Lawn vs meadow or food garden

 

Here is another topic that’s relatively insignificant in itself but points to a larger issue.

Lawns.

Why do so many of us have lawns when other options make more sense?

Lawns require a lot of work. Most people use noisy machines to maintain them and this bothers neighbors and is stressful. And they create a desert-like mono-culture that is not good for most insects and animals.

The alternatives make so much more sense. A meadow is beautiful, low maintenance (just need to mow and remove the plant matter in the fall), and creates habitat for a great number of insects and animals that sorely need it. An intelligently designed food garden (using permaculture principles) can be created to be multi-level, low maintenance, and produce wonderful fruits, berries, and nuts.

The answer to the why question is, of course, conformity and convenience.  It takes time and effort to create something else, especially when most people don’t know how to do it. And it goes against the expectations and behavior of neighbors.

And sometimes, lawns can be useful for certain sports and games. But there is no reason why we can’t have a spot of lawn for dinners and sports, and the rest as a meadow and/or a multi-story food garden.

So much is like this, these days. What most of us do makes little sense, apart from being convenient and conforming with the way things have been done in recent times. We have very good alternatives that are attractive at many levels. And we just need to shift.

And that shifting requires an avant-garde that experiments and shows that it works and is attractive (happening), and eventually structural changes so it’s easy for others to make the transition (somewhat happening but not quite yet at a larger scale).

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Mindfulness to deal with burnout?

 

I usually don’t write about mainstream psychology here since it’s covered well many other places. But the topic of burnout has been on my mind lately as I have helped with a thesis on the topic and it illustrates a more general point.

In the mindfulness world, mindfulness is sometimes promoted as an antidote to burnout. And that’s true enough. It can certainly help individuals to be more resilient and reduce the chances of burnout.

At the same time, mindfulness is an individual solution to a more systemic problem. In most cases of workplace burnout, the problems lies with the structures and the system. It has to do with how the business is organized and operated. It has to do with the owner and management.

And beyond that, it has to do with how we have organized ourselves collectively. It has to do with our current social and economic system, and especially the very obvious downsides to neoliberalism.

Beyond that again, it has to do with our most basic worldview. We currently have a worldview that separates humans from nature, values the material over the immaterial, the human over rest of life, and too often values profit over people.

As individuals we function in a larger social and ecological system, and that’s where most of the causes and solutions to burnout – and a range of other apparently individual problems – lie.

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Evil?

 

Some people like to use the word evil.

It’s easy to understand why.

It’s part of our culture. Christianity likes to do the same. (Even if it initially was to discredit competing religions.)

It makes it simple.

We don’t have to look for complex answers to why people behave the way they do.

We can use simplistic solutions. We can tell ourselves that everything will be good if we just get rid of the evil people.

We can put it on others and keep ourselves safely on the good side.

And yet, it is an overly simplistic term. It robs us of the opportunity to a more real understanding which can help us deal with it in a more constructive way.

And that too seems very obvious, but it apparently isn’t to everyone yet.

So what’s behind what looks like evil?

One answer is trauma. When we are traumatized – whether it’s from social conditions or personal interactions – one way to deal with it is to react to it through dehumanizing others and using verbal or physical violence. And that can certainly appear as “evil”.

So what’s the solution? In some ways, the solution is also simple. It is to create a society where people’s basic needs are taken care of. Where food, shelter, education, and health is taken care of. Where there is less inequality globally and within regions. Where people who suffer receive help to heal and get back on their feet.

This is already in place in some countries, mainly in Northern Europe, although there is always room for improvement. To have this happen globally is a taller order, partly because many are opposed to it.

Some are opposed to it since it benefits some to have a great deal of inequality. The current neoliberal ideology, adopted by many in industrialized countries, ensures continued and perhaps widening inequality.

And ironically, some who are traumatized adopt a strong us vs. them ideology which prevents them from supporting policies benefiting everyone – including themselves. (We see this in the US, including among many current Trump supporters.)

Note: I am not blind to the irony in calling “evil” an overly simple label and then proceed to give a relatively simple answer and solution…

(more…)

Making use of how people already are

 

Human behavior is often irrational. We tend to focus on what’s immediate, dramatic, and emotional. We are drawn to what’s shocking and unusual rather than long-term trends. We are more interested in this morning’s dramatic death than the thousands dying of hunger each day. We are more interested in what Trump tweeted at 5am than increasing social inequality.

The media knows that and plays into it by making news into entertainment and drama. That’s how they get viewers and readers. That’s how they maximize profit. They too act in their short-term interest.

And all of it is from evolution. For our ancestors, it was important to pay attention to anything that stood out and anything dramatic, and they rarely needed to pay attention to the big picture or slow trends. It’s how we, as a species, survived.

In a democracy, we need to get people to pay more attention to the serious and slower trends, and less on shorter term drama and entertainment. And we can do just that by taking evolution and how people really function into account, instead of wishful thinking about how people “should” function.

If we have sufficiently informed political and business leaders, we can set up structures so that what’s easy and attractive is also good in the long term and in the big picture.

And we can speak to people in general in ways that work with the mechanisms put into us by evolution: Tell compelling stories. Make it simple, immediate, and personal. Show how it aligns with the values and identities they already have. Make it genuinely attractive.

There are two more facets to this. Some of us seem wired to look more at the big picture and think about things in a more dispassionate way. That too makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. As a species and community, we generally need many who are drawn to the immediate and a few drawn to the bigger picture.

And there is another reason why many tend to avoid thinking about the big picture: they feel they are unable to do anything about it. So we can add one more element to how to work with how people already function: Show that their actions do make a real difference. And make that too immediate, personal, and emotional.

Trump Reflections VII

 

Continued from previous posts….

April 6, 2017

Using their values. As is obvious today, arguing using facts generally won’t change people’s minds. If anything, it often makes people’s opinions even more entrenched. That’s yet another reason why it’s important to argue a point using the values of the recipient.

(a) What are their values? Listen to them. Ask.

(b) How do these values fit with X? (Where X is a strategy that’s inclusive and supports life at all levels and in the short and long term, for instance universal health care, free quality education at all levels, sustainability etc.)

(c) How do I tell an engaging and compelling story that shows how their values match these solutions and policies? How do I make it personal to them?

For instance, why are many conservatives in the US skeptical to climate change and creating a more sustainable society? It seems to make no rational sense. Somehow, their values have been hijacked to support policies that often are against their interests – and often their values. (Policies that are in the interest of only small segments of the population, and at the expense of society as a whole, ecosystems, and future generations.)

Say their values are….. creating a good world for their children and decendants, valuing God’s creation, maintaining healthy and supportive communities. I imagine these are values among many conservatives in the US. And it’s pretty easy to show that solutions such as universal health care, free quality education at all levels, and sustainability are aligned with those values, and good strategies to achieve goals aligned with their values.

Of course, it has to be genuine. We have to find these values in ourselves and find genuine connections between these values and the world we would like to see. And it will only resonate with some conservatives. But that’s a good start.

Post-modern nightmare. Trump’s way of dealing with “facts” is nightmare taken right out of post-modernism. In post-modernism, we realize that everything is a story, including data and facts. Taken to a naive extreme, they are all equal and equally valid. And from a more grounded and mature perspective, we know that some fit our experience better and that it’s important to have a consensus reality to work with. We can know it’s a fabrication, and we can still mostly agree on it and use it in everyday life. That’s how modern democratic societies mostly work.

Trump, Fox News, Breitbart and others take the post-modern insight to an extreme. They know very well what they are doing, and they do it to confuse, mislead, and – ultimately – for profit. Of course, authoritarian rules throughout history have done this. It doesn’t require postmodernism. Just a willingness to manipulate and mislead.

And it requires people willing to be manipulated and misled. Willing because it may give them temporary satisfaction.

May 18, 2017

Update. I don’t have much more to say here. What’s unfolding is all quite predictable, at least in the big lines. Trump is reckless with information and military actions. His unpredictability makes it hard for allies and security services to trust him, and it can easily trigger a serious military conflict somewhere in the world. He doesn’t know how the government works. He repeatedly creates reasons for impeachment, and it may go that way should the Republicans decide he is too much of a liability. His supporters still support him, largely because they receive their information from him or his media allies.

And it’s hard to say exactly where it will go from here. He may decide to resign, either from frustrations with the check and balances of democracy or because he is at risk of impeachment, and then blame his “enemies” for making his job impossible. He may create a war which may give him more support due to some misguided attitude Americans have to support their leader in times of war no matter what (or he may be impeached because he is too reckless). And it’s possible he will last four years and get re-elected. It’s hard to see that he can last that long with the amount of frustration he must be experiencing, but I guess he is used to – and may even enjoy – that level of drama and frustration.

My guess is that he will resign and blame his “enemies” so he can save face and still be a “winner” in his own view.

The new world. We are invited to create and support a new world, one that’s life centered and supports life at all levels – from ecosystems to individuals of all species. We have all the solutions to have a very good start if we decide to go in that direction and support and implement these solutions on a larger scale. We have the opportunity to create a new economy that’s as innovative and successful – and creates as many jobs – as any we have seen before. We have a very attractive possibility in front of us, and the alternatives are equally unattractive. (The main alternative is to continue on the same course and keep creating a great deal of ecological problems, which then – inevitably – become social and human problems.)

I guess what’s happening now is quite predictable as well. We have the old world order, especially clearly represented by Trump and the US Republicans, which desperately try to hold onto a world that has no future. We have some that try to maintain a middle ground, represented by the US Democrats and many traditional political parties in Europe, and are only moderately successful. And we have those who envision and partly live this new approach. These are still mainly overlooked by mainstream media so they are less visible.

How will this unfold? My guess is that since most countries and political leaders still hold on to many outdated approaches, we will have to live through more of the consequences of social inequality (unrest, wars, uprisings) and ecological destruction (lack of basic resources, diseases, unrest, wars). This may go on for a few decades.

And yet, we do have the solutions. We know what to do. One approach to this change is to make this information widely available, show that the alternatives can be very attractive, elect the right leaders, and restructure many aspects of our society so that what’s right (socially and ecologically) is also the easy and attractive options for governments, corporations, and individuals. More likely, some enlightened corporations (Tesla etc.) will lead the way and show that more life-centered solutions are more attractive all around, and people and elected officials will follow. In some regions of the world, we may also have political leaders who will restructure society in a more deep and thorough way.

Social inequality. To many of us, Trump and his supporters seem unhinged. Unhinged from reality. They appear reactive, unconcerned with reality, uncaring, irrational, acting from short-term perspectives, acting from narrow self-interest, and acting so they directly or indirectly harm themselves and others.

They don’t act like children. Children are usually far more mature and healthy, and far more caring. They act like emotionally damaged children. And, in a sense, they are since they live in a society of significant inequality that does not take care of everyone. This is how people who are harmed – through social inequality – act. Of course, that’s not new. We have seen this throughout history. It seems to be part of human life.

The best remedy may be to create a society that works for as many people as possible (the post-WW2 northern European societies may, so far, be the best examples of this). People living in a society where they feel included and cared for, where they receive good and free education, where the basics of life is taken care of, tend to know how rare and precious it is and want to maintain it, they tend to want to extend it to others, and they tend to – in general – appear a bit more mature (and less damaged).

Irrational. Human behavior is often irrational. We tend to focus on what’s immediate, dramatic, and emotional. The media knows that and plays into it by making news into entertainment and drama. That’s how they get viewers or readers.

And all of it is from evolution. For our ancestors, it was important to pay attention to anything that stood out and anything dramatic, and they rarely needed to pay attention to the big picture or slow trends. In a democracy, we need to get people to pay more attention to the serious and slower trends, and less on shorter term drama and entertainment. And we can do just that by taking evolution and how people really function into account, instead of wishful thinking about how people “should” function.

If we have sufficiently informed political and business leaders, we can set up structures so that what’s easy and attractive is also good in the long term and in the big picture.

And we can speak to people in general in ways that works with the mechanism put into us by evolution: Tell compelling stories. Make it simple, immediate, and personal. Show how it aligns with the values and identities they already have. Make it genuinely attractive.

May 25, 2017

Abusive father. From the little I know about Trump’s father, he seems to have been quite abusive to his children. I haven’t written about it here, and it doesn’t come up so often in the media, but Trump’s behavior is typical of a defiant teenager trying to stand up to his father. Why does he do it?, a Salon article by Lucian Truscott, describes the dynamics well.

It’s a reminder that how we all operate has infinite causes. Understanding gives empathy. And that understanding and empathy are independent of standing up to ignorance, abuse, and – in this case – dangerous policies. We can easily do both.

June 1, 2017

Climate change. Trump has, predictably, withdrawn the US from the international agreements on climate change. In some ways, it may not be so bad. The money and the future is in sustainable energy and technologies as is well known by many in the business and investing world.

The change to a more sustainable world is partly driven by economics (it’s profitable) and partly by policy. On the policy side, the US pulling out means that the rest of the world is free to proceed without US interference. (Which is also why the UN security council should be made away with.)

I am still puzzled by one thing: Climate change and sustainability is an amazing business and science opportunity. Why are Republicans against it? You would think they would support something that so clearly is good for innovation, new industries, and business, and would put the US (even more) in the forefront of the future more sustainable ways of doing everything. And yet, they don’t.

The one explanation is that this has to do with connection to the petroleum industry. The petroleum industry may be supporting Republicans financially to the extent that they are willing to override any wish to do what’s good for their children and the US business world and industry. They may assume that there is still enough time for others to pick up the pieces and do something more sane.

Maybe it’s not even that rational. Maybe it’s just an instinctive reaction towards anything that reminds them of liberals and do-gooders. Maybe it has more to do with identity. (And what they don’t want to be associated with.)

For Trump, pulling out of the Paris agreement may also be an expression of his “zero-sum-game” view on the world. If something is good for the world, it cannot be good for the US. Or if the world wants it, it cannot be good for the US. And this worldview is the mark of someone who is severely emotionally damaged.

Trump replacement. I see many wishing for Trump to resign or be impeached. It’s more or less likely to happen. But he will be replaced by another Republican (for instance Pence) who will implement many of the same policies and will do so in a far more sophisticated and “invisible” way. The one very good thing with Trump is that he is completely blatant and unsophisticated so he draws a a great deal of attention to what he is doing. (Although a lot of policy changes fly under the radar due to the media’s attention to his tweets and bizarre behavior.)

Why do Trump’s family support him? From the outside, it seems a bit puzzling.

I can imagine a few reasons. (a) They know how wounded he is, and that he is damaged from how his father treated him, so they have a natural understanding and sympathy for him. (b) They themselves are caught up in the unhealthy dynamics and don’t recognize them as unhealthy. (c) They recognize what’s going on but either feel trapped or play along for strategic reasons.

If there was only (a) it would make sense for them to stand up to him more. What we see are family members who seem a bit more sane than him, but also enabling and supporting him in his follies and insanities. That makes me think it’s either (b) or (c) or a mix of the two.

June 3, 2017

Media caught up in a system that rewards gore. On the one hand, it’s puzzling how the media chose to focus on immediate and dramatic issues rather than the far more serious and longer term ones. How can journalists live with themselves knowing their work serves as a distraction from what really needs our attention? (Of course, most of them just do what they are expected to do so they can put food on the table for their families.)

One the other hand, it’s very understandable. Most media organizations are for-profit organizations and sensationalism and gore sells. They are in the business of making money. And to do so most effectively, they intentionally tap into our tendency to be drawn to what’s unusual and dramatic.

That’s a tendency that has served our ancestors and species well. In small tribes, it pays to notice anything that’s unusual and dramatic. And most of the time, there is little need to pay attention to longer term trends. Life tends to go on as it did for our parents, their parents, and their parents before them.

The problem is that today more than ever, we need to focus on the big picture and the longer trends. So we are far better served by a media that gives us accurate information on just that, and is leaves the drama and sensationalism to the side. So the question is, how can we create a system where this is rewarded? Where this is the easy and attractive thing to do for the media?

One place to start is media literacy in schools, starting in elementary school. The more aware of how media works people are, the more incentive the media will have to function in a way that serves people’s real needs better. At the very least, we may see a greater demand for media that focuses on the real issues, the underlying causes of these, and real and practical solutions.

So what are the real issues? To me, they include increasing inequality within and between countries, and all the problems this creates. The large number of people dying of hunger and lack of clean water each day. (Far more than people dying from terrorism or violence in any form.) The large number of people crippled or dying from preventable diseases. Our need to organize ourselves collectively in a way that takes ecological realities into account.

A few words about reporting on terrorism. It does seem bizarre that the media choses to focus so much on small instances of terrorism. Typically, only a handful of people die which – of course – is tragic for those close to them. But for the vast majority of people, other issues are far more important. And these tend to be issues that the media either ignore or only pay attention to occasionally.

Also, by over-reporting on terrorism they are giving the terrorists exactly what they want. They give them attention. And through their blood-and-gore reporting they stoke fear in the population, and that too is exactly what they terrorists want. The media – and many politicians – play right into the hands of the terrorists. And that seems incredibly naive.

We can even say that it’s the way media reports on terrorism that makes it worthwhile for terrorists to commit acts of terrorism. No reporting, very little reason for terrorism. As it is today, media fuels terrorism.

Double vote for young people? Apart from instant run-off voting, mandatory voting, and other voting reforms, I wonder if not double votes for young(ish) people would make sense. In the Brexit vote last year, old people largely voted to leave the union while younger voted to stay, and – to put it bluntly – older people screwed over young people. It makes sense to give a double vote to the 50% younger people since these have a longer term perspective. Of course, the drawback is that younger people may not take the needs of the older into consideration.

Working for Trump. Trump has a history of screwing over those working with him (including suing and not paying contractors.) I assume most people working with Trump will – at least at times – have to go against their own integrity and better judgment. And by being associated with him, they will – most likely – not be judged kindly by history. So it is somewhat surprising that some chose to work with him.

Of course, they may see it as a stepping stone to something else. They may hope they won’t get screwed or tainted too badly. They may think that it happens to others and they will be the exception. They may plan on writing an insiders view of how it was to work with him. They may hope to influence him one way or the other. Some may not care too much about integrity or how they may be seen by history. And some, I guess, may actually share some of his politics and be willing to put up with a great deal to help see it through.

NRK and hidden Islamophobia. NRK is the national broadcaster in Norway and normally relatively good. Although recently, they have had articles that (a) are unnesserary and (b) easily fuel anti-muslim sentiments.

A few days ago, a white guy in a van ran down people outside a mosque in London. And today, NRK has an article about the “murky past” of this mosque and why the killer had reasons for doing what he did. This is a type of reporting that can be justified by “only reporting the facts”, but the effect is to fuel up under anti-muslim sentiment.

Rationality vs intelligence. There is obviously a difference between rationality and intelligence. Only the most basic level of intelligence is required for rational thinking, and rational thinking can be learned and trained. Of course, rationality can be set aside if we are in the grips of strong emotions (for instance if our identity is threatened). And that happens in politics as well, especially when people vote against their own interests.

Identity and politcs. Identity plays a big role in politics. (more later)

Trump reflections VI

 

Continued from previous posts…

The right side of history. It can seem a bit arrogant to say that something is on the right or wrong side of history. After all, some will disagree, and who am I to make such a judgment?

At the same time, I feel it’s something we are allowed to say. What generally is supportive of life and people is on the right side of history. Policies that aim to support life and people, and especially the weakest ones and the ones with no voice, are on the right side of history. Why is that? It’s partly because the weakest and those with no voice includes future generations.

It’s also because these more inclusive policies tend to be the most beneficial to everyone in the big picture and over time.

Everything is politics. Everything is politics. We all have preferences, and those preferences are politics. They intersect with policies at a social level.

If we see something as not political, it’s often because the preferences built into it – whether it’s a religion, activity, or way of life – tend to be accepted or mirrored by the larger society. As soon as this is no longer the case, it becomes clear to us how political it really is.

Privilege. As many point out, saying that we are not interested in politics, or don’t want to get involved, comes from a position of privilege. It’s what we can say if life for us and those close to us is relatively good. It’s what we say if we ignore the situation of those less fortunate than us.

Why are spiritual people often more liberal? It’s completely possible to be into spirituality and still have a generally conservative view, especially if it’s a more kind and sane version of conservatism. And yet, spiritual people tend to be more liberal. I think there are several reasons.

One is that spirituality tends to come with a natural concern for the welfare of all beings. We realize, and it’s often an alive and lived realization, that we are all one. We are all expressions of Spirit. We are all connected as part of this living planet. And that concern is best reflected in more liberal policies.

Another is that religions have conservative elements built into them. Religions seek to preserve themselves and not change too much. And that fits a conservative mindset. Spirituality tends to be more open and experimental, and that fits a more liberal mindset. Of course, these are just general tendencies. Some branches of religion are quite liberal, and some traditions have spiritual elements that can be quite conservative.

(more…)

Shepard Fairey posters, Amplify Foundation.

Trump reflections V

 

Continued from previous posts.

Policies and democracy. Trump worries me and many others, and our main concerns are in two areas:

Policy content. He – supported by his cabinet and the Republican congress – are likely to implement policies that erode social safety nets, transfer what’s now publicly and collectively owned to private corporations, and tends to benefit people like them (billionaires) at the cost of regular people.

Democracy. Trump’s m.o. is to (a) deny the truth of something easily verifiable, and (b) turning it back on the other (blame, name calling). This erodes the democratic process, norms, and unwritten rules built up over decades and centuries. His authoritarian and bullying tactics belong to the world of old-fashioned kings and dictators, not a democracy.

What we can do. So what can we do? We need to be what we want to see in the world:

Emphasize facts and reality.

Act with integrity and uphold democratic norms and processes. Support order instead of his chaos.

Support forward-looking policies and what we want to see in our society. Remember and develop our visions of the society we want to have.

Remember that a majority of people in the US support liberal policies – when these are presented outside of party politics. Remember that Trump got only a quarter of the votes, and less than half of the votes cast.

Focus on the issues and not his personality. Hold the media to a high standard of accountable reporting. Act with sanity and maturity.

Collapse. Many have predicted the end of the US empire and Trump is actively engaged in making it happen. It doesn’t take much to predict it right now, it’s happening right in front of our eyes. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

What’s more concerning is the possible collapse of western civilization as we know it. The current version of our civilization is, as we all know, profoundly unsustainable. It can’t continue. The only question is how it will end and what will come instead.

If we take it seriously – far more than we have up to now – we can still create a relatively graceful transition to a more sustainable civilization. If we continue on our current path, and Trump even wants to reverse it, the transition may be in the form of a far more harsh collapse.

Trump as a useful idiot for Republicans. Many, including me, think that the Republicans will keep Trump for as long as he is useful to them. As soon as he becomes too troublesome – either in terms of damaging the Republican brand or by being too unpredictable and unruly – they’ll get rid of him. A Pence president won’t do the public any favors, but to the Republicans, he is far more predictable and in line with the Republican agenda. Robert Reich posted about this earlier today.

The upside. The possible upside of Trump and a Republican congress is that more people will wake up to what’s really going on. The Republican agenda is to line the pockets of the wealthy at the cost of ordinary people. And that’s what Trump is in the process of doing as well.

Even better would be if more people also wake up to the need and great benefit all around from creating a culture that’s aligned with ecological realities, but I doubt if the Trump situation can do that. Someone like Elon Musk are more likely to open people’s eyes.

A test. The Trump presidency is a test of sorts. It’s a test of our character. Again, it’s an invitation for us to be what we want to see in the world.

A mirror. At a more psychological level, Trump serves as a mirror. He serves as a mirror of what lurks in the US population. And he serves as a mirror for each of us. There is a simple way of exploring this.

Write a list of what you see in him. (He is… He should…)

Turn each statement around to yourself. (I am…. I should….)

Find three or more specific examples of how each statement is true for yourself – in this situation and other situations.

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Norway and oil

 

Since my teens, it’s been obvious to me that Norway needs to invest money from oil into research and development in renewable energy technology. That way, Norway has (had?) a chance to be at the forefront also in the age of renewable energy. They didn’t, and the age of oil is really already over. It’s not too late, although the current government don’t seem to be very reality based on this topic.

It’s hard for me to understand. They have the opportunity to create a graceful transition from an oil-based economy to a renewable technology one. They have the opportunity to let Norway be in the forefront of the new age of renewable energy. And they don’t. Instead, they pretend we are still in the age of oil and they miss a golden opportunity.

Trump reflections IV

 

Continued from previous posts.

Inclusiveness. I tend to judge policies and politicians less in terms of how liberal or conservative they are, and more on how inclusive and life-centered they are. There are policies and politicians of any flavor that take a more inclusive and life-centered approach. They sincerely wish society as a whole, and all segments within it, to flourish. And if they have a larger perspective, they also include nature and future generations. (Also because that’s enlightened self-interest. It’s to our benefit here and now to do so.)

That’s why it’s so hard for me to understand why people would support Trump. He is someone who so obviously is in it for himself and to increase profit for people like himself, at the expense of everyone else – including the less wealthy, nature, and future generations.

Of course, people may be mislead, and they may have wanted to vote for him out of reactiveness and pain. And still, from the beginning, it was so clear that he is in it for himself and that a vote for him was a vote for policies not in their own interest. At least not in the short term. Who knows what will come out of it in the longer term. His term may be such a blatant disaster that enough people come to their senses and support more sensible solutions.

Solution focus. I have always favored a partner-oriented and solution focused approach to our serious problems. It’s the only approach that makes sense to me. It’s what exciting and energizing, and what creates a life we want to live – for ourselves and society as a whole.

Of course, we need to focus on the problems in order to understand them and find a strategy to create what we want. But if we focus only or mainly on the problems, it tends to be very discouraging and lead to burn-out.

(more…)

Brian Eno: 2016/2017

 

2016/2017

The consensus among most of my friends seems to be that 2016 was a terrible year, and the beginning of a long decline into something we don’t even want to imagine.

2016 was indeed a pretty rough year, but I wonder if it’s the end – not the beginning – of a long decline. Or at least the beginning of the end….for I think we’ve been in decline for about 40 years, enduring a slow process of de-civilisation, but not really quite noticing it until now. I’m reminded of that thing about the frog placed in a pan of slowly heating water…

This decline includes the transition from secure employment to precarious employment, the destruction of unions and the shrinkage of workers’ rights, zero hour contracts, the dismantling of local government, a health service falling apart, an underfunded education system ruled by meaningless exam results and league tables, the increasingly acceptable stigmatisation of immigrants, knee-jerk nationalism, and the concentration of prejudice enabled by social media and the internet.

This process of decivilisation grew out of an ideology which sneered at social generosity and championed a sort of righteous selfishness. (Thatcher: “Poverty is a personality defect”. Ayn Rand: “Altruism is evil”). The emphasis on unrestrained individualism has had two effects: the creation of a huge amount of wealth, and the funnelling of it into fewer and fewer hands. Right now the 62 richest people in the world are as wealthy as the bottom half of its population combined. The Thatcher/Reagan fantasy that all this wealth would ‘trickle down’ and enrich everybody else simply hasn’t transpired. In fact the reverse has happened: the real wages of most people have been in decline for at least two decades, while at the same time their prospects – and the prospects for their children – look dimmer and dimmer. No wonder people are angry, and turning away from business-as-usual government for solutions. When governments pay most attention to whoever has most money, the huge wealth inequalities we now see make a mockery of the idea of democracy. As George Monbiot said: “The pen may be mightier than the sword, but the purse is mightier than the pen”.

Last year people started waking up to this. A lot of them, in their anger, grabbed the nearest Trump-like object and hit the Establishment over the head with it. But those were just the most conspicuous, media-tasty awakenings. Meanwhile there’s been a quieter but equally powerful stirring: people are rethinking what democracy means, what society means and what we need to do to make them work again. People are thinking hard, and, most importantly, thinking out loud, together. I think we underwent a mass disillusionment in 2016, and finally realised it’s time to jump out of the saucepan.

This is the start of something big. It will involve engagement: not just tweets and likes and swipes, but thoughtful and creative social and political action too. It will involve realising that some things we’ve taken for granted – some semblance of truth in reporting, for example – can no longer be expected for free. If we want good reporting and good analysis, we’ll have to pay for it. That means MONEY: direct financial support for the publications and websites struggling to tell the non-corporate, non-establishment side of the story. In the same way if we want happy and creative children we need to take charge of education, not leave it to ideologues and bottom-liners. If we want social generosity, then we must pay our taxes and get rid of our tax havens. And if we want thoughtful politicians, we should stop supporting merely charismatic ones.

Inequality eats away at the heart of a society, breeding disdain, resentment, envy, suspicion, bullying, arrogance and callousness. If we want any decent kind of future we have to push away from that, and I think we’re starting to.

There’s so much to do, so many possibilities. 2017 should be a surprising year.

– Brian

Trump reflections III

 

Continued from two previous posts.

Short memory. I can’t help thinking that what we see today – Trump becoming president and what he promotes gaining momentum in the western world – is allowed to happen only because people have short memories. They have already forgotten, or perhaps not really learned, about Hitler and WW2. They don’t know what mass scale intolerance, leaders acting on emotional reactivity, and rule by the financial elite, leads to. Only the oldest still have a personal memory, and in countries with poor education – such as the US – people haven’t learned the lessons thoroughly enough through school or the media.

That’s also why some of his supporters said “what do we have to lose?” when what they have to lose is a great deal. At least from the outside, it seems they don’t realize what they have to lose, or are educated well enough to know it viscerally. They don’t seem to have the larger historical picture.

This not the reason it happened, but it’s the reason it was allowed to happen: Those who still personally remember are too few to have a significant impact, and past lessons are too remote for a large enough segment of the population.

Diagnosing. I am not a fan of diagnosing anyone in public or at a distance. It’s unprofessional and can too easily be used to attack the person rather than addressing the issues. In Trump’s case, his very public behavior is enough to disqualify him from any position of leadership.

In a political context, there is no need to try to figure out the deeper why’s and how’s of his behavior. It’s only a distraction.

Trauma behavior. Still, in a psychological context, it can be interesting to explore what may be going on, knowing that it’s not really possible to diagnose at a distance. Being familiar with trauma behavior from working with clients and studies, I recognize what seems like trauma behavior. (Reacitvity, impulsivity, intolerance, dehumanizing others, recklessness, thin skinned, vengeance, short sightedness, not caring if what he says is true or not as long as he gets what he wants.) Trump seems to have made living from these trauma symptoms a badge of honor which only makes it more dangerous.

Repeating traumas. People who are traumatized tend to get themselves into situations where they repeat the trauma. They get themselves into those situations because it’s a familiar pattern. (It feels familiar and comfortable at some level, and they act from the trauma which creates similar situations as the initial traumatic situation.) And it’s also an invitation to recognize the trauma and seek healing for it. Some of Trump’s supporters may support him because his trauma behavior is familiar to them from their families and their own life.

More importantly, they may support him because they have had to suppress their own most destructive reactive trauma behavior due to social pressure and expectation, and here is someone who acts it out in public and, in essence, says “it’s OK to live and act from destructive reactive trauma behavior”. It can feel liberating for them to see it, and then use it to allow themselves to live more openly from their own trauma pain. Or, more precisely, act from their reactivity to their trauma pain which can take the form of anger, blame, bigotry, overly simplistic solutions, not caring about facts, and so on. It can feel good in the short run, but it’s definitely destructive in the longer run. In this case, it’s destructive on a large scale.

Said another way, it can feel good for them to say “fuck you” to the elite, but in this case, they only hurt themselves.

Action and compassion. This is pretty obvious. We can strongly oppose Trump’s policies, call him out when he is spreading untruths, and support what we want to see in the world. At the same time, it’s fully possible to have compassion for him and his pain. His pain is quite evident. He wouldn’t act the way he does if he wasn’t acting on his own pain. And we can have compassion and seek to understand his supporters. The two go hand in hand. They even support each other. (Strong action makes it easier to find compassion, and compassion leads to more clear and strong action.)

Disruption. In a bigger picture, who knows what will come out of this. In an evolutionary context, disruption often leads to new traits in existing species, new species gaining momentum, and a new course for evolution. The early oxygen crisis led to new opportunities for life. Dinosaurs dying out created space for mammals to flourish. Who knows what a Trump presidency will lead to in the bigger picture. It may or may not be what many of us wish for or would have chosen, but it may be something we can appreciate the gifts in.

Integral view. Life is a whole and we look at it from different angles. That means it’s good to look at anything from multiple angles to get a fuller picture, while also knowing that none, nor all of them together, is a final or absolute truth. If we want to be more systematic about it, we can use an integral model or map such as Ken Wilber’s. This is also true when we look at the Trump situation. Some of the “default” angles for me include: (a) The big picture. Lila. It’s the play of life or the divine.

Some of the “default” angles for me include:

(a) The big picture.

(i) Lila. It’s the play of life or the divine.

(ii) We don’t know what will come out of it. Historically and evolutionarily, disruptions often lead to something we find valuable and attractive, at least in the longer run. (iii) It’s an opportunity for each of us to live what we want to see in the world.

(iii) It’s an opportunity for each of us to live what we want to see in the world.

(b) Social/political. One of the reasons we have Brexit and Trump is neoliberal corporate globalization, international agreements aimed at maximizing profit for multinational corporations at the expense of people, nature, and future generations. People see this and know it’s wrong. And, unfortunately, the Democrats chose a candidate that embodies this misguided approach.

(c) Psychological. Trump and some of his supporters seem to act from reactivity to trauma pain. Their views and behavior are classic trauma symptoms. Hurt people can be reckless and hurt themselves and other people.

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Trump is the healer

 

Trump is the healer.

As anyone pushing our buttons, he shows us what’s left. He shows us our wounds, traumas, and hangups.

And that can be very healing if we let it. In this case, it’s specifically an invitation to see where we stop ourselves from speaking up and acting to prevent harm from happening to others.

Some more things that come to mind:

I would never want him as a leader of anything, but now that he is…. how can I make the best out of it?

How am I like him? What do I see in him? (A bully, bigot, racist, xenophobe, habitual liar.) Where can I find that in my own life, with specific examples?

How do I let other bully me into being inauthentic? What are the fears? What do I find when I explore these? (Using The Work, Living Inquiries etc.)

When I use ho’oponopono, tonglen, loving kindness practice or similar on him, those supporting him, those harmed by his actions, and myself, what do I notice? Where is there resistance? What’s the fear? How is it to meet and inquire into that fear?

Trump may not last long, but while he is president, he can be a great healer…. if we allow him to be. He can mobilize many of us to action on behalf of dignity, life, earth, and future generations. He can be a mirror for ourselves, showing us what’s left.

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Trump reflections II

 

Continued from a previous post.

Focus on the issues, not the person. A lesson from Italy and other places is to focus on the issues, not the person. Focusing on Trump’s insanity (a) distracts from the real issues, and (b) galvanizes the Trump supporters and makes their position even more entrenched. The issues are real and important enough. There is no reason to dilute it by focusing on Trump himself, no matter how tempting it may be.

Why is he so fascinating? That said, there is a huge temptation to focus on Trump’s personality. The media certainly gave him a huge amount of free airtime, and they did so because of his outrageous statements and behavior, and the drama and chaos he creates.

A deeper reason why people are drawn to focusing on his personality is that he reflects something in all of us. He is an outrageous caricature of some of the worst sides in all humans. He shows us our shadow. And that is inherently fascinating.

In that fascination is wisdom. There is an invitation for all of us to find ourselves in him. How would I describe him? (Write it down.) How does that apply to me? Find specific examples. (It may be that what I find in myself is much less strong, and appears in a different way. After all, he often functions as a caricature of these sides in us.)

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Trump reflections

 

I think the biggest lesson of this election is this: People love a good story way more than they like reality. Trump lied constantly, and had neither the temperament, the experience, nor the plans to change American lives for the better… but he knows how to spin an enthralling yarn.

Everything he promised is objectively bullshit. People with actual experience in economics, immigration, constitutional law, etc. said as much. Experts in every area came out against him, but America didn’t care. They liked his stories where other people were to blame for their problems and everything had a simple, intuitive fix. The blatant lies didn’t matter, as long as the story made them feel good.

America didn’t just give the middle finger to the elites. They said “fuck you” to everyone with expertise, to everyone in positions of earned authority, everyone who was trying to tell them what to do. America said, “You’re not the boss of me, I’m going to vote for an authoritarian who will tell YOU what to do.”

– S.O’B

Written by a friend of mine on Facebook.

I have had many reactions to the Trump popularity and now election. Here are a few:

From this spring on, I – and others I know – had an intuitive knowing he would be elected. From this morning of, the morning of the election and even before any results came in – I had a sickening feeling in my body.

He is insane. He may be literally insane. His level of projection, bigotry, sexism, islamophobia, vengefulness etc. is off the charts.

He seems to take delight in creating chaos. That’s a very dangerous quality of a leader of any country.

He seems to take delight in denying reality. He repeats and indulges in dangerous lies even if they are easily shown to be lies.

Trump is not really fit to be the leader of anything, apart from perhaps some crazy reality TV show.

He speaks to very legitimate fears and concerns many people have, especially how politics often serve corporate interests over those of people (neoliberal globalization etc.) The bail-out of the banks, instead of jailing the ones responsible, is one of many examples of why people are rightfully distrustful of politicians. And yet, his solutions are uninformed, misguided, and ranging from terrible to disastrous.

Some people compare him to Hitler, and others say he is not nearly as bad. Hitler wasn’t nearly as bad either at the time he was elected. The parallels are, at the very least, scary.

I feel sad Bernie Sanders did not become the Democratic nominee. Polls at the time showed that he was much stronger against Trump (clear advantage) than Clinton (much closer). Bernie speaks to many of the same concerns as Trump but has sane, proven, and inclusive solutions.

I would have voted for Hillary Clinton if I could, but I am not at all enthusiastic about her. She is far too aligned with corporate interests. (I know that’s partly strategic on her part, but still…. it’s a poor strategy when corporate interests so often are not the interests of people, ecosystems, and future generations.)

What will happen now? I am not sure. Personally, I have had a sense for a few months that I would leave the US for a while. I would find it easier to deal with Trump watching him from another country.

Hopefully, the democratic party will reform and address the very real issues and concerns that got Trump elected. I also suspect that the Republican partly will be torn apart to some extent, with pro- and anti-Trump segments (that’s already happening).

Trump is notoriously unpredictable, so just about anything could happen. He’ll likely try to get as much through of his campaign promises as possible. There is no reason to think he will be much different from the person we saw during the campaign. The republican congress will support much of it, and may oppose or block some of his more extreme policies.

He will set a new low standard in public discourse and politics, and this will be a model for others to follow.

He will most likely undo a great deal of social and environmental progress made over the previous several decades. His presidency will set back any efforts to reduce the severity of climate change (already on track to be severe).

He is likely to cause rifts with other countries. In the worst case, we’ll see his vengefulness and unpredictability cause very dangerous international situations and conflicts.

Trump doesn’t have the experience – and perhaps not the inclination – to lead the country. So his advisors will probably do a lot of the work, as they did with G.W. Bush. And these advisors may be as or more dangerous – socially and environmentally – than Trump himself.

It’s possible that he’ll resign or lose his presidency within a year or two and we’ll get another Republican president. Someone a bit more level headed and predictable, but still one who can do a great deal of harm, especially in the social and environmental areas.

It’s also possible something good will come out of the destruction. He may motivate life-centered engagement more than anyone else. Out of the ashes, something new and more life-affirming may emerge. We’ll see.

Most likely, what happens will be a mix of several of these things. Typically, things won’t be as bad as we fear or as good as we hope, although Trump has a way of go outside of the norm.

My hunch: He will go after his enemies (and will be partially stopped by courts and the law). He will try to get as many things done in as short a period as possible. He’ll get nearly full support of some Republicans, although many will oppose some of his more extreme projects. He will resign within one or two years, giving a reason that allows him to save face. (That he wants to focus on his family and/or TV network or another business project.) Another Republican will take over and continue some of his more regressive social and environmental policies but in a more professional manner. (Which, in some ways, is more dangerous.) A Democrat will be elected in 2020. This person will be slightly more in the Bernie Sanders camp. It could be Elizabeth Warren, but I think it will be someone else who is slightly more mainstream in their views. (Elon Musk would have been an exciting possibility, but he is not born a US citizen.)

Here is a post from early on the election day from another friend of mine:

If Trump wins, it is my belief that he will bring forth the movement, the revolution, faster than Clinton would because people will be much more motivated to do so. So fret not, if he wins, if the dark worker wins, (and dark workers are just as important in history as light workers) there will be revolutionary change even faster, but with more unfortunate consequences, drama, and maybe even fatalities. With Clinton in place, the movement will be slower going, safer and boring in comparison, but either way the Bernie movement will happen! I KNOW it in my bones that in my lifetime I will see the World fall apart and put itself back together again.”

My prayer now: Let the falling apart be as swift and light and easy as possible for all involved. Let curiosity diffuse fear and show everyone the magic that’s possible when anger expressed is met with an innocent heart. Anger is more fear after all, it’s just bigger looking and sounding. It’s scarier and hence creates more fear.

In the coming days and weeks and months I will strive to continue to grow my capacity to deal with fear and anger in myself and anyone who expresses it around me. When I feel it or see it, I will use it as my cue to get curious as much as possible. To find beauty in the moment as much as possible with everyone I meet.

Finding the blessings and beauty in any tense situation diffuses it immediately. Try it yourself. Next time you see someone angry or afraid, find anything to compliment them about genuinely. See what happens. Let me know if you do it. I’m so curious!

– MB

Update the following morning: for the last several months, my thoughts have sometimes said “he can’t possibly be voted in” but my knowing has said otherwise. Now, my thoughts try out “it won’t be that bad” but again there is a sense in me saying otherwise. It may be as bad as we fear, or worse.

With regular democrats and republicans, there is a regular level of craziness. They may go to war for oil or to get a regional foothold, or even to line the pockets of contractors. They may change some social and environmental policies. But in general, they keep things pretty stable. With Trump, it’s easy to imagine that it can spiral out of control. He is Loki, a chaos maker, and someone who seems to delight in chaos. It may lead to a situation beyond what most people are currently willing to imagine, as this historical analysis points out.

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Norway’s decades long fascination with oil

 

I read a story about possible large untapped oil reserves in the Barents sea outside of Norway. The implication is that Norway’s economy can continue to float on pumping and selling oil to the world. This is obviously a naive assumption. As someone said, the stone age didn’t end because of lack of oil, and the fossil fuel age will not end due to lack of fossil fuel. It will end because a better technology comes along, and that technology is already here and is continually being developed.

We have known that for decades, and we have also known that Norway needs to channel oil money into developing renewable technologies. With the wealth currently generated by oil money, Norway is in a unique position to be on the forefront of this field, and continue to be on the forefront of the global shift into renewable energy. And yet, that’s not what they do. Politicians, media, and people in general, still seem transfixed by a path that’s already outdated. And there is still time to make this shift.

 

Trump and dominance rituals

 

“In many ways the performances of Donald Trump remind me of male chimpanzees and their dominance rituals,” Jane Goodall, the anthropologist, told me shortly before Trump won the GOP nomination. “In order to impress rivals, males seeking to rise in the dominance hierarchy perform spectacular displays: stamping, slapping the ground, dragging branches, throwing rocks. The more vigorous and imaginative the display, the faster the individual is likely to rise in the hierarchy, and the longer he is likely to maintain that position.”

In her book My Life With the Chimpanzees, Goodall told the story of “Mike,” a chimp who maintained his dominance by kicking a series of kerosene cans ahead of him as he moved down a road, creating confusion and noise that made his rivals flee and cower. She told me she would be thinking of Mike as she watched the upcoming debates.

– from When Donald Meets Hillary in The Atlantic

That’s one reason why rationally “winning” the debate (Clinton) may not translate directly into votes. And why telling the most lies and interrupting the most may even be to Trump’s advantage. History has shown that before. Trump is tapping into the anger and frustration of many in the US, and although his solutions are either nonexistent or terrible, these emotions bypass rationality for some voters.

Imagining the future

 

Here is an idea for a project that may already be in existence:

Anyone from around the world can submit a short story or artwork about a day 30, 50, or 100 years into the future. It will be set in a world they would like to live in. The story can lean in a more realistic (nuanced) or utopian (idealized) direction. And it can focus more on social and technological changes, or a more personal view, or both. This may especially be a good project for school kids or students at any level.

Creating and reading stories about possible desired futures helps us mentally explore what type of future we would like to live in, and may support us in creating that future for ourselves.

When we think about the future, it’s easy to take what’s in existence and project it into the future, and perhaps also to polarize and think in terms of best (utopian) or worst (dystopian) scenarios. That’s natural and unavoidable. What’s more likely is that there will be shifts and changes we couldn’t predict (or very few predicted) and that it won’t be as good as we hope or as bad as we fear.

Some also tend to think in terms of technology rather than social changes, while the two go hand in hand, and social changes often bring about a deeper transformation. (Women’s rights, democracy etc.)

Here is a brief framework if I were to write such a story. I’ll write it as if written from the future, around the turn of the next century (2080-2120), sometimes looking back.

Global and regional

We have a combination of regional and local governance for most issues, and global governance on the big picture issues (long term survival of humanity). Nation states are less important and only a few are left, although many current regions correspond to the smaller nation states of the past.

Regional differences

Some individuals, groups, and regions are strongly devoted to thrivability (sustainability) and the bigger picture, and other groups are less big picture oriented. People tend to move to areas of like-minded people, and this helps us test out ideas on a regional scale and we get to see what works and what works less well.

Sustainability baseline

There is a regional and global sustainability baseline. We have organized ourselves individually and collectively according to ecological realities, and this is ongoing and keeps being refined. There has been a reorganization and realignment in all areas of human life (economy, production, transportation, energy, etc.) and also reflected in health care, education, and even our entertainment and religion. Ecological and big picture awareness is, by necessity, reflected in all areas of human life.

For most of us, this is just to the extent required and they do it just because the systems they live within have changed. For some of us, it’s a much deeper and more all-encompassing alignment.

Structural changes leading the way

Structural changes have led the way. We have structures in place so that what’s good for the social and ecological whole is also what’s the easiest, most convenient, and most desirable in terms of individual behavior. For most people, living in a more sustainable way happens effortlessly and almost invisibly. We just do what’s easiest for us to do, within these new ecologically informed structures.

For instance, since inexpensive energy is available from solar, that’s what most of us use. And since most products available are made to last and be repaired, and are modular so we can update components rather than the whole thing, then that’s what people we buy and use. And since we have various forms of collective and individual forms of transportation that are nonpollution (including in terms of noise), and these are readily available, that’s what we use.

All of this has been put in place through structural changes, and largely through incentives. These incentives make it attractive for companies of all types to do what’s ecologically sound and that in turn makes it easy for regular people to do the same.

Realizing the benefits all around

It’s a given that we mostly seek out, create, and use solutions attractive at all levels. Including for the larger social and ecological whole, for future generations, and for our communities, families, and ourselves. I know that in the early history of sustainability, many people saw a dichotomy between these but that’s long in the past.

More inclusive sense of us

Policies and worldviews reflect a more inclusive sense of us. More of us realize that including all of Earth into our sense of us is good all around. It’s good for us since it gives us a sense of belonging to a wider community and to the Earth. It’s good for the Earth as a whole, for ecosystems and nonhuman species, and for future generations. And that, in turn, is also good for us, it creates an environment that allows us to thrive. Many of our stories reflect this more inclusive us, as do much of our philosophy and religion.

More integral

Variations of a more integral view are common. These place all areas of human life and experience within an overall framework.  (Ken Wilber’s integral model is an early example, one that seems quaint now.) People still specialize, but they tend to do so within these larger integral frameworks. That allows for research and thinking that’s more free of the old artificial boundaries between academic disciplines.

Gratitude for past generations

Our heroes today include many of the sustainability pioneers of the past, both groups and individuals. These went against the mainstream view of their day (which was very narrow and quite misguided in many ways), and made it possible for us to have the world we have now. One that does take ecological realities into consideration and has created a better life for most of us. It’s still now perfect, by any means, but many of us today are working on it.

Social challenges

Many challenges of the past are less current today, but we do have our own. Overall, we are much more allowing of minorities – in terms of gender, sexual orientation, ethnic background and more. More and more of our regions have good social safety nets so people won’t have to fear for their basic survival. (We realize this makes for much better societies overall, and better lives for all of us.) The problems of the past with large multi-national corporations is mostly in the past  with our current system supporting smaller and more regional worker owned companies. (It made a big difference when we got rid of the old stock market system.)

Our main challenges are regions where they don’t have social safety nets and where society is in general disarray. We also have groups not devoted to an ecologically informed way of life. And we do, of course, have natural and man-made disasters in different regions. I doubt that will change very soon if ever.

Health and spirituality

We see health in a larger picture than you did. The old divisions between society and individual health, and mind and body, are largely gone. When we look at individual health, we also look at the social and ecological system the individual functions within, and we also look at both mind and body. These are all parts of the same system. As mentioned above, people specialize but they do so within different integral frameworks taking the larger picture into account.

More people today use spirituality in a more pragmatic way, free of the old religions and traditions. At the same time, we do also have people nourishing and continuing the traditions since they realize there is value there. And we do also have some fundamentalists within the different old religions, trying to hold onto what was.

Science and technology

We keep exploring space and have bases on some of the closer planets and moons. Although our main focus is on the long-term survival of humanity and the Earth, most of us recognize that we need to become a multi-planet species for our long-term survival. (As many did in the past as well.)

Technology is more seamlessly a part of everyday life. We have found a sort of balance between technology and our natural human life. As before, some are more into technology and some prefer a more un-assisted and natural life.

The rights of nonhumans, ecosystems, and future generations

At some point, more of us realized that nonhuman beings, ecosystems, and future generations needed to have a voice in our political and legal systems. So we gave them a voice. We did this for their sake since they are living beings and gradually were seen more as us. And we did it for our sake since their well-being is intertwined with ours. Giving them a political and legal voice informs us about the bigger picture in a different way. We now have university training and degrees for people who wish to make this a career. In some regions, companies are required to have these roles filled, and many do anyway since it benefits their decision-making process and position in the market.

Adult development

This is still a slightly, sensitive issue, although it doesn’t really need to be. There has been a great deal of research on adult development, especially in terms of social and ecological orientation. We know that it’s common to deepen in appreciation for the interconnectedness of all life as we mature, and also that this orientation is stronger tendency some people – even early in life – and less so for others. All of that is fine. And we also want to nurture this orientation and deepening in people in general, and we do that through education, entertainment and more.

Surprises

As always, there have been surprises. We have had surprising developments in science and technology, things none or few predicted. And in our social changes, things have happened – both good and bad – that were similarly surprising and not expected by many. I won’t give many details here since I don’t want to give it away to you from the past 😉

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Various

In the regions that take care of people and life more intentionally, people live until about 100 and tend to stay healthy much longer than in the past.

The intelligence and emotional life of animals are more fully acknowledged than in the past. There is much more sense of kinship of all life. (The idea that humans are in a special category compared with other life is seen as belonging to the past and a bit misguided.) This means that even animals in captivity are treated much better than in the past, and given a more natural life.

Some regions have set aside relatively large areas for nonhuman life. Human interventions in these areas are quite restricted.

The idea or realization that all life has intrinsic value (or value to itself) is much more common today than it was for previous generations. It informs policies and human activities to a greater extent.

Fewer people belong to traditional religions. Especially in some regions, it’s very common to use insights and tools from a wide range of spiritual traditions in a pragmatic and practical way. Research into these approaches has been going on for a long time now, and we know much more about how and why and for whom these work.

In general, our view of the world is a bit more open and inclusive compared to the early modern and scientific era. It’s more accepted to do research into topics that previously were shunned.

Since most regions have a decent social safety net for its people, fewer people are radicalized and disgruntled compared to the past. This is not universal since some fall through the cracks, some regions have less of a safety net, and there are occasional social or ecological disruptions that bring out the best and worst in people.

Artificial intelligence in different forms is used in many areas of life, often quite seamlessly and as a support that feels quite natural. The fears that some people had about AI in the past is seen as belonging to an early period of AI where people feared what they didn’t understand.

Biomimicry is a natural part of just about any design process, whether it’s buildings, transportation, or even production. The aim is to enhance and enrich ecosystems through human activity, including travel, housing, and production.

We are much more cautious with toxic chemicals than in the past. We see the early modern period as quite misguided in this area, and going overboard in using toxic chemicals in everyday products.

Oil is used sparingly and only as needed today. Most of our energy is from the sun, wind, ocean, fusion, and a couple of sources not known to earlier generations. Most regions use a mix of these, and also a mix of centrally produced energy and energy produced very locally.

We are not living in a utopia, although certain aspects of our lives would certainly seem that way to past generations. We have solved some of the core problems of a hundred years ago, mainly in terms of living a life – at all levels – more aligned with ecological realities. Many problems remain, and our solutions have created their own problems. And really, we wouldn’t want it differently since challenges are part of what makes us grow and thrive.

We intentionally nurture a sense of connection to the larger social and ecological whole, to future and past generations, and to the universe as a whole. We know how important this is for a sense of meaning and well-being, and also in informing our actions and choices as a society and individuals. (Past generations called this the Universe Story, the Epic of Evolution, Big History, Practices to Reconnect, and similar things.)

Since more have a more pragmatic approach to spirituality, using tools and insights from a range of traditions, science and spirituality are seen as going hand in hand. We use science to explore these tools and the states and experiences traditionally seen as belonging to spirituality, and the insights from this research inform our application of these tools. Science and spirituality are just two ways to explore reality, and they often converge.

I guess I should say something about climate change since I know you from the past are interested in it. Yes, there has been climate change, and yes, we know it was largely human created (just as you knew). We have had to adapt to rising sea levels and regional shifts in climate. And, of course, we have aligned our life with ecological realities to a much greater extent than you did. We would have needed to do that anyway, climate change or not.

In terms of healthcare, there is a stronger emphasis on prevention informed by the mind-body-larger-whole connections. As mentioned earlier – there is more of an integral and systems view on health, and we know that prevention is the most effective use of our focus and resources.

One of the major problems in the past was the inequality of income and access to essential resources. That’s still a problem today, especially between regions and within some regions. There is a much better undertanding today that our lives are interconnected in very real and noticeable ways. (Especially global ecosystem health, migrations, and spread of diseases.) Some regions have a strong emphasis on this work, and most acknowledge its importance. It has helped greatly to curb the power of multinational corporations, and have them follow basic international social justice and sustainability regulations.

Another major problem was overpopulation, and that was one past generations were reluctant to address. In less developed countries, overpopulation was a problem in terms of access to basic resources. In more developed countries, it was a problem because of over-use of natural resources. The former was very obvious and directly impacted the people living there, the latter was no less of a problem but more hidden – at least for a while. Today, addressing overpopulation is taken for granted because we know and have seen how important it is. And as we have known for a long time, education and good social safety nets are the most effective ways to reduce or prevent overpopulation.

In the past, taxes were used in a somewhat misguided way. Now, most regions are much more intentional about taxing what we want less of (use of virgin natural resources, pollution), and not taxing or subsidicing what we want to encourage (including work). Also, many regions focus on a deeper form of democracy than in the past, with citizen councils, instant runoff voting, more thorough and instant fact checking of politicians, and mandatory voting.

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Pamela Wible: How the word “burnout” perpetuates a cycle of abuse

 

“Burnout” and similar labels are dangerous to the individual and also distract from the real diagnosis—human rights abuse. (FYI: Meditation, yoga, and taking deep breaths are not treatments for human rights violations.)

Pamela Wible, MD

This is an article written by my medical doctor in Oregon. She is saying the obvious: burnout is very often a symptom of abuse and human rights violations inherent in the workplace system. In this case, it’s the hospital system, but it’s also found in many other types of workplaces. We can do meditation, yoga, and many other things to try to cope with it, but that doesn’t deal with the abuse inherent in the system.

When it’s unethical to vote your conscience

 

Imagine you are in 1930s Germany. There are two opposing candidates to Hitler, one you like very much and one you don’t like so much. The one you like is out of the race, so you have the option of voting for the one you like not as much (who is opposing Hitler) or not voting. You chose to not vote. Hitler wins. In hindsight, how does your decision look? Wise and mature, or short-sighted and even dangerous?

I know it’s somewhat unfair to compare Trump to Hitler, but sometimes it’s good to amplify a situation – in this case through a thought experiment – to make a point. The point here is that, in some situations, it can be unethical to vote (or, in this case, not to vote) your conscience.

Voting is not really about ideology or having the perfect candidate, it’s about having a practical effect on society. And in this case, the practical effect of not voting can harm other groups in society far more than your own. Most of the “Bernie or bust” people are white, educated, and privileged. And the ones who will be most hurt by his candidacy are non-whites, immigrants, Muslims, and other minorities.

I understand it can feel good to take a “Bernie or bust” position. You may feel hurt by not being able to vote for your candidate, and sometimes it feels good to act reactively to hurt. If I can’t get what I want, I won’t participate at all, I won’t give you what you want. There may also be good reasons to justify such a position.

Still, reality is that voting or not voting has a very real and pragmatic effect on society. And in this case, if Trump is elected – perhaps partly due to people choosing to not vote – it will harm others far more than you. In this case, not voting is a lack of solidarity. It can even be dangerous.

Personally, I would have loved to see Bernie win. As it is now, I would vote for Clinton without hesitation, and mainly for the reasons above. Mainly out of solidarity with those who would be most harmed by a Trump presidency.

Note: I know that a big part of the problem in the US is the – quite undemocratic – two-party system. Germany in the early 1930s had a large number of parties so people could, in fact, vote their conscience. And a majority did vote for Hitler, largely out of fear and despair coming from their own personal situation.

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Trump as Loki

 

And if you have the sickening feeling this is only the beginning, you’re not alone. Trump, I’ve often said, is a manifestation of Loki, the god of misrule. Misrule breeds chaos. Chaos breeds violence. A political party that chooses Loki for its leader is a political party with a rank-and-file choosing chaos.

– from Trump is Loki in Commentary Magazine

This is from a few weeks ago, and it’s only one facet, but it’s still a good point.

Trump seems to delight in creating chaos, and he is more than willing to say untruths in order to create chaos. It gets people riled up, whether they latch onto what he says out of their own anger, or whether they react to it in disbelief and anger.

Trump embodying Loki is also why his campaign keeps baffling level headed people. He’ll say or do something outrageous, commenters assume he will alienate voters, and yet it either brings more support for him or has no discernable impact. That’s one reason why it’s conceivable that he may win the election. (In addition to Republicans voting republican, people voting to keep Clinton out of office, and the justified anger, frustration, and hopelessness many in the US experience which bring them to vote for someone speaking to their anger even if is solutions are nonsensical, uninformed, and absurd.)

Decline of the US empire

 

Military over-extension marks the decline of many empires. Currently, the US is a good example.

At the beginning of the Iraq war, Johan Galtung said the war would shorten the life of the US empire with a decade or more, and that may well be true if it’s not an under-estimate. Of course, the decline is and will probably be gradual and somewhat slow with no one obvious ending point.

It’s interesting how many in the US seem to be in denial that the US is an empire, which also means they are in denial of the current decline and inevitable fall of the US empire.

Just to be clear, this is about the US losing its international significance, not the immediate breakdown of the US as a nation. Although given enough time, that too is inevitable, as it is for everything and everyone.

Listen to an interview with Alfred McCoy, editor of Endless Empire, from University of the Air.

I also wrote about this in my “rants” blog around the time of the GW Bush version of the Iraq war.

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Brexit and Trump

 

Yes, the Brexit “leave” side has been marked by a lot of misinformation and emotional reactivity. And it may well be that many voted without knowing enough about the consequences. At the same time, there are very real reasons why people are scared, angry, and reactive. It’s a natural reaction to decades of policies that has weakened and harmed ordinary people and the working and middle classes. Neo-liberal globalization, privatization, austerity measures and more are all designed to benefit multi-national corporations, and they do so at the cost of the well-being of people, nature, and future generations.

People know and have to live with the consequences of this, and are understandably scared and angry. That’s why we get these types of votes, and also support for presidential candidates like Donald Trump. In my mind, the fear and anger is natural and understandable, and can even be healthy if channeled in constructive ways. But these more reactive and uninformed solutions, exemplified by Donald Trump, are very much misguided.

As I see it, Bernie Sanders is an example of someone who has a more sober and clear understanding of the problem and has constructive solutions that may actually benefit ordinary people, nature, and future generations. And I know very well that’s my bias and a product of my own background and experiences.

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Muslims, Obama, imperialism

 

Following the shooting in Orlando earlier today, I overheard a conversation in a luggage store. A customer said to the storekeeper: “It’s those terrible Muslims. None of them should be allowed in our country.” The storekeeper didn’t say much, but as soon as the customer left he said to a co-worker: “It’s all Obama’s fault. This wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t for what he has done to this country.”

Those views don’t make much sense to me. It’s clearly not about Islam since most Muslims want peace and a good life just as anyone else, independent of religion. And the majority of violence in the world is committed by non-Muslims, historically and currently. I also don’t see how this has to do with Obama. I assume both of these people may watch Fox News, or perhaps other US mainstream media that express similar views.

At the same time, I have my own views and interpretations. And I know these are equally biased, simplistic in their own way, and formed by my own background (mostly from being European and Norwegian). To me, it has far more to do with how the west has treated the rest of the world for centuries, and specifically how the US has treated the rest of the world over several generations now. People around the world are legitimately angry by how they have been treated, and the impact on them and their cultures and societies from western cultural, economic, and military dominance and imperialism. They understandably feel angry, scared, and helpless. And one of the ways that’s expressed is through violence. They are unable to engage in violence on a large scale due to lack of resources, so they do it on a much smaller scale instead.

I realize this is an unpopular view among some since this turns the pointed finger back on ourselves. The upside of this view is that I am pretty sure there is something to it (just ask the people living in those countries), and it shows us what we can do – which is to provide support for their local self-governance, local economies, and traditional culture, and take a close look at the real consequences of neoliberal globalization which tends to serve the major corporations and be harmful to people and nature just about anywhere.

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Hunger and thirst vs space exploration

 

For some reason, some folks like to set working on global hunger and thirst up again space exploration.

I have never quite understood it. Obviously, we could use the money used for space exploration in that way, but it’s a tiny bit of just a very few countries public budget, and a great deal more money is spent on things like war, the military, pet food, products used once or twice and then thrown out, and even celebrity magazines. Knowing that, why use space exploration as an example of supposed waste of money?

To me, alleviating and preventing hunger and thirst comes from a similar place as space exploration. For humanity and Earth life to survive for any significant length of time, we need to become a multi-planet species. Being limited to one location makes us far too vulnerable. We are Earth exploring space and contemplating seeding itself onto nearby planets and perhaps even further out.

That’s also preservation of life, and if we think preserving individual lives is important (which I do), then preserving whole species and ecosystems over longer time spans is equally important.

To mention a few more things: Space technology and exploration has also allowed us to get a much better overview on the Earth as a whole in terms of science, sustainability, and in our minds (we are the Earth seeing itself from the outside, and that has tiny but profound effects for humanity). Space technology and science have helped us down here in many ways. And it’s inherent in us humans to explore and space is one of the current frontiers. (It’s not the frontier since there are many, and it’s also not final.)

Conspiracy theories vs more major issues most of us agree on

 

Note: This post is a bit one-sided as I wrote it from some reactivity and didn’t rewrite it – as I often do – before posting it. See the comments section for more details…!

I understand the fascination with conspiracy theories. They can give us a feeling that we belong to an exclusive group who knows while others don’t. It can be exciting and give can give us a sense of discovery. They can give us quick and simple answers to some of the problems in the world.

At the same time, it seems a waste of time to be too focused on obscure and often insignificant conspiracy theories. Mainly because what we agree is going on, what’s already out in the open, is as bad and often far worse than most conspiracy theories.

Here are some major things we know are going on:

Multinational corporations control international and national policies to increase their profit at the cost of people, ecosystems, and future generations. They also own most of mainstream media, and buy the votes and policies of politicians through financial contributions. Their interests often dictate the public discourse, bringing attention away from the really serious and overarching issues, and frame the more serious issues in a way that focuses on their more peripheral aspects. (No secret group or organization is needed for this to happen.)

Our economic system is based on assumptions that goes counter to ecological realities. What’s profitable in the short and medium term is often detrimental to the ecosystems we depend on for everything precious to us. And that’s not inevitable. It’s built into our particular economic system. It can be changed. (It’s not about individual greed as much as a system where short term profit is disconnected from enhancing the health and well-being of ecosystems, society, and individuals.)

Most or all our systems – economy, transportation, business, science, education, health and more – are based on outdated worldviews and frameworks. They are based on models and assumptions from one or two centuries ago when the world looked very different from how it is today. Today, with our much larger population and much more powerful technology, these assumptions are far more destructive to nature and people.

A note: Climate change is often a big topic in the media today as it should be. Although climate change is just a symptom of a much deeper and more systemic problem, and that is rarely addressed in mainstream media – at least so far. I suspect it will be.

None of these systems have to look the way they do. They are created and upheld by us and can be changed by us. And they will as more people become aware of the downsides of the current models and that we have practical and attractive alternatives.

Bernie Sanders in an excellent example of someone who sees and speaks about many of these issues, and a different and more sane way of organizing ourselves. He is a realist so he speaks about the first steps even if he likely is aware of the longer perspectives. We will eventually – and quite soon –  need deeper changes.

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Kids React: Donald Trump

 

“He speaks his mind, but his mind isn’t right”.

Smart kids. That’s what I have thought whenever I hear the “speaks his mind” argument.

Here are a few recent articles on the topic of Trump. First one that looks at healthy vs unhealthy narcissim.

An interesting article talking about the one trait that better than any other predicts whether someone is a Trump supporter: authoritarianism. It’s another reason why even imagining Trump as president is pretty scary. His campaign does bring to mind the rhetoric of Hitler and Mussolini and their promises of making their countries great again.

And a related article by George Lakoff on nurturing and strict parenting styles, how they relate to progressive and concervative politics, and how Trump’s tactics appeal to those who favor the latter.

Some people have short memories, or they are so caught in their wounds and reactivity that their natural care for themselves and others goes out the window…..

It becomes secondary to the brief – and untimately unsatisfying – pleasure of acting on reactivity.

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On the right side of history

 

He seems to be on the right side of history.

– Sarah Silverman

I assume we all think that we – our views and the policies we support – are on the right side of history. Hitler must have thought that, as well as Gandhi and just about anyone else of us.

I think that too. When I see Bernie Sanders and the policies he promotes, I see it as being on the right side of history.

It’s a bias most of us have.

And yet, progressive policies tend to actually be on the right side of history. Over the last 200 years or so, later generations tend to see the progressive policies of earlier generations as good, right, and on the right side of history.

It seems that in a society where most people have their basic needs met, the tendency is for it to move in a progressive direction. (Of course, if most or many do not have their basic needs met, it may go in the opposite direction. Germany in the 30s is one example.)

And with progressive, I mean things like:

Expanding the circle of “us” to include more genders, more minorities of any types, non-human beings, ecosystems, and future generations.

Changing policies, economic systems, production, transportation, education and so on to benefit ordinary people, nonhuman beings, ecosystems, and future generations. For instance, changing our economic system to take ecological realities into account. Changing international policies to benefit ordinary people and ecosystems rather than the narrow interests of multinational corporations.

Increased rights and real influence of ordinary people, minorities, nonhuman beings, ecosystems, and future generations. Giving a voice to the voiceless in our political and legal system.

These are just a few examples.

If we look back at history, we see that there has been this tendency – at least in the western world and more industrialized countries. We also see that this is an ongoing process. We haven’t yet included some minorities, nonhuman species, ecosystems, and future generations in a real way in our circle of “us”, and as significant stakeholders in our political and legal systems.

So in one way, I know that none of us can really claim to be on the “right side of history”. At the same time, I would say there is a good chance that supporting and implementing progressive policies will be seen by future generations as being on the right side of history. Also because these policies not only benefit people now, but also these future generations….!

After writing this, I realized something obvious: Another way to be on the right side of history is truth or reality. When Bernie Sanders – along with me and many others – were against GW Bush’s Iraq war and the fabrications used to justify it, he was on the right side of history since he was on the side of reality. The justifications were fabricated. When I and many others promote sustainability and systems changes (economy, production, food, transportation, energy, education) that take into account ecological realities, we are on the side of reality and history. We can even say that about inclusiveness and policies favoring ordinary people and life rather than corporations since these policies take the reality of people’s lives into account as well as ecological realities. (What actually benefits people and life.)

Update March 28, 2016

I thought I would share this one too. I think it’s good because she is saying what I am thinking. (That’s usually why we like something.)

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If I understand someone, it means X

 

Some folks think that if we understand why someone does something harmful, and perhaps find empathy and even love for them, it means we have to act a certain way. Basically, they think it means we’ll let them do whatever they want. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Reality is that understanding some reasons why someone behaves a certain way, and also finding empathy and genuine love for them, allows us to act less from reactivity and more from a sane and practical view. I am more able to act in a way that’s more kind and wise, and makes more practical sense.

I was reminded of this when I read about a political debate where one (Per Fuggeli) advocated understanding and empathy for refugees, and someone from a libertarian right wing party got upset about that idea. He seemed to think that understanding and empathy meant we had to accept everyone wishing to come to our country to live. That is, of course, a very naive way of looking at it. (And, as I see it, typical for people from that particular political party….!)

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Bernie Sanders

 

batman_sanders

I have to agree with Batman here. Sanders is polling strongly against both Clinton and Trump nationally, so why shouldn’t he win if people who favor him actually vote for him?

I see three different arguments among otherwise progressive folks: He can’t win against Clinton. He can’t win against the Republican candidate. And if he is elected, he won’t be able to implement any of his policies.

The two first arguments show a short memory since it’s what they said about Obama. The third argument seems a bit misguided. He will, of course, be able to implement put his stamp on policies during his term, as all presidents do, and he will be limited by the congress and many other factors, as all presidents are. More importantly, he will be able to highlight serious problems with the current system and a different way to organize ourselves. That in itself would be enough for me to vote for him. (Not that I can, since I am a US resident but not a citizen. A clear case of taxation without representation.)

Some also say that feminists should vote for Hillary Clinton since she is a woman. I thought feminism meant that women are able to think and chose for themselves? In any case, who is to say that not Sanders won’t do more for women – and people in general – than Clinton?

Less progressive folks argue that his policies are impractical, can’t be implemented, or will ruin the US. This is also a bit strange to me since most of Europe have functioned well on those policies for decades. In general, we know it can be done, and we also know that more egalitarian countries – where the difference between rich and poor is less – do much better on almost all measures. It benefits everyone.

P.S. For a while now I have had a sense that Bernie could win the nomination, and perhaps even the presidential election.

Ahead of our times

 

There has always been groups ahead of their times. I am obviously very biased, some of these seem pretty obvious, but here are some things I see as pointing forward in history.

A deeper respect for more of human diversity (ethnic, sexual etc.) and the unique gifts, insights and perspectives of each of these groups. This will be reflected more in media and storytelling. (Going far beyond what we see now.)

A deeper respect for all life. Including all life in the circles of “us”. A recognition that this deep respect for all life is essential for our own well being and survival. It’s good for us because it aligns with reality and what we already know.

A transformation in how we organize ourselves at all levels and areas of life. A deeper alignment with ecological realities in all areas including economy, production, architecture, engineering, transportation, education, energy use and more.

A deeper acknowledgment that we don’t know. A science that’s more integral, holistic, and inclusive. A science that has removed some of its current blinders.

A deeper sense of deep time, evolution, Big History, the Epic of Evolution, and what it means for all aspects of our lives.

A more integral and holistic approach to health. One that includes body, psyche, society, ecology, and spirituality.

A genuine and thorough scientific approach to what’s traditionally been the domain of spirituality.

A shift from policies that favor corporations and the few to policies that favor most people, ecological systems, and life.

Giving a voice and power to nonhuman species, ecosystems, and future generations. Giving a voice to the voiceless in politics and the legal system. Simply because it’s the right thing to do, and it ultimately benefits all of us.

A shift from religions to spirituality. Holding ideas and ideologies more lightly, recognizing and emphasizing the universal core of all religions, and focusing on the practical aspects of spirituality.

Regenerative design. Design of buildings, cities, regions etc. so that we support thriving ecological and social systems.

A shift from treating animals as a resource “owned” by humans to thinking, feeling, experiencing beings with value of their own. A shift from seeing ecosystems as a resource to living systems with value on their own. A shift to giving nonhuman species, ecosystems, and future nonhuman and human generations a real voice and say in our decision and policy making. (As best as we can.)

As someone said, the future will probably not be as bad as we fear and not as good as we hope. I think the areas above will continue to develop and gain momentum but I don’t expect all of these to become mainstream to the extent I imagine they can be. They will be strands in how we humans experience the world and among many other strands. I also know that the way we see these things now will continue to develop and that our terminology and ideas about many of these things will relatively quickly be seen as obsolete. I am also hesitant even writing this because it’s just about identical to what I said and wrote about in my teens, and that suggests that I haven’t matured or developed much since then! (Which in some ways is true.)

There are many more finely grained things that probably will happen, at least among some people. For instance, it’s pretty certain that psychology will finally catch up to more of what different spiritual traditions have known about, explored, and developed over centuries and even millennia. Different states of experience. Enlightenment in the sense of what we are – that which experience happens within and as – noticing itself. The effects of body centered/inclusive practices. The effects of inquiry, and what different forms of inquiry can tell us about how the mind works. The effects of some forms of prayer such as the heart prayer.

Any scenarios about the future reflects what’s here now. It reflects my own world as I experience it. It reflects my ideas about the past and present projected into the future.