Reflections on society, politics and nature – vol. 67

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.

ISRAEL & PALESTINE

I posted this quote on social media without any comments and (unsurprisingly) received a comment about what’s happening between Israel and Palestine now. The question was: What would you do if you were the prime minister of Israel?

Here is my response:

There are many layers here.

First, I have posted this quote before (years ago, I think), because I love it and it’s a helpful pointer for me. I initially posted it again for that reason, then realized some may take it as an indirect commentary on what’s happening in the Middle East, so I unposted it, and then posted it again because I am not responsible for how other people interpret things.

I have also written something about how I see the situation.

As for your question, I would not be prime minister there for many reasons, including that my views are too far removed from those of the majority living in Israel. If I – through a miracle and against my will – was prime minister there, my first move would be to respect international law and human rights, and remove some of the reasons for the current hatred against Israel and the Israeli people. I would work on prevention, first of all, by trying to improve the lives of people both within Israel and also Palestinians and those in Gaza.

If I woke up today as the prime minister there, what would I say to those who want revenge? Probably, go screw yourself ? You won’t get it from me. (In the form of: “I understand your anger and pain, I am also angry and in pain from what happened, but more violence is not the answer”.)

CHRISTIANITY VS CHRIST

There are many reasons why I am not very interested in religions. One is that their priority, by necessity, is to continue themselves over what they say they are about. (Of course, there are individuals within the religion that have other priorities.) Another is the dogmas, hierarchies, and all the non-essentials that often cover up the essentials.

Yet another example is what happened with Christianity. Christianity as it developed has very little to do with Jesus or Christ, and everything to do with men sitting in rooms thinking up philosophies, picking and deciding from these philosophies, power within the church and over people in society, and so on. When I look at Christianity today, it seems that almost all of it was created by people in the church in the millennia since Jesus (possibly) lived.

I imagine Jesus would be horrified if he saw what people did with his teachings. And it may well be that if he had known, he would have decided to keep quiet instead of (innocently, well-meaningly) guiding his little band of followers.

Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t glimmers of wisdom and valuable pointers within the regions. And it’s clear that religions, in the best case, have a function in terms of providing comfort, hope, community, and guidelines for society. (Often along with fear, strife, justification for violence, etc.)

Why did I become a self-professed atheist in elementary school? Mostly because it seemed nonsensical to take someone’s word for it and to pretend I believed something weird just because someone said so. Also, it seemed that religion is used as a crutch by many people and I was not interested in that. That orientation is still very much here.

WHY I HAVEN’T GOTTEN INTO (PARTY) POLITICS

My wife is involved in a local political movement where we are in the Andes mountains, and I love it and support and encourage it wholeheartedly. Their (our) candidate was just elected mayor of our small town yesterday!

So why haven’t I gotten into party politics?

There are a few different reasons.

Mainly, I prefer to get involved in more long-term and less adversarial projects. One example of the regeneration project on the land we are stewards of here.

Party politics is obviously immensely important, and I vote and am a member of the Green Party in Norway. And yet, the frame is typically short-term and it has a lot of ups and downs. Your candidate wins, then loses. Your candidate makes changes, and the next one undoes those changes. (One example is Obama and Trump.)

I don’t quite have the stomach and personality for that. And I love that others do.

SUPPORT FOR UKRAINE, ISRAEL, HUMAN RIGHTS

It’s interesting to see how people respond to the war in Ukraine and the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Some align themselves with the official mainstream US view. They support Ukraine and Israel.

Some align themselves with the reverse and support (or, at least, justify) Russia and support the Palestinians.

Some align themselves with the underdogs – Ukraine and the Palestinians. (I would be here if I wasn’t at the next one.)

Some align themselves with human rights and international law. Russia is clearly breaking international law by invading Ukraine and committing clear war crimes. The Hamas attack on Israeli civilians is also clearly against international law and unjustified. Israel has committed systematic human rights violations against Palestinians for decades. (Which has fueled a lot of resentment and hatred.) And Israel is violating international law and committing war crimes in their attacks on civilians in Gaza.

[Made into a regular article]

NOVEMBER 4, 2023

WHY DO PEOPLE FOCUS ON CLIMATE CHANGE AND NOT OVERSHOOT?

Why do so many focus on climate change these days? Why is there even a discussion of whether it’s human-created?

I am not sure. To me, it seems like a distraction.

The bigger and more fundamental issue is global ecological overshoot.

We have been in overshoot for decades already, and we haven’t seen the real consequences of it yet since we have been living off the “savings” provided by our planet. We have not yet reached the end of the savings account. When we do, we can expect massive unraveling and collapse of ecosystems and human civilization.

So why don’t more people focus on that instead? It’s easy to understand. It’s undeniable. It seems a far more relevant and graspable focus than climate change.

I honestly don’t know. A superficial answer may be that people don’t know about overshoot, which is true enough. But the fundamental idea of overshoot is very easy to grasp, it is something anyone with a bank account knows firsthand and relates to on a daily basis. And many in the world do know about it and talk about it, but it does not make it into mainstream discussion.

The real question is: Why doesn’t it make it into mainstream discussion? Why is there an apparent resistance to it? It’s obviously a hugely important topic, more so than just about any topic already in our collective mainstream dialog and conversation.

Maybe it’s too big? Maybe it’s obvious that our usual solutions are not enough?

Maybe it’s more comfortable to focus on something that’s more peripheral and less serious?

That may be one reason why climate change is getting so much attention. It’s apparently more debatable, more peripheral, and less serious. We can tell ourselves it has easier and more peripheral solutions. (Of course, none of that is really true. Climate change itself is serious and requires a profound transformation of our civilization and the worldviews we operate from.)

We live in an ecocidal civilization that assumes infinite nature – infinite natural resources and infinite capacity of nature to absorb waste and toxins. One of many expressions of this is climate change. Global ecological overshoot is far more fundamental and far more serious. And the only real solution to all of it is a deep and thorough transformation of our civilization and our most fundamental assumptions about ourselves, nature, and our relationship to this living planet. (One practical expression of that would be a transformation of our economic system to take ecological realities and the limits of nature into account.)

[Made into a regular article]

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