Reflections on society, politics and nature – vol. 66

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.

SUPPORTING MILLIONS OF BEINGS

My wife and I have land in the Andes mountains, and we are in the process of helping the land become as vibrant as possible. We are planting native flowers, bushes, cactuses, trees, and more. We are creating a food forest that will provide food for birds, animals, and humans. And we are doing some very limited landscaping to collect water and prevent soil runoff.

On these fifteen hectares, millions of being live, and many more will live there in the future. To me, supporting all those lives is immensely meaningful. I cannot imagine much that’s more meaningful.

That, in itself, will make my life more than worth it.

DEATH IS BAD?

I saw a video with Tom Scott where he says that “death is bad” and he implies that (scientifically) striving for eternal life for humans is a good thing.

I can understand that from the perspective of your own life or those close to you.

But in the bigger picture, it’s different. Death is why we are here. Without death, we would soon run out of space on this already overcrowded planet, and we would run out of resources even more quickly than we already are. Death is what allows for new generations, new species, and new life. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the death of past species, past generations, and – going even further back – the death of early stars in our area of the galaxy and universe.

We are made up of dead stars. The death of previous species gave space for new species, including our own and those leading to our own. The death of individuals gives space for us. Our individual death gives space for new individuals, the death of our species will give space for new species, and so on.

Without death, no evolution and no life.

Even more essentially, without the metaphorical death of this moment, there wouldn’t be the next moment. What’s here dies and allows for something fresh and new. That’s happening always.

(How do I know this moment dies and is reborn as something else? It’s because I notice what’s here in. my sense fields, make a mental image of it, and compare that mental image with another mental image I call “previous moment” or “recent past”. And there is no “I” here apart from in other mental representations, it’s just happening.)

AUGUST 2, 2023

TRUMP AND EXCEPTIONALISM

Trump is fortunately prosecuted for a range of crimes these days. And yet, many US lawyers say that even if he is convicted for one or more, he likely won’t go to prison. Anyone else would, and likely for decades, but he was a president so he won’t.

To me and I assume most people in the world, that seems absurd. A basic principle in a modern legal system is that everyone is equal for the law. Everyone is treated equally independent of their name, position, and so on. Anything else would be profoundly unfair and weaken people’s trust in the system. (Of course, in the US may already have a low level of trust in the system, and for good reasons.)

Many in Europe see the US as more of a banana republic or a typical developing country in how their political and legal system works, and this is just one more example.

Another side of this is how some in the international media keep saying that this is the nail in the coffin for Trump and his political career. Have they been asleep for the last several years? Have they learned nothing from all the times they have predicted that before and nothing happened? If anything, this will just strengthen the support he already has, and it may even get him more support from people buying into his “witch hunt” story.

OPPENHEIMER

I just watched Oppenheimer and thought I would write a few impressions.

It’s obviously powerful and a kind of masterpiece. The casting and craft is excellent. And it highlights the universal theme of someone trying to do the right thing but is caught up in history – in this case, the US communism paranoia and the need to not allow Hitler to win WW2.

This mirrors the dilemma Europe is in these days. Very few of us want war or to support war or to use precious resources on weapons and war. At the same time, we are faced with Putin set on his imperial plan of invading and taking over his neighbors. The choice is to allow him to keep invading and taking over sovereign nations, or support them in resisting him. In my case, I choose the latter even if I am not happy about it. I don’t see any other reasonable option.

I also thought the movie was overloaded with strong editing and music effects. (A lot of handheld cameras, epic music, cuts to explosions and cosmic scenes, cuts between color and black and white, and so on.) It felt a bit like a movie student trying to impress his teachers. To me, the human side drowned in all the movie magic effects. I didn’t get very much drawn into it.

It felt like the screenwriter(s) tried to include too much, so it all became a bit superficial. Perhaps they tried to include all the highlights of the long book it’s based on? Following him more in-depth for one or two pivotal days would almost certainly have been more interesting for me.

For me, Lunana: A yak in the classroom was far more powerful. Perhaps because it was so simple and heartfelt and drew me into the story and the lives of the people.

SCHOOLS ARE WHERE SOCIALIZATION HAPPENS?

I saw an NPR story that said “schools are where socialization happens”.

That may be true, but perhaps not in the way people mean it when they say those kinds of things.

We obviously don’t need schools to be well-socialized. Homeschooled kids are often far better socialized than the ones who went to school. And schools often create an unhealthy form of socialization.

To me, it seems an obviously terrible idea to put large numbers of kids of the same age together in that way. It’s bound to create problems. (Of course, this view is colored by my own experience of having to go through school – 1st through 12th grade – in a class that had a toxic culture.)

AUGUST 15, 2023

NAIVE NORWEGIANS

Since the beginning of the Ukraine war, and even long before, it’s been pretty clear that Norwegians are naive when it comes to Russians and especially Russian ships in Norwegian waters. Russian ships regularly gather information about Norway along the coastline, disguised as fishing vessels, and the Norwegian government says: “That’s fine, no problem”. I am surprised the Norwegian government hasn’t done more about this, but they may be afraid of some kind of retaliation from the Russian side. They want to keep the fishing agreements as they are.

UAPS & WASHINGTON

I may have written about this before, but thought I would briefly revisit it.

There has been “whistleblowers” talking about the US government having UFOs and even alien bodies. They have even testified in Washington about this. Some see this as a big deal. (They like to pretend it is.)

For me, it’s just more of the same. It’s what we have seen for decades. People say they have seen something, or heard something from someone else. And there is not a shred of real data.

It would not hold up in a court of law.

Yes, courts use testimonials. If there is nothing else to back it up, and especially if it’s an extraordinary claim, that’s not even close to sufficient. It has to be backed up by solid data, ideally multiple types of data from multiple sources, and it has to be verifiable. In this case, there is none of that.

THE STUPIDITY OF LAWNS

I am in Norway these days, and keep being baffled by the manicured and sterile gardens people seem to prefer. It’s basically a monoculture (lawns) with perhaps a manicured hedge, and one or two trees, and very little else. People seem to spend a lot of time and energy on keeping it sterile and manicured.

To me, that’s a kind of insanity. Why would you prefer this, when you could have a vibrant garden full of life? When you could have a garden full of food producing trees and bushes, wildflowers, and layers of plants? Yes, it would perhaps require a little more planning at first. But then, it mainly maintains itself and the little maintenance required from us is far more enjoyable.

AUGUST 19, 2023

BURNING RELIGIOUS TEXTS

Some folks in Europe like to burn the Koran. I am not quite sure. It’s probably a way of dealing with their own pain. Islamophobia, like any phobia and bigotry, is a(n unfortunate) coping mechanism.

If I am affiliated with anything, it would probably be Taoism and Buddhism. It’s difficult to imagine Taoists or Buddhists being very upset if anyone burned their texts. At most, it would be met with a shrug.

So that’s the other side of it. Here, we have people enjoying triggering other people, because those people are easily triggered. They allow themselves to be easily triggered.

What do I think should be done? I think it’s fine to burn books and flags if you want to. It’s part of living in a democracy. I also think it’s unnecessary and not very wise. There are other ways to deal with your pain. If you want social change, there are more effective ways to do that too.

Of course, these people may want to inflame the relationship between (some) Westerners and some Muslims, and they are going about it in an effective way. I don’t quite see what good can come out of that.

AUGUST 25, 2023

TRUMP IS WEAKENED? PUTIN IS WEAKENED?

Over the last several years, I have seen news articles saying: This is the end for Trump, this time Trump will lose his support, and so on. And over the last year or so, I have read similar articles about Putin and Russia.

To me, it seems naive and wishful thinking. (The more belligerent Trump is and the more he is in legal trouble, the more support he gets. And Putin seems as strong as ever.) I assume the reporters writing this know that too and they do it to get views. And much of the audience wants it to be true, so they take the bate.

As I see it, an important role of the news and the media is to give us accurate information so we individually and collectively can deal with reality a little better. We need accurate information to make good choices.

And I also know that’s not how it is. The main priority of for-profit media is to get views and increase profit for their shareholders. And it seems that even public media organizations (BBC, NRK, NPR, etc.) often move in the same direction, for whatever reason. They seem to more often use tabloid-like headlines and engage in wishful thinking.

SOCIAL SYSTEMS DON’T LAST FOREVER

Social systems don’t last forever. Oppressive regimes fall apart. Democracies fall apart. What comes together falls apart. It seems obvious, but some seem to forget.

SEPTEMBER 1, 2023

MILK AND COMMON SENSE

I stopped drinking milk in my teens, as soon as I had the possibility to do so. Why? Because it didn’t make sense to drink it, and I noticed my body seemed to function better without it.

My parents and many others told me that I had to drink milk to get strong bones, which seemed very odd to me.

Many cultures do not have the same milk-drinking traditions for adults as this one (Northern Europe), and they do fine.

More importantly, I assume that most of our distant ancestors – independent of culture – did not drink cow milk or any milk as adults. Most of them did not have cows or other milk-producing animals. And they obviously did fine since they survived and had surviving offspring. Humans did not evolve to drink milk. It’s a more recent invention and depends on culture.

Common sense tells me it’s not needed. And that is, of course, backed up by medicine.

The milk myth is created partly by tradition (“we have always done it that way so it must be important”) and partly by the dairy industry.

SEPTEMBER 2, 2023

A MOVIE IS A MOVIE

Norway has an annual movie award (Amandaprisen) and there is a discussion about whether they should include only movie-theater movies or all movies.

Of course, it’s an opportunity to reflect on some aspects of the experience of watching movies. And yet, the writing is on the wall. We know how it’s already looking and some of how it likely will be in the future.

We know that a movie is a movie, no matter how or where we watch it.

We know it doesn’t really matter. The distinction is somewhat artificial.

In this case, the snobbery is mostly driven by the movie theater industry. They want to pretend that only movie-theater movies are “real” movies even if it’s obviously absurd. They want to protect their business. And they go about it in a way that already seems outdated.

Acknowledging movies independent of where or how it’s viewed doesn’t mean movie theaters will go away. There will always be a market for larger movie theaters and that particular experience.

WHY MORE YOUNG PEOPLE ON DISABILITY?

There are more young people on disability in Norway now compared to a few decades ago.

Why? There are some general categories of possibilities. For instance, it has to do with changes in lifestyle (less active, more refined foods, more overweight). There may be other things influencing health. (More toxins in food, water, and air.) There may be policy changes. Or doctors may do something differently.

For instance, doctors in the past had more time with their patients, so they may have preferred to take it slow with the disability process. (“Let’s wait a few years and see how it goes before we make a final decision.”) Doctors these days are overworked and have much less time for each patient, so they may prefer to get it done and out of the world. Since they now also are publicly rated by their patients, they may also be more service-minded.

SEPTEMBER 16, 2023

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3

I saw Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 on the plane the other day, and I found it surprisingly moving. (Is it embarrassing to cry on a plane? Not really.)

In many ways, it was very silly with bad jokes and jokey visuals. (One of the things that makes te Guardian movies fun to watch for me.)

So why was it so moving? Likely because it addressed profoundly important topics around suffering, friendship, compassion, and acting to prevent suffering. It showed a deeper truth, beyond the jokes.

SEPTEMBER 19, 2023

A PREFERENCE FOR SILENCE IS ELITIST?

I have seen some articles and discussions on this topic: A preference for silence is elitist. Privileged people want to impose their own preferences on others who enjoy noise.

I understand, to some extent, where this is coming from.

It is probably true that people in privileged positions in life prefer silence. They prefer quiet neighborhoods. They prefer to not be disturbed by noise from neighbors. And they have the means to largely create that type of life for themselves. They get used to silence. (Or, at the very least, the noise they themselves chose and produce.)

People in less privileged positions have less choice. They may live in small apartments with thin walls. They may live near busy streets. They may enjoy loud music since it’s a cheap and available form for entertainment and distraction. And it may seem unfair when people of privilege want them to be quiet.

When I am in Norway, I am in places where it mostly is quiet. (At a cabin by a lake in the forest or in a small and mostly quiet town.) I love quiet.

Now that I am in a large city in Latin America for a few days, I am reminded that silence is not the norm for many people. Here, it’s noisy. A lot of people (twice the population of Norway) live within a relatively small space. This is a city without any significant public transportation so people need to use motorcycles and cars that are often old and noisy.

I understand that some get used to noise and may even like to distract themselves with noise (e.g. loud music).

And yet, there is a bigger picture here. No non-human species like noise. Non-human beings typically move away from any kind of noise. Research shows that regular exposure to noise – for instance, traffic – leads to chronic stress which in turn leads to a weakened immune system and so on.

Noise is not natural for us. Chronic noise is not good for us.

SEPTEMBER 25, 2023

OPPRESSIVE SYSTEMS ARE NOT GOOD FOR ANYONE

I watched the Barbie movie, and one of the many things that stood out to me was Ken realizing that patriarchy is a lot of work and not much fun.

That’s how it is with any oppressive system. They are not good for anyone in it, including those who seem privileged within it.

They take a lot of work. It’s not really fun.

We miss out on a lot of what each person can contribute.

We miss out on the possibility to take on and explore other roles than the ones prescribed to us.

We miss out on more real connections with each other.

We tend to internalize the social system and create an oppressive system within ourselves.

The ones in a privileged position have to defend and justify their privilege (to themselves and others), even if they know it cannot be justified.

The ones in a privileged position know very well how many suffer within the system, and have to close off from their emotions to not experience what naturally comes up from that.

SEPTEMBER 28, 2023

DEEP TIME THINKING

All of us are informed by a myriad of mental images and words in daily life. Many or most of these operate without being consciously noticed. (Although we can train ourselves to notice them. For instance, as I am sitting here I am aware of my mental images of the world beyond what I can take in with my senses, I am aware of mental images overlaying my visual field, I am aware of words and images roughly outlining the next few paragraphs, and so on.)

In my daily life, I often notice mental images and words relating to deep time. My mind is creating an overlay from history, evolutionary psychology, and the universe story, and it’s using it to make sense of the world.

If I see a behavior I am curious about, I often check in with evolutionary psychology. For instance, when I hear or hear about the stress many experience, it’s natural to check it with an image of how our distant ancestors lived – in smaller groups and a much simpler life focused on gathering and hunting. That life had challenges too, of course, but it is simpler than our life so contrasting the two immediately gives us some understanding of why modern humans experience so much stress, anxiety, and depression.

When the pandemic happened, I was not surprised by much of what happened. I knew that pandemics happen roughly one hundred years apart (there are obviously exceptions) so this one came right on time. I have read and studied some epidemiology since my teens, so I knew what works in terms of measures we collectively can take to reduce the impact. So I was not surprised by the measures taken by most governments, they just followed guidelines we know work from history. I was also not surprised by the upswing in conspiracy theories and groups of people being upset about some of these measures, they too were just repeating historical patterns. It always happens during a pandemic or other collective crisis. (Although I was disappointed that some of my friends fell into it without apparently much historical knowledge or awareness of how they were just repeating patterns from history.)

Sitting here, and quite often in daily life, I am also aware of how I am literally stardust. I and all of Earth is created from matter forged in ancient stars. I am aware of my distant ancestors going back. to the very first single-celled beings Earth formed itself into. I am aware of my intimate relationship with all Earth life.

There is another aspect here which is not really deep time, but maybe more a kind of deep psychology. For a few decades now, I have found myself most fundamentally as consciousness. To me, the world happens within and as this consciousness. (That includes anything within the content of experience, including this human self, any thoughts and emotions, any sense of a doer, observer, and so on.) So when I see or imagine other beings, I assume that’s how it is for them too, whether they are consciously aware of it or not. I see an image of them too most fundamentally being consciousness, operating through and as the body-mind they function through and as. That gives another depth to my world.

All of this is how my mental field gives some depth to my world. And it’s very good to notice. It’s good to notice that it is a mental overlay. Although it gives depth and richness, and my personality likes it, it’s good to hold it all lightly.

[made into regular article]

SEPTEMBER 30, 2023

CULTURAL DIFFERENCES

I have spent some time in Latin America lately, and notice one (of several) cultural differences.

Where I am from, and I think in the Western world in general, most people would try to keep family and friendships separate from business. You don’t do business with friends or even family.

Here in Latin America, or at least where I am, it seems different. Here, they seem to expect to do business with family and friends, and even get a bit upset if you decline.

OCTOBER 16, 2023

COLLAPSE ACCEPTANCE

What does collapse acceptance mean?

It doesn’t mean that the collapse of human civilization and perhaps humans as a species will happen soon. It means an acceptance that it can happen soon. It may happen within this or the next generation.

That’s reality, and it’s good to acknowledge, take it in, and allow it to inform us.

As with any acknowledgment of change and death, it’s sobering. It brings us back to reality. And it can open up for a deep appreciation of what’s here now. It can help us appreciate life even more fully.

OCTOBER 20, 2023

HURT PEOPLE HURT PEOPLE

The drama in the Middle East is continuing. These days, through the attack by Hamas on civilians in Israel, and the larger-scale and ongoing horrors inflicted by Israel on the population in Gaza and Palestine.

Why is this happening? It’s obviously very complicated.

And yet, the essence may not be that complicated.

The essence is that hurt people hurt people.

The Jewish people have undergone a lot of traumatic experiences throughout history, including the unimaginable horrors of the holocaust.

They displaced or made a minority out of people living where Israel is now. (Of course, they deserve and need their own country, but it still has consequences. Nobody likes to be displaced from their own country or be made into a minority.)

Since then, Israel has engaged in ongoing human rights violations and violations of international law. They got away with it because the US and large portions of the international community largely have turned a blind eye to it.

The Palestinians have been hurt for decades by this treatment. They respond to this hurt and mistreatment in different ways, often through silent suffering. And some of them respond with violence. What Hamas did is not surprising. And the equally horrific response by Israel is equally predictable.

Many have hurt the Jewish people throughout history. The international community hurt Palestinians by creating Israel. Hurt Israelis continued to hurt Palestinians over the decades. Some hurt Palestinians hurt some Israelis. And hurt Israelis responded by hurting Palestinians even more severely.

Trauma creates fear and this fear is often expressed as anger and reactivity, and sometimes by hurting ourselves and others. (We cannot hurt others without hurting ourselves, and the way we treat others is a mirror of how we treat ourselves.) This happens everywhere in human life – in ourselves, in families and other small groups, and in large groups and politics.

[Made into a regular article]

ANTHROPOCENTRIC AND US-CENTRIC

The main teacher in Vortex Healing (RW) sometimes talks about things happening in the world. He seems to get most of his information from US mainstream media, and that makes his perspective quite anthropocentric and US-centric.

Said a bit cynically: If the mainstream media talks about something, it’s probably not so important.

That’s not entirely true, of course. Mainstream media occasionally get into big-picture important issues. And what they address is often very important to the ones involved.

What do they leave out? They tend to leave out the big picture, the vital context for everything.

They leave out our global ecological overshoot of almost all discussions, including about ecological topics.

They leave out the fall of civilizations and what happens when civilizations decline (often polarization, insanity in different forms, conflicts, violence), even if this is an important context to understand what’s happening in some places in the world today, including the US. It’s also what we can expect to see at a larger scale as our civilization goes downhill from ecological degradation and collapse.

They only briefly and occasionally mention the huge number of global crises we have today: Poverty and massive inequality. Lack of clean water. Millions dying from preventable and curable diseases. Missing nuclear weapons from the former Soviet Union. Species extinction. Insect collapse. Plastics and toxins in just about every living being. And so on.

OCTOBER 29, 2023

POLITICS IS DIRTY?

There is a local election where I am in the Andes mountains, and my wife has been very involved in one of the political groups here – one that wants to expose/reduce/eliminate corruption, protect nature, and so on.

A friend of ours here said she didn’t want to be involved. Which is fine, of course. We all have our inclinations, desires, and paths in life.

But the reason she gave was that politics is dirty.

For me, that’s a somewhat strange reason.

It’s not politics that’s dirty, it’s life.


DRAFTS

STRANGE NEW WORLDS AND BEING SEEN

musical number, a loved one seeing us, allowing us to be more of who and what we are

CLEANING OUT CHILDHOOD HOME

THE INSANITY OF PESTICIDES

A SUICIDAL CIVILIZATION

DRAFTS

It’s also entertaining since it at a meta-level makes fun of people who post these types of things because they don’t like it when language changes. Our language is always changing and always in flux, and there have always been people who didn’t like it, even if they too use a language that has already gone through innumerable changes throughout history. It’s somewhat amusing that they don’t seem to realize that they use a language that’s the product of innumerable changes throughout human history while criticizing people who are at the forefront of those changes today.

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