Life as a forever emergency

 

I saw an article about the benefits of thinking of the climate crisis as an forever emergency.

In a sense, life itself is a forever emergency. Humanity as a whole experiences a continuous series of smaller and larger crises and emergencies, as do we as individuals.

It’s very helpful to realize that this is part of the human condition, and that this is how it is for all fellow Earth beings.

If we live in the hope that this will change, we’ll be forever disappointed, and we’ll struggle with what is because it destroys our dream. As soon as we adopt a forever view on crises and emergencies, we can find more peace with it.

A forever view may help us in several ways. It may help us be better mentally prepared and better prepared in general. More able to enjoy the calm periods. Prioritize. Appreciating the small things in life. Looking for ways to learn and grow through the emergencies. And have more empathy with others since we are all in the same boat here.

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXXII

 

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include short personal notes as well. Click “read more” to see all the entries.

From 2001: A Space Odyssey

AN ALIEN INTELLIGENCE WILL BE ALIEN TO US

I saw someone commenting that he doesn’t like the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey much because he doesn’t understand the alien aspect of the story. For me, that’s one of the brilliant things about the movie. The story is shrouded in mystery.

An alien intelligence will be alien to us. It will be mysterious. We won’t be able to make sense of it based on our own experiences, and our own experiences is all we have. It’s easy to imagine an initial alien encounter that’s a complete mystery and completely baffling to us. And even if we gather more information and think we understand more, we may discover we don’t understand it as well as we thought.

In most sci-fi, the aliens are us in another form. They have human drives and motivations, and they represent sides of us and are mirrors for us. Since that’s the explicit intention of most sci-fi, that’s completely appropriate.

If we want more realistic sci-fi stories, then we have movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Arrival. The alien intelligence here is alien to us. It’s mysterious, baffling, and confusing. It doesn’t quite make sense to us.

This is also one of the problems I have with some of the traditional alien-encounter stories. The aliens are too often just us in another disguise. They are scientists traveling through space to probe and examine us and tell us we need to take better care of Earth. In other stories, and especially the more shamanic or fairy-tale like ones, the encounters are truly mysterious and inexplicable, as I imagine is closer to how it may be in reality.

Click READ MORE to see more posts on these topics.

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXXI

 

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include short personal notes as well. Click “read more” to see all the entries.

POST-COVID ILLNESS & CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME

Mainstream doctors and media seem to acknowledge occasional long term effects of C19 infection, including fatigue, brain fog, post-exertion malaise (PEM), and damage to lungs and other organs.

These core symptoms of fatigue, brain fog, and PEM are the usual symptoms of post-viral syndrome or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). The physical damage to lungs and other organs seem more specific to C19.

Since CFS is a marginalized and often misunderstood illness, the C19 pandemic has the potential of being a turning point for CFS patients. The patients may be taken more seriously. CFS may be recognized as a mainly physical illness. And there may be more research into what causes CFS, what prevents recovery, and possible treatments.

It all depends on how mainstream doctors and media present it. Will they see the post-C19 problems as a subcategory of post-viral syndrome and CFS? Or will they see the two as separate and attribute the post-C19 challenges to damage to lungs, heart, and so on?

To me, it’s seems most reasonable to put it in the general category of post-viral syndrome and CFS, with some possibly unique problems like damage to organs. That’s also what will help the CFS situation the most.

BREXIT WOULDN’T BE DIFFICULT?

In a Norwegian article about Brexit, one of the experts interviewed said: nobody knew it would be this difficult.

Nobody could have guessed the specifics of what happened, but one of the supporting arguments against Brexit was exactly that it would be immensely difficult.

The EU rules are deeply interwoven with the British rules and regulations at all levels of government. It will take a long time to disentangle it all and redo it as they wish it to be.

Negotiating separate deals with – in theory – just about every single country in the world will be difficult and time consuming and will take years. (And they will be in a much weaker negotiating position than they were as members of the EU.)

And finally, as they have discovered, EU protects its own interests and they are not interested in making leaving EU easy or attractive.

The problems we have seen with Brexit isn’t so much from incompetence or political squabbles. It’s inherent in Brexit itself.

So far, they have mostly dealt just with the third of these points. After that’s done, they’ll still have the first and second to deal with.

Read More

God is a black lesbian woman

 

God is a black lesbian woman.

Why not?

European Christianity depicted God as an older white man. Older white men were typically in the most privileged position. So for a church led by white older men, and where hierarchy and power was more important than supporting the marginalized, it made sense to make God an older white man. It gave legitimacy to the current hierarchy and power structure, and it gave legitimacy to racism, sexism, colonialism, witch-hunts, and systematic abuse of women, non-whites, and children.

In contrast, the Jesus of the New Testament was on the side of the marginalized. So why not depict God as a black lesbian woman? Or whomever is marginalized where we are?

If we see God as all there is, or if we see a spark of the divine in each of us, then God is also literally a black lesbian woman.

Image: Painting by the amazing artist Harmonia Rosales. (Who paints as I had planned to paint before I switched path.)

Vaccine communication & anti-vaxxers

 

In the past 40 years, Danish research has shown that the story of vaccines is not quite as simple as the World Health Organization, national health authorities and others portray it.

– from Vaccines – an unresolved story, Science News DK

Why do we see a backlash against vaccines these days?

I wonder if it’s partly connected with the way governments and doctors have communicated vaccine information. They tend to strongly push it and focus on the very real benefits of vaccines, while ignoring or glossing over the equally real complexity and occasional downsides.

Why would officials and authorities push vaccines in a one-sided way? It may come from thinking they obviously are needed and should be used so they don’t see the need to include the other side of the argument. They may want to avoid muddling the water or give ammunition to anti-vaxxers. Another factor may be lobbying from the powerful pharmaceutical industry since they obviously benefit from mass-scale vaccination projects.

As anyone who has ever been a child or teenager knows, one-sided persuasive communication creates a backlash. We know reality is not that simple. We know they are leaving something out. If we are a bit informed, we know what they leave out. So there will obviously be a backlash.

With a more balanced and grounded communication, it’s likely that the response also would be more balanced and grounded. Yes, vaccines are amazing and often a very good way to go. And yet, there are complexities and possible downsides that need to be addressed. Both are part of the picture.

We are used to accept risk. Cars help us get around but they also kill people. Pesticides may allow for an easier larger yield, but these too kill people. Medicines helps people stay healthy and alive, and they have side-effects and kill people in the wrong dosage. Hospitals help people stay alive, and hospitals also kill people – through mistakes, antibiotic-resistant infections, and so on.

We know about these risks, and most of us accept them.

And so also with vaccines. Yes, they often have some risks. And yet, their benefits often outweigh these risks. Most people are willing to accept the risk of some vaccines, especially if they are informed about these risks and feel the authorities are honest and open about it. In other cases, vaccines may seem less needed or the risks may be too high.

Through a more informed discussion, we could collectively be more discerning about when, how, and for whom any one vaccine is helpful.

This is an example of how conspiracy theories often have some basis in reality, although usually not in a literal sense. Yes, the issue of vaccines is more complex than authorities tend to acknowledge. And no, there is most likely no vast conspiracy behind it apart from the usual pressure and influence from those who benefit from it financially.

Jo Goodwin: A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone

 

A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone.

– Jo Goodwin

Yes, that’s the function of a library, to represent a wide range of views including marginalized views and the ones that offend certain groups. Just like I want people I disagree with and whom offend me to have a voice in society, I want a library to have books that offend me. That’s the sign of a healthy society and a good library.

It’s not just the books under fire now that worry me. It is the books that will never be written. The books that will never be read. And all due to the fear of censorship. As always, young readers will be the real losers.

– Judy Blume

These quotes are from A Mighty Girl on Facebook.

Suddenly the impossible is here, and then normal

 

Most of us probably know this from our own life and history.

Suddenly, the impossible is here, and then it is normal.

When I notice the thought that something is impossible or unlikely, I remind myself I cannot know for certain, and that the seemingly impossible has happened many times in my own life, in society during my lifetime, and throughout human history.

When I grew up, I never thought I would ever live in the US. Before I got a more severe version of CFS, it seemed impossible that I would have an illness I wouldn’t be able to heal from and function well with.

In the ’30s and ’40s, going to the moon belonged to science fiction and fantasy. For many in Germany in the ’20s, Hitler and a fascist regime supported by a large portion of the German population seemed very unlikely or impossible. Even just a few years ago, a president like Trump was unthinkable. For many in 2019, the pandemic of 2020 would have seemed like it belonged to a TV series more than reality. In the 1800s, most of the technology of the 1900s wasn’t even dreamt of. For many today, the likely massive near-future effects of ecological unravelling seems unreal and like a fantasy.

A lot of things seems impossible, or difficult to imagine as real, until it’s here. And then it becomes the new normal.

Our life today, as individuals and society, is made up of what once seemed impossible and now is normal.

Conspiracy theories make dumb people feel smart

 

Conspiracy theories make dumb people feel smart.

– a comment on a friend’s social media post about conspiracy theories

It’s a bit crass, but considering the real-life harmful effects of rampant conspiracy theories, perhaps some crassness is justified.

I think there is something to this quote, in a couple of different ways.

Conspiracy theories can help us feel special, that we know something others don’t, that we are “sticking it to the man”, and so on. We feel “smart” in a broad sense. And this, in turn, is a way to cope with our own fears and sense of lack.

Also, they often come from a lack of critical thinking. We may feel we are questioning authorities when we take a conspiracy theory as real, but we may not go far enough in questioning authorities. Do I question the source of the conspiracy theory? Do I even know who the source is? Do I question my own thinking? Am I versed in media literacy, human bias, and logical fallacies? Do I apply these to the conspiracy theory and how I think about it? What’s the evidence for the conspiracy theory? Is it solid enough to hold up in a court? Or to be used by a serious historian or journalist?

So if I hold a conspiracy theory as true, it may come from a wish to appear smart and special to myself and perhaps others, and in the process I may be dumb in that I don’t apply critical thinking.

As I have written about before….

Some conspiracy theories may indeed be true. But I need to apply critical thinking and look at the evidence. If it looks flimsy or questionable, it doesn’t deserve much of my time and energy. Also, real conspiracies have historically been uncovered through serious investigations by journalists, historians, or official investigators. (Not nutters on the internet.)

And the real conspiracy here may be that conspiracy theories distract us from the very real problems in the world most or nearly all of us agree on: mega-corporations owning a large number of corporations and media outlets and influencing public discourse and policies, huge gap between the few wealthy and the rest of us, poverty, lack of basic health care, an economic system not taking ecological realities into account, our very real ecological crisis, and so on.

I intentionally use “we” language here since it’s not about us and them. Most of us go into our own conspiracy theories now and then. We believe our own scary thoughts about something and assign plan and intention where there is none. It’s good to notice.

Finally, what I see in others reflects what’s in me. If I believe the idea that conspiracy theorists are dumb, I make it into a conspiracy theory about conspiracy theorists to make me feel smarter.

Charities show us where society has failed

 

Charities are mirrors. They shouldn’t exist in a healthy and functioning society.

The amount of charitable and non-profit organizations that are established to serve the underserved is a direct reflection on the brokenness of a society. […]

Find out what local and global legitimate charities exist, and we will know where the current system is failing us. There are other ways the system has to change but we can use charities as one index for what to get on the next ballot for change.

– my friend MB on social media

When I first came to the US, I was shocked to see that charities were trying to pick up the pieces of a failed society. They were doing a job, in a fragmented and piecemeal fashion, that wouldn’t be needed in a well functioning society. And they were trying to do a job that, if needed, should be done by us collectively, through governance and government.

And that’s what we see globally as well. Why do we have charities and NGOs working on poverty, clean water, hunger, basic medical care, animal rights, sustainability, and so on? Because we – collectively – through governance, have failed to take care of it.

Reducing the viral load

 

This is something I have written about since early in the pandemic as I feel it’s an often overlooked point.

When it comes to protecting ourselves against the C19 virus, an important factor is to reduce the viral load.

Sometimes, we may be able to avoid getting infected in the first place – through physical distancing, good hygiene, facemasks and so on.

And in case we do get infected, the same measures helps us reduce the viral load. The fewer viruses we get into our system, the better chance our system have to deal with it.

Conspiracy theorist don’t go far enough: they don’t question ALL authorities

 

….many who are into conspiracy theories do not go far enough in questioning authorities. If you want to question authorities, question ALL authorities, including the sources of conspiracy theories and – especially – your own thinking. Are you certain you know what you think you know? Explore critical thinking, media literacy, and how the human mind operates from biases, shortcuts, and logical fallacies.

– from a previous post

This is an important point about conspiracy theories. People who are into conspiracy theories often pride themselves on questioning authorities, and yet they tend to be selective in which authorities they question. They may not question all authorities, including the sources of conspiracy theories and their own thinking.

Do you know the source of the conspiracy theory? Can you verify who it is? Can you verify the conspiracy theory itself? Would the evidence hold up in a court of law? Would it be solid enough for a serious historian or investigative reporter?

Do you know the common biases of the human mind, and do you take them seriously when it comes to your own views? Are you familiar with common logical fallacies, and do you test your own thinking against them?

Art and match with the person experiencing it

 

There are many ways to evaluate art: skills, technique, heart, humanity, psychology, sociology, symbolism, politics, reflection of society, impact on society, and so on.

In daily life, people often generalize based on how they experience music, paintings, writing, movies or whatever it may be, and say “this is good” or “that’s terrible”, or “these people have good taste” and “those people have terrible taste”.

For me, art is largely about match. How does someone experience and receive it? Do they get something out of it? Does it resonate with something in them? Does it help them get in touch with someting in themselves? Does it add to their life?

I love some music that few others seem to like, and that’s fine. The music means a lot to me, and that’s enough.

Similarly, I sometimes don’t like what some others like, and that’s good to. If they get something out of it, that’s very good for them and it makes the existence of that piece of art even more meaningful (beyond what it means to the one creating it).

This is very simple, and yet I am surprised by how often people seem to generalize based on how they personally perceive a piece of art, as if their individual experience says something inherently about the piece of art, and about the people who either resonate with it or not.

I assume it’s partly because we have trouble differentiating our perception from what it’s about (which we cannot say anything final or absolute about).

We may have trouble deeply realizing that we all have our own biases and backgrounds and so perceive the world differently and uniquely.

We may have trouble feeling relaxed about our own likes and dislikes, and enjoying the enjoyment of others even if it’s about somehting we personally don’t like.

It may also have to do with our identity. We often use our likes and dislikes to create an identity for ourselves, and to filter people into us and them.

The photo is of Huun-Huur-Tu from Tuva, which is one of my favorite bands and the one I have seen most often in concert. It also happens to be music many or most from the western world wouldn’t easily resonate with or like. And that’s understandable and completely OK.

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXX

 

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include short personal notes as well. Click “read more” to see all the entries.

The only white people in the Bible are the ones who executed Jesus.

John Fuglesang

For Christians who hold racist views, there must be some cognitive dissonance. And perhaps especially for white Christians, as John Fuglesang points out in that quote.

One dissonance comes from the content of the teachings of Jesus where he – in words and actions – clearly spoke about love for everyone and actively supported the minorities, outcasts, and oppressed.

The other is that Jesus was obviously a dark skinned Jew, and the only Europeans in the Bible are the ones who executed Jesus, in addition to oppressing the Jews and other people in the area, stealing their resources, and occupying their land.

As usual, the question is how this applies to me. Where in me do I find this type of cognitive dissonance? Where do I generalize to whole groups of people and subtly – or overtly – dehumanize them?

Perhaps I am doing it towards the ones I see as racists and bigots? Perhaps I am overlooking the trauma it may come from? That their views may be a way for them to cope with their own pain? Or that they just adopted views from those around them without questioning these views or having life experiences that helped them question these views?

None of that justifies racism and bigotry. None of it makes the harm from it any less real. But it helps me see them as humans as you and me. It helps me see how we are all in the same boat.

AUGUST 22, 2020

IDEALISTIC VS PRAGMATIC IN US VOTING

One of the oldest polarities in politics is probably pragmatism versus idealism. And this is heightened in an odd way in the US with its two-party system. Instead of voting for the Democratic candidate, some progressives chose to not vote or vote for a third-party candidate.

As some say, this is a way to display ones privilege and disregard for the most vulnerable in society. People who vote this way, in reality, says that they would rather have a Republican president than have to vote for a less-than-ideal Democratic candidate, and they don’t care much for the people who will be impacted by the policies of a Republican president. (With Trump, the deaths and cruelty coming from his presidency is very real – through putting immigrants in cages, separating children from their families, mishandling the pandemic, attempting to do away with social safety nets etc.)

Another way to talk about this is to say that voting is less like a marriage and more like taking the bus. You can vote for someone without loving that person or their policies. As long as you go in a better direction than where you are, or a better direction than the alternative, that’s good enough. That is, in fact, very good.

The main problem here is the weird and less-than-democratic two-party system in the US. In most other democracies, we have the choice among a wide rang of political parties. There is always one or a few that fit our own views and values relatively closely, and these – most often – have a very real possibility of being included in a coalition government.

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXIX

 

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include short personal notes as well. Click “read more” to see all the entries.

NORWAY’S REASON FOR NOT RECOMMENDING FACE MASKS

In the beginning of the pandemic, the Norwegian government decided to not recommend face masks to reduce the spread of the virus.

If they had said we don’t have enough high-grade masks for everyone, and they are needed for people in the health profession, that would have made somewhat sense. (Although even lower grade masks lower the viral load, which is important.)

If they had said there isn’t enough research to show their effectiveness, that would also have made sense if it was true, but it wasn’t and isn’t. Masks either protect against infection or reduce the viral load, and that reduction can make the difference between a severe infection or a moderate or mild infection.

Instead, they said they won’t recommend it because people won’t know how to use masks properly. Even on the surface, this seems a deeply idiotic flawed reason.

Let’s see how this looks if we apply that argument to other things in life. For instance, does it mean we shouldn’t take medicines since we can risk taking them wrong? Or that people shouldn’t drive cars because they may not operate them properly? Or that people shouldn’t use electricity since they may stick knitting needles in the electric outlet?

In all other areas of life, we use a simple solution: education. We educate people in how to do certain things. So why not do the same with mask wearing? People have learned all the other things, so why not also something as relatively simple as wearing a face mask?

I suspect the real reason was lack of preparedness and lack of high-grade face masks for health professionals. And instead of admitting their lack of preparedness, they instead gave a flawed reason. In some ways, I secretly admire people who are willing to look stupid in public, but in this case, it also puts people at unnecessary risk, and especially those already vulnerable.

At the very least, they could have recommended face masks for certain groups of people, for instance those at high risk if they should get infected, and those who – for whatever reason – are in contact with a lot of people.

WHAT CONSERVATIVES AND LIBERALS FEAR

What do liberals fear? And is it different from what conservatives fear?

It seems that traditional conservatives often fear too much change. They want to keep things mostly as they are because its familiar. Change requires adjustment and it comes with unintentional and unforeseen consequences. It’s good to be a bit conservative in this way.

Another thing conservatives often fear is to lose their privelege. They don’t want others to have a bite of the cake life happened to give them.

What do liberals fear? The essence may be a fear that some people and groups are seen as out-groups and their needs are not being taken care of. For this reason, they may fear bigotry, racism, intolerance, poverty, lack of education and universal healthcare, destruction of ecosystems, loss of species, and loss of opportunities for a good life for future generations.

Another difference is that conservatives tend to take care of “their” group and think others should do the same, and liberals tend to wish to take care of everyone – often including nonhumans and future generations.

Of course, it’s not always that simple. Sometimes, conservatives see all of life as their in-group, and liberals can have their own out-groups. And there are different types of conservatives and liberals. But for traditional conservatives and liberals, there may be some general truth to this.

I have my own bias which I am sure colors how I see this, but I also see the value in both general orientations. In their sane and healthy forms, they are both needed and they complement each other.

JULY 31, 2020

ADOPTING THE RELIGION OF THE OPPRESSOR

I know this is a sensitive subject and I am not the right person to talk about it when it comes to other groups, but the general topic is worth addressing.

One of the effects of colonialism – apart from slavery, extraction of resources, oppression and so on – is that the oppressed took on the religion and often general worldview of the oppressor.

We see this clearly in Africa where most now are Christians, and African-Americans in North-America who also have embraced Christianity.

Historically, it makes sense. They initially took on Christianity to survive, and then their descendants took it on because it had become normal to them. And I don’t question the sincerity of their faith today.

Still, perhaps this is something to look at. Although it was a very different situation, my ancestors took on Christianity because it was more or less forced on them, sometimes even violently. So is that a reason for me to take on Christianity?

Why should I, just because it’s part of my culture and my ancestors at some point were converted, often in very questionable circumstances?

When I decided in elementary school to call myself an atheist, this was one of the reasons. Why should I take on the religion in the culture I happened to be born into? It didn’t make sense to me.

It doesn’t make sense to assume that the religion I happened to be born into should happen to be the one right one, or even the one that was the best fit for me, or the one that would make the most sense to me.

I know there are many reasons for people to take on the religion of their community. For us, as social animals, it’s often genuinely more important to fit in and belong than examining and questioning religions more throughly. It’s natural and understandable. And yet, it’s good to be honest about it.

Click READ MORE for more brief articles on society and politics.

Read More

Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things XV

 

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on healing, awakening, and personal things. These are more spontaneous and less comprehensive than the regular articles. Some may be a little on the rant side. And some may be made into a regular article in time.

THE SUPERIORITY OF HUMANS?

His work is contentious, he says, because it calls into question the superiority of humans.

– from The secret life of plants: how they memorise, communicate, problem solve and socialise in The Guardian

Even since I was a kid, I have found the idea of inherent human superiority a bit (or a lot!) ridiculous.

The idea comes from our culture, and perhaps many cultures around the world. It comes from a power-over orientation and is used to support this power-over orientation. It’s how we tell ourselves it’s OK to imprison non-human beings, use them as slaves, eat them, torture them, and destroy their natural habitat.

The reality is that we are one species of animals among many. We happened to be one that developed symbolic language, technology, and more. And we are able to control and make use of other species for our own apparent benefit so we do, and we have found ways to justify it so we can pretend we feel better about it.

That’s about it. There is nothing inherently superior about humans. We are one of many species. We are a part of the living seamless whole of Earth as everything else. We are the local eyes, ears, feelings, and thoughts of the universe, as many other species are in their own way.

Last but not least, any sense of superiority comes from an idea of superiority. It’s not inherent in life or reality.

Click READ MORE for more of these notes.

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXVIII

 

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include short personal notes as well. Click “read more” to see all the entries.

WHY DO I CELEBRATE OUR NATIONAL DAY?

I have lived in Norway and the US, and on the respective national days, a question comes up for me.

What can I find that feels genuinely right to celebrate?

For me, it’s a mix of gratitude for what I have and have experienced in the country. An acknowledgment of the dark sides of the history and current affairs of the country. And the beauty of interdependence.

Why do I feel a need to examine this for myself? Because the usual reasons for celebrating the national day are not sufficient or don’t feel completely right to me. And I know there is something else there. If I look, I can find genuine reasons to celebrate, and that makes the celebration feel much better for me.

JULY 5, 2020

PANEDMIC AND CLIMATE CRISIS: WALKING INTO IT WITH OPEN EYES AND COMPLETELY UNPREPARED

We knew a pandemic would come. And yet, most countries were utterly unprepared for it. For instance, in Norway, the current conservative government had done away with extra ICUs and medical equipment that was needed to deal with a natural or man-made disaster that requires medical attention for a large number of people. Conservatism today means to be “efficient” and not to take care of people and the land.

This is the same with our current climate crisis. We know we are in the middle of it. We have known it for decades. And yet most countries do very little about it. We are walking with open eyes into a far larger disaster than what we are currently seeing.

Click READ MORE to see more brief posts on politics, society, and nature.

Read More

Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things XII

 

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on healing, awakening, and personal things. These are more spontaneous and less comprehensive than the regular articles. Some may be a little on the rant side. And some may be made into a regular article in time.

OPINIONS & IDENTITY

Opinion is really the lowest form of human knowledge. It requires no accountability, no understanding. The highest form of knowledge… is empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and live in another’s world. It requires profound purpose larger than the self kind of understanding.

– Bill Bullard

This is expressed in a somewhat judgmental way but it does point to something important.

When I interact with others, what’s my main purpose for the interaction?

Is it to connect? If so, any topic is fine. I can set aside my opinions and focus on topics that help us connect. Perhaps about something shared or not so charged. Even better, I can ask questions about the other and get to know them. For instance, what does he or she love or love to do? What’s meaningful for them? What are they passionate about?

Is it to get to know the other? If so, questions are most helpful, and perhaps especially questions about what they love, find meaningful, is interested in, and so on. (My own opinions are not so relevant.)

Is it to explore a topic? If so, our experiences, orientations, and opinions may serve as a starting point and we can engage in an exploration that moves beyond our starting points. We may find a way to look at it that includes more experiences, orientations, and viewpoints.

Is it to display my identity and get a sense of the identity of the other? If so, then putting out our opinions is useful.

These questions can be very illuminating. After a conversation, we can ask ourselves these type of questions to see where we were coming from. And also where we would like to come from in future conversations. And what may derail us.

What derails us? Do we miss or lose sight of our deeper intention? Do we fall into a familiar pattern? Do we get caught in some insecurity, fear, and wanting to be liked?

Click READ MORE to see more brief notes.

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXVII

 

Continued from previous posts…. These posts are collections of brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include short personal notes as well. Click “read more” to see all the entries.

THE UPSIDE OF TRUMP

When Trump was elected, there were demonstrations in many cities in the US.

I never saw Trump’s election as “wrong”. How could it be? He was nominated through the usual process. He was elected in the usual way. It’s a democracy. Enough people wanted him as their president to get him elected.

He is a symptom as well as a problem. On one level, he is a symptom of racism, bigotry, people who feel their white privilege is threatened, and so on. On another level, he is a symptom of much deeper systemic problems.

He is a symptom of fear and despair among people who feel powerless because they feel their voice is not heard. He is a symptom of the fear and despair of people who don’t have the basics in life to help them feel more secure and safe, including universal healthcare and good social safety nets. He is a symptom of collective trauma created by a system that prioritizes profit – often for the few – over the well-being of the many. He is a symptom of news media that prioritizes profit and entertainment over social responsibility (most mainstream media). He is a symptom of news media that prioritizes political agenda and polarization over reality and what’s good for the country as a whole (Fox News). He is a symptom of a political system that allows the interest of big money take priority over the interest of the people. He is a symptom of a system where many are kept in ignorance of what’s really going on. He is a symptom of a system where kids don’t learn (enough) media literacy, critical thinking, and how to identify and address the deeper systemic problems. He is a symptom of a system where those in power are not interested in or able to address the deeper systemic problems.

Even more than this, he is a symptom of collective cultural trauma. He is a symptom of a culture that lives from power-over rather than power-with.

The upside of the Trump presidency – for all its horrors and damage – is that it highlights these deeper and more systemic problems. These were there before he was elected and will be there after he was gone.

With a more “normal” president, many can pretend that these deeper problems are not there. But we can’t do that so easily with Trump.

Cornell West recently described the US a failed social experiment. Trump is a symptom of this failed social experiment.

JUNE 6, 2020

POLICE BRUTALITY

In response to the demonstrations in the US these days against systemic racism and police brutality, the police has often responded with more racism and senseless brutality. It only shows how common it is and how certain the police officers are that there will not be consequences.

This Twitter feed has – as of this writing – more than 260 examples of police brutality and violence, mostly against peaceful protesters.

This is not only a serious problem within the police culture in the US. It’s a problem coming from militarization of the police. It’s a problem with the higher-ups in the system allowing this to happen. It’s a problem with politicians allowing it to happen. It’s a problem with voters electing politicians allowing it to happen. It’s a problem with the media allowing it to happen. It’s a problem that comes from centuries of racism and structural racism. It’s a problem that comes from a country built on colonization, theft, genocide, and slavery. It’s a problem that comes from a country that continues what it was built on and never really acknowledged it or deal with it.

Most of all, it’s a problem that comes from collective trauma. Abuse leads to abuse. Abused people abuse. Hurt people hurt.

Read More

The banality of evil and our ecological crisis

 

As Hannah Arendt pointed out, in Nazi Germany, most of the atrocities were committed by good family men who followed orders. They just did what was expected of them. And they didn’t take responsibility to change or pull out of the situation.

The same is the case today in our era of ecological destruction. Most of the destruction is done by people just doing what’s expected of them – and that includes me and probably you.

In Nazi Germany, they lived within a Nazi system requiring them to imprison, torture, or kill large numbers of people.

In our society today, we live within a social and economic system that doesn’t take ecological realities into account. A normal life within this system “requires” us to live in a way that’s ecologically destructive.

The banality of evil doesn’t just apply to Nazi Germany. It applies to us today.

So what can we do about it?

To me, it’s important to realize that this is a problem with the system we live within. It’s not only or mainly about “evil” corporations or politicians or any other specific people. Our social and economic system was created in the 1700s and 1800s, at a time where natural resources and the ability of nature of absorb the waste of civilization seemed unlimited. This system doesn’t take ecological realities into account because it didn’t have to.

When we live within this system today, with a much higher population and more effective technologies, it’s predictable that it will have harmful ecological consequences – to the extent that our civilization is at risk.

This is about all of us. We all live within this system whether we like it or not. (Apart from a very few who have radically departed from it by choice or for other reasons.)

So it’s up to all of us to educate ourselves about the real problem – our current system and what the alternatives are, speak up about it, support the alternatives, and vote at elections and with our money to nudge changes in the right direction.

We need to create a new system where what’s easy and attractive to do – for individuals and businesses – is what’s sound ecologically and takes future generations into account. And that’s very possible if we – collectively – decide to do it.

And it starts with you and me. Even small steps in this direction matter a lot.

Beyond ecology and 1800s structures: Power-over mindset

I intentionally focused on the ecological crisis and economic structures from the last two or three hundred years in what I wrote above, just to keep it simple. But that’s a bit misleading since the cultural roots of the ecological crisis goes back much further and those roots are connected to other social issues.

The ecological crisis does come from recent(ish) economic and social structures.

But it also comes from a power-over mindset that came with agriculture and has been prominent in the European and other civilizations. And this power-over mindset not only has harmed nature but women, children, animals, those who fall outside of the mainstream, and really all of us.

When we operate from a power-over mindset, we harm a lot of people, animals, and nature around us. And we also harm ourselves. We apply the same power-over mindset to ourselves – to our body, to parts of ourselves, and to ourselves as a whole. We all suffer from it.

This is part of the banality of evil. It’s the banality of evil we all live from and suffer from when we operate from a power-over mindset. And just about all of us in western culture, and in many other agrarian cultures around the world, live with and partially from this power-over mindset.

Stephen Porges: If you want to improve the world

 

If you want to improve the world, start by making people feel safer.

– Stephen Porges

What happens when we feel unsafe? We go into survival mode and tend to think mostly about ourselves or a small circle of family and friends. It may fuel us vs. them thinking, blame, radicalism, and even violence.

What happens when people feel safer? In general, we relax, can function better, and have a larger circle of concern. It tends to encourage we-thinking and a bigger picture view.

What are some things that will help people feel safer?

What can we do at a social level? A good start may be universal healthcare. Good social safety nets. Trauma informed teachers, doctors, and parents. Reduced economic inequality. Reduced poverty.

And what can we do as individuals, for ourselves? A good start is to explore how to be a safe place for the parts of us that don’t feel safe. Give love to the parts of us that feel unloved or unlovable. Listen to the parts that has not been listened to. Be there for the parts we have run away from.

Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things IV

 

This is a post in a series of posts with brief notes on healing, awakening, and personal things. These are more spontaneous and less comprehensive than the regular articles. Some may be a little on the rant side. And some may be made into a regular article in time.

HEART PRACTICES

If I was going to recommend one practice, what would it be? Inquiry? Meditation? Body-oriented practices?

It depends on the person and their situation and what they are looking for.

But, in general, I would say heart-centered practices.

Heart prayer. Ho’oponopno. Tonglen. Christ meditation. Or something similar.

Practices that helps us reorient in how we relate to ourselves, others, the world, and existence in general.

To the extent we allow these practices to work on us, they can be deeply healing and transformative. They also support awakening, and they support living from – and as – this awakening.

CHRIST MEDITATION

I have gone back to heart prayer (Jesus Prayer) and Christ meditation over the last few days.

The heart or Jesus prayer is simple and from the Eastern church. Say in your mind a simple prayer, for instance: Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me. Synchronize it with the breath so the first half is on the in breath and the second half on the out breath. And then synchronize it with your heart beats. (Lord Jesus Christ _ Have Mercy Upon Me.) Keep saying the prayer through the day.

It may be easiest to start with the words, then add the breath, and finally the heart beats. After a while, it becomes second nature. And after a while, it’s as if the prayer is saying itself. There may even be a sense of it continuing during sleep.

Give yourself over to the prayer. Allow it to work on you. Notice and allow.

A good informal introduction to this prayer is The Way of a Pilgrim. Some of the descriptions of the effects of the prayer may seem fanciful but most (all? I don’t remember anymore) are accurate from my own experience.

The Christ meditation is also from the Eastern church. Visualize Christ in whatever form works for you (for me, as light and consciousness) in your heart, in front and behind you, and over and below you. Perhaps 1.5 meters outside the body. Rest with this. Allow it to work on you.

And if Christ doesn’t resonate with you, use any expression of the divine that works for you. This practice is also found in other traditions, for instance in Tibetan Buddhism where you use your Guru or an aspect of Buddha Mind.

Read More

Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things III

 

This is a post in a series of posts with brief notes on healing, awakening, and personal things. These are more spontaneous and less comprehensive than the regular articles. Some may be a little on the rant side. And some may be made into a regular article in time.

Allowing things to be

Colonel Brighton: Look, sir, we can’t just do nothing.
General Allenby: Why not? It’s usually best.

– from Lawrence of Arabia, 1962

I love that brief dialog from Lawrence of Arabia. It shows experience, trust, and an effective way of dealing with some situations.

In the particular situation in the movie, the Arab tribes had taken over Damascus without the skills and experience to actually run it. Allenby knew that if left to themselves, they would realize they needed help and that running Damascus was not what they really wanted. He allowed them to arrive at that conclusion for themselves. The alternative, which Brighton proposed, was military intervention which would only have galvanized the Arabs against the British. (I will refrain from commenting on colonialism and colonialist attitudes in history and the movie…!)

Sometimes, we obviously need to take action and get involved. We find ourselves in a situation that – if left to itself – will lead to undesirable consequences and nobody else may be in a better position to take charge, or our participation is required in another way.

But often enough, the situation will run its course without any problems. Our intervention is not needed. We can sit back, watch it unfold, and see it arrive at a conclusion that is desirable or at least not terribly undesirable. And if it should take a surprising turn and our intervention is needed, we can always get involved.

If I remember correctly, Jung would sometimes “accidentally” set fire to a piece of paper in his ashtray to see how his patient would react. Did they sit back and let the small fire run its course – knowing it would burn out without any risks? Or would they freak out and try to control the situation even if it was not necessary?

Click READ MORE for more notes.

Read More

How to live in an insane world?

 

If we hadn’t noticed earlier, in some point in the awakening process we realize that we are living in an insane world. Not the natural world, which is beautiful although in many ways merciless, but the human world.

A world where what we are doesn’t notice itself and take itself to be a separate human being. A world where people actually believe their thoughts. A world where people create a great deal of suffering for themselves and others only because they happen to believe crazy thoughts.

So what do we do? How do we live within this insane world?

For me, the answer is the usual one. Go further. Look more closely. Use it as a mirror for yourself.

Examine your thoughts about this insane world. Identify your beliefs about it. See what’s more true for you.

Identify emotional issues triggered by this. Invite in healing for these.

Reorient. See how it is to find love for what is triggered in you around this. See how it is to find love for these people and the suffering they create for themselves.

Learn more about the mechanisms behind this suffering and learn more about trauma and trauma behavior by exploring it in yourself.

Instead of feeling like a victim (which comes from a belief and emotional issues), why not do what you would like to see more of in the world? Why not do something, even if it’s small and local, to support life?

When we see insanity in the world, we see our own insanity. It’s an invitation to go further in our own healing and awakening and bring a little more into the world of what we would like to see in it.

Note: I intentionally wrote the two first paragraphs from the view of someone seeing the world as insane. It’s not so difficult for me since I went through that experience during the first few years after the awakening, and still connect with it now and then.

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXVI

 

Continued from previous posts…. These posts are collections of brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include short personal notes as well. Click “read more” to see all the entries.

Gritty wholesomeness

I was very skeptical when I first started watching Outlander but I have come to love it. I love it mainly for its gritty wholesomeness.

It shows flawed yet fundamentally caring and healthy people dealing with a series of raw and gritty challenges. And there is something wholesome in the best way in that. It reminds us of those sides of ourselves.

In that sense, it’s a bit like The Little House on the Prairie for grown-ups, and especially season four and five since they are set in North America.

I also like that it shows modern people in a time that was far more tribal and eye-for-eye, and how they adapt and learn to survive in that situation. They needed to find their warrior as we all sometimes do.

Click READ MORE to see more entries.

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXV

 

Continued from previous posts…. These posts are collections of brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include short personal notes as well. Click “read more” to see all the entries.

Who is it for?

I watched Won’t You Be My Neighbor, a 2018 documentary about Mr. Rogers. A few times during the interviews, the question came up of whether his TV show had an impact on society as a whole and if it was worth it. He even seemed to have that question when he was asked to say something after 911.

To me, that’s the wrong question. For me, the question is: Does it have an impact on one person? And perhaps several people? That, in itself, makes it worth it. And that’s how society as a whole change, even if it’s just a little. Changed individuals changes society. And, who knows, his show may have impacted several of the people who later came – or will come – in the position to make larger changes.

That’s how I see this website as well. I write mostly for my own sake and that’s enough. And if just one person gets something out of something here, that’s icing on the cake. That too, in itself, would make it worth it.

Read More

Conspiracy theory literacy

 

I thought I would write a few words about conspiracy theories.

What’s my personal relationship with conspiracy theories?

In general, I don’t have much time for them. But I am interested in the psychology behind conspiracy theories.

How do I see the bigger picture around conspiracy theories?

Historically, actually conspiracies have been uncovered by investigative reporters or government officials. Not by smallish online communities.

What we know is going on in the world is far more serious than the topic of most or all conspiracy theories. We know we are in the middle of an ecological crisis. We know huge portions of humanity lives in poverty while others have more than they need. We know large corporations influence policies to benefit themselves at the cost of nearly everyone else. We know we live within an economic system that doesn’t take ecological realities into account. All of this deserve our attention far more than most or all conspiracy theories.

How do I see them reflecting us?

I wonder if not conspiracy theories serve emotional needs.

For instance….

Does it feel better to think I know something others don’t? That I am a part of a small select group that knows?

Does it feel better to blame someone?

Does it feel better to think that a small group of people have done something instead of social and economic structures? (For instance, economic inequality, poverty, lack of political power.)

Does it feel better to think a few humans have done something instead of the randomness of nature? (For instance, the C19 virus.)

Does it feel better to think we know instead of not knowing? (Even if we cannot know anything for certain.)

Do the scary conspiracy stories feed into a familiar identity or set of beliefs? For instance, that I am a victim? Powerless? Abused? That those in authority always abuse their power. That important things happen that I don’t know about?

And I wonder if conspiracy theories mirror something in us that deserve attention.

For instance….

What are my stressful beliefs connected with conspiracy theories, or a particular theory? Whether I believe it, fear it, or am frustrated that people seem to believe it. What do I find when I investigate these thoughts? (The Work of Byron Katie.)

What does it say about me? That I am a victim? Powerless? Abused by those in power? Smarter than those who go into conspiracy theories? What do I find when I explore how my mind creates these identities? What do I find when I explore fears around this? What do I find when I explore compulsions in relation to this? (Living Inquiries.)

How can we relate to conspiracy theories in a way that makes more sense?

Media literacy is crucial here, along with awareness of cognitive biases and emotional reasoning.

Also, as mentioned above, if conspiracy theories trigger something in us – whether we get caught in them or react to them as nonsense – it’s good to take a look at what they trigger.

What’s the even bigger picture?

The even bigger picture is that all of this is the play of life, the universe, or the divine. It’s all part of life, the universe, or the divine expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself – also as conspiracy theories and how we relate to them.

Reminding ourselves of this can help us shift out of us vs them thinking and into all of us thinking. It can give us a slightly different context that can make all the difference – whether we chose to pursue conspiracy theories or not and whatever we think about them.

See below….

For my initial and more detailed drafts of this article. I chose to make this version simpler where the essence isn’t buried in details.

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXIV

 

Continued from previous posts…. These posts are collections of brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include short personal notes as well. Click “read more” to see all the entries.

Wholesome

I watched A beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, and although I initially was skeptical I loved it. I like wholesome approaches to life. For me, that means addressing serious problems in a way that’s kind, informed, pragmatic, and with heart. And although I grew up in Norway and wasn’t exposed to Mr. Rogers as a kid, I get the impression that he had just that approach to life.

I like that he emphasized how we relate to our emotions. That’s key to a good life. Do we relate to our own emotions with intention and kindness? If so, we are much more likely to have some peace and contentment and good relationships with ourselves, others, and the world.

This is also a reminder that much of what’s most important in life is very simple. It’s simple to understand. And takes a lifetime to explore and learn to live from.

Read More

Why do we love nature?

 

Why do most people love nature? Why do we experience it as healing?

One answer is that it’s because we are nature. We are an expression of this living planet as everything else is.

Another is that nearly all of our ancestors lived in nature. They were adapted to it. It was their home. It is our home. We are – literally – made to be in nature.

There is also a simplicity in being in nature. It helps us focus on the basics and we don’t need to pay attention to all the complexities of modern life. Food. Shelter. Getting from A to B. That’s the few simple things we need to focus on.

It also helps us prioritize and see our life in perspective. When I am in civilization, I am immensely grateful for electricity, running water, hot showers, and being able to go to the grocery store for food. These are not anything we can take for granted at all. Also, I get to see that I can be content with little as long as my basic needs are covered. My quality of life does not come from all the extra things that modern life offers. It comes from the simple things in everyday life, and especially in how I relate to my life and the world in general.

The simplicity of being in nature is also a kind of retreat. It helps us meet ourselves. And instead of going to distractions, we are invited to find another – and more kind and content – way of being with ourselves.

Is this love for nature only for ourselves? No. It can certainly enrich our lives immensely and also clarify our lives. But it also makes us into advocates for nature, and few things are as important – for us as humans and for all Earth life – than that today.

I am very aware that what I write here is a reflection of privilege. I can go into nature when I want. I have a home in civilization. I have my basic needs covered. I don’t need to collect or catch my own food.

I am also aware that since I am from Norway, and a deep love for nature is an important part of Norwegian culture, these views are somewhat influenced by my culture. In the US, I didn’t find the same universal love for nature, or at least not the love that makes us want to be in and experience nature first hand.

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXIII

 

Continued from previous posts…. These posts are collections of brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include a few short personal notes as well.

Climate crisis renaissance

Are we in for a new renaissance? A climate crisis response renaissance? I wouldn’t be surprised, and we are already seeing the beginnings of it.

We already have the solutions. What we need is the collective will. And, as the current pandemic shows us, we have the ability to collectively turn around quickly when it’s (collectively) clear that we have to.

The only question is when it will happen and how much ecological destruction has to happen before we reach that point.

Note: It’s obviously a much wider ecological crisis and the climate crisis is just one part of it. But it seems to be the one that gets people’s attention.

Read More

Notes on a pandemic

 

NOTE: What we collectively think we know about the pandemic is changing all the time, and I am not a doctor or epidemiologist (although I did study it while in university). So what I have written about here is likely outdated when you read it and it’s not expert advice. They are just some reflections from my side.

The initial notes are on the top and the newer ones at the bottom. I chose to keep all to show changing views over time as the pandemic progressed.

Click READ MORE to see all the notes.

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXII

 

Continued from previous posts…. These posts are collections of brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include a few short personal notes as well.

Why I love science fiction

I have loved science fiction since I was little, reading Jules Verne, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, and others.

Why do I love it? Probably for the same reason as others love it.

It gives us an opportunity to think about different possibilities for the future. It highlights what can happen if we take different paths. It gives us visions for what’s possible – both of what we want and what we don’t want.

It mirrors back to us our own society, mindset, and worldview. It can show us ourselves by reversing roles – for instance by having humans treated as we treat other species. It’s a great setting for exploring different ethical dilemmas. And by setting the story in the future and/or another place in the universe, it creates a slight distance that makes this mirror more palpable to us than if it’s more direct, literal, and heavy handed

Science fiction may seem like an escape, and it often does have that element. And at the same time, it can be deadly serious – in showing us possibilities for the future, and showing us ourselves as we are now.

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXI

 

Continued from previous posts…. These posts are collections of brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include a few short personal notes as well.

From The Incal series by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius.

Jodorowsky & real imitation. The foreword to the current hardcover edition of The Incal mentions the many who have stolen elements from the story or the visuals. Of course, any good artist “steals” but some apparently have lifted whole segments out of The Incal for their own work.

For me, it’s a reminder of different types of imitation. One form of imitation is to steal – or be inspired by – elements of the final product. Another is is to imitate where it came from. To find in ourselves the courage, authenticity, realness, imagination, and so on that brought it into life. That takes longer and is ultimately far more rewarding.

Jodorowsky & shamelessness. On that topic, I admire Alejandro Jodorowsky for the range and diversity of his work (see his Wikpedia article). How did it come about? I imagine a big part of it was shamelessness, in the best sense of the word. He seems to be someone who is real, authentic, courageous, does what he is drawn to, and follows his guidance. Perhaps most importantly, he seems to not be afraid to create and and put it out in the public.

He probably has fears and doubts as we all do, but he has worked through it or does it in spite of these fears and doubts. And many love him for it because it’s what we want for ourselves.

The Incal & dreams. I haven’t read all the books in the Incal series yet, but I get the impression that these stories are like dreams. They are full of archetypes and archetypal processes and dynamics, and they are free-flowing like dreams.

Often, stories that consciously use archetypes and dream symbols feel clinical. They feel thought out more than something that grows more organically out of who and what we are. Jodorowsky seems to be able to allow these stories to grow organically without pruning and guiding them too much by intellectual understanding (although I am sure that’s there too).

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature XX

 

Continued from previous posts…. These posts are collections of brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include a few short personal notes as well.

A more formalized type of mirror. I am not much into astrology or tarot, although I recognize that it can be helpful. At their best, they combine archetypes, projections, and synchronicities in a powerful and potentially life-transforming way.

Both have systemized some basic archetypes and some of their dynamics. And since archetypes are universal, they will resonate with whomever is receptive to it.

Both can serve as very good projection objects. We see ourselves in the astrology charts or a tarot card or layout because we put ourselves into it.

Synchronicities can play a role in both. Something going on in our life – and especially in our mind – can be reflected in astrology and tarot.

In all of these ways, astrology and tarot can serve as a mirror for us. They can help us see and get to know aspects of ourselves.

It seems less useful if we have a simplistic and heavy-handed approach to astrology, tarot, or anything else. For instance, if we think they tell us something that’s going to happen. That can create stress, and even self-fulfilling prophecies (or the reverse).

And it seems more useful if we hold it all lightly. If we consciously use them as mirrors for ourselves. And if we are conscious of the archetypes, projections, and synchronicities.

Of course, the whole world is a mirror for ourselves. We don’t need astrology, tarot, or something similar to see and get to know aspects of ourselves. We just need to recognize that the whole world – and especially what in the world and our life currently draws our attention – is a mirror for what’s here now.

Astrology, tarot, and similar things are more formalized, structured, and explicit mirrors for ourselves. Life is the mirror we live with all the time, and we may need a somewhat structured approach to make use of it. For instance, some form of inquiry.

Unedited photos from Bryant Park, New York.

Editing photos. When I take, select, and edit my own photos, I need one or more pointers for myself to guide me. Here are some of the pointers I tend to use:

Something I would like to look at over time, and again and again.
Something that gives me pleasure.
Something that is interesting.
Something where I can keep discovering new things. 
Something that conveys a certain mood.
Something that conveys a certain way of perceiving the world.

Something that feels right at a deep level.

Of course, not every photo need to satisfy each of these. And a photo can be interesting for other reasons. But these are useful pointers for me, at least for now.

Read More

North Korea and the need for control

 

In watching a short BBC story about North Korea (Surprising images from inside North Korea), I was reminded of the need for control – and how it looks very similar in North Korea (and similar places) and in ourselves and our own lives.

North Korea is a country run by fear and they feel a need to control their citizens and anyone visiting. As the photographer in the video says, he could only visit approved locations, he had to stay in special hotels for foreigners (sometimes as the only guest), his “guides” were in the rooms next to his and emerged as soon as he opened his door, and so on.

In other words, North Korea is behaving as a terrified person. Everything needs to be controlled, often harshly. And if it’s not, there is the fear (I assume) that everything will fall apart. (That may be true. The totalitarian regime may well fall apart giving space for something else to emerge – perhaps a South Korean style modern democracy.)

Most of us have probably met people who seem a bit like this. Who tightly try to control a situation. Who seems terrified of things going “out of control” in themselves or their life.

And, if we are honest, we can probably find it in ourselves.

When am I acting like North Korea? Can I find examples of…. A time when I felt I needed to control a situation? When I desperately wanted to present a certain image of myself while keeping less savory parts hidden? When I felt a strong need to maintain a certain image? Or to maintain things the way they are? Or to avoid certain experiences I was terrified by?

In a sense, that’s the gift of North Korea. It shows us how a tightly controlled country – run by fear and through fear – looks. And, if we allow, North Korea can be a mirror for ourselves. When am I like North Korea?

What do I fear would happen if I am not like that? If I am more authentic and real and allow others to see me as I am (in all the humanness)? If I allow situations to unfold as they do with less of an attempt at tight control? How would it be to try it?

Some additional thoughts:

Why is North Korea the way it is? Of course, there are clear historical reasons (the war and connections with China etc.). Mainly, the leaders are terrified of giving the people are more free rein because it would – almost certainly – be the end of the current regime. There is a lack of trust that it would be OK or perhaps better than it is currently. Again, that fear may be justified since the few who benefit from the current regime most likely would benefit far less from a more liberal society and a democracy.

Again, that’s similar to us. We may fear that without a tight control – or attempt at control – in some situations and with some parts of ourselves, things would go haywire. We may fear to lose respect or admiration, or the image of being a certain type of person, or some perceived advantage, or perceived control over someone else or a situation.

So in exploring this, we need to address the fear, and we need to gradually find trust in ourselves – what’s in us, and in life in general. Mainly, we need to learn to trust that we are OK as we are – warts and all.

Dreams reflecting our ecological crisis: Boiled pigs

 

I am in a restaurant with friends. They are boiling two live pigs in hot oil to be eaten by some of the guests. I am horrified and shocked but nobody else seems to understand what I am reacting to. They see it as completely normal to boil pigs alive and then eat them.

– from Alejita’s dream a couple of nights ago

Since this dream is not my own (it’s from my beloved), and most dreams have a personal and a collective aspect, I’ll focus on the collective side here.

When I was told the dream, my first thought was that many today probably have dreams like this, and perhaps especially young people.

It reflects a growing awareness of how we treat nature, how cruel and damaging it is, and how it impacts ourselves – psychologically and our ability to thrive and survive.

These dreams shake us. They help wake us up to how we treat and relate to nature and ourselves as nature. They help us recognize our cultural power-over attitude towards nature, women, children, animals, and our own bodies and ourselves as animals.

We are in the middle of a global ecological crisis. We have created it ourselves, mainly through a too-often unexamined power-over attitude. It shakes us, including through these types of dreams. And we need to be shaken. We need to examine ourselves and how we see ourselves in relation to nature. We need to transform how we see ourselves and nature and how we organize ourselves within the larger ecological systems and this living planet as a whole.

At a personal level, these dreams may cause us to be more conscious of our behaviors in general. They may also be a small piece in transforming our worldview. They may change how we vote and what policies we support. And collectively – if we are lucky – these type of dreams help move us towards a more ecologically sound and wise civilization.

I am very curious about how many have these types of dreams these days – of cruelty to animals and nature and of ecological devastation. I imagine they are more common than we realize. It would be very interesting to collect some of them to get a sense of how our minds are processing the situation we are in and also as a historical record.

One of my own ecological-crisis dreams is recorded in this article.

As an aside, how do I see the situation we are in and how it was created? An early significant shift was transition to agriculture and the possibility of accumulating wealth and creating social hierarchy. With it came a power-over attitude towards nature, other human beings (especially women and children and those lower on the hierarchy), and ourselves.

On top of that, we created our current economic and social system (in the 1700s and 1800s) at a time where we didn’t need to take ecological realities into account. We are still using and living within that outdated system even thought our situation now is very different – we are far more people and our technology is far more powerful.

And that – agriculture, power-over, and an outdated economic and social system – explains the crisis we currently find ourselves in. The crisis is feedback. And how we respond to that feedback determines our own future and fate and whether and how we will survive.

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature XIX

 

Continued from previous posts…. These posts are collections of brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include a few short personal notes as well.

Trump as the shadow. Trump represents shadow material for many people in the US and the rest of the world. He is one of the few leaders who happily and wholeheartedly seem to embrace qualities most of us see as undesirable. Qualities many of us try to avoid acting on (which is healthy), and perhaps exclude from how we see ourselves (less healthy).

That’s one of the golden opportunities with the Trump presidency. We can’t avoid seeing despicable behaviors from him. And that’s an invitation to find the same in ourselves. What do I see in him? (Make a list.) When and how do those descriptions fit my behavior? (Use specific examples.) Take it in. Allow it to change how I see myself.

The test for how much shadow material I have worked through – recognized in myself and included in how I see myself – is how I react when I see Trump. Do I react with reactivity, contempt, disgust, and so on? Do I see a human being like myself? (Although I don’t agree with his words and actions. If I see him with more empathy and perhaps as a confused and wounded human being, can I find that too in myself?

One of the best ways I have found to work with projections and shadow material is The Work of Byron Katie. The Living Inquiries is also good.

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature XVIII

 

Continued from previous posts…. These posts are collections of brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include a few short personal notes as well.

Greed? I keep seeing people talking about “greed” as the cause of the problems today. (I even heard it from a professor in biology with interest in sustainability!) I have never quite understood it because people act according to the system they are in, and our current system rewards behavior that’s unintentionally harmful for the Earth, humanity, and future generations.

Why does it reward that type of clearly harmful behavior? Not because the people who created it were “bad” people but because they lived in a world where they didn’t have to take ecological realities into account. They lived in a world with relatively few people and relatively simple technology, so limits – to natural resources and nature’s capacity to deal with vaste – was not an issue apart from in some cases and very locally.

What’s the solution? To create a system – in all areas of society and culture – that takes ecological realities into account. A system where what’s easy and attractive is also what benefits society, Earth, and future generations. It’s fully possible to create this type of system. It won’t be perfect, but it’s something we can work on and refine as our situation changes and as we better understand how to live with Earth with our populations numbers and more powerful technology.

How do we get there? Perhaps through a small group of people realizing what needs to change and how (already happening), implementing examples (as many do), and then larger numbers of people supporting implementing it at a larger scale. There will be a backlash from those immeshed in our current system, as we see today with Trump and others. And it may well be that it will get worse before it gets better. Many may need the crisis close enough to home before they support the change needed.

The US obsession with the individual. I just watched the new Terminator movie and enjoyed it a lot. It had a good story and I loved the characters and the self-referencing humor (mostly from Schwarzenegger).

There was one thing that slightly brought me out of the Terminator-world. Why is a single person so important for the resistance? Typically, when the leader of a resistance is removed other come in and takes their place. I understand that some are more skilled and/or charismatic than others, but it seems that there is always someone who steps in and fills the gap.

It’s part of the slightly weird US obsession with the individual. We see it in the superhero stories (although it’s more common for them to team up now which is a nice change). And more disturbingly, we see it in the idea that anyone can succeed in the US if they only work hard enough. Anyone can escape poverty if they only want and work for it. That’s obviously not true. The system tends to keep those born into wealth wealthy (just look at Trump) and those born into poverty poor. This “upward mobility” idea tends to keep people from looking at the system, wanting to change the system, and actively working for changing the system.

Also, why can’t the machines send a lot of terminators back to make sure the job is done? I guess there is an answer within the Terminator-world I don’t remember or was never aware of.

December 3, 2019

Power-over vs. power-with. In a conversation, someone said that many or most of the problems in the world today comes from patriarchy. I partly agree but for me it’s much broader. Many or most of the problems come from power-over rather than power with. Power over nature. Power over women. Power over non-whites. Power over the poor. Power over animals. Power over our own body. And so on. It’s all part of the same mindset and orientation towards ourselves and the world. And it doesn’t work anymore. The problems created by it are too big and too global.

We cannot anymore use a power-over mindset the way we have. It damages the Earth, society, and ourselves too much.

Read More