Imagining the future

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Global and regional

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

Regional differences

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

Sustainability baseline

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

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

Structural changes leading the way

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

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

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

Realizing the benefits all around

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

More inclusive sense of us

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

More integral

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

Gratitude for past generations

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

Social challenges

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

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

Health and spirituality

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

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

Science and technology

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

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

The rights of nonhumans, ecosystems, and future generations

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

Adult development

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

Surprises

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

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Various

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Pamela Wible, MD

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

When it’s unethical to vote your conscience

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Trump as Loki

 

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

– from Trump is Loki in Commentary Magazine

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

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

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

Decline of the US empire

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Brexit and Trump

 

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

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

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

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Muslims, Obama, imperialism

 

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

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

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

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

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Hunger and thirst vs space exploration

 

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

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

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

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

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

Conspiracy theories vs more major issues most of us agree on

 

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

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

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

Here are some major things we know are going on:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Kids React: Donald Trump

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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On the right side of history

 

He seems to be on the right side of history.

– Sarah Silverman

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

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

It’s a bias most of us have.

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

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

And with progressive, I mean things like:

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

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

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

These are just a few examples.

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

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

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

Update March 28, 2016

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

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If I understand someone, it means X

 

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

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

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

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Bernie Sanders

 

batman_sanders

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ahead of our times

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Climate change doesn’t matter

 

I have written about this before, and I remember having discussions about this back to middle and high school. (Including with a teacher who didn’t agree!)

Climate change doesn’t matter. Or, more precisely, whether climate change is happening (which it is), and whether climate change is human created (which it is), doesn’t matter. We still need to make the same changes.

There are innumerable reasons why we need to create a more deeply and genuinely sustainable way of organizing our lives, globally and locally, independent of climate change. We need to because our health and well-being is dependent on the health and well-being of the Earth as a whole. We need to because of unravelling ecosystems, which are life-support systems also for us. We need to because of environmental toxins. We need to because of dying oceans. We need to because of overuse of limited natural resources. We need to because of an economical system theoretically (but not in actuality) divorced from ecological realities. We need to because it harms us to harm non-human living beings. We need to because it harms us to harm future generations of our own and other species. We need to because of international laws and agreements benefiting multi-national corporations while harming people and nature. We need to because it just makes sense. We need to because it will be a boon to innovation and the economy. We need to because living in a way we know supports life (instead of harming it) is good for us as thinking feeling beings.

In this equation, climate change really doesn’t matter. It’s still happening. It’s still caused by us. It’s still serious, and has and will have serious consequences. And it doesn’t matter because there innumerable other reasons why we need to transform ourselves as a society and a species to live in a more deeply and genuinely life-supporting way.

Article: Have Americans gone crazy?

 

Americans who live abroad — more than six million of us worldwide (not counting those who work for the U.S. government) — often face hard questions about our country from people we live among. Europeans, Asians, and Africans ask us to explain everything that baffles them about the increasingly odd and troubling conduct of the United States.  Polite people, normally reluctant to risk offending a guest, complain that America’s trigger-happiness, cutthroat free-marketeering, and “exceptionality” have gone on for too long to be considered just an adolescent phase. Which means that we Americans abroad are regularly asked to account for the behavior of our rebranded “homeland,” now conspicuously in decline and increasingly out of step with the rest of the world.

– from Have Americans gone crazy? by Ann Jones in Salon

This article fits how I perceive the US, and also my experience with how many people around the world perceive the US. It does seem that people in the US have gone insane. And I would even use the word insane in it’s literal meaning.

I still love the US in many ways. I love the landscape, especially west of the Rockies. Many of my closest friends are from the US. (I am from Norway.) And many of the approaches I resonate with the most are from or have a strong foothold on the West Coast. And still, it does seem that many people in the US have lost their mind, especially in terms of politics.

 

 

Violence in the US

 

There are mass shootings almost daily in the US, which makes the US an anomaly among industrialized countries. Why is it so, and what can be done? My answers obviously reflect my own biases and limited understanding, and I also know that many of the solutions that make sense to me won’t have enough support to be implemented – at least not now.

  • Poor social safety nets. Although Obama has done what he can to improve this, many people still live in fear of living in poverty and possibly losing their home. This creates a culture of fear which sometimes takes the form of anger, hostility, polarization, and even violence. The solution is to create better social safety nets, similar to those in most countries in western Europe.
  • Gap between wealthy and poor. Again, this tends to fuel fear, resentment, polarization, anger, and even violence. The solution is to reduce the gap, partly through increasing minimum income so it’s a livable income, perhaps reducing maximum income, and implementing policies that benefit people and nature over corporations (reverse of how it often is today).
  • Sense of powerlessness A sense of powerlessness fuels fear, resentment, anger, and violence. Access to affordable education, a stronger political voice, and more power to workers help avoid this sense of powerlessness.
  • Political polarization. The current two-party system is increasingly polarized, encouraged by much of mainstream media. A multi-party system requires collaboration to a much higher degree. Political polarization leads to a habit of us-them thinking and even dehumanization, and this can – for some – lower the threshold for using violence. (This is a less important point than the others on this list but I thought I would include it.)
  • Untreated trauma. My impression is that there is more (obvious) trauma among people in the US than in western/northern Europe. I am not sure if that’s true. In any case, there is a great deal of untreated trauma, and trauma is often behind violence. If it was up to me, trauma education would be part of regular schooling, and simple trauma release practices such as TRE would be included in schools and workplaces.
  • Poor coping strategies and self-regulation. Learning better coping strategies and self-regulation in school and at workplaces will make a big difference, at least for some. Mindfulness and physical awareness (yoga, tai chi etc.) exercises could be part of this. And “mindfulness” could include recognizing presence, noticing content of experience, heart-centered practices, and simple forms of inquiry.
  • Easy access to guns. If you are angry and have easy access to guns, you are more likely to use them. It’s a simple equation. I know that liberals tend to focus on gun control. In itself, it’s a simplistic solution, but it’s one piece of the puzzle. Reducing the political influence of gun manufacturers is part of this solution.
  • And, as I saw someone suggesting, if gun owners were required to have liability insurance, that itself may lead to changes. The insurance industry would lean on politicians to change the law and regulations around gun ownership. (Making it more difficult, requiring training, requiring gun producers to install safer locks etc.)

I am sure I am missing important pieces here. And I also know that changing these depends on political will and agreement, and both of those seem in short supply in the US today.

Dual citizenship in Norway

 

Norway is one of the few western countries that do not allow dual (or triple) citizenship. Only a few of the smaller political parties support it, while the larger do not.

I have communicated with politicians from several of the larger parties on this topic, and am baffled by their response. Their main argument for denying dual citizenship is that people “will become less patriotic”. I am unable to see how that could be the case.

For most of my adult life, I have lived abroad, and if I could have dual citizenship the main difference would be practical. It would make many things easier for me. I cannot see how it would influence my “patriotism” or lack of it. (I can think of many other things that would influence it more, to be honest.)

My guess is that their aversion to allowing dual citizenship is more rooted in xenophobia and perhaps even racism. They don’t want to make it too easy for people from other countries become Norwegian citizens. But even that argument doesn’t make sense. If foreigners live in Norway while being citizens of other countries, they are still living and working in Norway. That won’t change.

It’s possible that I am missing something essential here, but this aversion to dual citizenship does seem irrational, illogical, and based in unquestioned tradition and perhaps emotional reasons. It does not seem to be based on a thorough examination of the situation, and what makes most sense in the world today.

Dalai Lama: God would say, solve it yourself because you created it in the first place

 

People want to lead a peaceful lives. The terrorists are short-sighted, and this is one of the causes of rampant suicide bombings.

We cannot solve this problem only through prayers. I am a Buddhist and I believe in praying. But humans have created this problem, and now we are asking God to solve it. It is illogical. God would say, solve it yourself because you created it in the first place.

We need a systematic approach to foster humanistic values, of oneness and harmony. If we start doing it now, there is hope that this century will be different from the previous one. It is in everybody’s interest.

So let us work for peace within our families and society, and not expect help from God, Buddha or the governments.

– Dalai Lama to Deutsche Welle, November 2015

The future

 

It’s difficult to predict and especially about the future.

– paraphrased and unknown source

The future will not be as bad as we fear, nor as good as we hope.

– paraphrased and unknown source

Always in motion is the future.

– Yoda

It can be very helpful to explore scenarios about the future. Not because we are trying to get it right, but because these scenarios can help us make more conscious and intentional choices which impacts our lives in the future. We may decide we don’t want to act so certain scenarios come through, and we do want to act so other scenarios come through. By exploring scenarios about the future, especially in science fiction, we can also highlight aspects of our current society.

So what are some trends we need to be aware of? I cannot really say anything apart from what others are saying, but I can mention a few things here that seem important to me:

Multinational corporations and international laws and regulations favoring these corporations over people and nature. We need to implement policies that favor people, nature, and future generations. (Seems obvious, but too often the reverse is happening these days.)

A political system where politicians do not have incentive to act from a longer time perspective. We need a political system where people are rewarded for thinking, planning, and acting with a long term and global perspective in mind.

Lack of legal rights for nature and future generations. We need to give nature and future generations legal rights and a strong voice in our society and legal system. (With people appointed to give voice to these voiceless groups.)

A worldview that sees humans apart from nature, the Earth and the universe. This leads to many unfortunate and short sighted actions and decisions, at all levels. We need a worldview where humans are seen as embedded in wider social, ecological and cosmological systems, and where this is experienced, felt, and acted from. The Universe Story, the Great Story, Big History, and Practices to Reconnect are some ways to do this.

An approach to science that’s compartmentalized and fragmented. We need a more integral approach, for instance as explored by Ken Wilber and others.

A large gap between the super wealthy and the rest, and large proportions of humans living in poverty without consistent access to food, water, and education. We know that more egalitarian societies do better in almost every way, and that this gap creates tension, fear, and violence, so we need to take this more seriously. We need policies that help reduce the gap.

Western continued economical, political, and military imperialism. We need to strengthen local economies and traditional cultures around the world, and give them a stronger voice internationally.

Some other things that come to mind: Sustainable economics, transportation, technology, buildings etc. Biomimicry. Further research into mindfulness, meditation, inquiry, heart centered practices, body-mind practices etc. Taking research into the “paranormal” more seriously, including UFOs. (We know there are phenomena we don’t understand, so why not take this research seriously?)

In terms of the future, I do think that it won’t be as bad as some fear and not as good as some hope. It will be mixed, most likely. My guess is that we’ll see a water level rise from 5-10 meters within some decades, changes in food production, and some areas where many people now live becoming inhabitable with following migrations. Multinational corporations will continue to be quite powerful, including politically, unless something happens that brings it to people’s attention more than today. We will continue to develop and implement more sustainable technologies and ways of living, just because we have to and it makes sense in so many different ways. Some folks will continue to react to their own fear with violence, bigotry, and us-them thinking. Wild cards may happen such as major wars, major natural disasters, surprising scientific or technological breakthroughs, or even things like contact with an extraterrestrial civilization.

In terms of science, we know that our current scientific worldview will seem hopelessly outdated in the future. Views we today take for granted, and some of us think will never change, will be replaced by other views – usually ones that better fit the data. (It’s interesting that some scientists act and speak as if they don’t realize this, even if they must realize it as some level.)

With education, I assume the current trend of bringing mindfulness into schools will continue to spread, again because it makes sense and works. I also hope that additional practices, such as heart centered ones and inquiry, will be included more in the future. (These things may also go out of fashion, or there may be a backlash due to religious or atheist ideologies.)

I am aware that my views are obviously quite liberal, although I also think that much of what I wrote are things many will agree are important. For me, this has very little to do with idealism or even ethics. These are practical issues. If we create a world where we act more often from the bigger picture, and in a way that supports life at all levels, it benefits all of us and humanity as a whole.

These are mostly the same things that I was passionate about in my mid-teens, as with so many other things. I sometimes wonder if I am maturing much at all!

Cartoon: What can we do to lessen the grip of fear from terrorism?

 

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This may seem like denial, but the reality is that most of us are very safe from terrorism. It’s a negligible threat compared with unhealthy habits, car use, international regulations that favor corporations over people and nature etc. It’s focused on by the media because fear sells, and it’s more easily graspable than many of the other threats that are more significant but also more hidden because they happen somewhere else, are slow acting, or we are used to them. And some politicians use terrorism and fear to push through policies they have long wanted to push through for other reasons. (As we saw very clearly in the US after 911.)

Sally Kohn: Muslim shooter = entire religion guilty

 

Muslim shooter = entire religion guilty
Black shooter = entire ethnic group guilty
White shooter = mentally troubled lone wolf

– Sally Kohn

This shows the mentally of much of mainstream media in the west. The media is run by white people and they know white people the best, so they also know that white shooters are an anomaly. They typically know black people less well, so tend to blame the black culture. And they typically know muslim people even less well, especially personally, so allow it to color their view on a whole religion.

It’s patently absurd even on the face of it, so as usual I am partly surprised people allow themselves to be seen as so stupid and ill informed. (That goes for some reporters and anyone voicing those views.) And still, I know people react to their own pain in myriad of ways, and bigotry is one of them. To me, that bigotry is as or more dangerous as any small group of extremists taking to violence.

Terrorism: Hurt people hurt people

 

Why terrorism? Specifically, why the Muslim terrorism we see today?

To me, the most obvious answer is that alienation, trauma, and the way the west has treated the rest of the world for centuries = terrorism.

Alienation of Muslims in the west + individual and collective trauma (individual trauma from abuse, violence and poverty, and collective trauma from war, violence, poverty, authoritarianism ) + continued western military / economic / cultural imperialism = fear, anger, hurt, reactivity = radicalization and terrorism. It’s the perfect recipe. And to reduce and prevent terrorism, we need to change the elements of that equation.

Terrorism is a crime and needs to be treated as a crime. There is no question about that. I support that wholeheartedly.

It’s also obvious that war and (amazingly childish) retaliation doesn’t solve terrorism. It only fuels anger and resentment which in turn fuels further radicalization and terrorism. War is its own form of terrorism, and often has much more to do with control of natural resources and gaining a foothold in certain regions than dealing with terrorism.

It may seem that terrorism in this case has to do with religion, but to me that’s a lazy answer. Religion in itself is pretty neutral. It’s what we do with religion that matters. And what we do with it comes from our level of health or hurt. If we are deeply hurt, we may easily use religion or any other ideology to hurt others.

And who is to say that the way the west has treated the rest of the world isn’t terrorism? It has certainly terrorized people for centuries, and it continues today.

So what’s the answer? To me, it includes reducing alienation of non-westerners in western societies. Strengthen traditional cultures and self-reliance in cultures around the world. Reducing western cultural, economic and military influence around the world. Admitting openly to the trauma created from centuries of western imperialism and abuse. Healing trauma. Giving people a real opportunity for a good life.

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My experience with Lyme in Norway

 

IMG_1597

In mid-May, I noticed a numbness in hands, feet, and face, and weakness in my hands. Two weeks later, I discovered a red ring on the underside of my arm, near the armpit. I went to a doctor who thought it could be Lyme disease and gave me a five day antibiotics treatment (this was in the US). The numbness went away after one day.

Two weeks later, in Norway, the symptoms returned and were much stronger. The numbness was back in my hands, feet, and face, and now also tongue and mouth (and a bit later lower arms), along with stiff neck, very strong brain fog and grogginess, and fatigue. (The initial extremely strong fatigue and brain fog could be related to jet lag, and I also have a baseline fatigue and brain fog from the CFS. Although the unusually strong grogginess remains now even after the jetlag is gone.) I also have weak grip (things slip out of my hands), and when I get up after resting I move and feel like an old man.

I had gathered that Lyme is a controversial topic in Norway. The official position seems to be that the infection itself doesn’t last very long. (If the symptoms are longer lasting, it’s something else.) Doctors who treat this “non-existing” disease in Norway risk loosing their license, and one did even last year.

When I called my regular doctor, I got an appointment the same day by the receptionist. She called back within an hour and said that when the doctor had heard why I wanted to see him, he cancelled the appointment and said I could possibly get an appointment two months later. A bright spot: Some days later, I was able to get an appointment. My doctor looked at the red ring, did some neurological tests, and agreed that Lyme is a probable diagnosis. He gave me a relatively mild two-week antibiotics treatment.

From what I understand, it’s important to treat it more thoroughly, especially early in the process, to prevent problems later on. I got the names of some doctors who may be more knowledgeable about Lyme, and contacted several of them. The pattern was the same with all of them: When they heard why I wanted to see them, they either didn’t respond or said they possibly had an appointment about two months in the future (and to call them then to set it up).

The last one I talked with was initially friendly and welcoming, and when heard why I called responded “that’s a controversial topic in Norway, I need to go now and will call you back later, goodbye”. And then didn’t respond to my later attempts at contacting him.

The essence is that it seems impossible to get quality treatment for Lyme disease in Norway. That’s why most Norwegians with Lyme disease go to Germany or Poland to see doctors there.

Several things come up for me around this:

I had expected Norwegian doctors to at least have the integrity to tell me they can’t treat me since they may loose their license if they do. Instead, they either cancel my appointment, don’t respond, or tell me to call back in two months. (Which seems irresponsible considering my symptoms,)

Since there is disagreement about Lyme internationally, I would expect the Norwegian doctors and government to take a precautionary approach. To treat any possible or likely Lyme disease thoroughly (initial four or six week antibiotics treatment + anti-cyst medication). Instead, they chose to not treat it, avoid patients who may have it, or they treat it in a minimalistic way that may make it worse in the long run.

I don’t know the politics around this, but the official policy on Lyme in Norway does seem to be influenced by politics, and perhaps arrogance and wounded egos.

I should mention that I am among the more cautious when it comes to using medication and antibiotics (also to reduce the risk of creating more antibiotic resistant strains), but in this case, the risks of leaving it untreated or wrongly treated seem serious enough so I chose to go the medical and precautionary route.

This also triggers the victim identity in me, since it comes on top of my existing struggles with CFS, and it happened just as I left the US (where I could have received proper treatment) for Norway (where I can’t).

Update: It seems there are three possibilities when people are infected by Lyme. (a) It lasts for a relatively short period of time, and then is gone, perhaps due to antibiotics treatment. (b) It can become longer lasting, due to continued infection. (c) There may be an auto-immune response which creates problems. I am sure there are other possibilities too. I haven’t read much about it yet.

Update 2, mid-July 2015: I went to Poland to see a Lyme specialist there. It turns out that he also specializes in CFS. It’s possible that there is a weakness in my system that makes me more susceptible to both CFS and Lyme. He took a good number of tests to get an idea of what’s going on, and what the best course of treatment may be. One of the main questions is why my mitochondria seem compromised, and unable to produce as much energy as they normally would. I feel a little better, partly from what he gave me, and partly from feeling I am in good hands and that someone actually takes my case seriously and may be able to do something about it.

Update 3, July 16, 2015: I had an appointment with my regular doctor in Norway (about referal to nevrologist for CFS), and he interrupted me and changed the topic as soon as I tried to give him an update about the Lyme. I still have numbness in arms, legs, and face, a stiff neck, strong headache, very strong grogginess, memory problems, diarrhea, and more, so it seems irresponsible by him to dismiss it – to the point of not even wanting to hear about it. (The symptoms are stronger some days than other, and obviously quite debilitating.)

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Processed food and hopelessness 

 

Nothing new here, but a useful reminder:

I went walking in the woods yesterday. The journey, which was intended to be brief, ended up much longer than planned, and I eventually found myself quite hungry and somewhere I hadn’t been before. There was a McDonald’s there and a bus heading back to the house, so I decided to have a meal at McDonald’s, as part of the adventure. (A meal with milk shake and ice cream.)

Predictably, I didn’t feel good for the rest of the day and the morning after. And specifically, I noticed hopelessness and sluggishness set in, along with a craving for more dairy and junk food. I usually don’t eat/drink dairy, apart from some kefir, because I feel sluggish from it. And I usually don’t eat junk food (fast food, sweets, chips etc.) because my system feels off when I do, and it does seem to bring about a sense of hopelessness for me. Another reason I mostly avoid this is that junk food creates a craving for more junk food. It feeds on itself.

For me, the effects of foods are most noticeable in how they affect my mind. Dairy makes me feel sluggish and drowsy. Sugar makes me feel drained and tired. Wheat makes my mind feel a bit weird and off. Junk food creates hopelessness. And so on. It seems that highly processed foods tend to fuel and activate painful beliefs, identifications, and a victim mentality, at least in my experience. Vegetables, moderate amounts of fruit, and non-wheat grains are usually fine, as are most unprocessed foods.

Now, two days later, the effects are mostly gone. I had a strong craving for more junk food yesterday (anything would have done), but didn’t indulge so it’s mostly gone today. My mind also feels more clear again.

From talking with others, it seems that I am not the only one experiencing heavily processed food in this way. It’s almost astonishing that they are allowed to sell and advertise it. Especially knowing that the food itself is designed, and intentionally so, to create more cravings for it. It’s a drug you can become addicted to. It does impact the mind (and obviously the body) quite strongly, and not in a favorable way. And it doesn’t provide any (real) value beyond that of less processed foods. To put it crudely, it’s there to line the coffers of large corporations.

Universal basic income

 

The city has paired up with the local university to establish whether the concept of ‘basic income’ can work in real life, and plans to begin the experiment at the end of the summer holidays.

Basic income is a universal, unconditional form of payment to individuals, which covers their living costs. The concept is to allow people to choose to work more flexible hours in a less regimented society, allowing more time for care, volunteering and study.

University College Utrecht has paired with the city to place people on welfare on a living income, to see if a system of welfare without requirements will be successful.

Dutch city of Utrecht to experiment with a universal, unconditional ‘basic income’, The Independent,

We don’t lack good ideas or practical solutions. Although we often lack the political willingness to implement it, or at least try it to see how it works and how to tweak it to work better.

So it’s good to see the idea of an universal basic income put into life. It will free up a lot of resources through reduced bureaucracy. It will reduce the survival fear among people and in the society.  (Which I think is a major reason for a lot of the weirdness seen in, for instance, the US today. Survival fear in itself, along with the trauma it tends to produce, creates fear driven compulsive behavior, including addictions, workaholic behavior, and political and religious fundamentalism, and this fundamentalism even includes science denial.) It will free up people to experiment and be more creative in how they make a living, and in following their dreams and passions to a greater extent. All of this will benefit society as a whole, likely even financially.

Another idea I would like to see applied in more places is instant runoff voting. That’s a system which allows people to vote for the parties or candidates they actually prefer, without having to resort to “strategic voting” and voting for the least of several evils. (Of course, this is often not in the interest of the larger parties, which I suspect is why it hasn’t been implemented in more communities or countries.)

Why do we lack the political will to implement these ideas? There are many reasons: People don’t know about it. The media ignores it, or mention these solutions in passing, or present them as slightly utopian or harebrained unpractical ideas. The media often share the interests of large corporations, and these often see themselves as having different interests from the society as a whole (they may see some of these solutions as a potential threat to their autonomy and profits). The ones in power – corporations, politicians, and media – often fear and may actively resist any change that can upset or shift the power in society. (And they can and do influence public opinion, often in a direction that’s not in the interest of the majority of the population. We see this a lot in the US today, both among democratic and republican voters.) Also, there is lethargy and wishing to stay with what’s known and familiar unless there is a very strong, obvious, and immediate reason for change.

Historical perspectives: Including nonhuman species, ecosystems, and future generations

 

I just listened to the Revisionist History episode of Stuff You Should Know.

As they suggest, all history is by nature revisionist. We always change how we see and interpret the past, based on what’s important to us now (and sometimes just new information).

For a while now, historians have looked more at economy and class, gender, ethnicity, religion, and more. They have used these as filters, and looked at history from the perspective of groups previously left out such as women, children, non-European ethnic groups, the working class and poor, and religious minorities.

Two things were not mentioned in the podcast:

First, the difference between focusing on “ordinary” people vs. extraordinary people in history. Both has it’s value, and more historians are now focusing on the history of the ordinary people. How was their life and conditions? (This was a big part of my history classes in school.)

The other is looking at history through the filter of nonhuman species, ecosystems, and future generations. If history is, at least partly, about giving voice to the voiceless, and giving focus to the previously invisible, then this has to be included. How has our actions through history impacted nonhuman species and ecosystems, and also future generations? How have we treated these? How have they been ignored, or included and valued, in our decision process? 

A Green History of the World by Clive Pointing is an example from the 90s, and many people in the Deep Ecology and ecopsychology world have addressed the topic, but it’s still not included in mainstream history. It will, most likely, and perhaps sooner rather than later as ecological and sustainability issues become more and more obviously important to us.

Some green history questions that come to mind:

How have we (humans, at different places and times through history) treated the nonhuman world? How have we treated nonhuman species, nature, ecosystems? How have we treated future generations? (Both human and nonhuman.)

Have they been ignored? Included in our decision making? Respected? Have we been blind to them? Have we justified mistreatment of them, and how?

And why? How has our world view, values, fears, survival needs and more influenced this?

What can we learn from this? How does it apply to our current situation? What are the lessons?

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Trauma and police brutality

 

There has been many stories of police brutality in the US recently, and it’s clearly a serious problem.

I can’t help wondering if it’s partly related to trauma. Many police officers have experienced trauma, either from specific instances or accumulated over time. And trauma leads people to act in a reactive way, from fear, sometimes with violence, and out of proportion with what seems appropriate to the situation. And that’s what we are seeing from the many reports of police officers abusing their power, using excessive force, and even killing unarmed people.

One remedy is to offer trauma education and healing modalities in the police departments across the US. I know this is partly done, although it often happens in a police culture that doesn’t take trauma seriously, so this may not be the whole solution but it can’t hurt.

One possibility is to make Tension & Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) mandatory once or twice a week, for even just half an hour. That would make a tangible difference, independent of how seriously they otherwise take trauma. With the support of current research on TRE and trauma, it may be possible to start this in one or a few sympathetic police departments, and it may then spread.

Another aspect of this is the militarization of the police, although I assume that’s more connected political and financial interests (including profits for those selling the equipment).

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Trauma and politics

 

I imagine there is a connection between trauma and politics.

I wonder if trauma sometimes leads to supporting more fear-based politics? More extreme politics, whether it’s left or right? Xenophobia? Harshness? Science denial? Conspiracy theories? A politics that reflects fear, blame, anger, reactiveness?

Since my (brief) exposure to Fox News, I have wondered about this connection. Maybe that type of (reactive, fear based) politics is a way of coping with the trauma, for some?

Of course, it’s not always like that. I know many with trauma who are very compassionate, and very balanced in their views.

I don’t want to oversimplify it, or make assumptions not based on research, and I especially don’t want to use the trauma explanation to dismiss people’s political views.

At the same time, it would be an interesting question for research, and perhaps it’s already being done.

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