Reflections on society, politics and nature XXXXII

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

Well captured.

A RADICAL CLIMATE POLICY?

I saw a conservative politician in Norway call the Green Party’s climate policy radical.

Her own party, and most political parties, largely ignore the scientists and suggest only cosmetic changes to deal with a massive global crisis.

Only one party is taking the science seriously and act on behalf of future generations, and that’s the Green Party.

If the Green Party’s climate policy is considered radical, it says something about the policies of the other parties.

MAY 25, 2021

HERD IMMUNITY?

There are some oddities in how the media sometimes report about the pandemic.

For instance, I have frequently seen articles reporting about studies where they don’t find antibodies in someone’s system some months following infection or a vaccine, and they report about it as if it means that there is no immunity anymore. The reality is that the memory of the infection is still there, and the system is ready to immediately produce antibodies if it’s exposed to the virus again. Antibodies are supposed to go away a few weeks or months following an infection. It’s normal and healthy.

I have also seen several articles saying we may not achieve herd immunity very soon since many refuse to take the vaccine. That’s true, but it’s not as much of a problem as they make it out to be. If there is no immediate herd immunity, then many or most of the unvaccinated will eventually get the infection and then have immunity. It will just take a little longer, that’s all. And the ones who have been vaccinated are safe.

THE OFTEN OVERLOOKED SIDE OF INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES

If you feel you don’t belong in this world, it’s because you are here to help create a new one.

I saw this quote on social media, and I understand it can be inspiring and help people channel their sense of not belonging into creating a different world – perhaps one that’s more sustainable, more inclusive, and so on.

And yet, when I see this quote, I can’t help seeing another side to it: It all depends on what world we want to create. For instance, the right-wing extremist who killed 77 people in Norway ten years ago felt he didn’t belong and did what he did to help create a new world. As did many Nazis. As do many of the right-wing shooters in the US. And so on.

WHY SO THREATENED BY THE GREEN PARTY?

I saw an article about a 19-year-old woman in Norway who is behind an anti-Green Party group on social media. This is a group full of straw man arguments, personal attacks, racism, sexism, and even death threats.

It’s obviously OK and good to disagree and discuss different policies. But why target a party with these types of attacks? And why do we see it from not only this group but some politicians, journalists, media outlets, and social commentators?

Even today, there was a commentary from a prominent sociologist (KR) justifying and defending sexism, racism, death threats, and so on directed towards a young female Green Party politician. That he felt safe doing that says something about the political climate in Norway related to the Green Party.

There may be a few different answers.

First, it’s an easy target. It’s a small political party and hasn’t been in power until recently. They are few and new, so it may feel safe to attack them.

It may also be that some react to perceived judgment. If you know your own life is not very sustainable, you may feel guilty. And as a reaction to that guilt, you may attack the ones that remind you of your own guilt. You attack the ones who judge you, even if they may not actually judge you.

It can be a reaction to a perceived threat to your lifestyle. You may want to continue having two cars, use your water scooter anywhere, eat lots of meat, and so on. And this party threatens your rights to do all of this. (Even if what you do harms society and future generations.)

Some may assume that their business interests are threatened by the policies of the Green Party, and especially if – or when – they gain more support. They want to slow this down, so they engage in attacks on the Green Party.

Some may not be able to connect with a big picture and deep time view. To them, taking into account our collective effects on ecosystems and future generations may be non-sensical. If we don’t notice it here and now, why even bother? Views and policies that come from a big picture view may seem idiotic to them.

Some may want to take out their own pain on someone, and – as mentioned above – the Green Party is an easy and safe target. They may also want to feel included by people already having the Green Party as a bogeyman and scapegoat.

As I see it, a lot also comes from misconceptions about the Green Party policies. They seem to assume Green Party policies have to do with depriving people of what they enjoy, which is not the case. It’s about shifting priorities and finding solutions that work now and for future generations. We can have a very high quality of life and also live in a way that’s good for society as a whole, ecosystems, Earth as a whole, and future generations.

There is something of value in each one of the political parties. They are all needed. At the same time, there is really only one that takes science seriously, and that’s the Green Party. Their primary focus is for us to have a livable society and planet, and for our descendants to have the possibility of the same.

VALUING YOUTH OR OLD AGE

I once read something I thought was insightful about valuing different phases of life.

In societies that don’t change very much, old age is often valued over youth because people have gained a lot of practical and useful knowledge and experience. Their insights are valued and helps the society as a whole.

In our society, it’s different. We live in a constantly changing society and technological innovation is highly valued. This means that people’s experience and knowledge quickly gets outdated, unless they make an effort to stay updated. And it means that old age is valued less, and we instead value youth.

It’s helpful to recognize this. It shows us that what phases of life we value depends on our culture, and although it’s more complex than just this one factor, this factor seem to play an important role.

Seeing it as culturally dependent helps us have some distance to it, and it opens for us to chose to see it differently. For instance, even if youth may be good for technology and other innovations, older age is still valuable in many different ways, including for general life wisdom which never has an expiration date. And old age is also no hindrance to keeping up with changes.

HOW WE SEE FELLOW BEINGS

I have a friend in Norway who is deeply into spirituality, and recently euthanized her cats since it was difficult to keep them any longer. When she talked about it, she said “they were just cats, it’s different with humans”. (If this was prior to what happened, I would have asked if she can’t just find another home for the cats. I would even be willing to adopt them. But it was too late.)

I am not surprised by that attitude since it’s a traditional one in our culture, but I was surprised to hear it from her.

We are animals, and all mammals are very similar to each other. We have very similar needs, emotions, and even cognition. How can it be that humans somehow are so much more worth than other mammals? How can we justify having one set of ethics towards one species (our own) and another very different one for all other mammals?

It’s also very clear that our culture has adopted this inconsistent view in order to justify treating non-human animals in ways we could not justify treating humans. It’s convenient. We de-humanize (for lack of a better term) the other species to justify doing what we want with them.

At the very least, this view has been used that way and been found useful. I am not sure about the origin, but Christianity has played a role with its view of humans as categorically different from and inherently more valuable than other living beings.

JUNE 11, 2021

TRANS AND WHOLENESS

Anything trans is receiving more attention this day, and also more acceptance, which is good.

For me, this is a reminder of something more universal: We are all androgynous psychologically. We all have a wide range of qualities and characteristics, including what our culture may label feminine and masculine.

In all of us, there is also an impulse to find this greater wholeness of who we already are, to get to know it and embrace it more consciously.

And we can do that no matter what gender label we put on ourselves and how these may change over time.

ROYALTY

Prince Harry is currently receiving a lot of criticism for speaking his mind.

I am not really interested in royalty, but this does bring up a few important questions.

As I see it, he is a human being. Why shouldn’t he say what we want?

He left his royal duties and role, so why shouldn’t he speak up?

He never asked to be born into royalty. He was involuntarily born into it. So why shouldn’t he leave?

Why do we still have royalty? They don’t have any real function. It’s a system where people are involuntarily born into a role in society with a lot of limitations and responsibilities. It’s out of alignment with basic democratic values and even human rights.

GREED OR SYSTEMIC PROBLEMS?

I keep seeing people talking about greed etc. as our main ecological problem. And I also see people offering limited and piecemeal solutions to our ecological problems.

To me, these views are equally misguided.

Our current economic system was created when we had apparently unlimited natural resources. It doesn’t take ecological realities into account since it didn’t need to when it was created – one or two or three hundred years ago.

This economic system – combined with our current population and technology – doesn’t require selfishness, greed, or apathy for ecosystem collapse. All that’s required is ordinary people living ordinary lives. This is our version of the banality of evil.

Fortunately, we have the possibility to create a different economic system so what’s easy and attractive to do – for individuals and organizations – is more beneficial to our ecosystems. But it does require thorough systemic changes.

A FICTION THAT EXPLORES DESIRABLE FUTURES

Dystopian future-fiction has a place.

Some decades ago, when there was a lot more inherent future optimism in our culture, it probably served as an important correction.

But now, when we live in a time and culture that’s generally not very optimistic about the future, dystopian fiction often seems a bit lazy.

What we need to today is attractive visions for the future. We need to explore what type of future we want, can conceivably achieve, and realistic paths there.

Of course, I know that future-fiction is typically not about the future. It’s a way to shed light on our society and culture today. But there is a place for future fiction that explores attractive futures and gives us hope and some ideas about what’s possible, what we want, and how to get there.

I am calling it future-fiction since I mainly refer to fiction that’s about how we organize ourselves as a society and culture, and where technology has a back seat.

NORWAY’S LAG IN PANDEMIC MEASURES

I understand that bureaucracy takes time. And still, I am often puzzled by why Norway seems to be so far behind when it comes to the pandemic. They didn’t recommend face masks for months even if we had the data showing the virus is airborne. They often don’t follow the advice of the health experts. (For instance, they don’t allow people into the country even if they are fully vaccinated.) And now, they lifted almost all measures even if the delta variant is wreaking havoc in other countries and is quickly gaining a foothold in Norway.

ANTI-MUSLIM SENTIMENTS

I see that a small but vocal anti-Muslim group in Norway is going to have a stand tomorrow night where I live.

It reminds me of a couple of things.

When they describe Muslims, they describe themselves, not Muslims. They describe people who are intolerant, ideological, and unkind to others.

And most Muslims in the world are far more kind, tolerant, and democratically oriented than they are.

They think they describe someone else while they in reality describe themselves, as we all do.

HUNTING FOR SPORT

It’s probably no surprise that I don’t resonate with hunting for sport.

Hunting for survival is another matter. That makes sense, and cultures where they hunt for survival often have a deep respect for the ones they hunt. There is often a sense of kinship. (Even in some old European cultures, like the Norse, there was this respect and sense of kinship.)

I don’t quite understand the appeal or reason behind it.

Isn’t it better to have large predators in the ecosystem so there is a natural balance?

And what is the sport in killing animals that are mainly defenseless and have no chance against modern weapons? If there was an equal chance between the two parties, I could understand it. (And then most people wouldn’t even consider hunting.) But there is no sport in killing animals when the odds are so uneven.

JUNE 21, 2021

WHO IS TO SAY WHAT’S RIGHT AND WHAT’S WRONG?

Who to say what’s right and what’s wrong?
It all depends what side you are on.

– Kings of Convenience in Song About It on the album Peace Or Love

Most of us are familiar with the two ends to the right/wrong polarity.

One says that something is definitely right or wrong, and the other says it just depends.

As usual, there is more to find when we explore it more closely.

Our ideas of right and wrong

Right or wrong can only be found in our ideas. They come from our own mental representations and are not inherent in what they apparently are about. (The psychological perspective.)

Our ideas about right and wrong typically come from our culture or subculture. They are ideas we more or less agree to agree on. (The sociological and anthropological perspective.)

Their function is to regulate behavior. They help our society to function. One side of this is that maintaining our collective ideas of right and wrong helps society function as we are used to. It creates some stability and predictability. (Often the conservative view.) Another side of this is that we can implement ideas of right and wrong to protect people, nature, and even future generations. (To some extent shared by conservatives and liberals.)

They can also restrict harmless authentic views and behavior, especially when they are strongly internalized or there are social consequences to going outside of these norms. (Often emphasized by people who come from a more liberal orientation.)

Some ideas about right and wrong may be more essential and universal than others. For instance, human rights are something most agree on. In this sense, there is a kind of informal hierarchy of our ideas of right and wrong, although there will some disagreement about the specifics.

There are some important questions here as well. Who benefits from a particular set of ideas of right and wrong? Who are harmed? Who are left out and ignored? Slavery was based on certain ideas of right and wrong. And today, the way we treat non-human species, nature, and future generations are based in certain ideas about right and wrong. And these ideas harm large portions of life.

There is some validity to all of this and more, and recognizing that helps us hold it all more lightly. It helps us be firm on the universals and more flexible with the rest.

Who is to say what’s right and what’s wrong?

Does this mean that right and wrong just depends?

In some ways, yes, and it’s good to acknowledge that side of it.

And there is also another side to it, which is that our ideas of right and wrong are here to protect society and individuals, and I would include nature and future generations.

Looking at it this way helps us find a more rich and nuanced take on it, and it also helps us to be flexible when that’s called for and more firm when that seems more appropriate.

LOSS OF INSECTS & COLLAPSE OF OCEAN ECOSYSTEMS

Why do some ecology-related topics receive regular attention in the mainstream, while other – equally important ones – do not? It may just be that journalists tend to write about what’s already written about. They hesitate going outside of the path already created.

Two topics receive regular attention in mainstream media: The climate crisis and deforestation of the Amazon, and these are obviously crucial topics.

At the same time, the main solution rarely receives any attention: The need for profound systemic changes. We need to change our economic system – and systems of production, travel, energy, and so on – to take ecological realities into account.

And there are several ecology-related topics that receive not nearly as much attention as they deserve.

One is the possible (or probable) collapse of ocean ecosystems – from overfishing, pollution, and absorption of CO2. If or when that happens, it will be a catastrophe of gigantic proportions. It will massively impact Earth as a whole and our ability to survive. (The loss of ocean food would be the least of our problems.)

Another, which most of us notice daily, is the loss of insects. When I grew up, my parents’ garden was full of insects: grasshoppers of different types, ladybugs, all sorts of flying insects, daddy-long-legs, ants, and so on. If we had a door or window open, it was guaranteed that a good number of them would get inside. These days, there are just about none, and nothing comes inside if the windows are open. Larger animals, like badgers and hedgehogs, are also gone. A huge amount of animals are directly or indirectly dependent on insects, so this loss massively impacts the ecosystem as a whole.

It’s bizarre and absurd to me that journalists, people in general, and politicians don’t focus more on this. We are headed straight for disaster, and people are mostly concerned with insignificant issues.

This is the major crisis of our day, and it will massively impact all of us – and our children and grandchildren – so why is this not the major issue for us collectively? Why do people still vote for politicians who are more concerned with reducing the price of alcohol and having the stores open on Sundays?

Related posts

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.