Reflections on society, politics and nature – vol. 68

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.

ONE OF THE FLAWS OF MANY CONSPIRACY THEORIES: OVERLOOKING THE OBVIOUS

Yes, it seems that many who are into conspiracy theories don’t know much about history or society. They seem to overlook the well-known and obvious, or they present it as if it weren’t universally known. (Likely because they didn’t know about it before so it looks new to them.) And they often overlook far more serious things than what they are focused on. For instance, they may think that the problem is some group of people or corporations, while the actual problem is in the system as a whole. The system that we all are part of. We all participate in it. We are all part of the problem. It’s not just someone else.

There is something real and well-known that’s far more serious than what just about any conspiracy theory is about, and that is our ecocidal and suicidal civilization. We have lived in global ecological overshoot for decades, and at some point, we’ll hit the end of the metaphorical savings account and it will all come crashing down. Nothing is more serious than that. It’s well-known and out in the open. Why not be focused on that instead?

PEACE -> LESS RELIGIOUS

I see some folks on social media posting this and implying or assuming that the directionality goes less religion -> peace. To me, that seems a bit simplistic. Getting rid of religion is not only impossible, but it’s very unlikely to bring more peace. Most conflicts that go along religious lines have little to do with religion and everything to do with ordinary politics and history. For instance, the conflicts in Northern Ireland are not about religion, it’s about the Irish wanting their country back from English occupiers, and they just happen to have different religions. Similarly, when you see Islamic extremist groups, it has little to do with religion and a lot to do with understandable desperation and anger due to the effects of Western imperialism. (I am sure there are some examples where religion is more at the core as well, but they are not so common and even there, it’s often really about politics and history.)

To me, the other directionality makes a lot more sense. Peace -> less religion. In more peaceful countries with better education, less poverty, and better social safety nets, there is less need for religion. People tend to be less religious because they don’t need it so much in their lives. They are doing fine without it.

NOVEMBER 10, 2023

INFINITE DIVERSITY IN INFINITE COMBINATIONS

We have a quite international and diverse community in our little town in the Andes, and I love it. I love the diversity and all the different combinations.

For instance, there is a wide range of combinations of wealth or less wealth, liberal or conservative, into spirituality or not, into sustainability and regeneration and not, and so on.

We need all of it. We are slightly atypical here in that we have a big land, wear nice clothes, are super liberal and progressive politically, are into uncompromising spirituality (but not any particular tradition), and are into sustainability and regeneration.

NOVEMBER 12, 2023

COMMUNITY

We spent the day in the town of Barichara yesterday and got a taste of how it is to live in a small community. The first we met, even before leaving the car, was a neighbor. And then it was just one person after another that we know from different groups and contexts. At the end of the day, we sat in a café and knew just about everyone there. (Which was perhaps less surprising since the owner of the café seem to know the same people as us.)

NOVEMBER 16, 2023

ECONOMY AND ECOLOGY

Most actual and proposed economic systems from the last several hundred years are based on that assumption. Few take ecological realities into account.

In our civilization, we collectively pretend that nature is unlimited in its resources and capacity to absorb waste and toxins. We pretend that our economy is not dependent on ecology. We pretend that we are not dependent on the health, well-being, and existence of our larger ecosystem and this living planet.

That fantasy is not only ecocidal, it’s suicidal.

NOVEMBER 18, 2023

UTOPIA

Some see i a utopia to want to transform our civilization into taking ecological realities into account.

They overlook that all is change. Civilizations always change. They also come and go, and another takes their place. What’s been is gone and replaced by something else.

We can work on transforming our civilization, and it will work, or it will collapse and another takes its place which will hopefully be more ecologically informed, or it’s curtains for humanity. In any case, it’s worth working on the transformation.

Similarly, they overlook that it’s our only realistic option. We are in a global ecological overshoot. The Earth cannot replenish what we use. If we continue, we’ll reach the end of the savings account and it will all come crashing down. Our only option, if we are to survive as a civilization and even humanity, is to transform our civilization to take ecological realities into account. We have the answers, what we need is the collective will.

The utopia is to think we can continue with business as usual. That we can tweak things here and there. That we don’t need a profound transformation of our civilization as a whole – from our worldview to our economic theories and systems and everything else.

NOVEMBER 23, 2023

I LOVE WESTERN MEDICINE

I love Western medicine. It has saved my life for certain once and perhaps twice. I wouldn’t be here without it.

I love the germ theory and sanitation. It has improved the lives of millions, including me.

I love antibiotics. (And phage therapy even if I have not tried it.)

I love the diagnostic methods.

I love epidemiology and what we learn from epidemiology.

I love that the learnings from epidemiology were put to good use during the recent pandemic.

I love the doctors and nurses who have helped me through the years.

I love the limits it has. It has limits like anything else.

I love energy work, herbal medicines, Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, using food as medicine, and much more.

Why am I saying this? Twice this morning, I heard someone saying they hate something related to Western medicine. One said he hates antibiotics. The other, that he hates hospitals and doctors.

I love it. I love what it has done for the world, especially in terms of sanitation and the prevention of illnesses. I love that it saved my life. (Although if I had died, that would have been OK too.)

In daily life, I don’t make active use of Western medicine. I don’t take any medicines. Instead, I much prefer herbal medicine, Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, energy healing, and so on. And when I need it, when there is a health crisis, I love Western medicine and make use of it. I love that it’s here, even if it’s imperfect. (Just like anything is imperfect.)

Western medicine has a lot to learn. It typically operates from a very limited worldview. It doesn’t understand that or much of how other approaches work. It’s very young and in it’s infancy. As anything else, it’s caught up in our current economic system and there are a lot of terrible ways in how it works and how the pharmaceutical industry works.

And yet, I love it. It has done so much for us, and it has a lot of potential.

[Made into a regular article]

NOVEMBER 23, 2023

PEAK CIVILIZATION

In a certain way, we are now at peak civilization.

We have a lot of energy. We can travel. We have resources. (From the Earth’s savings account.)

This is the time to plan for the future and plan for a future that will be a lot more challenging.

That’s what we are trying to do here. We are lucky enough to have land. We are gathering rainwater. (And will gather a lot more.) We are looking into solar energy. We are planting perennial food plants.

CAN CATS EXPRESS REGRET?

Yesterday, I chased off a stray dog to protect our cat Merlina. I unwisely got between the dog and her, and she attacked and bit my leg.

After she realized what had happened, she followed me around and meowed sadly.

It really seemed that she was expressing regret.

In general, we have very good communication, and to me, this is just another example.

Of course, I told her I understood and love her, and I also expressed it through touch.

I spent some time at the hospital having my wound cleaned and receiving a prescription for antibiotics. Cat bites often get infected and that type of infection can be difficult. I am profoundly grateful for Western medicine, especially in these kinds of situations.

NOVEMBER 24, 2023

HOW WE RELATE TO OUR IDEAS ABOUT THE FUTURE

This seems pretty obvious but worth mentioning.

How we relate to our ideas about the future has a big effect on our perception and life now.

If I tell myself I know that our civilization and/or humanity will end within a relatively short time, I may not do much to try to improve the situation and turns things around. I may just give up. I may go into hedonism. And so on.

If I tell myself I know that civilization and humanity will turn around, and someone else will do it, I may also not do all that much. I may let the others do it.

These two are examples of fearful and wishful thinking. I tell myself I know in order to feel I have some control or to find safety. And, in reality, I don’t know and I cannot know what will happen.

If I admit to myself that I don’t know what will happen, things are more open. I stay more alive and curious. I am more likely to be engaged and work for the kind of future I would like to see happen.

NOVEMBER 27, 2023

MY DREAM FOR THIS AREA

There are many things I dream about for this area of the Andes. I hold it all lightly since I know life tends to go in other direction, and I also wish to keep it alive and work towards some or all of it depending on how life unfolds.

Dark sky. The sky here is dark since it’s a less populated area. I would love to see them stay dark. That would require education and people using covered lamps outdoors.

Noise regulation. There is noise here now and then, including from motorcycles without mufflers and tuk-tuks playing very loud music. This should be regulated since nobody enjoys this.

Municipal composting. When I lived in the US, the municipality had public composting. They received food waste from restaurants and households, composted it at the edge of town, and we could go there and receive finished compost. I would love to see the same here.

Groundwater protection. The hotel next door (destructive in so many ways) will use groundwater. Use of groundwater needs to be regulated. Depletion of groundwater is a huge problem around the world so we need to learn from other communities and how they regulate it.

Wildflowers in the main park. I would love to see native wildflowers instead the grass in the main park. This could be a project led by local experts and could involve school children. We can have brochures available about the native plants here and where to find them for your own garden.

Native plants in the nurseries. The nurseries here don’t have native plants, for some reason. If they have native plants, it would make regeneration projects here much easier. We can all ask for native plants, and point them to sources for seeds and seedlings so they can grow them themselves.

Protection of locally owned stores. Promotion of locally owned stores. Banning chain stores in town and the county. Several places in the US ban chain stores, which I think is a very good move.

Systems in place to prevent corruption. We need systems in place that provide transparency, open records, and third-instance insight and control into the dealings of the mayor and public offices. This could, for instance, be an independent citizen council that examines the operation of the mayor and public offices and public servants. (The only ones who would oppose this are the ones benefiting from corruption, and it would not be a good look. Also, they may think they benefit from corruption but they don’t really. Corrution harms us all and society as a whole.)

Recognizing the value of regeneration and rewilding.

Understanding natural succession. (And the value of pioneer species and dead trees.)

Of course, all of this reflects my own culture and background. It’s predictable coming from a liberal European living in the Andes mountains. And that’s OK. These are also all things that can benefit the community, the ecosystem, and even future generations. This voice too is valuable.

NOVEMBER 30, 2023

MY RELIGION IS RIGHT

When I became a self-professed atheist in elementary school, in response to some classes in Christianity we had to take, this was one of the reasons.

It seems absurd to me that people taking on a religion would think that theirs is right and the other religions are wrong. How could they know?

Also, most people take on whatever religion they are born into. That’s fine if you see all religions as valuable and valid in their own way. But if you see yours as the only right one, that seems stranger. How come you happened to be born into the one right religion? What if you had been born into another culture and religion? Wouldn’t you have taken on that religion and told yourself that one was right?

Of course, we all do this with our own brand of religion. We make a religion out of our most cherised ideas, stories, and identities, see it as right, worship it, and see alternate ideas and identities as wrong. We even do this with obviously very painful stories and identities like “I am not good enough”, “I am a victim”, and so on. We make a religion out of it and defend it as many defend their religion.

Even if we are a self-professed atheists, we likely do this. We very likely do exactly what we see religious people do.

Also, just like many are born into a religion, we are often born into our own brand of religion. We take it on from our family, subcultures, and culture.

What we do collectively we also do individually. What we see others do, we do.

We are not very original.

LOCAL SCAMS

We have heard from several people here that a couple we know (JR & M) are scamming people and have done it for years.

A couple we know paid them for a plot in a development project they are, and are not given a plot and are unable to have their money returned. Unfortunately, they didn’t get a written contract.

The scam unfolded as you would expect: The scamming couple made friends with them shortly after they arrived in town. Gained their confidence. Showed them a project that looked amazing on paper. Told them exactly what they wanted to hear about it. Received their money without any written contract. And are now keeping it without giving anything in return. The scammers are, of course, relying on the shame and fear of the victims to stay safe.

We have heard from others who have had similar experiences with the scamming couple, going back years.

We are confronting the scammers and also encouraging our friends to sue them. We plan to help them in any way possible.

PLANE ON A TREADMILL

I used to watch Mythbusters, although sometimes thought the myths were a little harebrained (especially the ones from the US that I hadn’t grown up with), and often thought the methods and conclusions could have been improved. (When it came to the conclusions, I remember being frustrated when the essence of the myth was true and they called it “busted” just because they took it overly literally.) That is, of course, partly why it was a popular program. We could sit at home and imagine ways we would have tested and examined the stories and we would sometimes disagree with the conclusion.

I especially remember the plane on a treadmill episode. Will a plane on a treadmill be able to take off? Will it impact the plane in any way?

Even from the beginning, it seemed like one of those harebrained myths. There is no way a treadmill will impact the plane or its ability to take off. It seemed obvious to me.

I was surprised to see that it wasn’t so obvious to many others.

This is something they may have talked about in the episode, but I assume this has to do partly with an ability to logical practical thinking and also practical hands-on real-life experience.

As a kid, I built and flew model planes so I know that the wheels on a plane spin freely. If they spin freely, whether the ground moves or not has no impact on the plane. (As long as it is in the same direction as the position and movement of the airplane, as in the treadmill thought experiment.) The only difference is that the wheels will spin faster or slower than they would if the ground was not moving.

The movement of the treadmill will not and cannot be transferred to the plane itself. There is no mechanism for that transfer.

I have to admit that this was one of many nails in the coffin of my trust in humanity to make good decisions. Perhaps it’s a little exaggerated to go there, but it does come up for me. If many of us are unable to think logically about something this simple, how can we expect us to collectively make good decisions, including about our ecological crisis? We may still be able to do it. Who knows. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

DECEMBER 3, 2023

ARTEMIS MISSION

I watched a video from Smarter Every Day partly on the Artemis mission. There, he talks about some of the major drawbacks of the plans, including that they need at least 15 (!) rockets to fuel one rocket to go to the moon.

To me, that seems a major flaw and I am surprised it’s not talked about more. Of course, that was partly the point of his video. Many don’t like to speak up about unpleasant realities. They prefer to pretend everything is OK. They push the problems into the future and perhaps hope some miracle will happen or someone else will take care of it. The hide within the collective silence.

I much prefer to speak up and do something about it. Dustin from Smarter Every Day was hesitant and nervous to speak up about it. I also assume he knows that many will respect and admire him for it, and it may very well open up possibilities for him in the future. He lives up to the name of his channel.

DECEMBER 7, 2023

COMMUNISM DOESN’T GO FAR ENOUGH

Here in Latin America, I sometimes meet people who consider themselves communists.

I sympathize with a lot of the intentions behind communism. (And not at all with the horrors and oppression committed in the name of communism.)

For me, communism doesn’t go far enough. Most economic systems from the last few hundred years do not take ecological realities into account. They are “blind” to existing within local, regional, and global ecosystems and that is willfully ignorant, ecocidal, and suicidal.

TREE PLANTING PROJECTS

It’s trendy today with tree planting projects to capture carbon.

These can be informed and wonderful or they can be misguided and terrible.

Here at Finca Milagros, it seems that we are very lucky. We are working in partnership with an organization that seems to have an informed and good approach to reforestation. They use native plants. They focus on a diversity of species. And they use nature to help the forest become as diverse and healthy as possible.

Other projects are not so good, especially the ones that use (a) non-native trees and (b) lack diversity in what they plant. That seems profoundly misguided and almost worse than nothing. It’s window-dressing and gives reforestation a bad name.

Why are these terrible projects happening? It’s not just out of ignorance, it’s because few nurseries have native plants. Where we are, the local nurseries have close to no native plants. They are difficult to get anywhere. It takes time to grow them from seeds or cuttings, so it’s easier to just plant non-native trees and pretend they are doing something good say they are capturing carbon. They are capturing carbon, of course, for the little that’s worth, but it’s also terrible for the local ecosystem.

DECEMBER 8, 2023

PUTIN, TRUMP & THE NEAR FUTURE

We are obviously in the middle of a lot of different crises these days.

The main one is global ecological overshoot. If we don’t profoundly transform our economic and other systems, it will lead to the collapse of global ecosystems and our civilization. And we are not doing nearly enough, and there is not nearly enough awareness of this.

In addition, we have the ongoing crises of poverty, lack of clean water, hunger, millions dying of preventable and treatable diseases, and so on.

We have economic and political systems completely in the pocket of the big money interests and multi-national corporations

These days, on top of all that, we also have Putin and Trump.

If Trump is re-elected, which is more than possible, all bets are off. Most likely, it will lead to a drastic reduction in support for Ukraine, which will allow Russia to take that country. One of Putin’s strategies has likely been to wait for just that, just like his overall goal is to recreate the Russian empire.

If Russia takes Ukraine, there is no reason to expect them to stop there. They will likely continue taking more of their neighboring countries and there is nothing to stop them. If Trump won’t support Ukraine and help them defend themselves, he will not support these other countries. It will fracture NATO. It will create more of a split between the US and Canada/Europe. If Putin and Russia have enough success, they may even go to war against a NATO country.

That’s why I, from the beginning, as seen it as hugely important for NATO and other countries to give Ukraine all the support they need to win the war. (That has not happened, they are given enough support to barely survive but nothing more. That may be a strategy from NATO’s side to weaken Russia, but it’s a dangerous game.)

Similarly, all bets are off in terms of what will happen in the US. Trump will very likely continue to do what he can to increase the polarization in the US society and weaken democracy. How that will unfold is anyone’s guess.

CHARITY WORK

Charitable work and donations are often admired, especially in the US culture.

It’s important work and it does help people.

And to me, it also highlights the failure of government and our current system. If the government and our system did its job, it wouldn’t be necessary.

If private persons and organizations have to step in, it’s because we collectively have failed.

DECEMBER 9, 2023

HOW THE LOCALS DO IT

We just had a visit from an old farmer neighbor who sells us delicious oranges.

Just before he arrived, I heard a bird that didn’t sound like the birds I am used to here.

I realized that he had whistled as he approached to let us know he is coming.

I love that. What a nice way to announce your arrival.

DECEMBER 11, 2023

NURTURING THE SOIL, PLANTS, THE ECOSYSTEM, AND PEOPLE

When it comes to gardening and regeneration, the approach that makes sense to me is to nurture the soil which in turn nurtures the plants and the ecosystem. I want to use good soil when planting, use natural fertilizer (as medicine), and use a lot of mulch (a thick cover to protect the soil from the sun, keep the moisture longer in the ground, and provide nutrients and micro-organisms).

Here at Finca Milagros, we have someone helping us. His approach seems to plant in bare soil and water. And it has taken time to convert him to another way of doing it.

I can’t help thinking that it’s a kind of macho approach – to plant something in bare and barren soil, and expects it to deal with it or not. I wonder if it’s also reflected in how they raise children and so on.

TRUMP IS HONEST AND SAYS IT AS HE SEES IT?

I have written about this several times before, and although I strongly suspected he would run again and has a good chance of being elected next year, I hoped I wouldn’t have to write about him again.

So here it goes… Some folks still say they like Trump because he is honest and says it like he sees it.

Yes, I agree that he doesn’t seem to have as many filters as most people.

And yet, is reactivity the same as honesty? For me, those are two different things.

In him, I see reactivity. I see someone who has made a business, image, and personality out of reactivity. He reacts to his thoughts and emotions.

It’s the most superficial level of honesty and saying it like it is.

Behind that are trauma, wounds, painful beliefs and identities, and much more, and behind that fear.

If he was really honest, he would likely discover and say he experiences fear and reacts to that fear. His personality seems to be built on reactivity to fear.

So why do people like the most superficial form of honesty? The one where we are just honest about our reactivity and whatever form that reactivity takes?

It’s likely because that’s the honesty they know. They may not be very familiar with a more real form of honesty, one with less defenses.

DECEMBER 16, 2023

MULTIPLE TIMELINES / UNIVERSES

I am watching season two of Loki and like both seasons. One theme throughout the story is branching timelines, a sacred timeline that needs to be protected, and the importance of pruning the branching and alternate timelines.

It’s popular to explore the idea of multiple timelines and/or universes these days, especially in Hollywood movies and series.

Why is it fascinating to (some of) us?

Likely because it reflects our lived reality.

We already live within multiple timelines and universes.

We imagine multiple timelines for our own life. We imagine different universes and different versions of us.

It’s something that happens in daily life, and it helps us explore possibilities. It helps us play out scenarios without actually having to live them and make some decisions based on those simulations.

These alternate timelines and universes help us function in the world, and they help us explore and get to know different sides of ourselves. We can play out alternatives to our past and see what we can learn from it. We can imagine ourselves in different situations now, which may lead us to make different choices. We can play out different future scenarios and make choices depending on which one(s) looks more attractive to us.

We can also get bogged down in these alternatives. We can get stuck in regret and grief. We may get caught up in longing, dissatisfaction, and the “grass is greener”. We may get paralyzed from options for the future.

It’s possible to take an approach similar to some in the Loki series: There is one sacred timeline, which is our actual life in the world. Our mind creates imagined branches and alternate timelines. For us, it’s helpful to recognize them as imaginations. Sometimes, it’s even important to metaphorically prune them and not allow them to unfold too far if it’s not helping us. We notice them as imaginations and not reality. We notice that going too much into it does not seem helpful. So we can use our mental creativity on something else.

Sometimes, these branches have a charge and it’s difficult to not get caught up in it. If that happens, we have several options for how to explore it. For instance, we can identify the painful story/ies, examine them, and find what’s more true for us. We can connect with the part of us getting caught in it, see what that part needs from us, and give it to that part. (Often a universal essential like love, safety, being understood, etc.)

Another approach is to do as Loki. In the final episode, he decides to save every branch. This is noble and compassionate within that universe. As a mirror for us, it can reflect valuing and finding love for all our mental imaginations. They are inherently innocent. They help us explore life and sides of ourselves without actually living it in the world. They enrich our lives immensely. They are an expression of the creativity of the mind. They are, ultimately, the mind seeking to help us. So why not find love for them all?

If it’s difficult to find that love, we can use any number of approaches to help us explore it, including different forms of inquiry. The more we recognize them as imaginations, the easier it is to find genuine appreciation and love for them. And if it’s difficult, it points to something that’s not quite resolved in how we relate to them.

As so often, several approaches go hand-in-hand. In daily life, I can chose to cut some avenues of (slightly obsessive) thoughts if they don’t seem to serve much purpose. I can set aside time to explore what’s behind it more in-depth. And I can find genuine love for my mind and it’s imaginations as they are.

I FULLY SUPPORT OTHERS IN DOING THINGS BETTER THAN ME

I posted an article on a study on vegetarian vs omnivore diets among twins, and predictably got a comment of someone wanting to disprove that a vegetarian diet is connected with better health.

I fully support vegetarian diets and love studies that show the health benefits, how it often reduces our ecological footprint, how it reduces suffering among our fellow beings, and so on.

At the same time, I eat a more omnivore diet. I mostly eat low on the food chain, and I will occasionally eat meat – especially if I am visiting someone, if I am in a restaurant, and so on. (Flexivore diet.)

I am from Norway, and I fully support ban on all whaling.

I am from Europe, and I fully support highlighting all the atrocities committed by Europeans and the signifiant downsides to the European worldview.

I am white, and am very aware of all the horrible actions committed by white people through history.

I am man, and want to see through and dismanlte the patriarchy as much as anyone.

I am relatively wealthy compared to many in the world (not so much compared to Norwegians), and I fully support drastically reducing inequality in the world.

I don’t personally benefit from a lot of what I support, but I support it anyway.

I fly in planes, and know how terrible it is in terms of co2 emissions and my ecological footprint.

I sometimes buy clothes I don’t strictly need.

I use the internet a lot, knowing how much fossil fuels are used to support storage and transmission of data.

I sometimes drink coca cola. (As medicine since it helps me with my CFS when I am out and about.)

I won’t justify any of it. I can explain since there are reasons, but I won’t justify. I would much prefer to not do these things.

I love the Headless Way, Breema, inquiry, and more, but I hardly ever talk about it with anyone in daily life. I don’t at all think that others need to do it or should do it or that it would be better if they did it.

I am mostly affiliated with Taoism and Buddhism, but I don’t think those approaches are somehow inherently better than any other. (I do think they are more accurate, but that’s another thing, and I know I don’t know for certain.) This too is not something I bring up in daily life conversations.

I understand some reasons for why people want to justify their own lifestyle or worldview, or think that others should do the same, and even less why some want to put others down – especially when what they do clearly seem to benefit themselves and the world. They may try to convince themselves by convincing others, they may want to maintain a certain self-image, they want to belong to a certain gorup, and so on. But it doesn’t resonate with me so much, at least not in those forms. (I am sure I am doing the same in different ways and other areas of life.)

I can explain some reasons for my own lifestyle, but it seems weird to try to justify it, and it’s even more weird to think that others should do the same. That would be terrible. I wouldn’t want to live in that world.

I want a lot more diversity because that’s how we collectively can learn and grow, and others have far more insights and maturity than me in many areas of life.

In my case, I may go a little too far in this direction since I typically, in daily life, don’t mention any of this. I don’t share it with others, unless they ask first, and they usually don’t ask since they don’t know I am interested in any of this. That’s not exactly a recipe for social transformation. (That said, I worked for several years in sustainability, I have been involved in several social change groups and projects, I am working on a regeneration and nature preservation project, and so on, so I am doing a few things. I am just not very open about it in daily life or socially. That likely has to do with my social anxiety and experiences in my birth family and school. I got burned.)

So let’s get to the main question here: How and when am I doing the same? When do I defend who or what I am? When do I justify my actions and life? When do I go into “shoulds” for other people?

SEEING WITH ECOLOGY EYES

The more I know about ecology, the more I see nature and human life differently.

A landscape may look beautiful in a conventional sense, and I also see all the damage caused by human intervention. With my inner eye, I see how the landscape looked before humans came and before Western civilization. I see how it could have looked if it was healthy – mature, diverse, layered, full of life. I see what we humans do, often out of ignorance, that severely damages the ecosystem and ourselves.

Ignorance is bliss, but the way forward is to see things with ecology eyes. That’s how we can make better choices and survive as a civilization and species. Ignorance creates more pain.

WHY DO VORTEX FOLKS LOOK YOUNG?

In a social media group for Vortex Healing, someone asked why Vortex Healing people seem young for their age.

Here are some answers that come up for me:

It may or may not be true. It may be selection and/or confirmation bias. We may have that idea and look for examples that fit. Or we know people who fit and assume that’s the case for everyone.

If it is true, it’s likely because people who are into healing work tend to live more healthy lives. We tend to value health and healthy living, so we may look a bit younger.

Also, the ones who are into Vortex Healing have resources – money, time, and the ability to focus on something else than day-to-day survival. We are privileged and that tends to be reflected in our lifestyle which, in turn, is reflected in how we look.

It’s also possible that going to classes and giving and receiving healing does something. Who knows.

DO MORE AWAKEN THESE DAYS?

I have written about this before and will briefly revisit it:

Some folks seem to think that more people awaken these days compared to the past.

Is it true? What are some reasons why it may appear that way?

It may be selection or confirmation bias. We know about more people who awaken these days than before, just because of global communication and the internet. Also, most of the ones who were awake in the past are lost to time. We only know of the very few who happened to become teachers or public personalities, and that we still have records about.

There are more people in the world, so it makes sense if more awaken. It may be the same or similar percentage as before, which means a higher number.

More may awaken for whatever reason. For instance, because of easier access to teachers and effective methods.

[Made into a regular article]

DECEMBER 28, 2023

WHEN CATS YAWN

When I reach out to give Merlina the cat a rub, she yawns.

Who knows what’s going on? Probably nobody for certain, including her.

My guess is that it’s partly communication. She yawns, and it tells her and me that she trusts me. She feels comfortable around me. She reminds herself and me that she relaxes when I reach out to touch her. It may be a way to strengthen bonds.

JANUARY 1, 2024

CHRONIC FATIGUE / LONG COVID AND HOPELESSNESS

I know several with CFS and/or long covid, and I suspect a pattern.

Both times I got CFS, I felt profoundly hopeless, stuck, and off track in life. And that seems to be the case with the ones I know who got it as well. It often coincided with divorce, not being happy with work, a very uncertain future, and so on.

It’s easy to imagine patterns where there is none, but it’s an interesting possibility to explore.

There is also something interesting here in an evolutionary perspective. When did our ancient ancestors feel hopeless and off track? Likely when they were literally off track and separated from their tribe. What response makes sense then? To rest and not move. To stay so you can be found again.

JANUARY 5, 2024

TREATED EQUALLY BY THE LAW

A basic principle in democracy is to treat everyone equally in terms of the law. It doesn’t matter who you are. It matters what you do and don’t do.

In the US, two states (Colorado and Maine) have ruled that Trump should not be allowed to be the Republican presidential candidate in their state. He encouraged insurrection, and the US Constitution clearly states that those actions disqualify you from running for office. (Common sense too, of course.)

Several in the US, including law professors, say that (a) yes, Trump clearly encouraged insurrection, (b) the law clearly says he should be banned from running for office again, and (c) that doesn’t matter because people would get upset so we should ignore the law. We should just let him run again.

To me, that seems patently absurd. You can’t disregard the law because someone would get upset. Follow the law and deal with the consequences later. That’s democracy. That’s common sense. That’s how you uphold the rule of law.

These people do exactly what Trump wants them to do. They let Trump win. They let Trump’s bullying tactic work. They give in to a bully. They actively contribute to further eroding democracy in the US. They set a terrible precedent and clear the way for far worse things in the future.

That’s far worse than what an upset Trump or upset Trump followers could do.

Would I say the same if this was about a Democrat? Yes, of course. I would say the same even if it happened to be a candidate I loved. Some things are far more important than single cases.

This is one of many instances where I feel that some in the US don’t understand even the basics of democracy. In this case, it’s as if they pretend the president is a king and a king who is an absolute ruler and above the law. That’s about as far from democracy as you can get.

JANUARY 8, 2023

DENIAL IN ICELAND?

There is volcanic activity near Grindavik and the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. Before Christmas, they had some lava flow, evacuated Grindavik, and closed down the Blue Lagoon and other tourist activities. Now, they have opened it all up again for financial reasons, so the Blue Lagoon can have income and people can stay at home. I am not a geologist, but from the little I have picked up from geologists, the magma chambers in this area are filling up to a higher level than previously and they are expecting more volcanic activities at any moment. What we are seeing is likely the beginning of something that can last a long time, not the end.

I have a couple of thoughts about this, none very informed since I am not there and don’t know the outs and ins of the whole situation.

Why risk sending people back if the main reason is financial? Why can’t the government support the businesses and residents for a few weeks? (Of course, it may not be for just a few weeks but it can give them all a breather to find a longer-term solution.) Aren’t lives worth it? It seems odd, short-sighted, and risky from an outsider’s perspective.

From what I see from the geologists, seems that they likely are in the beginning of the volcanic activity in the area. It’s not 100% certain but it’s likely. So it makes sense to have that mindset and act on that possibility. It seems best to use the precautionary principle.

If they allow people back, the tourists especially have to be informed. I am not convinced that the tourists returning to the Blue Lagoon realize how serious the situation can get and how quickly it can happen. Most likely, it will be fine. And there is a not insignificant chance it won’t. Of course, if they received accurate info, they may choose to not go there, which would harm business.

If I lived in Grindavik, I would take this opportunity to move my belongings and prepare to live somewhere else. It’s possible it won’t be necessary, but it’s better to be prepared.

Also, it seems odd that the government has already started to repair the initial damage when they are still in the middle (or beginning?) of the volcanic activity. It seems risky and the repairs may be undone by the moving ground and/or lava. To me, it seems that it would be a better use of resources to help people move their belongings and find other places to live.

Similarly, they are building barriers for the lava. It’s difficult to see how it’s going to do much apart from giving the town a little more time before the lava flow reaches it. F

EBIn general, it seems that some politicians and residents are in denial, or at least seem overly optimistic.

Here is a geologist on YouTube talking about the geology side of the situation: Shawn Willsey -> Continued uplift in Iceland as Magma intrudes | Iceland eruption in hours or days

Update January 11: It seems that one person has already died due to people returning to this area. He was filling one of the deep cracks in the ground and apparently fell into it. It’s not exactly a surprise that someone died in an area where the ground is moving to such an extent.

Update January 14: Seems the lava is flowing again and people are evacuating. Fortunately, they all seem safe except for the missing worker and farm animals that some brought back with them to Grindavik.

Update January 21: The Blue Lagoon is opening again, only days after the last eruption and while the magma chambers in the area continue to fill. It seems premature and unwise and shows that they prioritize money over safety. The filling magma chambers suggest that more lava will flow sooner rather than later.

Why do I write about this? I suspect it’s because I am interested in how people deal with risk and short-term vs long-term perspectives. In this case, it seems that they are partly in denial and don’t take the risk seriously enough and also don’t take the need for longer-term solutions – for the citizens of Grindavik – seriously enough. They seem to live from wishful thinking.

Update January 22: It seems that the Icelandic government is now going to relocate Grindavik. That makes sense and it shows that they are taking it seriously and are a bit more realistic in their views.

I also don’t see any mention of Reykavik even if they are not far away. If this is the beginning of a long period of volcanic activity in the area, it seems that it could also impact Reykavik, at least judging from the lava chamber maps I have seen. I assume they are preparing for it even if they don’t talk about it publicly.

Update January 31: Here is a video that briefly goes over what may happen in the Reykjavik area and how different people relate to it. In general, the government and developers seem to not take it very seriously while geologists do. Is this yet another example of people not taking the warnings of scientists seriously enough? Bad News – Volcanoes Around Reykjavik Seem To Be Waking Up

Update February 5: It seems that the main land-rise from magma build-up is in the area of the Blue Lagoon. That’s interesting considering that they have the Blue Lagoon open, as far as I know. See this update from a non-geologist in Iceland: New Deformation, Man Sues Iceland over Grindavik Closure & More on the Eruption Situation in Iceland

Update February 12: Predictably, the Blue Lagoon stayed open until the most recent eruption started even if it is right on top of the filling magma chambers and they knew within a few days when there would be a new eruption. When the eruption happened, eventually blocking the road to the Blue Lagoon, they had to evacuate the guests with a few minutes warning. All of this seems irresponsible to me and it doesn’t instill trust in the judgment of the owners of the Blue Lagoon. It seems they are willing to risk human lives just so they can stay open a few days more. See the evacuation from @walkwithmetim on YouTube. (It clearly shows that the eruption started before the evacuation.)

What will happen next is unpredictable, but there will likely continue to be eruptions in that area around every three weeks, continuing the pattern from the last 2-3 months. If it continues to be active, which seems likely, they will have to close down not only Grindavik (as they have) but also the Blue Lagoon. There is also a small possibility that the wider area will become more active which may more directly impact Reykjavik.

It’s called the Reykjanes peninsula, which means “smoke peninsula”, and Reykjavik which means “smoke bay”. From the beginning, more than a thousand years ago, they knew that the area is volcanically active. (The “smoke” is from water heated by the magma close to the surface.) They knew that Reykjavik is in an area that may again be directly impacted by volcanic activity. That’s been part of their gamble. They have chosen to stay there because it’s convenient and because they assumed future generations will have to deal with it, not them. At some point, those “future generations” are the ones living there now. (This is similar to our ecological crisis. Many have thought they don’t need to do much since it’s something future generations will have to deal with. At some point, it’s about us, and that point is here now.)

February 16: The Blue Lagoon is opening again. To me, that seems close to insanity. We know there will be more eruptions in exactly the area they are located in. During the previous eruption a few days ago, their guest had to evacuate after the previous eruption started, blocking the road. Afterward, they lied to make it seem like they had the situation more under control than they did. They clearly put profits over human lives. See for instance this video.

February 17: Several people are talking about the bizarreness of keeping the Blue Lagoon open, especially routing people through a high-risk area to get there and out. It seems a bit desperate from their side. Here is a video from today: Blue Lagoon Reopens as Magma Pressure Builds Again.

February 25: They know that there will likely be an eruption within a few days, and they are (so far) not evacuating the area, including the Blue Lagoon. If they choose to open the area for tourists and others, and they know the cycle of the eruptions, it would make sense to evacuate in advance of the eruptions. It seems that again, they chose money and wishful thinking over the safety of the people there.

March 4: A new eruption in the Grindavik/Blue Lagoon area is expected any time now. As usual, the owners of the Blue Lagoon replay the beginning of any disaster movie. They ignore or minimize the warnings from the scientists. It may be fine, and it may not. Why take the risk?

JANUARY 9, 2023

ARE INDIGENOUS CULTURES MORE ECOLOGICALLY SUSTAINABLE?

It’s popular to imagine that indigenous cultures are more ecologically sustainable, but is it true? Is there a more nuanced picture?

We obviously have a lot to learn from them. Their worldviews are often more ecology-oriented and see humans as one strain in the web of life. They have ways of farming that make sense today. (Polyculture, food forests, rotation, using lots of mulch, etc.) And so on.

Most indigenous people have found ways to live that’s adapted to their place and typically work for generations, so in that way, it’s more sustainable.

On the other hand, there is no lack of examples of indigenous cultures damaging their ecosystem. When they did, they moved to another location if they could.

There are also two reasons why it was and is easier for them to avoid massive ecological destruction: They were far fewer people, and they had much simpler technology.

The fewer numbers meant lower impact, and it also meant they could more easily move with the seasons or move if their current environment became degraded. The simpler technology also meant much less impact.

Today and with our civilization, it’s very different. We have massive numbers, and we have powerful technology. Combined with a mindset and system that doesn’t take ecology into account, it’s a recipe for disaster.

It sets the stage for the global ecological overshoot we have been in for decades already. We are metaphorically using money from our savings account, and not enough is coming in to replace it. That looks OK for a while, although we may receive warnings from those who see what’s going on. Then, we reach the bottom of the account and our lifestyle collapses. That’s what’s happening with us globally today. We are about the reach the bottom of the account. That means that regional and global ecosystems are collapsing, and with them, our civilization.

For us as individuals and for our civilization, it’s a disaster and a tragedy.

In the bigger picture, it’s just what happens. What comes together falls apart. Death opens space for something new.

JANUARY 17, 2023

FRAGMENTATION & TRIBAL DYNAMICS

This is not a new insight at all, and something many talk about.

For several decades, most of us received our information and news from the same sources. We had our different views on it, but we shared some universal values and outlooks. We disagreed, but we understood the others. The views of the others were understandable since we shared a basic outlook.

These days, and especially in the US, it’s not that way anymore. It’s far more fragmented. It’s almost impossible for progressives and Democrats to understand why anyone would support Trump. And it seems equally impossible for many Trump supporters to understand why anyone wouldn’t support him.

It’s a complex topic. A diversity of views is good and an improvement on having news monopolies. At the same time, it’s not good when a lot of the information out there is not based on reality. It’s not good when people are uncritical about the source and don’t examine how solid the data and the reasoning are. (Many who think they are critical about the source have not examined their own sources, or their own data or logic.)

EVOLUTION MAY BE WHY WE CANT MAKE THE NECESSARY CHANGES

Why do we seem unable to make the changes needed to deal with our ecological crisis? Why do we seem unable to profoundly transform our economy and other systems to take ecological realities into account?

It’s likely for evolutionary reasons.

We didn’t evolve to take global issues seriously. We didn’t evolve to think on the scale of centuries and millennia.

We evolved to take care of what’s immediate, tangible, and right in front of us.

That has served us well for millions of years.

And in our global crisis, created by a civilization that is out of alignment with reality, it does not serve us well. It may be what dooms us.

[Made into a regular article]

A BITTERSWEET WORLD

As we align more with reality – our nature and what’s happening in the world – it’s often bittersweet.

There is such a love for this world and all of existence. Such awe. Such beauty.

And it’s bittersweet. What comes together falls apart. Everything we know will go away.

That’s how there is anything at all. Without the going away, there wouldn’t be space for anything new.

It’s all immensely beautiful and heartbreaking.

JANUARY 18, 2023

OCEAN RISE

I saw an article on ocean levels rising because of melting ice in Greenland. It may be wrong, but I feel that there were more front-page news articles on rising sea levels several years ago. Maybe it’s not news anymore.

For decades now, I have thought that the way the media reports on it is misleading since they typically focus on the fragments instead of the bigger picture.

The fragments are some centimeters or meters of ocean level rise from this or that.

The bigger picture is several tens of meters of ocean level rise combined. That will happen. The ice is melting and will continue to melt, that water ends up in the oceans, the ocean level goes up, and it will directly impact the large portion of humanity living by the coast and it will indirectly impact all of us.

It’s simple physics.

So why don’t media focus more on the bigger picture? Why do they make it seem less dramatic than it is by focusing on the fragments? I assume because the news story is in the fragments. We lose this amount of ice from Greenland each day. This huge chunk of ice broke off from the Antartic ice shelf. And so on.

If I were a reporter, I would do those stories, but I would put it in the context of the bigger picture which few still seem to do.

JANUARY 21, 2024

RUSSIA AND THE WEST

Russia moved from a totalitarian state (tsar regime/Soviet Union) to a democracy that never really happened (they didn’t have the traditions for it) in the 1990s to an authoritarian regime in the 2000s and especially the 2010s, and now towards a totalitarian regime in the 2020s.

When Russia invaded Ukraine two years ago, I had a very bad feeling about it. That’s rare for me. World events, including wars, can be terrible but they are usually localized. With the Ukraine invasion, I had a feeling it could go much further than Ukraine. (I saw something dark moving out from that area and into Europe. When I say “see” I mean from my inner eye and from what seems to be an inner guidance or knowing. I am very aware that it’s not always accurate, but in this case, it felt real and accurate.)

I also had several dreams of being in Norway and seeing Russian rockets flying overhead. This too is very unusual for me, I cannot remember having had those kinds of dreams before.

Putin wants to re-establish a kind of Russian empire. He wants to be feared and respected, as so many authoritarian leaders before him. (Apparently not caring that it just shows he has a fragile ego and sense of self.)

Several commentators have, since the beginning of the invasion and perhaps before, said that Putin’s longer-term plan is a war with NATO and the West. It seems absurd, but I also see how it can be accurate. It’s not only part of his ambitions to recreate the Russian empire, it’s also the oldest trick in the book to consolidate power and gain support internally. If Ukraine falls, there is nothing to stop Putin from continuing – first with former Soviet republics and then onwards.

If Trump is reelected next year, which he very well may be, then that will open the path for Putin’s plans even further. Trump – short-sightedly as usual – may decide that what’s happening in Europe is not his business and withdraw support.

This morning, I saw a Norwegian military and political expert say that Trump’s frustration with NATO is that member countries don’t pay enough. Now that they are spending more on the military, Trump will again support NATO wholeheartedly. To me, that seems surprisingly naive. It’s far more likely that Trump is set on withdrawing support from Europe, and the NATO payments were just an excuse. Next time, he’ll just find another reason to withdraw support and engagement. That’s much more aligned with Trump’s personality.

To be clear, I don’t like the military or increased military spending, I know the dark sides of NATO, and I am not at all for US intervention abroad. But I also don’t love the thought of Russia expanding and taking over more former Soviet republics and expanding into Europe. It’s a messy situation with no easy solutions, and I much prefer to stop Putin in Ukraine if at all possible. Of all the bad alternatives, it’s much better than the rest. Ukraine needs to receive all the help they ask for.

That leads to another question: Why hasn’t NATO given Ukraine what they needed to get Russia out of their country? Why didn’t they give Ukraine what they asked for? The official reason is that they didn’t want to provoke Russia too much, which doesn’t make much sense to me. I wonder if the plan was to bleed Russia dry. If so, it seems misguided and it’s a risky plan. It can very well lead to Russia taking over Ukraine and then continuing with other countries.

Also, we have one year before Trump likely (?) becomes US president again, so we have to do as much as possible to push Russia out of Ukraine during that time. (I know that’s already too late, unfortunately, since it takes a while for Ukraine to receive and get ready to use what they are given.)

It’s a very small issue compared to global ecological overshoot. But it is a serious issue within that larger context. We can also say it’s an expression of what has led to this far more serious issue. It’s an expression of a power-over mindset taken to the extreme.

(I obviously don’t buy into the pro-Russian mindset of some Westerners on the left. Their argument falls apart at several points in the chain. For instance, (a) the former Soviet republics that have joined NATO did so to protect themselves against Russian invasion. They did it because they wanted to. Should NATO say “no”? If anything, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine demonstrates exactly why it made sense for them to join NATO. Also, (b) absolutely nothing justifies invading another country. (c) Russia has always invaded their neighbors and tried to create and expand a Russian empire. Nothing is new there. They don’t need an external reason. (Although they will always try to find ways to justify it to their own people.))

Update January 27: NATO-Russia war: Can it really happen? This is a good video by the Danish analyst Anders Puck Nielsen. I find his approach sober and grounded. He suggests that the immediate goal of Russia is not to take territory but to cause NATO to break up. Fragmentation allows them to get what they want in the long term.

For instance, Russia may invade northern Finland on the excuse of creating a security zone. If NATO is unified and pushes Russia out, then that’s it. Russia hasn’t lost anything that they haven’t already lost. If NATO fragments and some countries are not willing to get involved (Trump’s US, Hungary, Turkey), then NATO is weakened and not functional. Russia is then in a position of power and can go ahead with the next steps of its plan. That would be a terrible situation for Europe.

JANUARY 26, 2024

TRUMP 2.0

What will happen if Trump is the US president in a year?

Last time, I thought the worst consequence of his presidency would likely be an erosion of democracy and increased polarization. That turned out to be pretty accurate.

This time, I am not sure. That will likely worsen and the chaos from last time will continue.

Internationally, it’s likely that Trump will stop support for Ukraine and create more trouble for EU and NATO. The one upside of a Trump presidency may be that he seems reluctant to start wars internationally. The downside is that it will leave Ukraine far more vulnerable to Russia, and it will leave Taiwan vulnerable to China. They may take the opportunity to do what they otherwise couldn’t so easily do.

Trump has also said he will persecute his enemies and political opponents, and he and several of his allies are no lovers of democracy and the rule of law. He would love to set himself up as an authoritarian leader similar to what we see in Russia, China, and North Korea. Fortunately, the US still has democratic institutions that will resist his anti-democratic attempts.

JANUARY 29, 2024

WHISTLING

The locals here whistle when they come up to our house. It’s a gentle way to let us know someone else is coming here.

I assume that’s what they have been doing for generations. I don’t know if it’s indigenous in origin or Spanish or came about here, but it’s endearing and charming.

PRINCE HARRY VS THE MONARCHY

A lot of people are critical of Prince Harry, it seems. I don’t know much about him or what he has said and done so there is a lot I am missing. But in general, from what little I have picked up, I have to say that my sympathy is with anyone rebelling against a role they are put into that they didn’t ask for.

As any royal, he was born into a role he didn’t ask for. He never chose to be a royal. He never chose to be a prince. He never asked for that role. So why should he take on that role? Why should he behave as society says that someone in that role should behave?

He is his own person. If he doesn’t want to be in the role he is born into, and if he doesn’t want to play by rules he never chose or asked for, all the better for him.

Of course, if he was in complete integrity and he didn’t want to live up to that role, he should also give up any privileges that the role has given him – including money and property. I don’t know if he has done that or not.

Monarchy is one of the few institutions and roles people are still born into. It belongs to the past and another worldview and society.

US DEBT

This has been a topic for decades now, and yet many politicians (and, more importantly, voters!) don’t seem to take it seriously enough.

The US has an enormous and deepening foreign debt. That’s a recipe for major troubles.

It’s also something that can easily be prevented by properly taxing corporations and wealthy individuals.

It seems that Republican voters would rather make sure that the wealthy (those with far more than they will ever need) are not inconvenienced than to reduce and eliminate the debt and all the current and potential future problems that come with it. That priority is quite telling.

CIVIL RIGHTS IN THE US

The civil rights movement was mainly by and for black people, as far as I understand. It makes sense since they are the largest non-white group in the US.

It also doesn’t quite make sense. Why is it getting so much more attention than the rights of the indigenous people? Isn’t that equally important?

I suspect it’s not just numbers. I suspect it also has to do with comfort. It’s slightly more comfortable to focus on the rights of black people since they came to the US along with the Europeans. Their troubles had to do with slavery, racism, and marginalization.

It’s more uncomfortable to focus on the rights of the indigenous people. As terrible as the situation for the blacks were and to some extent still is, what happened to the indigenous is even worse. They had their land stolen from them. They were exposed to intentional and unintentional genocide. They had their culture and way of life deliberately destroyed.

More to the point, focusing on the rights of the indigenous people reminds us that it was and is their land. They are the ones who belong in North America. Not genocidal immigrants like the Europeans.

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