also. So we need both of those, and we have the way and the means to do that. We have the technology available. We have the technology that's on the horizon that can create new jobs. You know, the Economist magazine said something very profound. It said the environment may turn out to be the greatest opportunity for invention and enterprise that the industrial world has ever seen.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah.
[Dennis Weaver] In other words, by saving the planet, by creating technologies that give us good jobs but do not destroy the place that we live, we can have a much better future.
[Thom Hartmann] You know, I've noticed, Dennis Weaver, dennisweavernow.com the website there that you created for this, I've noticed that many of our politicians talk about, and well not just politicians; activists, right across the board. People talk about economic growth and the benefits of it as if that's a singular value. And then other people talk about sustainability as if that's a singular value, but I frankly can't remember a politician specifically speaking, even, you know, the progressive folks like, you know, Ralph Nader, talking about the need to marry sustainability with an economic system that works, and that's what you are doing. Are you getting any traction? Are you finding politicians and people with the power to actually change policy who are realizing this epiphany that you had?
[Dennis Weaver] Well you know, I've talked to a number of politicians, maybe not at the highest level that I should or would hope to talk to, but when you explain ecolonomics, when you explain that it's a win-win situation, when you explain that it is necessary for us to save our environment and at the same time create jobs and create a stronger economy in doing it, there's very little argument against it. It's just a common sense philosophy really, and I would just hope that more and more politicians could hear this message. That would be my hope.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah. And that'll be driven, I think, from the bottom up, from people hearing the message on programs like this and talking? about it.
[Dennis Weaver] That's right. That's right. And the bottom up is the way to do it. I mean, it will never happen from the top down because they're entrenched in so many habits and ways of doing things that we've done in the past. And they're so influenced by special interests that it'll never happen from the top down. It has to happen from the bottom up.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah. Now, you talk about ecolonomics as a word, as a movement, as an academic discipline, as a vision and as a commitment. The academic discipline I find fascinating. Are you finding that colleges, universities, high schools, whatever are interested in teaching this as a specific discipline?
[Dennis Weaver] Yes. As a matter of fact, we have a programme at the Missouri Southern State University in Joplin that is going to be an example, or that is an example that other colleges can pick up on and other high schools, because we've got to get to the young people and educate them and give them hope and a certain promise for the future rather than so many of them are filled with despair and cynicism and apathy right now. And there's no reason for that. Well, there may be a reason, but there's also a big reason to know that we can do things in a better way; that we can create a better world for everybody. And we're teaching that at Missouri Southern State University. We have a certificate program that is available now, there. Well actually, they've boosted it up to a minor and it's on it's way to a major that people can receive a major in ecolonomics. And it's just, we ought to get to the young minds while they're still open, while they're not hardened by prejudices that they pick up along life's path. You know, the older we get, the more, we're more reticent to look at new ideas and new thoughts and new ways of doing things. You know, it's Albert Einstein that said we can't solve today's problems with the same thinking that created them, the same consciousness.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah.
[Dennis Weaver] So that's, we've got to, while those young minds are, they're like sponges. If a young person sees an idea or hears an idea that makes sense to them, they say, "OK, I'll go with that". So that's what we've got to do before they get just totally hardened with the old ways of doing things and just say, "well that's just the way it is, and we're not changing anything".
[Thom Hartmann] And that's what you're doing, is changing these minds and waking people up. And you're doing a great job of this with the Institute of Ecolonomics; dennisweavernow.com is the website for it. And tell us about "Angel's Nest" in Taos, this, one of your pet projects.
[Dennis Weaver] Well, it's another example of how we can create jobs and live in harmony with nature. And Angel's Nest is the first ecolonomic health and rejuvenation yoga center, and we're using yoga as the means to create the economy; create jobs.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah, but it could just as easily be a factory making, you know, electric pumps, couldn't it? I mean that just happens...
[Dennis Weaver] What's that?
[Thom Hartmann] I said, it could just as easily be a factory making electric pumps, or, you know, Ford...
[Dennis Weaver] Yeah. It could be, exactly, we're just using yoga, but the exciting thing down there is this whole complex will be sustainable in an environmental way. We're creating one of the first hydrogen fuelling stations down there. We're converting certain automobiles to hydrogen and actually also to biodiesel and a mixture of the two. And we're capturing our water because we've designed our buildings in such a way a way that we can do that. And water is going to be, and is right now, a very important issue around the world, because we're not only using it up faster than nature can store it for us but we're polluting it at the same time. So we're showing people that there is a way of designing things that will help us to have a sustainable life, a sustainable world, and one that is also... When I say sustainable, I'm talking about environment and economy, both. Right now, we do not have a sustainable economy simply because the energy that we're using to support that economy is not sustainable. And of course, I'm talking about fossil fuel, primarily oil. That, to me, is one of the major things that we've got to change. And that's what we're teaching, is that there are alternative fuel sources and advanced technologies that right now if we used them could free us from our dependence on foreign oil which is causing so much havoc in the world.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah. Yeah, and not to mention, you know, a war in the Middle East, and all this sort of stuff. We're talking with Dennis Weaver, the actor, activist, author of his autobiography "All the World's a Stage" and founder of the Institute of Ecolonomics. dennisweavernow.com will get you information, get you on the newsletter for that and the information on that. Dennis Weaver, just before we finish here, you and I have known each other for a couple of decades. You helped out with a community for abused kids that Louise and I started out 25 years ago, and for which I'm still very grateful. You helped with a fundraiser, several fundraisers on that. And about seven years ago, I was working on a book called, "Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight" and I just had reached a point where I had so much information about how the world was going to hell in a hand basket and I was just feeling totally bummed out and I called you up one day and said, "how do you keep so optimistic?". And you just gave me some wonderful advice. I wonder if you could just share with our listeners, cos I get calls like this all the time from people saying, you know, it just seems like, you know, whether it's people saying, you know, "George Bush is willing to lie" or, you know, "big corporations are taking over", whatever, you know. Pick your, pick your, people are just in despair. So many people feeling powerless and in despair. What's your response to that?
[Dennis Weaver] Well, I don't know what I said to you, actually, but it's pretty obvious to me that you can fall into the trap of being, feeling despair, feeling cynicism, and that sort of thing, but if you look around the world today, you can also see another force, and it's an incredible force. I think in my mind, I'm well aware that there's a great wave of human energy that's totally unstoppable, that has seen what we've done to damage this Earth and the place that we live and are absolutely determined to correct that.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah.
[Dennis Weaver] To make this pace what it can be. And you've just got to take one day at a time and you gotta also get support from those that agree with you so that there's strength in numbers and that's what we're doing with the Institute of Ecolonomics also. I've got so many young people so eager to be part of this great movement, this great shift in the collective consciousness of the world. I've got so many of them really active at Missouri Southern State University, for instance. It's so hopeful. It really is a very hopeful sign to me. I know the world, most people thing "God, we're going to hell in a hand basket", but there's a huge force that wants to do the right thing to make it a sustainable future for the kids and generations to come, and that's the force that's going to win.
[Thom Hartmann] Yup. And if each one of us just pushes our wagon, we'll get across this frontier, right?
[Dennis Weaver] Absolutely.
[Thom Hartmann] There you go. OK.
[Dennis Weaver] That shift in the collective consciousness of the world, as you are suggesting, that's an individual responsibility. We've got to take care of ourselves like how we treat each other, what is our connection with our families, how do we treat the guy that fixes our car, or the lady that does whatever she might be doing, whether it's working at a restaurant serving you, whatever. We just gotta know that there's a connection between us and act as though that is a reality. Because it is. We're all connected in this world and we've got to stop thinking of ourselves as being divided. Because that's the consciousness we're in now; a consciousness of separation and division.
[Thom Hartmann] Yeah.
[Dennis Weaver] And we're moving towards a consciousness of oneness, a consciousness of understanding and kindness and love and peace.
[Thom Hartmann] We're all on the spaceship Earth together, here no matter...
[Dennis Weaver] Absolutely.
[Thom Hartmann] Dennis Weaver, thank you so much for being with us. Once again, the website: dennisweavernow.com for information on the Institute of Ecolonomics and the great work that you are doing. Thank you, Dennis for everything you're doing in the world.
[Dennis Weaver] Thank you, Thom.
[Thom Hartmann] Good talking with you.