Star Wars: The Last Jedi

 

Luke: What do you see?

Rey: Light…. darkness….. the balance….?

Luke: It’s so much bigger.

This seems to be the mainstream interpretation, and although I try to avoid topics that are covered in the mainstream, this one is too good to pass up.

In many spiritual traditions, and in our own ordinary maturing as human beings, we tend to initially split between good and bad, light and darkness. We seek the light and avoid the darkness. That’s the safer approach, initially, until we gain some more experience and reach a certain level of maturity.

And then, we realize we need to outgrow it. We see the pitfalls in splitting life in that way. We realize that we all have both in us, and if we identify with one we have to suppress the other which doesn’t work in the long run. At a social level, we end up demonizing groups, which is not good for any of us.

So we need to find both sides in us. Find a larger whole that already embraces and includes both. Find ways to live with and from both. And in that process, we find some maturity and a different and more real type of kindness. We don’t have to demonize anything in ourselves or others. We recognize ourselves in the whole world, as it is. There is a deeper and more genuine empathy.

Is that why it’s time for the Jedi to end? If the Jedi only know and use the light side, they are out of touch with life and reality. A new approach is needed. And Rey may be one of the first ones to be trained in this new approach.

Embracing both sides we find something so much bigger than either one. So much richer, fuller, more mature, and – if done with some skill – more kind in a real way.

It can also be a dangerous transition. We go from a safer and more immature identification with the good, to getting to know and embracing both sides. We often make mistakes in this transition, and that’s how we learn and mature. That’s how we find the deeper form of kindness that can come from embracing and befriending both.

There is nothing new here. This is part of any relatively mature spiritual tradition, and it’s what we realize growing up – at least most of us. It’s also not new in literature, mythology, or even movies. But if this is the theme of the new Star Wars movie, it’s certainly good that it comes into mainstream culture in this way. It is a message that can be helpful to many, especially younger ones, and especially in the US.

It may not be popular, but I still have to say that the US culture tends to be more obsessed with the good/bad split than many other cultures and has a more immature take on it. Evangelical Christians, and any form of Christian or religious fundamentalism, is an example of that more immature view. Other examples are, unfortunatly, how the US media tends to frame issues, and aspects of US foreign policy.

There is nothing inherently wrong with this approach although it does create some suffering and is dangerous if taken too far. And it’s also a stepping stone. One of an infinite number of stepping stones. Each one with its own drawbacks that we eventually discover, take to heart, and partially resolve with the next more inclusive approach.

And the Last Jedi movie poster is awesome. A great take on classic 50s sci-fi art.

Note: When Rey says “light” there is an image of Leia and a rebellion control room (I assume), when she says “darkness” we see Kylo Ren’s charred helmet (I assume), and when she says “the balance?” we see some books perhaps symbolizing wisdom and maturity.

Note II: I see that people talk about “grey Jedi” as a term for those who embrace the larger and more inclusive wholeness of the light and the dark. I don’t like the term since it sounds bland and as if the light and dark blend together. It’s much more about including both, the full spectrum. Maybe “full spectrum Jedi” is more accurate but obviously less catchy.

Note III: As mentioned above, there is an apparently safe simplicity in dividing the world into good and bad, and identifying with the good. It seems safe, and it’s also a bit naive since that’s not how the world works. We all have both in us, and identifying with parts within that split leads to scapegoating, dehumanization, us-them attitudes, and struggles with others and oneself. So eventually we realize we need to include both. We need to find both in ourselves, and learn to befriend both and live with and from both. And in that, there is a deeper and more mature kindness and compassion towards ourselves and others.

The simple dualism is a stepping stone. And the exploration of a more inclusive wholeness is also a series of stepping stones.

There is a slight risk here: the initial exploration of wholeness can be used to justify living from parts of ourselves in an unkind and less wise way. We can tell ourselves that “it’s good to embrace all of me, and that means it’s OK to be mean” or greedy, or hateful, or whatever it may be. I certainly saw that with some of the senior students at K. Zen Center. They used the wholeness principle to justify being jerks.

That too, of course, comes with consequences, and those consequences invite us to find a kinder and more mature path.

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.

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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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Why wolves?

 

There is an ongoing debate in norway about whether we should have wolves or not, and how many. The fault lines – as so often these days – seem to go between the urban and/or more educated, and the rural and/or less educated.

Here are some of the arguments against wolves, and my comments.

They take livestock. They do, but they take far fewer than trains, traffic, and disease. And the farmers receive compensation from the state if any are taken.

They are a risk to humans. No, they are virtually no risk to humans. The real risks are what we all know about, including traffic, suicide, poor lifestyle and food choices, and much more.

They are evil and scary. Yes, we may culturally have learned to see them as evil and project our shadow onto them, and they may trigger fear in us. That’s no reason to get rid of them. (I suspect this is what’s really going on since the apparently rational arguments are not very strong.)

And here are some arguments for having wolves.

For the benefit of the wolves. They have as much right to be here as we do. They are sentient beings just as us and wish to live.

For the ecosystems. Our ecosystems evolved with large predators, and healthy and thriving ecosystems depend on large predators.

For our benefit. Just as ecosystems, we need the wild. We evolved with and in the wild, and with high level predators. We need it for our own health and well being. We need it as a reminder of who we are, in an evolutionary context. We need it to feel alive.

Why are people really against wolves? I suspect primal fear of wolves is one aspect. Specifically, fear of losing animals to wolves may trigger a more primal fear than losing them to illness or trains. Another may be instinctual competition. Humans and wolves are both large predators, and it’s natural to try to eliminate the competition.

In my view, the arguments against don’t hold up well. And the arguments for are far more important – for them, for us, for nature as a whole.

As usual, I can add that this view is very predictable for someone with my background. I grew up in a well educated urban family. I love nature. I want to consider the rights and needs of other beings, including nonhuman species. I am liberal in terms of politics. If I had grown up as a sheep farmer in an area with wolves, my views may well have been different. And that doesn’t mean I won’t speak up for wolves. They need someone to speak for them.

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Being more mature than what your culture requires

 

… you have to think about what it means to actually be more complex than what your culture is currently demanding. You have to have a name for that, too. It’s almost something beyond maturity, and it’s usually a very risky state to be in. I mean, we loved Jesus, Socrates, and Gandhi—after we murdered them. While they were alive, they were a tremendous pain in the ass. Jesus, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr.—these people died relatively young. You don’t often live a long life being too far out ahead of your culture.

– Robert Keegan in an interview with What Is Enlightenment? Magazine, cited in Robert Kegan’s Awesome Theory Of Social Maturity by Mark Dombeck

I would add that those who are far ahead of mainstream and publicly seek social change, risk not living a very long life. There are certainly many who are far ahead of mainstream and foucses on facilitating change in other areas of life, such as Adyasanti, and they don’t run the same risk.

Keeping the big picture in mind

 

A recent survey asked “All things considered, do you think the world is getting better or worse, or neither getting better nor worse?”. In Sweden 10% thought things are getting better, in the US they were only 6%, and in Germany only 4%. Very few people think that the world is getting better.

What is the evidence that we need to consider when answering this question? The question is about how the world has changed and so we must take a historical perspective. And the question is about the world as a whole and the answer must therefore consider everybody. The answer must consider the history of global living conditions – a history of everyone.

– from A history of global living conditions in 5 charts by Max Roser

It’s important to keep the big picture in mind, especially with a media that tends to narrowly focus on what doesn’t work. In this case, the bigger picture is how the human condition has changed over the last two centuries. It’s equally important to make decisions for future generations, and

It’s equally important to make decisions for future generations. And to see ourselves in the context of the history of the Universe as a whole. We are – quite literally – the universe expressing, experiencing and exploring itself. Remembering that gives a sense of awe and is amazing, exciting, and sobering.

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.

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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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Insulted by reality

 

A friend asked on Facebook: “Why are some insulted by ‘happy holidays’?”.

As far as I understand, some Christians are insulted by any acknowledgment that others don’t share their religion. In other words, they are insulted by reality. That’s putting it harshly but also – as far as I can tell – accurately.

He should know better

 

Research shows the people who score lower on intelligence tend to judge others based on what they are born into (gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion) while people who score higher tend to judge based on “they should know better”.

Is it true, they should know better? Let’s try a couple of examples.

Trump should know better. What are some examples of the reverse? He may be mislead by Fox News, Breitbart, and similar sources. He may do what he does as a conscious strategy or even an accidental strategy that has worked for him in the past. (To distract, appeal to reactive emotions etc.) He may act from a reckless personality. He may act from wounds and trauma. He may not be put together quite right from birth.

Trump supporters should know better. Again, they may be mislead by Fox News, Breitbart, Trump, friends, and family. They may be less informed. Their education may not be very good or thorough. They may agree with some or all of what he says, for whatever reason. They may think that what he says will reflect what he does. (In reality, he speaks as if he is for the “ordinary guy” while he is in it for himself and his wealthy friends.) From biology or experience, they may not be so interested in the big picture or in doing thorough research before making a decision. And they too may act from hurt and trauma.

I can find many reasons why they shouldn’t know better. There are infinite reasons for why they see the world and act the way they do. I can always find one more reason. In that sense, it’s the universe as a whole acting through them and as them.

That’s the case for me too. When I look at them and myself, I can find understanding and empathy by seeing these infinite causes. And at the same time, in the case of myself, I am also completely responsible for my own views and actions.

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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.

All made up

 

Sometimes, I hear someone say it’s a made up word. What they mean, of course, is that someone recently made up the word. And really, it’s just a reminder that all words are made up. And that all ideas are made up as well. Anything imagined – including all words and images and all abstractions and ideas – are made up.

All religions, philosophy, science, worldviews, self-images, stories about anything and anyone, are made up. It doesn’t mean they may not be meaningful, or useful, or work well to help us orient and function in the world. Many of them do some or all of those things for us.

But it does mean they are made up. They don’t reflect any absolute or final truth about the world or ourselves or anything else. And they are passed on through generations making up culture, religion, and worldviews that is shared by most or many in a society, and are then made to look final and absolute since so many take them for granted.

Through inquiry, we can begin to undo this sense that these ideas are final or absolute. We get to see how our mind creates and recreates them for itself here and now. We may get to see how imaginations combine with sensations where imagination gives a sense of meaning to sensations, and sensations give charge and a sense of solidity to the imaginations. We get to see how they must have been initially imagined by someone, perhaps a long time ago. We get to see how they are passed on from parents to child, and society to individual. We get to see how they can seem real and absolute just because they are shared by many in a society. We may find that we can relate to them more intentionally and use them more as seems appropriate. The charge in them may even lessen or fall away.

I am not good enough, original sin, and marketing

 

I am not good enough. I am broken beyond repair.

These are core beliefs for many people.

Where do they come from?

The immediate cause may be childhood experiences and what the mind does with them to protect us.

The broader cause is to be found in our culture. For instance, the marketing industry intentionally reinforces our experience of not being good enough and then promise that their products will make us good enough – at least temporarily. They create a problem and then sell a product to fix it.

And it may reach all the way back to the Christian idea of original sin. In Christianity, we find the same strategy of creating a problem (original sin) and then selling a product to fix it (Jesus as a savior). Christianity has permeated our culture for a couple of millennia so it’s natural that the underlying beliefs and assumptions in Christianity still operate in our culture, even if many or most no longer consider themselves traditional Christians.

As usual, there is a lot more to explore here. For instance, is the core identity of “not good enough” found only in our culture or in all cultures? (I would guess it’s cultural more than inevitable.) It’s also clear that the marketing industry intentionally play on and reinforce people’s low self-esteem so it’s easier to sell them products and services.

There is also the issue of how to tackle this issue. When we work with individuals, it’s helpful to do inquiry on this and help people find freedom from this identity, and it’s also good to help them see the bigger picture and where it comes from in terms of marketing and culture. Working at a group level, we can support critical thinking and media literacy at all school levels, and also work with the marketing industry. (Media literacy also includes being critical to what’s sold by Christianity and other religions.) Ultimately, we need to shift out of a consumerist economy and into one that’s healthier for all of us, including ecosystems and future generations.

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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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