Reflections on society, politics and nature XVI

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 is irrelevant….sort of. Since I first heard about climate change in my teens, I have had the same view on it as I do now. We have to change into a sustainable culture and society anyway, we have to do it soon, and we have to do it for innumerable reasons.

Climate change is just one reason so we don’t need to get too caught up in discussions of whether it’s happening (which it obviously is) and whether it’s human-made (which it obviously is). Focusing too much on those questions is a distraction. And that’s obviously why some – especially the petroleum industry – want to have that discussion. They want to sow just enough confusion, doubt, and strife to derail – or at least delay – action.

There are innumerable reasons why we need to transform our culture and society. Some have to do with what any sane person and society would want to avoid: toxins in our water, air, soil, and bodies; illnesses because of those toxins; death of insects and all the animals and plants dependent on insects; loss of ecosystems; loss of species; and so on. Some have to do with what we want: a society and culture that’s life-centered; that thrives; that recognizes that a society that’s ecologically sustainable, that is more socially just and inclusive, that takes care of those with the least, and where there is less gap between the rich and poor, is a society that’s better for all of us.

And there is really just one reason: We live in a system that doesn’t take ecological and physical realities into account and didn’t need to when it was created. And now – with a dramatically increased population and more powerful technology – we do need to.

In that sense, climate change is irrelevant. We have to make the same changes anyway and for a lot of other reasons. In another sense, climate change – or climate crisis – is important because it’s getting a lot of attention and it does show us that it’s urgent.

Little change since my teens? The post above reminds me of something that bothers me a bit. I feel I haven’t changed much since my teens. I have the same interests, the same views on politics and society, and the same general orientation to life. Obviously, it must have changed some since life and lived years does change us. But the essence and the main orientation is the same.

I still like the same music (Arvo Pärt is still my favorite composer), although it has naturally expanded as I have discovered new types of music. I still use an integral and systems view on the world and am passionate about sustainability and creating a more life-centered culture. I still have a oneness experience of existence.

In some ways, the main pieces of the puzzle were in place early on, and I have spent the time since continuing to exploring it, discovering how to live from it, and embracing myself when I don’t.

September 21, 2019

Trauma, social justice, inequality, sustainability. From a trauma-lense, many if not most of the problems in the world today is connected with trauma. It grows out of trauma and is maintained by trauma.

September 22, 2019

Time travel. I have written before about time travel and how the idea of time travel highlights how our mind works.

To physically travel somewhere, the destination has to be a place. The past and future isn’t a place, so there is nowhere to travel. It’s difficult to see how physical time travel could be possible since the past and future don’t physically exist anywhere.

Past and future only exist in our minds, as ideas. We can mentally travel to the past and future, and do it all the time.

So the idea of physical time travel is an excellent illustration of how our minds can imagine something, and we can either mistake what we imagine as physically true and real (in this case, if we imagine physical time travel as possible) or we can recognize it as mental imagination.

September 23, 2019

Greta Thunberg. I love Greta Thunberg. Almost everyone I personally know do as well, although I have noticed there are people in the world who don’t. Why is that?

Specifically, why do some try to discredit her? I imagine there may be several reasons, and two jump out at me.

Some may feel threatened by her message to take climate science seriously. Instead of arguing on the topic, which they can’t since all she says is to take science seriously, they try to discredit her.

Some may feel threatened by a teenager who has her priorities straight and live and speak in a clear and authentic way. They may see her as better than them and react to that discomfort by attacking her as a person instead of the message.

Some may feel threatened because they know they belong to the past and she to the future, not just in age but in worldview, orientation, and priorities. She shows them they have already lost.

The alternative is gratitude that she speaks and acts on behalf of all of us. Taking her message seriously. Recognizing that she is just a human being like you and me, although one with her priorities straight and the courage to act on them. And perhaps take her example, find what’s most important in our own lives, and act on it.

Language changes. Language always changes, even from generation to generation. And we always find a way to express what we need and want. So why be bothered that language changes from something slightly different from how it was when we were little? I don’t know.

People know language changes – from seeing the changes within their lifetime, between their language and those of their grandparents, and reading and hearing things written decades or centuries ago. They seem perfectly happy with all the language changes that brought about the language they speak. And yet some are upset that it changes from the one language snapshot they happen to use.

I guess gradual language changes – and people allowing themselves to be upset about it – are two things that don’t change so much.

September 24, 2019

Bully culture. Here is one way to look at the Trump election: it reflects a bully culture. A culture where enough people think bullying is acceptable enough to vote for him. And that, in turn, reflects a traumatized population. Of course, this doesn’t apply to everyone. But it does apply for enough people to get him elected.

Why is Brexit such a mess? My view hasn’t changed: It’s a bad idea that highlights other bad ideas. The pro-Brexit campaign was largely based on lies. The parliament knows it’s a bad idea and resists voting for any of the possible deals because all of them are worse than what they have now. The UK occupation of Northern Ireland creates an almost impossible Brexit border conundrum if they want to preserve the peace. And Brexit may, a few steps down the road, lead to Britain losing Scottland and/or Northern Ireland.

Ironically, one of the misguided pro-Brexit assumptions is that Britain is strong and better off outside of the EU, while Brexit may lead to a fragmentation of Britain. Another is, obviously, that many voters seem to think they personally will be better off outside of the EU, while pro-Brexit politicians like Johnson wants to avoid EU regulations protecting people and nature and create a Britain that cynically benefits the few wealthy at the cost of nearly everyone else.

Brexit also highlights how some people who publicly cause major damage can go free. The UK occupies Northern Ireland without much criticism or consequences. The war criminals Blair and GW Bush are treated with respect rather than sitting in prison. The politicians who knowingly and systematically used lies to promote Brexit went free. And now, after the supreme court judged the suspension of parliament unlawful, the worst that will happen to Johnson is that he will have to leave his position as prime minister.

What will happen next? It’s predictably unpredictable, but parliament will not support a no-deal Brexit and it may be difficult or impossible to find a deal that will get majority support. If so, and if Johnson can’t find a way to subvert parliament and the democratic process, it will drag on. It may lead to a second referendum, in which case it’s possible Brexit doesn’t happen.

Culture change. A typical culture-change pattern is (a) first a few pioneers, (b) it gains momentum, (c) the establishment fights back, (d) the change happens on a larger scale. Right now, when it comes to sustainability, I imagine we are in the (c) phase. The establishment is certainly fighting back, which Trump is an example of. And the change is, more or less, inevitable.

Of course, it won’t be as good as some of us imagine it can be. And it likely will also not be as bad as some of us fear.

September 26, 2019

Normal vs. sane. There is a difference between being normal and normally sane, and more thoroughly sane. When we are normally sane, we function well in society and we mostly follow conditioning and cultural norms and expectations without thinking too much about it and without questioning it too much. This allows society to function, we don’t rock the boat very much, and it has a clear survival value for our family, society, culture, and humanity. It also means that we participate in a lot that’s not so healthy and can be quite damaging to other people (especially the out-groups), nature, and – in our case – future generations. Good citizens participate in a lot that’s damaging, Not because they are bad people, but because they are part of a system and they may not question it too much.

As I see it, when we are more thoroughly sane, we question (just about) everything. We look at the big picture. We bring conditioning into awareness. We recognize cultural norms and expectations and the dynamics of coercion to make us follow them. We recognize the damage “business as usual” can cause other people, nature, and future generations. It’s not an easy path, but for some of us, there isn’t much choice. This too has a survival value for our society, culture, and humanity. This too is needed in society. It provides a vital reflection of society and a possibility for course correction.

We still may (and do) participate in damaging behavior because we are still part of the same system. But we are more aware of it. We speak up about it. Others may recognize it for themselves. (And, of course, many will reject it.)

If we didn’t know anything about the distribution of the normal and the more sane, we would perhaps guess that an optimal distribution would be: A majority of normal people to provide stability. A small percentage (1-5%) of the more visionary and clear seeing to mirror society and seed the visions, new possibilities, and course corrections. And a slightly larger group in between (5-30%) to be early adopters. And that’s about what we see in society today. The majority are happy with business as usual. A few are visionaries. And a small but sizeable group are early adopters.

September 27, 2019

US presidents. When Obama and Clinton were presidents, many progressives were disappointed that they didn’t do enough. I imagine some right-wing folks are similarly disappointed with Trump. In general, many seem to put a lot of importance to who is the president of the US.

But the reality is that they operate within a system with many limitations. Some of these limitations are healthy and built into any democratic system. (Although the US is less democratic than many other countries, including because of their two-party system.)

And many limitations come from our larger economic and social system. Any US president functions within a system set up decades and centuries ago. This is a system that does not take ecological realities into account because it didn’t have to back when it was created. And as so much in the US especially, it’s a system that too often serves the needs of the very wealthy more than the many less wealthy. If you have money, you can influence policies. If you don’t, then not so much.

The president and/or Congress can tweak this system and change the emphasis slightly, but they are still limited by and have to operate within this larger system. A system that doesn’t work anymore for ecological and social reasons.

September 29, 2019

Conspiracy theories. This is another revisited topic. I am generally not very interested in conspiracy theories. Mainly because they seem to be a distraction. They distract from what we KNOW is going on, which is more serious than most of the conspiracy theories out there.

We know that our current economic and production system doesn’t take reality into account. We know some benefit from it and do what they can to continue to benefit. (We also know that some of them, like the petroleum industry, intentionally fuel conspiracy theories – including sowing doubt about human-created climate change – so they can continue to benefit for as long as possible.) We know our political system is strongly influenced by the same few wealthy. We know this has to change.

This is all well known and – as I see it – our main priority in today’s world. It’s out in the open. It’s an open “secret”. We don’t need any hidden knowledge to see what’s going on.

Another reason I am not into conspiracy theories is that, at least based on what I am familiar with, it looks like many who are into conspiracy theories do so for mainly psychological reasons. It fulfills some need in them that perhaps could be better fulfilled in another way. Perhaps it’s a need to feel they know something others don’t (lack self-esteem, self-worth), that they belong to a small in-group of people who know (belonging), that they poke their finger in the eye of the establishment (act on anger and resentment, want to feel rebellious and independent), and so on.

Some people into conspiracy theories also fall into the category of “I’ll believe anything that’s weird, anything that’s outside of the mainstream” and “I’ll do so just because it’s weird, just because it goes counter to the mainstream”. These are people who believe – or pretend to believe – most of the things they encounter whether it’s about aliens, secret societies, fake moon landing, or whatever it is no matter how apparently relevant or irrelevant.

Spiritual traditions. I feel I am revisiting a lot of topics here. I guess it’s because they somehow still draw my attention.

Religions and many spiritual traditions are organizations. And organizations, in general, have one primary purpose and that is to maintain themselves. The teachers within the system are mainly rewarded for being good cogs in the wheel, for being good at following the rules and furthering the system.

So if we go into a spiritual tradition looking for a primary emphasis on awakening, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. Mainly, we’ll be part of a system where the main priority is to maintain and continue that system.

Of course, we may find individuals within that system that know what they are doing and prioritize real spiritual exploration and embodiment, but we may have to do some looking. And if we embark on a genuine spiritual path for ourselves, we may or may not be able to stay within the tradition depending on the fit and how open and flexible they are.

Religions and other spiritual traditions have their purpose. There are usually glimmers of gold and real insight there and the tradition is a vehicle for passing it on. They serve a purpose to individuals by offering hope, meaning, and sometimes a life within the tradition. And they serve a social purpose by regulating society through norms, guidelines, and structures.

October 2, 2019

Wanting to know the behind-the-scenes. One thing I have noticed about myself is that I really enjoy seeing and knowing what happens behind the scenes. I typically enjoy rehearsals (of concerts, theater, dance) more than the performance. I like to watch documentaries about how movies are made. I like to understand how magic tricks are done. I really like to understand how the mind works, in my own direct experience. And I enjoy discovering how all our different parts (energy system, body, mind) function together. (They are aspects of the same whole, not really parts.)

Brexit again. There are many puzzling things about Brexit. (a) Why did so many take on board obvious lies? Did they just want to pretend for a brief while that Britain is still an empire and better off without the EU? (b) Why didn’t the government create a workgroup with representatives from all the main stakeholders (the different uk political parties, Ireland, EU) to work on a deal they could all agree on? Why did they take a polarizing approach and try to ram through their own version? (c) Why did the Torys choose Boris Johnson? Have they given up hope and all integrity?

October 4, 2019

News as pointers. How do we relate to the news? And how can we make use of it to heal, mature, and perhaps even awaken? News is just like any other part of our life. Something happens. And if it triggers something in us, we can use it as an opportunity to explore what was triggered. And that exploration, if done with sincerity and some skills, can lead to healing. It can even help us mature a bit. And it can feed into our awakening process.

This does require us to relate to the news in a slightly different way than most do. Instead of reacting and going into my habitual views and responses, I can notice what’s triggered and set out exploring it. Or I can do one first, and then the second.

In a practical sense, how can I make use of the news in this way? It depends on the tools we have available to us. Here is how it looks for me: Using The Work, I can identify and explore my thoughts about anything that’s triggering. Using Living Inquiries, I can similarly explore any identities or fears triggered by the news. I can also ask “what does this say about me” and see what comes up. (Perhaps something makes me feel powerless, a victim, or whatever it may be.) With Vortex Healing, I can notice that something is triggered in me, perhaps identify it a little closer, and then do VH on whatever emotional issues are behind it for me.

Not at peace with what we are doing. We have peace when we are in peace with what we think, say, and do. When it’s authentic, in integrity, and true for us at a deep level.

Conversely, we experience inner conflict when we are in conflict with what we think, say, and do. When it’s inauthentic, out of integrity, and not true for us at a deep level.

I wonder if not the anger we see in politics today – for instance with Trump and his supporters and around Brexit – has to do with people being out of integrity and knowing this at a deep level.

If we take extreme positions, blame groups of people for our problems, and latch onto overly simplistic solutions, we simultaneously know it’s not that simple. Somewhere, we know. So we are in conflict with ourselves. We become agitated, defensive, reactive, and angry.

Sometimes, this behavior is strategic. For Trump, it serves to deflect and derail a more reasoned and democratic process. And yet, even when it’s strategic, I suspect it ties in with this inner conflict created from acting in ways that we know are out of integrity and what’s more true for us.

October 13, 2019

Meditation and types of food. It’s pretty easy to notice the effects of different foods on meditation. The classics are chocolate, which – in my experience – makes my mind more scattered and unfocused, and onions and garlic which puts some denseness and heaviness into my energy system (feels clogged up).

All foods have their own effects. Root vegetables give a nice quiet grounding, which seems appropriate. Fruits (sugar) can lift the mood and energy a bit, although can also make the mind a bit scattered if I eat too much. Grains have a similar although more moderate effect. Dairy makes my system sluggish, again perhaps appropriate considering that cows often seem a bit sluggish.

October 14, 2019

Probiotics. Healthy intestinal flora is obviously very important, and we mainly take care of it through the food we eat (pre-biotics, eating organic and lower on the food chain) and avoiding antibiotics if we can. Probiotic supplements have been very popular for several years now, and I have always had a big question about them.

Yes, we may need to replenish the healthy bacteria after using antibiotics, or if our intestinal flora is very out of balance. But why should we keep taking probiotics? Why on earth take it every day? The whole point is that it’s a local ecosystem that keeps itself in balance if we give it the right conditions.

It seems a bit like reintroducing a species to a landscape and then keep doing it every day indefinitely. It will soon be overpopulated and that creates its own problems.

I wonder if the “take it daily” advice mostly comes from the creators of the probiotics supplements so they can sell more, and the research on the topic is still enough in its infancy so it hasn’t been contradicted yet.

I think it was last year that research came out supporting this view, showing that if you keep taking probiotics daily (keep introducing new animals into the landscape) it creates overpopulation and clogs up the system.

Movie theaters. There is an article in The Guardian today about the sound level in movie theaters. The curmudgeon in me agrees completely. The sound in movie theaters is often ridiculously (and painfully!) loud, and the balance between sound effects and speech is often way off (too loud sound effects, too low speech). In addition, people eating – often noisily – is distracting. I know the movie theaters make the most money on the food they sell, so perhaps they turned up the volume to mask the eating sounds. In any case, this combination has made me avoid movie theaters for a while and I prefer to watch at home.

Independent Catalonia. I have a tendency to support independence movements (Scotland, unified Ireland, Catalonia). Perhaps it’s because I am from a small country with a history of occupation and lop-sided unions. (Norway, recently occupied by Nazi Germany and before then in “unions” with Sweden and Denmark/Sweden).

Today, several leaders of the Catalonian independence movement were given harsh sentences by a Spanish court. Ironically, this only highlights the problems with their union with Spain and is another argument for independence. I have little doubt it will fuel and strengthen the independence movement.

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