Historic shifts

We are always living history, any moment is a shift in history, and some shifts are more historical and significant than others.

I have written about the topics of this article in several other posts, mainly under the “Reflections on society, politics, and nature” collections. But I’ll repeat the essence here.

TRUMP ERA

I wasn’t really surprised when Trump was elected, mainly because I had followed 538 closely before the 2016 election and they gave Trump a 1 to 4 chance of winning. (Out of four times the polls looked the way they did, Trump would win one time.)

The main risk of the Trump presidency is and was an erosion of democracy. Even before the election, it was clear that this was a man who did not respect democracy, democratic values, civil and grounded discourse, or a wish to create a society that works for everyone. His words and behavior legitimized bigotry, lies, polarization, anti-democratic views and actions, and much more. And that’s going to change the culture around politics. It’s going to legitimize this type of behavior on a larger scale, and that’s going to have direct and indirect ripple effects around the world. And that’s exactly what happened, and is still happening.

When Trump lost to Biden, I saw it as likely that the next election would be between Trump and Harris. Biden may be too old to continue, and Trump is like a pitbull who will never give up or admit defeat. He would love to come back and undo whatever any sane president over the last several decades put in place before him. Right now, he certainly has enough support in the US to do just that.

CURRENT MIDTERM ELECTIONS

Today is the midterm elections in the US, and Trumpists are likely to win several of the seats, and this will further change the political culture and erode democracy. (Including through gerrymandering, court appointments, and so on.)

It seems that these midterm elections, which usually bring only minor changes, may have larger and more lasting consequences this time. This may very well be a significant historical change in US history, and one that will have ripple effects in the world. (For instance, Ukraine may lose much of its current support from the US.)

US CIVIL WAR

There has been a lot of talk about a coming civil war in the US, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that will happen. (The seeds of it are already there and some, in their insanity, actively want a civil war.)

It obviously won’t be like the last US civil war. It will be a far less formalized civil war. It looks like it may be a kind of civil war between far-right militia groups and the rest of society, and they will target the ones they see as their enemy – progressive politicians, judges and courts that actually uphold the law, police that won’t allow renegades and violence, liberal community activists, and so on.

And who knows where it will go from there. It may be that mainstream society cracks down on it, although that’s not likely if Trumpists are in charge locally and/or federally. (I say “Trumpist” instead of Republicans since there are still some Republican politicians who favor democracy, although these have increasingly been squeezed out of the party.) This kind of low-grade but terrible civil war may continue for years or even decades.

THE BIGGER PICTURE

Although Trump does influence politics and society, he is mostly a symptom. He is a symptom of white folks in the US feeling threatened because their privileged position may be lost. After all, the demography is against them, and many educated folks in the US actively promote a deeper and more real equality between this traditionally privileged group and the rest of the population.

And he is also a reflection of a much larger global trend away from democracy and towards authoritarian regime systems. The world is increasingly becoming less democratic. For me, as a Northern European steeped in democratic values, this is a strange and disturbing trend. I cannot see how this is going to help the majority of people, the world, and future generations. At least not in any obvious or immediate way.

And yet, it seems that many around the world actively hold anti-democratic values. They support authoritarian leaders. Perhaps it’s because they offer simplistic (unrealistic) solutions? Or because they share conservative values, often based on religion? Or because they offer someone to blame, whether it’s a minority in their own country, the west, or someone else?

CONSPIRACY THEORIES

For me, conspiracy theories are a part of this shift into a more uninformed anti-science and anti-democratic mindset and culture. That’s obviously the case when it comes to far-right conspiracy theories, and it’s the case with conspiracy theories in general no matter what flavor they have.

What conspiracy theories have in common is that distract from far more serious issues that we all face and can see are happening. The obvious one is that we live in the middle of a major ecological crisis that will impact all of us and may end civilization as we know it. (That is the case independent of the climate crisis, due to all the other kinds of damage to our ecosystems.) And we have a wide range of other and related crises including hunger, lack of clean water, preventable diseases, huge disparity between wealthy and poor, and political and social systems that holds all of this in place.

OUR ECOLOGICAL CRISIS IS OUR MAIN PRIORITY

Anyone who does not put our ecological crisis as their main priority in their personal life and in their politics has not understood what’s happening.

If you listen to the scientists and use a minimum of common sense (we collectively use far more resources than the Earth can produce), you can see the huge ecological crisis we are in the middle of. You can see where we are headed. And you’ll put that as the main priority in your life and in your political and social life.

Personally, I keep this at the forefront of the main decisions I make in my life these days. (As outlined in other articles.) It’s my main priority when I vote and support political parties and policies. (How can it be anything else?) And a large part of my working life has been focused on this. (I was the paid coordinator of a local sustainability group that focused on cooperation and solutions to the problems we all face together.)

Our ecological crisis is our main priority whether we notice or not, and whether we consciously have it as our main priority or not. Life is not giving us an option.

WE NEED REALITY ORIENTATION TO DEAL WITH OUR CURRENT CRISIS

Trumpists politics is obviously very dangerous just for its anti-democratic orientation and effect.

And something is even more dangerous there, and that is that its anti-reality. They don’t care about what’s actually happening. They don’t care about science. They don’t care about experts. They don’t care about the numbers. (If they don’t like them.)

And that’s the case with conspiracy theories in general. The vast majority of them are inherently anti-reality. They are founded on bad logic and bad data.

People mostly go into conspiracy theories for emotional reasons and then rationalize to make bad logic appear like good logic. For whatever reason, it feels emotionally satisfying to them to go into conspiracy theories. They generally don’t care about science, experts, real logic, history, or whatever else we as a society need to base our decisions on.

And that’s very dangerous. Especially in a time of collective crisis, we need to base our collective decisions on solid science and data. It’s the only sane approach. It’s the only approach that has any chance of working.

THE NEED FOR PROFOUND SYSTEMS CHANGE

I have written about all of this in several other articles, including our need for systems change. (I wrote about this in my teens as well, long before blogs.)

The cause of our ecological crisis, and a large number of other problems, is the way our social and economic system is set up.

It was created at a time when we didn’t need to take ecological dynamics and limits into consideration. For all practical purposes, the resources of nature were unlimited, and the capacity of nature to absorb waste was unlimited. It made sense, at the time, to ignore it. We ignored it because We could.

We still live within these outdated systems.

And now, we can’t ignore ecological realities anymore. We are well past the time when we had that luxury.

We need a profound change in our systems of economy, production, food, water, education, and so on.

We need to create systems in all areas of human life that deeply and thoroughly take ecological realities into account.

We can definitely do it. There is no lack of solutions and grounded visions.

And it’s very possible to find attractive solutions that help us thrive as individuals and society, even more than now.

What we lack is a collective will. Are we going to find that collective will in time?

We are already past the time when we could prevent major ongoing ecological crises. We’ll have to live and deal with them no matter what. The question is how serious it will be, not whether it will happen.

Will we find it at all? I am not sure. It’s possible, and we’ll have to live and make decisions as if it’s possible.

NOTE: Just to mention it – Biden is currently president of the US, the democrats have the house and senate, we are just out of a regularly scheduled pandemic and there will be more to come, there is a war in Ukraine impacting the whole world, scientists and the UN say that it’s the end of civilization unless we engage in major rapid and collective changes, and most people continue with business as usual as if we are not in a disastrous ecological crisis.

Here are a couple of recent mainstream media articles on these topics:

World is on ‘highway to climate hell’, UN chief warns at Cop27 summit

‘These are conditions ripe for political violence’: how close is the US to civil war?

UPDATE: It’s now a few days after the mid-term election in the US and it seems the Trumpists didn’t do as well as expected. That’s good news for democracy. Maybe it shows that many people in the US still are sane enough to choose a more democratic and inclusive approach. Nothing is linear, and politics and society would move away from Trump at some point. Perhaps that’s now?

I lived in the US for twenty years which is partly why I am interested in what’s happening there.

Pretending to be apolitical

Some people like to pretend they are apolitical.

And it is a pretense. It’s impossible to be apolitical. Saying you are is often strategy way to avoid conflict or avoiding to get involved in social matters that impact you.

EVERYTHING IS POLITCS

Everything is politics. Politics is about what we value.

Everything in society reflects our collective values. Everything we individually chose and do reflects what we value.

Everything happening in society impacts us one way or another.

And when something happens in society that more directly impacts our personal life and goes against what we value, the pretense of being apolitical falls apart.

BEING “APOLITICAL” IN RUSSIA

We can see this in Russia these days. According to some sources, about a quarter actively support Putin and the war, about a quarter oppose Putin and the war, and about half are indifferent. As long as it doesn’t impact them, it’s fine. (We can see examples of this in some of the street interviews done about the war in Russia, for instance on the 1420 YT channel.)

That’s not how the world works. The war and the other Putin policies will and do impact you. You live in that society. You live in an authoritarian system. You live in a system based partly on corruption. You live in a system where people are not allowed to publicly speak their minds. You live in a system where political opponents to Putin are imprisoned or killed. You live in a society that goes to war against a democratic and sovereign neighbor. You live in a society where people are randomly drafted to be cannon fodder on the front. This impacts you. And it either matches or goes against what you value.

WHAT HAPPENS IS OUR BUSINESS

That’s the same for all of us. What happens in our society is our business whether we want it to be or not, and whether we pretend it to be or not.

These days, the one major issue is the ecological crisis we are all in the middle of. It’s already impacting most or all of us, and it will impact all of us in a much more obvious and direct way in the (near) future.

We all know this. And yet, most keep voting for politicians who don’t seem to know, pretend it’s not happening, or prioritize a large number of other (important and clearly less significant) issues above it.

Most people live as if it’s not the one major issue we are all faced with today. Most people chose to get caught up in peripheral issues.

This is not the fault of politicians or even corporations. It’s the fault of every single person who says they are apolitical or down-prioritize this issue.

Most people are like the fifty percent in Russia on this topic. And reality is going to bite – hard.

Note: This article was originally from one of the “Reflections on society, politics, and nature” collections of articles.

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Voting on behalf of non-human species

There was just a presidential election where I am. Fortunately, the candidate who won seems to genuinely work on behalf of the less fortunate, nature, and society as a whole.

When I vote, I vote on behalf of the less privileged and those without a voice in our current political system. I vote for the less privileged in our society. And I vote for non-human species and future generations since they themselves don’t have a vote.

I don’t just do it for their sake. I do it for all of us since I know that a society where as many as possible live a good life is better for all of us. It creates a more safe, vibrant, and healthy society. And I do it because I know that our health and well-being, collectively and individually, is dependent on the health and well-being of our ecosystems and the planet as a whole.

I am very happy for the collective to use some of “my” money (which comes from society and nature anyway) to create a society that works better for everyone since I want to live in that kind of society.

Of course, I cannot know for certain what’s best for all of us. Sometimes, we do something with the best intentions and it goes south. If we get things to where we think they should be, life will take it in another direction. What we see as “best” depends on who and where we are and what we value. And we never know the bigger picture. But I do my best as we all do.

Note: I notice something worth examining in myself on this topic.

I sometimes see the less privileged as voting against their own interests, perhaps because of identity. (They agree with certain values, and are hurt by the actual policies.) And I also know I cannot know what’s best for them. I cannot really know in a conventional sense, and I certainly cannot know in terms of the bigger picture. And that doesn’t prevent me from doing for what I consider best for the ones who needs it the most, society as a whole, non-human species, and future generations.

I also know that when I vote on behalf of the less privileged and those without a voice, some will see me as voting against my own (narrow) self interest. In that sense, I do what I see in them.

And as someone relatively privileged, I don’t see it as the job of politicians to protect my privilege at the cost of those who have far less.

Note 2: This touches on the old win-win vs win-lose mindset difference. Do you see others well-being as benefiting you and all of us? Then you likely wish a better society for everyone. Do you assume that you will lose if others win? Then you’ll likely try to make them lose first so you can win. The win-lose group tends to see the win-win mindset as naive, and the win-win group tends to see the win-lose mindset as cruel and short-sighted.

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More politically conservative with age?

When I was in my teens, I often heard older people say: You’ll get more conservative with age.

That hasn’t happened. If anything, I am less conservative now than I was then.

Why? Although there may be several reasons, there is one simple answer.

If you think politics is all about your own interests, then you may get more conservative with age and job, house, and so on. You want to protect what you have been able to scrape together for yourself from the commons.

If you instead think politics is for the welfare of society as a whole, for all life, and for future generations, you are not likely to get more conservative.

For me, politics is not about my own personal short-term self-interest. It has to do with what’s best for the larger whole, as it looks to me now. And that is, in a much deeper sense, my real self-interest.

I assume this also has to do with the basic difference between a zero-sum view or a win-win view. My impression is that a zero-sum view tends to go with a more politically conservative orientation, and a win-win view with a more progressive orientation.

All of this depends on the type of conservatism/progressivism, and there are many exceptions to the general pattern I wrote about here. There are conservatives who have the welfare of society as a whole, Earth, and future generations in mind, and there are progressives who come from a more excluding place.

Marianne Williamson: Healing the world is a journey, within ourselves and in the world, as we seek to transform our inner lives as well as our social, political and economic systems

Healing the world is a journey, within ourselves and in the world, as we seek to transform our inner lives as well as our social, political and economic systems. Either without the other is an inadequate response to the challenges of our times.

In order to build a tall building, we dig a very deep hole in the ground. In order to affect most powerfully the horizontal planes of existence, we align ourselves with the vertical axis of consciousness and intention. Things transform from the inside out.

It is as important to meditate as it is to vote, as important to learn to forgive as to courageously tell truth to power. We must try to remove the hatred from our own hearts before we can even begin to consider ourselves conduits for a new and better world. Humanity is not bad, but we are deeply wounded. The woundedness of our psyches has been projected onto the world around us, and the pain of the world has further wounded our hearts.

The world is on a self-generating loop of pain affecting the majority of people alive, as unadulterated greed and its tyrannous hold on governments and economic systems run amok across the planet. While countless souls are harkening to the call of a new and better way, fear continues its deadly rampage and its hysterical resistance to the ways of love. We spend more money on ways to kill each other than we are willing to spend on ways to heal each other.

Collectively we have become a predatory species – toward the earth, toward animals, and even toward ourselves. Humanity will change, we will evolve, or it is reasonable to assume that one way or the other we might drive ourselves into extinction.

It is time to radically transform, and there is literally not a moment to spare. We can and must invoke a miracle. When enough hands are on deck, enough hearts are dedicated, and enough minds are functioning on high alert, then a mutative, resurrective breakthrough the likes of which none of us can imagine but which all of us yearn for will come to pass.

But not until, and not unless. The clock is ticking. The moment is urgent. Love awaits but we must not tarry. It is time for new birth. It is time to transform.

– Marianne Williamson on social media

Own inquiry: Attacking a Green Party politician with straw man arguments, sexism, and racism

I regularly do inquiry, often more spontaneously in daily life. And I sometimes do more structured and in-depth inquiry on paper, although it’s been a while since I published any here. So here is one from today.

THE BACKGROUND

I notice a part of me gets upset when I see people engaging in personal attacks on Green Party members in Norway. It’s of course more than OK to disagree about policies and priorities, that’s how it’s supposed to be in a democracy. But it’s not OK to systematically use straw man arguments (pretending they have views and policies often diametrically opposed to reality) and personal attacks (often mixed in with sexism and racism). I see these straw man arguments and personal attacks from some reporters, media outlets, and individuals in Norway. It seems that the Green Party politicians are considered “fair game” for these types of attacks.

Most recently, this came up for me when I read an interview with someone who had posted hateful, sexist, and racists comments on social media about a prominent Green Party politician in Oslo, and justified it by saying that this politician wants to ruin the lives of people like him. (I am not sure what he referred to, but he seemed to be misinformed about the actual policies.)

The person he attacked is a young woman originally from an Asian country, so I assume he sees her as an easy target and it allows him to mix his straw man arguments with ageism, sexism, and racism.

JUDGE YOUR NEIGHBOR WORKSHEET

Think of a stressful situation with someone—for example, an argument. As you meditate on that specific
time and place and begin to feel what that felt like, fill in the blanks below. Use short, simple sentences.

  1. In this situation, who angers, confuses, hurts, saddens, or disappoints you, and why?
    I am angry with this guy because he uses straw man arguments and personal attacks to express himself.
  2. In this situation, how do you want him/her to change? What do you want him/her to do?
    I want him to see that he is wrong. I want him to get informed and address the policies and not the person.
  3. In this situation, what advice would you offer him/her? “He/she should/shouldn’t…”
    This guy shouldn’t be so aggressive and caught up in his emotions. He should step back, take a breath, see what he is doing, and admit what’s really going on for him.
  4. In order for you to be happy in this situation, what do you need him/her to think, say, feel, or do?
    I need him to apologize, say what’s really going on for him, and be more reasonable in the future.
  5. What do you think of him/her in this situation? Make a list. (It’s okay to be petty and judgmental.)
    He is aggressive. Immature. Unreasonable. Someone who destroys democracy.
  6. What is it about this person and situation you don’t ever want to experience again?
    I don’t ever want to see him be unreasonable again.

INQUIRY: HE IS AGRESSIVE, IMMATURE, UNREASONABLE

Statement: He is aggressive, immature, unreasonable, and destroys democracy.

Is it true? Yes.

Can you know for certain it’s true? No. I cannot know for certain.

What happens, how do you react, when you have that belief?

I feel angry and upset. I notice I want him to shut up. I feel I don’t belong to this society and world. I tell myself the world is full of stupid people. I think of all the other stupid people who use straw man arguments, personal attacks. I think of stupid people driving their car when they could use other modes of transportation, that use noisy machines to maintain an idiotic lawn when they could plant wildflowers. I think of idiots who don’t think about future generations and have a narrow and small mindset. I think of people who have little or no empathy with non-human beings. I get scared because these people act in ways that harm all of us. I notice a knot in my stomach. I get restless. My muscles tense up. I move in a more tense and jerky way. I want to eat comfort food. I want to distract myself. I want to get out of my own skin. I feel sad for the world. I feel scared about what will happen to the world. I feel sad for nonhuman animals impacted by what humans do. I want to call him all the types of things he calls other people. I want him to taste his own medicine.

Who would you be if you were completely at peace with this thought?

I would read the interview. Register that some people see the world in this way. Feel love for him and for his pain. I see someone who is in pain. Someone unable to be honest about what’s going on with him. Someone unable to examine where this is coming from in him and do something about it. Someone unable to respond with what he disagrees with in a reasonable way. I recognize myself in him. We both have this in us. I find love for it in both of us, and all humans. This is the human condition. The only solution is love, taking care of it in ourselves, and live from the love and clarity that then comes. I sit with my own pain, notice the different ways different parts of me responds to it, and can find love for it.

Turnaround 1: He is NOT aggressive, immature, unreasonable, and destroys democracy.

What’s more true for me is that he is in pain, and this is the only way he knows to deal with it.

He doesn’t destroy democracy. It takes more than his comments on social media to destroy democracy.

TA 2: He is loving, mature, reasonable, and builds democracy.

Yes, I am sure he is loving with some people and in some situations. I am sure he is mature in some areas of life. I am sure he is reasonable in some situations and areas of life.

By allowing himself to be interviewed in this way, he is brave, owns up to what he has done, and he builds democracy.

TA 3: I am aggressive, immature, unreasonable, and destroys democracy.

Yes, when I believe those thoughts about him I get aggressive, immature, unreasonable. That’s clear from my answer to the third question above. In a sense, I destroy democracy. At the moment I believe those thoughts about him, I destroy democracy in my own life.

INQUIRY: HE SHOULD ADMIT WHAT’S REALLY GOING ON FOR HIM

Statement: He should admit what’s really going on for him.

Is it true? Yes.

Can you know for certain it’s true? No. I cannot know for certain.

What happens, how do you react, when you have that belief?

I pretend I know that he doesn’t admit it to himself and possibly those around him. I pretend I know more about him than I do. I feel a strong urge for him to admit it. It becomes a mental obsession for me for a moment or a few minutes and whenever I again have this thought. I want him to do something he apparently isn’t so I feel frustrated, angry, sad, hopeless. I feel powerless since I can’t do anything about it. I want to distract myself. I want to eat comfort food. I want to read or watch something else, or talk with a friend, or go for a walk to distract myself from the discomfort. I want to leave my experience and what’s going on in this body. I feel a victim of him not doing what I think he should do.

I imagine what’s really going on for him: He is in pain, and deals with it by taking it out on this young woman from an Asian country who is now a politician with policies he feels harms him. He may have been going through difficult things in his life, possibly abusive parents, bullied at school, felt inferior, and so on. I imagine that if he admitted to this, he could address his pain more directly and he wouldn’t have to take it out in this way.

Who would you be if you were completely at peace with this thought?

I read the interview. See that he doesn’t seem to address what’s really going on with him. And I know that he may do just that but didn’t want to say anything in the interview, or that he did say something about it and the reporter or editor didn’t include it. It’s equally or more likely that he isn’t ready or able to go there right now. And that’s OK. This happens in its own time, when we are ready for it. Often, we need to suffer with it for a while before we are ready, and we may need to find a safe place to do so. That’s how it is for me, so it may well be that way for him too.

Turnaround 1: He SHOULDN’T admit what’s really going on for him.

Not if he is not ready. He may not even know what’s going on, and he can’t admit to something he is not aware of. Also, something completely different may be going on than what I imagine.

TA 2: He should DENY what’s really going on for him.

Yes. Again, he may not be ready. It may be too much for him to admit and go into right now. He may be dealing with a lot of other things. He may not have the tools or support to do it.

TA 3: I should admit what’s really going on for ME.

Yes. That’s what I really want. That’s what will give me peace.

I am the one who is reacting to my own fear and pain in the way described under question three above. Instead of admitting I am scared by what he says, I go into stories about him, anger, frustrations, shoulds, and more. I focus on him so I don’t have to feel my own fear, the fear triggered by what he says. I am scared for society and the world and myself when I see people saying what he says.

I am scared by what he says. That’s more honest for me.

I also see that this connects with my own childhood experiences where I felt bullied, so when I see the kind of bullying he and others engage in, it connects me with my own pain. Instead of meeting this pain and finding love for it, I react to my pain by focusing on him as described above. I distract myself from my own pain.

I am doing just what I imagine he is doing.

WHAT I NOTICE FOLLOWING THESE TWO INQUIRIES

I started with the two statements that had the most charge or resonance for me. It’s good to go through most or all of them, so I plan on returning and do more.

After doing these two quick inquiries, I notice something shift in me. I feel a release of the reactivity, and I can honestly see myself in him and find compassion for both of us. I also see that some of my initial descriptions now don’t resonate so much with me. For instance, I only assumed that he engaged in ageism, sexism, and racism. He didn’t say it explicitly, and the article didn’t describe exactly what he had written on social media.

I also see more clearly how this is connected with my own pain from experiencing bullying in childhood. It’s possible that these inquiries will help heal that pain further, we’ll see. And that’s not the main reason I am doing these inquiries. My main reason is to see more clearly what’s going on.

This is the shift I notice now. The reactivity can obviously come back, and if it does, it shows me there is more for me to look at and find here. If the reactivity comes back, it’s a genuine gift.

THE WORK OF BYRON KATIE

The format of this inquiry is from The Work of Byron Katie. If you want to try it, you can find a facilitator on Do The Work Helpline that will guide you through the steps for free.

The right side of history & the need for deep systemic changes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0EIFDSb7tWc&list=WL&index=8

This is perhaps obvious, but worth mentioning.

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

The early suffragettes were ignored, ridiculed, attacked, and then won. At least, they won women the right to vote, even if the overall process of equality between the sexes is still ongoing.

WHAT ARE WE IGNORING, RIDICULING, OR ATTACKING TODAY?

So what are people ignoring, ridiculing, or attacking today?

The most obvious is people like Greta Thunberg. She is admired by many, but she also belittled, ridiculed, and attacked by people who don’t see or care about the big picture, and don’t want our civilization to shift and become more ecologically sustainable.

She is smart, her message is sober and grounded in reality (listen to the scientists), and she is getting attention, so of course she will be ridiculed and attacked.

We also see that the very real need for thorough systemic changes is ignored by the media, politicians, many scientists, and most people in general. In order to survive, we need our systems – economic, production, energy, transportation, and so on – to be aligned with ecological realities. It seems obvious, but it requires deep and profound changes in almost all areas of our lives, so most people seem to prefer to ignore it. They pretend this need is not here. They engage in the fantasy that small changes here and there will be sufficient.

It’s likely that as this need for profound systemic changes gains more traction, as it will, then this too will be ridiculed and attacked, until it’s eventually implemented.

What else is ignored, ridiculed, or attacked by the mainstream?

The rights of ecosystems and non-human species are largely ignored, with a few exceptions. There are some laws in place, although many of these are anthropocentric in nature and we use anthropocentric arguments to gain support.

As the idea of the rights of nature gains traction and we see more real-life examples, this too will be ridiculed and attacked. To the extent ecosystems and non-human species get legal rights and real political and legal representation, it will be seen as threatening to some, and they will use this familiar strategy to try to sideline it.

These are some of the large issues that involve Earth as a whole and all life.

There are also some smaller issues. For instance, ESP, reincarnation, and UFOs have been ignored and ridiculed for a while now by mainstream media, science, and much of the general public. As there is more solid research into these phenomena, and to the extent we find that there is something to these phenomena, it’s likely that this too will become more accepted and move into the mainstream.

WHY DO WE IGNORE, RIDICULE, AND ATTACK?

Why do we ignore, ridicule, and attack these ideas and social movements?

It’s easy to ignore. We may not know what’s happening. We may see it as insignificant. We may not think it will amount to anything.

We may ridicule for a few different reasons. It may be an intentional strategy to belittle, shame, and sideline an idea or movement. If we ridicule it, we don’t have to address the substance of the issue, and we may hope that others will hesitate in agreeing and joining.

It can also be a more unconscious reaction. We see something that’s unfamiliar and fringe, so ridiculing it makes us feel more normal and mainstream. The ideas may threaten our own familiar views and habits, and ridiculing allows us to not take a closer look.

The reason we may attack these movements is similar. Some feel that their interests or identities are threatened by the movement, and they see that they are gaining traction, so they attack it.

It’s good to be aware of these dynamics. If we are part of a social change movement, it helps us predict these responses, deal with them, and not be discouraged by it. If we are prone to react in these ways – ignoring, ridiculing, and attacking – it may give us pause and find another way to deal with it.

SOME CAVEATS

When we talk about these topics, it’s good to take a look at some underlying assumptions that may color how we see and approach them.

For a while, we had an idea of inevitable social progress in our culture, and it’s clearly not that simple.

Our ideas about what constitutes “progress” differ between people, eras, and cultures. And no long-term historical trend continues indefinitely.

Also, some social movements are ignored, ridiculed, attacked, and then accepted, and they are not exactly what we want to see if we value human rights, democracy, social justice, sustainability, and so on. The Nazi movement in the 1920s and ’30s Germany one example.

When we talk about the right side of history, we usually mean according to how we see it today. Suffragettes and abolitionists were on the right side of history since we today have voting rights for both sexes, we have abolished slavery, and both conform to our current values. So although I sometimes use the phrase myself, I am also aware it’s a slippery concept.

Trauma-informed storytelling

I have watched Peaky Blinders and WandaVision recently, and they are both examples of trauma-informed storytelling.

Having some understanding of trauma, and telling stories reflecting how trauma plays itself out in real life, is not new. But I am wondering if there isn’t an upswing in trauma-informed storytelling these days, perhaps because there is a slightly better understanding of trauma in the mainstream.

In both these series, the main character(s) are severely traumatized, and they react to their own pain in a way that hurts other people. The stories show us the connection between what they went through, which was no fault of their own (war, multiple losses), and how they react to their pain in ways that hurt others (gang violence, making meat-puppets out of citizens in a rural town).

Hurt people hurt people. In a way, that’s the essence of how trauma plays itself out. And that’s what these stories show.

Instead of making the “bad” people into one-dimensional villains, they are shown as real people who hurt a lot and only know how to deal with it by hurting others.

This opens for empathy with people in this situation, and we can probably all find times in our own life where we hurt and reacted to in ways we are not proud of. And that obviously doesn’t make these actions OK. In real life, we still need to do what we can to prevent hurt people from hurting others.

This is multi-faceted and includes working at all levels to provide help for those who experience trauma, preventing trauma at collective and individual levels, and obviously preventing actions that cause harm.

More specifically, this includes… Trauma education for teachers, therapists, police, and people in other people-oriented professions. Good social safety nets and social justice since poverty and social injustice are major sources of trauma. Sustainability since ecological devastation is, directly or indirectly, another major source of trauma, and we’ll see more of it in the near future. And lowering the threshold for seeking out and finding help.

Another small piece of the puzzle is trauma-informed storytelling, as we see it in these two series. It’s one small step in the right direction.

What will future generations see as outdated?

We collectively have assumptions we take for granted and later generations, with more information and shifting worldviews, see it differently and look at the old views as outdated, misinformed, and slightly primitive.

So which ones may be seen as outdated by future generations? And what will replace it?

We cannot know, of course.

The really interesting ones may be something none or very few are aware of today.

Also, there is a kind of inevitable-progress assumption inherent in the question and how many would answer it, including myself. Who is to say that there will be “progress” as we see it? Especially as we are faced with a major ecological crisis and what it may do to humanity and our civilization.

That aside, what is my guess? What are we collectively “blind” to today? What may future generations see as outdated and perhaps a bit misinformed and primitive?

Some of my guesses:

How we treat animals and nature. Not giving animals, ecosystems, and Earth as a whole a voice in the important decision-making processes and in the legal system. Of course, some humans will have to be appointed to represent them and do so to the best of their ability.

How we treat future generations. Not giving them a voice in decisions that impact them, and not giving them the opportunity to take legal action. Here too, someone will have to be appointed to represent them.

The ecological crisis we are currently in the middle of. Most people are complacent about how it can and will impact humanity, and the deep changes needed to change course.

Our current economic and related systems don’t take ecological realities into account. These systems (energy, production, transportation, etc.) were created at a time when we didn’t need to take ecological realities into account. Now, with a far higher population and more powerful technology, we need to redesign these systems so they function within the limits of nature. They need to be redesigned so what’s easy and attractive to do, for individuals and corporations, is also what benefits Earth, humans, and future generations. It’s fully possible to do so, we “just” need to find the collective motivation to make the change, and Earth is doing its best to give it to us.

Not taking the inevitability of major disruptions more seriously. These include pandemics (very current these days), large meteor impacts, supervolcanos, weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, biological, chemical), and so on.

A science and general worldview that doesn’t acknowledge parapsychological phenomena. This would bring science out of an assumption of strict materialism.

The idea of separation. Seeing ourselves as separate has created a lot of our current problems, so adopting a worldview of interdependence is vital – also for our own survival and well-being.

The reality of and value in awakening. Awakening can be understood in a relatively simple and pragmatic way. (To ourselves, we are consciousness, the world to us happens within and as this consciousness, and awakening is consciousness noticing itself and our “center of gravity” shifting into this.) Awakening can also be studied through research, as is already happening to some extent. I assume this is a topic that will become more mainstream, also in academia.

Not using an integral model more widely for whatever topic we talk about or study. This, obviously, doesn’t have to be the one from Ken Wilber. His is just a start, and already some are developing it further and modifying it so it makes more sense.

How we relate to the commons. All nature and natural resources are the commons – needed for the survival of all beings and parts of Earth including humans. These days, we allow and even admire (!) people who amass resources from the commons far beyond what any person could ever need. I assume this will change. It’s also possible that the idea of ownership will change, especially when it comes to nature and natural resources needed for all life to thrive.

The theme here is a general lack of deep time and big picture thinking, and not going outside of the assumptions of strict materialism. And, of course, this list reflect my own biases.

Note about the Twitter post above: It’s a myth that many or most thought Earth was flat, and if I remember correctly, it comes from an old biography about Columbus.

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXXXI

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.

SCIENCE LITERACY & THEORIES

I saw a social media post stating that a theory in science is not “just a theory”, it’s proven by scientists and has become a “fact”. These types of statements make me cringe.

A theory in science is a question about the world. If it’s supported by data, it’s a question that scientists may explore further, build on, and so on. And as we get more data, the theory may be refined or replaced by another one.

It can never be “proven”. It’s never a “fact”. It just fits the data more or less well.

Theories live in an ecosystem. They live within an accepted general worldview. They fit in with a number of other theories. And so on.

There is also an informal hierarchy of theories. Some fit well the general worldview and the ecosystems of related theories, and they have been thoroughly tested through research and practical applications. These are widely accepted as fitting the data and what we know about how the world works. (Einsteins relativity theories are in this category.)

Some theories may not fit the data and are abandoned. And some may not fit the wider ecosystem so well, or there may be less or no solid data supporting it, so it’s on the sidelines for now. (Exemplified by Rupert Sheldrake’s research and ideas.)

That’s how science works these days. A widely accepted theory is widely accepted because it fits a huge amount of data and practical experience. It’s not “just” a theory, and it’s also very far from a “fact”. It’s a formalized question about the world that fits the data.

Of course, in real life, it’s not so clean. Scientists are people with their own worldviews, biases, and so on, so not everything going on in science is a hundred percent rational. But mostly, it works well.

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Reflections on society, politics and nature XXXX

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.

SPACE BUGS?

I am rewatching the Andromeda Strain where a crashed satellite (!) infects humanity with a space bug. And I am also familiar with how NASA took precautions to prevent possible moon bugs from infecting humanity after the Apollo astronauts returned from the moon, and how they are doing their best to prevent Earth bugs from contaminating mars when they send landers there.

One thing that’s often left out when this is discussed is perhaps the most obvious question: If there are space bugs, why would they be adapted to human and Earth biology? How could they possibly infect us if they evolved from a different origin and in a different environment?

The answer is that they almost certainly can’t if they evolved from a different origin and a different environment. There is a small chance they did evolve from the same origin – if there is something to the panspermia idea, although it’s difficult to see that they would be able to infect us since they most likely co-evolved with a very different environment from ours and with very different organisms to us. Another possibility is that Earth bugs got flung into space when a meteor hit, and miraculously survived, reproduced (without host organisms?), changed, and are still able to infect humans or Earth organisms.

There are a lot of ifs here, and it seems unlikely bordering on impossible that it could happen. Of course, NASA wants to take precautions, and they wanted to be seen as taking it seriously, which is why they quarantined the Apollo astronauts.

It makes more sense to decontaminate Earth crafts before they land on Mars and other planets. If there is native life on Mars, we don’t want it mixed in with Earth bugs and we don’t want to have Earth bugs take over the environment – even if that too is very unlikely. There is also a very small chance that Earth bugs arrived on Mars due to a meteor impact, or the other way around, and Mars bugs are still similar to Earth bugs, so it’s good to not have them mixed up.

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Pandemic irrationality: not trusting experts, and opposing rules because they are unfamiliar

In these pandemic days, some oppose the government rules and guidelines put in place to control the pandemic. (Fortunately, less in Norway than in some other countries.)

There are several things about that opposition that puzzles me.

Trusting experts

For instance, most of those opposed to these rules and guidelines are not epidemiologists. Why wouldn’t you trust someone who has spent their life studying what works in a pandemic? Why would you instead trust some random people on the internet?

If I have a health problem, I’ll trust a specialist in the medical profession, not some random person on the street. If I want a haircut, I’ll go to a hairdresser and not a fisherman. If I have trouble with my car, I’ll go to a mechanic and not a manicurist. If I want to build a bridge, I’ll go to an engineer and not a surgeon.

If I want to know what to do in a pandemic, I’ll go to an epidemiologist and not some random people on the internet.

These people who are so opposed to the pandemic rules and guidelines, do they go to a mechanic when they want a haircut? Do they go to a gardener when they have a serious health problem? Do they ask a nurse to fix the mechanical problem with their car? Do they go to a doctor to design a bridge?

If they don’t, why don’t they trust epidemiologists in a pandemic?

Opposing the guidelines because they are new and unfamiliar?

I also wonder if some of those who oppose the pandemic guidelines do so because the guidelines are unfamiliar to them. After all, these people likely follow a large number of other rules and guidelines put in place to protect us all and benefit society.

Most of them are probably happy to use a seat belt. Follow traffic rules. Pay their taxes. Avoid killing someone. Pay for the products they want in stores. And so on.

Society has a huge number of written and unwritten rules in place, and most are happy to follow them either because these rules are familiar, or also because they know these rules are in place to benefit all of us and so we can have a well-functioning society.

If this is so obvious, why do they still oppose the guidelines?

Both of these seem completely obvious. We go to experts to get something done, and we generally trust them. And we already follow a huge number of rules in society, so what do these temporary ones matter? After all, it’s only for a short period of time and they are put in place to protect us all.

I am not sure. Perhaps it’s because people are not used to thinking logically about things? Or that they prefer to engage in their reactivity rather than what’s more reasoned?

Real-life test cases

We also have real-life test cases, both from history and in the current epidemic.

From history, we know that masks, quarantine, lock-downs, and so on work.

And we see the same in the world today. The countries with leaders who largely minimized and ignored the advice from epidemiologists, like the US (Trump) and Brazil (Bolsonaro), have not fared well. While the countries that did follow the advice have largely done much better.

Reasonable discussion

Of course, there is a reasonable discussion to be had on these topics. For instance, I often think that the Norwegian government is strangely behind the science. They didn’t recommend masks until many months into the pandemic, and they still assume that young people are not very affected by the virus (in spite of a great deal of evidence to the contrary). It’s also clear that masks need to be close-fitting and high-quality to function properly, and that’s often left out in the discussion about masks.

There are many things open to reasonable discussion, although these tend to revolve around the details and the specifics, not the general benefit of masks, temporary lock-downs, and so on.

Epidemiologists know what works, and they agree on what works. So why not follow their recommendations? Why not follow the government recommendations when these largely follow the recommendations of epidemiologists?

Chronic fatigue syndrome & the pandemic

There are several connections between Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and the current Covid 19 pandemic, and I have written about it in previous posts. Here is a brief summary.

Long covid was predicted and predictable

CFS is also called a post-viral syndrome since it often follows a viral infection.

Those of us familiar with post-viral syndromes and CFS predicted that we would see many post-viral syndrome cases following the covid 19 infections.

There would be a pandemic within the pandemic. First, those who got acute covid 19 infections. And then, those with the post-viral syndrome and CFS following these infections.

I wrote about this a year ago, at the very beginning of the global pandemic.

Research into CFS & post-viral syndromes

The slight silver lining in this situation is that long-covid may lead to the medical field and governments taking post-viral syndromes and CFS, in general, more seriously. We may see the beginnings of this.

The main symptoms of long covid and CFS are the same: fatigue, PEM, and brain fog. Although there may also be some unique symptoms of long covid, including visible damage to the lungs and other organs.

A missed opportunity

The medical world has largely ignored CFS. It’s often not been taken seriously as a biological disease, and there has been minimal research into it.

That’s doubly unfortunate.

It’s unfortunate for those of us who have CFS and know it’s a real and serious disease.

And they missed a golden opportunity to be prepared for long covid.

We knew a pandemic would come and that we were on schedule for a new one.

And we knew that viral infections lead to a significant number of post-viral syndromes.

So why didn’t they take the opportunity to prepare by learning about CFS and possible causes and cures? Why didn’t they take the opportunity to nip the predictable current upsurge in post-viral cases in the bud?

In the coming decades, ignoring CFS will go down in medical history as an injustice to those with CFS. And also a missed golden opportunity to learn more about CFS before the predictable pandemic upsurge in people with post-viral syndromes AKA long covid.

This pandemic may be a triple pandemic. The first is the viral and medical pandemic. The second is the social cost. And the third is the large numbers of those with long covid.

If researchers and governments had the foresight, they could have prevented the third. Now, they are instead playing catch-up.

What’s behind conspiracy theories?

What’s behind the apparent surge in conspiracy theories? Why do new groups – for instance, holistic health practitioners – get into it?

I have written about this before, but thought I would make a quick summary of some possibilities:

SOCIAL LEVEL

Internet & media bubbles. We seek out information and groups that fit and support our desired worldview. That’s even easier now than in the past due to the internet and the general fragmentation of the media landscape.

People benefit. Some benefit from creating or peddling certain conspiracy theories. Trump and his folks benefit from QAnon. Putin benefits from the erosion of western democracy, encouraged by Russian troll-farms. In general, people who are actually doing something that people would be upset about if they knew, benefit from the distraction conspiracy theories provide.

Appealing to people’s values. Most conspiracy theories appeal to people’s existing values. Trump is going to save the world (QAnon). Vaccines harm people. If you get into these conspiracy theories, you feel you are a good person and on the side of the good.

Foot-in-the-door. When people take one step in a certain direction, it’s easier to take the next. If we get into a small conspiracy theory, it may be easier to go into the larger and more serious ones.

Wishful thinking. For some liberals in the US, it may be easier to imagine Trump as a secret savior (QAnon) rather than a horrible narcissist who was elected president of the United States. Some conspiracy theories gain a following because they offer simple solutions and some form of salvation.

Fearful thinking. Similarly, conspiracy theories often seem founded in fear. The ones creating or peddling conspiracy theories often use people’s fear as a hook. There is a vast network of pedophiles. Vaccines have tracking-chips in them. 5G is seriously harmful.

EDUCATION

Grain of truth. The essence of conspiracy theories often has a grain of truth in it. For instance, it’s true that governments hide some things, although it’s mostly (not exclusively) to protect the state from other countries. It’s true that our current system is rigged to benefit the already wealthy and powerful, but that’s a feature of the system and no conspiracy is needed to make it happen. It’s also true that vaccines sometimes have harmful effects, although it’s rare and – as with so much else – we decide it’s worth it. The grain of truth may be there, but it’s often taken too far, understood in a too simplistic fashion, or taken in a misguided direction.

Lack of media literacy and valid logical reasoning. Again, the more we know about and familiar with this, the easier it is to recognize and avoid pitfalls. The conspiracy world survives because of a lack of basic media literacy (examining sources and messages), and a poor understanding of valid logical reasoning.

Lack of perspective. To me, what’s actually happening in the world is far more serious than the topic of any conspiracy theory I have seen. We are in an early stage of a massive – and for us catastrophic – ecological shift. We have an economic and social system that doesn’t take ecological realities into account and where those who already have the most benefit the most. This is not disputed and is far more serious than just about any conspiracy fantasy. Conspiracy theories distract from what’s actually happening.

Lack of historical knowledge. If we know a bit about the history of conspiracy theories, cults, millennial movements, and so on, then it’s easier to recognize and avoid them. There is a repeating pattern.

Checking our sources and information. Conspiracy theories typically require a not-so-thorough examination of the sources. The remedy is to ask: Would this information hold up in a court? Would a serious historian or journalist use it? What are the sources? Are these reliable? Can the information be verified? If not, set it aside as a very loose “maybe”.

PERSONAL LEVEL

Social aspect. Conspiracy theories can give a sense of community and belonging. If you are lonely or feel like an outsider, these communities can seem attractive.

Boredom. Some may feel bored – especially during this pandemic – want some drama and excitement, and the actual drama of the world isn’t enough or of the right type. Conspiracy theories can feel like a puzzle and a game and draw people in.

A sense of knowing. If we have low tolerance for ambiguity and not knowing, conspiracy theories can seem attractive. They give simple and clear answers, and they often paint the world in black-and-white.

Blame. The world is complex and confusing and we cannot know anything for certain. For some, it can feel good – like peeing in the pants to stay warm – to blame someone. It’s easier than a deep analysis of history, social dynamics, and complex social systems.

Distraction. In general, it seems that conspiracy theories serve to distract from what’s actually happening. By going into the – for some – fascinating world of conspiracy theories, we can distract from the pain in our own life, and perhaps also the pain that’s triggered in us when we see what’s actually going on in the world (poverty, hunger, wars, ecological destruction).

Trauma. We can use anything as an obsession or compulsion to distract ourselves from our discomfort or pain. For some, it may be easier to get obsessed with conspiracy theories than dealing with their own pain. If I am honest, a lot of what I see in the conspiracy world looks like trauma behavior.

Compensating for feeling not enough. Going into conspiracy theories can make you feel that you know something others don’t. If you feel you are not good enough, as many do, then this is a way to compensate for it.

Feeling powerless. If we feel powerless and left out, being part of the conspiracy community can give us a sense of power. We know something others don’t, we are many, and we’ll do something about it.

Outsider identity. If we already feel like an outsider to mainstream society, it’s easy to hook onto things that’ll reinforce this outsider identity. The conspiracy theory world fits the bill for some.

Victim identity? I don’t know enough about the conspiracy world, but I wonder if not people with a victim identity also are drawn to conspiracy theories. The content of many conspiracy theories seem to fit with and reinforce a victim identity.

A questioning mind losing its bearings. People who go into conspiracy theories may, by nature, be more questioning. There is nothing wrong with questioning basic assumptions, but this questioning has to be disciplined and tied to intellectual honesty.

Other priorities than intellectual honesty. When I see people who are into conspiracy theories, it often seems that the conspiracy theory often takes priority over intellectual honesty.

Most of these dynamics are universal and we all have done or do it sometimes and in some areas of life. The conspiracy world sometimes turns the volume up to eleven.

NOT ALWAYS FANTASY

Conspiracies are not always a fantasy. Sometimes, they happen. And almost always, they are uncovered by official investigators, investigative journalists, or historians. Not people on the internet.

THE REMEDY?

The danger of rampant ungrounded conspiracy theories is obvious: it harms our democracy and society. So what can we do?

One solution is education, for instance in the media and schools. This could be an education in the history of cults, millennial movements, and conspiracy theories, media literacy, logical fallacies, existing power structures & systemic problems, and some basic related psychology.

WHAT CONSPIRACY THEORIES CANNOT SURVIVE

In general, it seems there are several things conspiracy theories are not likely to survive or cannot survive.

If we know the patterns of past cults etc., we are likely to recognize those patterns in the conspiracy world and be cautious.

If we know and are rigorous with logical reasoning and avoiding logical fallacies, most conspiracy theories fall like a house of cards.

If we are intellectually honest, the same happens.

If we are aware of the many and serious systemic problems in today’s society, including at a global level, we are less likely to fall for simplistic scapegoating theories.

If we are rigorous in working on our own issues and recognizing our projections, we are similarly less likely to fall for the emotional reasoning behind many conspiracy theories, and also the coarse projections required to prop them up.

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXXIX

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.

MOON LANDING

I watched Armstrong (2019) and was happy to see that they, through Armstrong in his own words, touched on some of the themes I see as most important with the lunar missions. (Yes, I have been a space enthusiast since childhood!)

A huge number of people worked on the missions and made them happen, and they – in turn – wouldn’t have been able to do it without the work of innumerable people living then and in previous generations. We see the astronauts on the screen and in the media, but they are just the very tiny tip of the iceberg. That’s how it often is. We stand on the shoulders of not only giants but innumerable people and beings and all past generations.

One of the great benefits of space missions, in general, is that we get to see Earth from the outside as one seamless living whole. And we get to hear the testimonies of people who experienced it themselves and how it changed them. This is the overview effect and it shifts, in a small but significant way, how we see ourselves.

We can say that the space missions are a product of the Earth locally transforming itself into humans, technology, and a desire for exploration. In this case, we are the sensory organs of Earth seeing itself as a whole and from the outside for the first time. (Armstrong didn’t mention this, obviously.)

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How we see ourselves in relation to the rest of nature

This is a big topic, and yet also very simple.

We are – in a very literal sense – part of nature. We are a local and temporary expression of the processes of this living planet. We are local and temporary expressions of the dynamics of this universe.

We are, equally obviously, animals. We share ancestors with all other animals and everything living. We are relatives, and if we look at it from the bigger picture, we are close relatives.

When we look at specifics, we also find how we are animals and share a huge amount with other animals and living beings. Other animals, and especially those closer to us, obviously have emotions much as we do. They even have cognitive processes not dissimilar to our own. They have personalities. They suffer. They want to stay alive. They have culture.

There is an immense beauty in this. To the extent we take this in, it can bring a profound sense of belonging. It can even give a deep sense of meaning and encourage us to live in a way that takes all life into account.

After all, we are part of the same living systems and processes. Our own health and well-being, as individuals and civilization, is intimately connected with and dependent on the health and well-being of this larger living whole.

I find it slightly bizarre that some still insist that we are categorically different from other animals, and perceive and live as if we are somehow separate from Earth.

I understand that it comes from a wish to see humans as special and different, maybe so we can feel better about ourselves, or from a wish to use this fantasy as an excuse to exploit nature and other species.

It’s also possible that just like a teenager often will distance themselves from their parents so they can gain some autonomy and discover who they are as individuals, humanity has needed to distance themselves from nature for the same reason.

And yet, the effect of the view of separation is terrible. It gives us a sense of disconnection, separation, and existential loneliness. The power-over orientation embedded in it causes a huge amount of suffering for the other species and destruction of the ecosystems we depend on for our own life.

Equally seriously, we treat ourselves as we treat other species and the Earth. We are often disconnected from our bodies, sensuality, instincts, and anything we consider “animal” – and that leads us to either deny it or over-indulge in it, and inevitably both.

The benefits from this fantasy of separation are hollow victories. And the damage to ourselves, other species, and Earth is severe.

Of course, I understand why some consciously hold a view of separation, and many – perhaps all of us – hold it somewhere in our system. It comes from centuries and millennia of views of separation in western society. It has a long tradition. It’s held deeply in our systems, and it takes some effort to make it conscious, shift into a more realistic view, and allow this conditioning to soften and perhaps fall away.

How can we support this shift in ourselves?

We can expose ourselves to the insights of others who have explored this, for instance through deep ecology, ecopsychology, ecospirituality, big history, the Universe Story, or similar approaches.

We can identify views of separation in ourselves and examine each one. Is it true? What happens when I perceive and live as if it’s true? What do I get out of holding onto it? What am I afraid would happen if I didn’t operate from it? What’s more true for me? (The Work of Byron Katie.)

We can explore how our mind creates the experience of separation, how sensations and thoughts combine to create this fantasy of separation, and what’s associated with it. (Living Inquiries.)

We can explore how we imagine we – as individuals and humanity – may look to other species, ecosystems, and Earth as a whole, and imagine what advice they may have for us. (For instance, Big Mind process.)

We can engage in the Practices to Reconnect developed by Joanna Macy and others.

We can engage in Earth-centered rituals and spiritual practices.

We can discover what we really are – capacity for the world as it appears to us – and find the oneness of the world as it appears to us.

Another important shift is to recognize that all of this is part of the processes of Earth and the universe. We are the universe and Earth locally and temporarily taking itself as separate from itself. This sense of separation is not inherently wrong, it’s part of life exploring itself.

I usually start out with this as the context, and this time chose to start from a more conventional or human view and include this at the end.

Documentary: The rights of nature – a global movement

https://www.youtube.com/watch?fbclid=IwAR1ReB_ZHxD2j3IPJNFOzORbf4gwkCNTq1dGD-ZxIm7ij_wh_WFT_aDK5rc&v=kuFNmH7lVTA&feature=youtu.be

Description from the creators:

Western views and the legal system tend to view nature as property, and as a resource from which wealth is extracted, a commodity whose only value is to provide for human needs. But for millennia indigenous communities have viewed themselves as part of nature.

As pressures on ecosystems mount and as conventional laws seem increasingly inadequate to address environmental degradation, communities, cities, regions and countries around the world are turning to a new legal strategy known as The Rights of Nature.

This film takes viewers on a journey that explores the more recent origins of this legal concept, and its application and implementation in Ecuador, New Zealand, and the United States. Learn how constitutional reforms adopted in Ecuador have helped recognize nature as a legal entity, and how partnerships between the M?ori and the government of New Zealand have led to personhood status for rivers, lakes and forests, and a renewed sense of balance between people and nature. See how the Rights of Nature function in the urban setting of Santa Monica, California.

The film explores the successes and challenges inherent in creating new legal structures that have the potential to maintain and restore ecosystems while achieving a balance between humans and nature.

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXXVIII

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.

VALUES, STRATEGIES, AND POLITICS

Most humans have shared values, at least when we drill down to find the most basic expression of our values. The conflicts are often more rooted in how inclusive or exclusive our sense of “we” is and differences in strategies.

So in politics, as in the rest of life, it’s often helpful to differentiate values and strategies. We can identify our respective values. See how similar or different they are, and they tend to be more similar the more we drill down to find their essence. And then explore collective strategies that fit those values.

It’s of course not quite that simple. Sometimes, we may be too invested in a particular strategy to be open to this type of exploration. And it may be difficult to get people on board with this exploration on a larger scale. But it’s a good starting point and general guideline for ourselves and we can bring it into whatever groups we are part of.

If we find ourselves invested in a particular strategy, it helps to take a step back and identify our values and the essence of these values. This, in turn, may help us be more flexible and explore a range of possible strategies that all fit the deeper values.

As mentioned above, there is also the question of how wide our circle of “us” is. Does it include all of life, future generations, and non-human species? Or is it more exclusive? Whether it’s wide or narrow, the deeper values may be the same, for instance, to support life. A more narrow circle of “us” may reflect cognitive limitations, seeing a wider circle as unfeasible, or investment in a view of life as a zero-sum game. Differentiating values and strategies may also here help us open our minds to find win-win strategies, at least sometimes.

This topic came to mind since it seems that some who get into conspiracy theories – like QAnon – seem to share values with people outside of the conspiracy world. They just have (very) different strategies, based on a very different set of information and ideas about how the world works. Although the values may be shared, it doesn’t mean the info and ideas about how the world works are equal. One is based on verifiable information and the other on flimsy disinformation. But identifying and emphasizing the shared values may be a starting point for dialogue.

Thanks to Marshall Rosenberg and Non-Violent Communication for pointing out the difference in needs and strategies, or – as I wrote about it here – values and strategies.

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Reflections on society, politics and nature XXXVII

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.

SOME LAYERS I USE WHEN I LOOK AT SOCIETY

When I write posts here, I write from one or a few perspectives.

These perspectives reflect my biases and conditioning as a male from a northern European country, university educated, and so on. And they reflect my own hangups, wounds, emotional issues, beliefs, identifications, and perceived lack.

There are many perspectives out there that are equally valid and important, and I leave them out to make it simpler (and easier for myself), and also because I am aware of only a small subset of all the existing and possible perspectives.

So what’s the bigger and more general picture for social issues?

My world – the world as it appears to me – happens within and as what I am. All my experiences happen within and as what I am.

The world appears the way it does to me because of my own mental overlay. This overlay consists of mental images and words, and it puts labels, meaning, and stories on my world. I am responsible for my own stories about the world, including the most basic assumptions about the world, others, and myself.

The stories I have about the world reflect me as a human being. Whatever stories I have about the world or others also fit me, and I can find very specific examples of how each one fits me.

Each person perceives and acts from their own filters and biases, including me. We cannot escape this but we can be a little more aware of this happening and some of the specific filters and biases.

Each person has valuable perspectives and views, especially when we drill down to the essence of what these are about.

Everything is a whole and part. What we see happening here and now are expressions of movements within the whole – going back to beginning of time and stretching out to the widest extent of existence.

It’s all lila. The world as it appears to me is the play of this consciousness. Or, we can say it’s the play of life – or the divine. It’s consciousness, life, or the divine expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself in always new ways.

I cannot know anything for certain. I am operating from a huge number of questioned and unquestioned assumptions.

When I write, I typically highlight one or a few of these even if all of them are there in the background.

A SAD IRONY OF CONSPIRACY THEORIES

There is a sad irony in the conspiracy theory world.

I suspect some – or many? – who get into conspiracy theories do partly to feel they know something others don’t and to feel special, smart, and perhaps even powerful. They may try to compensate for feeling like an outsider, a failure, rejected, and powerless.

Although they may find a sense of belonging in the conspiracy subculture, they may also separate themselves from friends and relatives. To the extent they get identified with the conspiracy world, they may isolate themselves from those who are not into it. In that way, they create for themselves even more of what they try to escape.

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Reflections on society, politics and nature XXXVI

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.

POLITICAL DIMENSIONS I FIND USEFUL

There are some political dimensions I find as useful as the conventional ones.

The main one may be inclusiveness. Is this policy aimed at benefiting all life, as far as possible? Or is it aimed at benefiting one particular group at the expense of others? Of course, we may not be able to find policies that always benefit everyone, but we can do our best. And when I say all life, I mean all life – including non-human species and future generations.

Another is reality orientation. Is this view or policy grounded in reality? Is it grounded in science? Or is it based on ideology, logical fallacies, misinformation, or conspiracy theories?

And yet another is democracy. Does this policy, party, or politician aim to deepen and strengthen democracy? Or does it aim to undermine it?

The first one has been important to me since my mid-teens. The second has become more salient and relevant in our post-truth era. And the third has similarly become relevant due to anti-democracy forces that are both unintentional (social media, echo chambers) and intentional (weaponized fake news, conspiracy theories, troll farms), and leaders of democracies that actively undermine these democracies like Trump and Putin.

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Reflections on society, politics and nature XXXV

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.

A CONSPIRACY TO USE CONSPIRACY THEORISTS

I love this, although I would rephrase it slightly: “Just wait till conspiracy theorists discover they’re part of a conspiracy to use conspiracy theories to spread disinformation.”

If there is a real conspiracy out there, it’s that some intentionally use conspiracy theories – and conspiracy theorists – to spread disinformation.

And through that, influence politics (e.g. QAnon with Trump support), sow confusion and doubt around certain topics (petroleum industry with climate change), and generally create chaos and polarization (Russia with the US and Europe).

Conspiracy theorists are being used, and they often don’t realize it.

I love this one too. It’s true we are all the universe and Earth and – if we see it that way – Spirit. Our experiences are the experiences Spirit wants to have through and as us. At the same time, if I lived in the US, I would do anything I could – through voting and getting out the votes – to prevent a second Trump presidency.

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Reflections on society, politics and nature XXXIV

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.

WHAT DO CONSERVATIVES CONSERVE?

Politics doesn’t interest you because you have no interest in changing a world that suits you so well

– Edith to Sherlock Holmes in Enola Holmes

A question I often ask myself is: what do conservatives want to conserve?

It’s of course many things depending on the person and the brand of conservatism.

Some of which I personally wholeheartedly agree with: Conserving nature and God’s creation. Conserving our world so future generations can have a good life. Conserving some traditional elements of our culture. (Which doesn’t mean to exclude anything else.) Conserving freedom of speech and religion. Conserving – and ideally improving – our democracy. And so on.

And some of which I don’t at all support. Mainly, anything that has to do with conserving privilege for the few at the cost of other groups.

This includes different variations of overt or subtle racism, bigotry, and prejudice, and also preserving unjust economic, political, and social structures.

And it includes preserving the privilege of humans at the cost of ecosystems and other species, and preserving the privilege of the current generation at the cost of future generations.

From my perspective, policies that don’t take the big picture into account – and the interests of all life – seem profoundly and inherently flawed.

THE 2016 US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION FORECAST WAS WRONG?

I have written about this in 2016 and earlier this year, but it feels worth mentioning again: Some folks still say that the polling or forecast for the 2016 US presidential election was wrong.

I mostly listened to the 538 podcast in the lead-up to that election, and I usually avoid US mainstream media, so I don’t know what they all wrote and said.

But when it comes to what I have seen, it seems that the problem has to do with people not understanding even the basics of statistics more than the polling itself.

538 said (as far as I remember) that there was a 1 to 4 or 1 to 5 chance of Trump winning the election (25-20 percent). Those are not bad odds at all. It means that 1 out of 4 or 5 times the polling numbers looks like this, Trump will win. Nobody should be surprised that he won the presidency.

This year, most – two weeks before the election – say there is a 90% chance Biden will win, which means there is a 1 to 10 chance Trump will win. Out of ten times the polling looks like this, Trump will win once. Even that’s not terrible odds. (Nate Silver at 538 says Trump has between 1 to 5 and 1 to 20 chance.)

How can you be surprised when Trump’s odds are in a reasonably good range? Again, I assume it has to do with reporters and other people not understanding even the most basic statistics – the type of thing everyone should have learned the first few years in school.

And that, in turn, may say something about the US education system.

There is also an over-arching question here: Why are polls important? Why not wait and see the result after the election. I understand polls are important for the candidates to target their campaigns, but why is it important for regular folks? To me, it seems more like entertainment than anything very useful.

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Reflections on society, politics and nature XXXIII

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.

DISREGARDING SOCIAL ISSUES

I am watching Enola Holmes and enjoy it very much.

I especially enjoy that they are highlighting an inherent problem with Sherlock Holmes: He investigated individual crimes, was on the side of the establishment, and never questioned the crimes inherent in the social structures at the time.

These are not crimes according to the law and the courts, but they are crimes against humanity. Crimes of – at the time – not allowing large portions of the population to vote, keeping large portions in poverty, structural racism, and much more.

Of course, it’s much easier to see these problems with the benefit of a hundred years of hindsight and changes in social norms and values.

At the same time, this is happening today. We know of a large number of injustices and crimes against humanity – and life – and we don’t do nearly enough about it. What are some of these crimes? As I see it, it’s in an economic system that is not aligned with ecological realities. It’s in allowing the massive destruction of nature to continue. It’s in creating huge problems for future generations. It’s in ignoring the right to life of all species. It’s in supporting policies that allows huge gaps between the few wealth and the many poor. It’s in systemic racism. And much more.

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My relationship with religions

Someone asked me if I consider myself Christian. When the question comes from a more conventional view, it’s difficult to answer since it’s not a yes or no answer.

What I said was: No, I don’t identify myself as Christian. And, yes, I find value in the Jesus story.

How do I see religions in general?

Religions are organizations. Their main purpose is to maintain themselves and that often takes priority over truth or anything else. There is also all the human dynamics that come with organizations, hierarchy, and power. And if there is doctrine, then it tends to stifle curiosity, honesty, and sincere exploration.

Most of them have elements of real insights. I can find valuable pointers in any religion. I can find valuable spiritual practices in each of them. I can use the mythology within each religion as a mirror for myself and way for me to find it in myself. At a social level, I know religions serve an important function and can be very helpful at individual and social levels (while they also have their downsides).

So when it comes to religions as organizations, I don’t personally feel I need to get involved. At the same time, I appreciate those who do since they allow the traditions to go on and future generations to benefit from them.

As a repository of explicit and implicit (through the mythology) pointers, I find a lot of value in each of them.

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXXII

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.

From 2001: A Space Odyssey

AN ALIEN INTELLIGENCE WILL BE ALIEN TO US

I saw someone commenting that he doesn’t like the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey much because he doesn’t understand the alien aspect of the story. For me, that’s one of the brilliant things about the movie. The story is shrouded in mystery.

An alien intelligence will be alien to us. It will be mysterious. We won’t be able to make sense of it based on our own experiences, and our own experiences is all we have. It’s easy to imagine an initial alien encounter that’s a complete mystery and completely baffling to us. And even if we gather more information and think we understand more, we may discover we don’t understand it as well as we thought.

In most sci-fi, the aliens are us in another form. They have human drives and motivations, and they represent sides of us and are mirrors for us. Since that’s the explicit intention of most sci-fi, that’s completely appropriate.

If we want more realistic sci-fi stories, then we have movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Arrival. The alien intelligence here is alien to us. It’s mysterious, baffling, and confusing. It doesn’t quite make sense to us.

This is also one of the problems I have with some of the traditional alien-encounter stories. The aliens are too often just us in another disguise. They are scientists traveling through space to probe and examine us and tell us we need to take better care of Earth. In other stories, and especially the more shamanic or fairy-tale like ones, the encounters are truly mysterious and inexplicable, as I imagine is closer to how it may be in reality.

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Reflections on society, politics and nature XXXI

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.

POST-COVID ILLNESS & CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME

Mainstream doctors and media seem to acknowledge occasional long term effects of C19 infection, including fatigue, brain fog, post-exertion malaise (PEM), and damage to lungs and other organs.

These core symptoms of fatigue, brain fog, and PEM are the usual symptoms of post-viral syndrome or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). The physical damage to lungs and other organs seem more specific to C19.

Since CFS is a marginalized and often misunderstood illness, the C19 pandemic has the potential of being a turning point for CFS patients. The patients may be taken more seriously. CFS may be recognized as a mainly physical illness. And there may be more research into what causes CFS, what prevents recovery, and possible treatments.

It all depends on how mainstream doctors and media present it. Will they see the post-C19 problems as a subcategory of post-viral syndrome and CFS? Or will they see the two as separate and attribute the post-C19 challenges to damage to lungs, heart, and so on?

To me, it’s seems most reasonable to put it in the general category of post-viral syndrome and CFS, with some possibly unique problems like damage to organs. That’s also what will help the CFS situation the most.

BREXIT WOULDN’T BE DIFFICULT?

In a Norwegian article about Brexit, one of the experts interviewed said: nobody knew it would be this difficult.

Nobody could have guessed the specifics of what happened, but one of the supporting arguments against Brexit was exactly that it would be immensely difficult.

The EU rules are deeply interwoven with the British rules and regulations at all levels of government. It will take a long time to disentangle it all and redo it as they wish it to be.

Negotiating separate deals with – in theory – just about every single country in the world will be difficult and time consuming and will take years. (And they will be in a much weaker negotiating position than they were as members of the EU.)

And finally, as they have discovered, EU protects its own interests and they are not interested in making leaving EU easy or attractive.

The problems we have seen with Brexit isn’t so much from incompetence or political squabbles. It’s inherent in Brexit itself.

So far, they have mostly dealt just with the third of these points. After that’s done, they’ll still have the first and second to deal with.

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God is a black lesbian woman

God is a black lesbian woman.

Why not?

European Christianity depicted God as an older white man. Older white men were typically in the most privileged position. So for a church led by white older men, and where hierarchy and power was more important than supporting the marginalized, it made sense to make God an older white man. It gave legitimacy to the current hierarchy and power structure, and it gave legitimacy to racism, sexism, colonialism, witch-hunts, and systematic abuse of women, non-whites, and children.

In contrast, the Jesus of the New Testament was on the side of the marginalized. So why not depict God as a black lesbian woman? Or whomever is marginalized where we are?

If we see God as all there is, or if we see a spark of the divine in each of us, then God is also literally a black lesbian woman.

Image: Painting by the amazing artist Harmonia Rosales. (Who paints as I had planned to paint before I switched path.)

Vaccine communication & anti-vaxxers

In the past 40 years, Danish research has shown that the story of vaccines is not quite as simple as the World Health Organization, national health authorities and others portray it.

– from Vaccines – an unresolved story, Science News DK

Why do we see a backlash against vaccines these days?

I wonder if it’s partly connected with the way governments and doctors have communicated vaccine information. They tend to strongly push it and focus on the very real benefits of vaccines, while ignoring or glossing over the equally real complexity and occasional downsides.

Why would officials and authorities push vaccines in a one-sided way? It may come from thinking they obviously are needed and should be used so they don’t see the need to include the other side of the argument. They may want to avoid muddling the water or give ammunition to anti-vaxxers. Another factor may be lobbying from the powerful pharmaceutical industry since they obviously benefit from mass-scale vaccination projects.

As anyone who has ever been a child or teenager knows, one-sided persuasive communication creates a backlash. We know reality is not that simple. We know they are leaving something out. If we are a bit informed, we know what they leave out. So there will obviously be a backlash.

With a more balanced and grounded communication, it’s likely that the response also would be more balanced and grounded. Yes, vaccines are amazing and often a very good way to go. And yet, there are complexities and possible downsides that need to be addressed. Both are part of the picture.

We are used to accept risk. Cars help us get around but they also kill people. Pesticides may allow for an easier larger yield, but these too kill people. Medicines helps people stay healthy and alive, and they have side-effects and kill people in the wrong dosage. Hospitals help people stay alive, and hospitals also kill people – through mistakes, antibiotic-resistant infections, and so on.

We know about these risks, and most of us accept them.

And so also with vaccines. Yes, they often have some risks. And yet, their benefits often outweigh these risks. Most people are willing to accept the risk of some vaccines, especially if they are informed about these risks and feel the authorities are honest and open about it. In other cases, vaccines may seem less needed or the risks may be too high.

Through a more informed discussion, we could collectively be more discerning about when, how, and for whom any one vaccine is helpful.

This is an example of how conspiracy theories often have some basis in reality, although usually not in a literal sense. Yes, the issue of vaccines is more complex than authorities tend to acknowledge. And no, there is most likely no vast conspiracy behind it apart from the usual pressure and influence from those who benefit from it financially.

Charities show us where society has failed

Charities are mirrors. They shouldn’t exist in a healthy and functioning society.

The amount of charitable and non-profit organizations that are established to serve the underserved is a direct reflection on the brokenness of a society. […]

Find out what local and global legitimate charities exist, and we will know where the current system is failing us. There are other ways the system has to change but we can use charities as one index for what to get on the next ballot for change.

– my friend MB on social media

When I first came to the US, I was shocked to see that charities were trying to pick up the pieces of a failed society. They were doing a job, in a fragmented and piecemeal fashion, that wouldn’t be needed in a well functioning society. And they were trying to do a job that, if needed, should be done by us collectively, through governance and government.

And that’s what we see globally as well. Why do we have charities and NGOs working on poverty, clean water, hunger, basic medical care, animal rights, sustainability, and so on? Because we – collectively – through governance, have failed to take care of it.

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXX

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.

The only white people in the Bible are the ones who executed Jesus.

John Fuglesang

For Christians who hold racist views, there must be some cognitive dissonance. And perhaps especially for white Christians, as John Fuglesang points out in that quote.

One dissonance comes from the content of the teachings of Jesus where he – in words and actions – clearly spoke about love for everyone and actively supported the minorities, outcasts, and oppressed.

The other is that Jesus was obviously a dark skinned Jew, and the only Europeans in the Bible are the ones who executed Jesus, in addition to oppressing the Jews and other people in the area, stealing their resources, and occupying their land.

As usual, the question is how this applies to me. Where in me do I find this type of cognitive dissonance? Where do I generalize to whole groups of people and subtly – or overtly – dehumanize them?

Perhaps I am doing it towards the ones I see as racists and bigots? Perhaps I am overlooking the trauma it may come from? That their views may be a way for them to cope with their own pain? Or that they just adopted views from those around them without questioning these views or having life experiences that helped them question these views?

None of that justifies racism and bigotry. None of it makes the harm from it any less real. But it helps me see them as humans as you and me. It helps me see how we are all in the same boat.

AUGUST 22, 2020

IDEALISTIC VS PRAGMATIC IN US VOTING

One of the oldest polarities in politics is probably pragmatism versus idealism. And this is heightened in an odd way in the US with its two-party system. Instead of voting for the Democratic candidate, some progressives chose to not vote or vote for a third-party candidate.

As some say, this is a way to display ones privilege and disregard for the most vulnerable in society. People who vote this way, in reality, says that they would rather have a Republican president than have to vote for a less-than-ideal Democratic candidate, and they don’t care much for the people who will be impacted by the policies of a Republican president. (With Trump, the deaths and cruelty coming from his presidency is very real – through putting immigrants in cages, separating children from their families, mishandling the pandemic, attempting to do away with social safety nets etc.)

Another way to talk about this is to say that voting is less like a marriage and more like taking the bus. You can vote for someone without loving that person or their policies. As long as you go in a better direction than where you are, or a better direction than the alternative, that’s good enough. That is, in fact, very good.

The main problem here is the weird and less-than-democratic two-party system in the US. In most other democracies, we have the choice among a wide rang of political parties. There is always one or a few that fit our own views and values relatively closely, and these – most often – have a very real possibility of being included in a coalition government.

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Reflections on society, politics and nature XXIX

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.

NORWAY’S REASON FOR NOT RECOMMENDING FACE MASKS

In the beginning of the pandemic, the Norwegian government decided to not recommend face masks to reduce the spread of the virus.

If they had said we don’t have enough high-grade masks for everyone, and they are needed for people in the health profession, that would have made somewhat sense. (Although even lower grade masks lower the viral load, which is important.)

If they had said there isn’t enough research to show their effectiveness, that would also have made sense if it was true, but it wasn’t and isn’t. Masks either protect against infection or reduce the viral load, and that reduction can make the difference between a severe infection or a moderate or mild infection.

Instead, they said they won’t recommend it because people won’t know how to use masks properly. Even on the surface, this seems a deeply idiotic flawed reason.

Let’s see how this looks if we apply that argument to other things in life. For instance, does it mean we shouldn’t take medicines since we can risk taking them wrong? Or that people shouldn’t drive cars because they may not operate them properly? Or that people shouldn’t use electricity since they may stick knitting needles in the electric outlet?

In all other areas of life, we use a simple solution: education. We educate people in how to do certain things. So why not do the same with mask wearing? People have learned all the other things, so why not also something as relatively simple as wearing a face mask?

I suspect the real reason was lack of preparedness and lack of high-grade face masks for health professionals. And instead of admitting their lack of preparedness, they instead gave a flawed reason. In some ways, I secretly admire people who are willing to look stupid in public, but in this case, it also puts people at unnecessary risk, and especially those already vulnerable.

At the very least, they could have recommended face masks for certain groups of people, for instance those at high risk if they should get infected, and those who – for whatever reason – are in contact with a lot of people.

WHAT CONSERVATIVES AND LIBERALS FEAR

What do liberals fear? And is it different from what conservatives fear?

It seems that traditional conservatives often fear too much change. They want to keep things mostly as they are because its familiar. Change requires adjustment and it comes with unintentional and unforeseen consequences. It’s good to be a bit conservative in this way.

Another thing conservatives often fear is to lose their privelege. They don’t want others to have a bite of the cake life happened to give them.

What do liberals fear? The essence may be a fear that some people and groups are seen as out-groups and their needs are not being taken care of. For this reason, they may fear bigotry, racism, intolerance, poverty, lack of education and universal healthcare, destruction of ecosystems, loss of species, and loss of opportunities for a good life for future generations.

Another difference is that conservatives tend to take care of “their” group and think others should do the same, and liberals tend to wish to take care of everyone – often including nonhumans and future generations.

Of course, it’s not always that simple. Sometimes, conservatives see all of life as their in-group, and liberals can have their own out-groups. And there are different types of conservatives and liberals. But for traditional conservatives and liberals, there may be some general truth to this.

I have my own bias which I am sure colors how I see this, but I also see the value in both general orientations. In their sane and healthy forms, they are both needed and they complement each other.

JULY 31, 2020

ADOPTING THE RELIGION OF THE OPPRESSOR

I know this is a sensitive subject and I am not the right person to talk about it when it comes to other groups, but the general topic is worth addressing.

One of the effects of colonialism – apart from slavery, extraction of resources, oppression and so on – is that the oppressed took on the religion and often general worldview of the oppressor.

We see this clearly in Africa where most now are Christians, and African-Americans in North-America who also have embraced Christianity.

Historically, it makes sense. They initially took on Christianity to survive, and then their descendants took it on because it had become normal to them. And I don’t question the sincerity of their faith today.

Still, perhaps this is something to look at. Although it was a very different situation, my ancestors took on Christianity because it was more or less forced on them, sometimes even violently. So is that a reason for me to take on Christianity?

Why should I, just because it’s part of my culture and my ancestors at some point were converted, often in very questionable circumstances?

When I decided in elementary school to call myself an atheist, this was one of the reasons. Why should I take on the religion in the culture I happened to be born into? It didn’t make sense to me.

It doesn’t make sense to assume that the religion I happened to be born into should happen to be the one right one, or even the one that was the best fit for me, or the one that would make the most sense to me.

I know there are many reasons for people to take on the religion of their community. For us, as social animals, it’s often genuinely more important to fit in and belong than examining and questioning religions more throughly. It’s natural and understandable. And yet, it’s good to be honest about it.

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Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things XV

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on healing, awakening, and personal things. These are more spontaneous and less comprehensive than the regular articles. Some may be a little on the rant side. And some may be made into a regular article in time.

THE SUPERIORITY OF HUMANS?

His work is contentious, he says, because it calls into question the superiority of humans.

– from The secret life of plants: how they memorise, communicate, problem solve and socialise in The Guardian

Even since I was a kid, I have found the idea of inherent human superiority a bit (or a lot!) ridiculous.

The idea comes from our culture, and perhaps many cultures around the world. It comes from a power-over orientation and is used to support this power-over orientation. It’s how we tell ourselves it’s OK to imprison non-human beings, use them as slaves, eat them, torture them, and destroy their natural habitat.

The reality is that we are one species of animals among many. We happened to be one that developed symbolic language, technology, and more. And we are able to control and make use of other species for our own apparent benefit so we do, and we have found ways to justify it so we can pretend we feel better about it.

That’s about it. There is nothing inherently superior about humans. We are one of many species. We are a part of the living seamless whole of Earth as everything else. We are the local eyes, ears, feelings, and thoughts of the universe, as many other species are in their own way.

Last but not least, any sense of superiority comes from an idea of superiority. It’s not inherent in life or reality.

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Reflections on society, politics and nature XXVIII

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.

WHY DO I CELEBRATE OUR NATIONAL DAY?

I have lived in Norway and the US, and on the respective national days, a question comes up for me.

What can I find that feels genuinely right to celebrate?

For me, it’s a mix of gratitude for what I have and have experienced in the country. An acknowledgment of the dark sides of the history and current affairs of the country. And the beauty of interdependence.

Why do I feel a need to examine this for myself? Because the usual reasons for celebrating the national day are not sufficient or don’t feel completely right to me. And I know there is something else there. If I look, I can find genuine reasons to celebrate, and that makes the celebration feel much better for me.

JULY 5, 2020

PANEDMIC AND CLIMATE CRISIS: WALKING INTO IT WITH OPEN EYES AND COMPLETELY UNPREPARED

We knew a pandemic would come. And yet, most countries were utterly unprepared for it. For instance, in Norway, the current conservative government had done away with extra ICUs and medical equipment that was needed to deal with a natural or man-made disaster that requires medical attention for a large number of people. Conservatism today means to be “efficient” and not to take care of people and the land.

This is the same with our current climate crisis. We know we are in the middle of it. We have known it for decades. And yet most countries do very little about it. We are walking with open eyes into a far larger disaster than what we are currently seeing.

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Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things XII

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on healing, awakening, and personal things. These are more spontaneous and less comprehensive than the regular articles. Some may be a little on the rant side. And some may be made into a regular article in time.

OPINIONS & IDENTITY

Opinion is really the lowest form of human knowledge. It requires no accountability, no understanding. The highest form of knowledge… is empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and live in another’s world. It requires profound purpose larger than the self kind of understanding.

– Bill Bullard

This is expressed in a somewhat judgmental way but it does point to something important.

When I interact with others, what’s my main purpose for the interaction?

Is it to connect? If so, any topic is fine. I can set aside my opinions and focus on topics that help us connect. Perhaps about something shared or not so charged. Even better, I can ask questions about the other and get to know them. For instance, what does he or she love or love to do? What’s meaningful for them? What are they passionate about?

Is it to get to know the other? If so, questions are most helpful, and perhaps especially questions about what they love, find meaningful, is interested in, and so on. (My own opinions are not so relevant.)

Is it to explore a topic? If so, our experiences, orientations, and opinions may serve as a starting point and we can engage in an exploration that moves beyond our starting points. We may find a way to look at it that includes more experiences, orientations, and viewpoints.

Is it to display my identity and get a sense of the identity of the other? If so, then putting out our opinions is useful.

These questions can be very illuminating. After a conversation, we can ask ourselves these type of questions to see where we were coming from. And also where we would like to come from in future conversations. And what may derail us.

What derails us? Do we miss or lose sight of our deeper intention? Do we fall into a familiar pattern? Do we get caught in some insecurity, fear, and wanting to be liked?

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Reflections on society, politics and nature XXVII

Continued from previous posts…. These posts are collections of brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include short personal notes as well. Click “read more” to see all the entries.

THE UPSIDE OF TRUMP

When Trump was elected, there were demonstrations in many cities in the US.

I never saw Trump’s election as “wrong”. How could it be? He was nominated through the usual process. He was elected in the usual way. It’s a democracy. Enough people wanted him as their president to get him elected.

He is a symptom as well as a problem. On one level, he is a symptom of racism, bigotry, people who feel their white privilege is threatened, and so on. On another level, he is a symptom of much deeper systemic problems.

He is a symptom of fear and despair among people who feel powerless because they feel their voice is not heard. He is a symptom of the fear and despair of people who don’t have the basics in life to help them feel more secure and safe, including universal healthcare and good social safety nets. He is a symptom of collective trauma created by a system that prioritizes profit – often for the few – over the well-being of the many. He is a symptom of news media that prioritizes profit and entertainment over social responsibility (most mainstream media). He is a symptom of news media that prioritizes political agenda and polarization over reality and what’s good for the country as a whole (Fox News). He is a symptom of a political system that allows the interest of big money take priority over the interest of the people. He is a symptom of a system where many are kept in ignorance of what’s really going on. He is a symptom of a system where kids don’t learn (enough) media literacy, critical thinking, and how to identify and address the deeper systemic problems. He is a symptom of a system where those in power are not interested in or able to address the deeper systemic problems.

Even more than this, he is a symptom of collective cultural trauma. He is a symptom of a culture that lives from power-over rather than power-with.

The upside of the Trump presidency – for all its horrors and damage – is that it highlights these deeper and more systemic problems. These were there before he was elected and will be there after he was gone.

With a more “normal” president, many can pretend that these deeper problems are not there. But we can’t do that so easily with Trump.

Cornell West recently described the US a failed social experiment. Trump is a symptom of this failed social experiment.

JUNE 6, 2020

POLICE BRUTALITY

In response to the demonstrations in the US these days against systemic racism and police brutality, the police has often responded with more racism and senseless brutality. It only shows how common it is and how certain the police officers are that there will not be consequences.

This Twitter feed has – as of this writing – more than 260 examples of police brutality and violence, mostly against peaceful protesters.

This is not only a serious problem within the police culture in the US. It’s a problem coming from militarization of the police. It’s a problem with the higher-ups in the system allowing this to happen. It’s a problem with politicians allowing it to happen. It’s a problem with voters electing politicians allowing it to happen. It’s a problem with the media allowing it to happen. It’s a problem that comes from centuries of racism and structural racism. It’s a problem that comes from a country built on colonization, theft, genocide, and slavery. It’s a problem that comes from a country that continues what it was built on and never really acknowledged it or deal with it.

Most of all, it’s a problem that comes from collective trauma. Abuse leads to abuse. Abused people abuse. Hurt people hurt.

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The banality of evil and our ecological crisis

As Hannah Arendt pointed out, in Nazi Germany, most of the atrocities were committed by good family men who followed orders. They just did what was expected of them. And they didn’t take responsibility to change or pull out of the situation.

The same is the case today in our era of ecological destruction. Most of the destruction is done by people just doing what’s expected of them – and that includes me and probably you.

In Nazi Germany, they lived within a Nazi system requiring them to imprison, torture, or kill large numbers of people.

In our society today, we live within a social and economic system that doesn’t take ecological realities into account. A normal life within this system “requires” us to live in a way that’s ecologically destructive.

The banality of evil doesn’t just apply to Nazi Germany. It applies to us today.

So what can we do about it?

To me, it’s important to realize that this is a problem with the system we live within. It’s not only or mainly about “evil” corporations or politicians or any other specific people. Our social and economic system was created in the 1700s and 1800s, at a time where natural resources and the ability of nature of absorb the waste of civilization seemed unlimited. This system doesn’t take ecological realities into account because it didn’t have to.

When we live within this system today, with a much higher population and more effective technologies, it’s predictable that it will have harmful ecological consequences – to the extent that our civilization is at risk.

This is about all of us. We all live within this system whether we like it or not. (Apart from a very few who have radically departed from it by choice or for other reasons.)

So it’s up to all of us to educate ourselves about the real problem – our current system and what the alternatives are, speak up about it, support the alternatives, and vote at elections and with our money to nudge changes in the right direction.

We need to create a new system where what’s easy and attractive to do – for individuals and businesses – is what’s sound ecologically and takes future generations into account. And that’s very possible if we – collectively – decide to do it.

And it starts with you and me. Even small steps in this direction matter a lot.

Beyond ecology and 1800s structures: Power-over mindset

I intentionally focused on the ecological crisis and economic structures from the last two or three hundred years in what I wrote above, just to keep it simple. But that’s a bit misleading since the cultural roots of the ecological crisis goes back much further and those roots are connected to other social issues.

The ecological crisis does come from recent(ish) economic and social structures.

But it also comes from a power-over mindset that came with agriculture and has been prominent in the European and other civilizations. And this power-over mindset not only has harmed nature but women, children, animals, those who fall outside of the mainstream, and really all of us.

When we operate from a power-over mindset, we harm a lot of people, animals, and nature around us. And we also harm ourselves. We apply the same power-over mindset to ourselves – to our body, to parts of ourselves, and to ourselves as a whole. We all suffer from it.

This is part of the banality of evil. It’s the banality of evil we all live from and suffer from when we operate from a power-over mindset. And just about all of us in western culture, and in many other agrarian cultures around the world, live with and partially from this power-over mindset.

Stephen Porges: If you want to improve the world

If you want to improve the world, start by making people feel safer.

– Stephen Porges

What happens when we feel unsafe? We go into survival mode and tend to think mostly about ourselves or a small circle of family and friends. It may fuel us vs. them thinking, blame, radicalism, and even violence.

What happens when people feel safer? In general, we relax, can function better, and have a larger circle of concern. It tends to encourage we-thinking and a bigger picture view.

What are some things that will help people feel safer?

What can we do at a social level? A good start may be universal healthcare. Good social safety nets. Trauma informed teachers, doctors, and parents. Reduced economic inequality. Reduced poverty.

And what can we do as individuals, for ourselves? A good start is to explore how to be a safe place for the parts of us that don’t feel safe. Give love to the parts of us that feel unloved or unlovable. Listen to the parts that has not been listened to. Be there for the parts we have run away from.

Brief notes on healing and awakening and occasional personal things IV

This is a post in a series of posts with brief notes on healing, awakening, and personal things. These are more spontaneous and less comprehensive than the regular articles. Some may be a little on the rant side. And some may be made into a regular article in time.

HEART PRACTICES

If I was going to recommend one practice, what would it be? Inquiry? Meditation? Body-oriented practices?

It depends on the person and their situation and what they are looking for.

But, in general, I would say heart-centered practices.

Heart prayer. Ho’oponopno. Tonglen. Christ meditation. Or something similar.

Practices that helps us reorient in how we relate to ourselves, others, the world, and existence in general.

To the extent we allow these practices to work on us, they can be deeply healing and transformative. They also support awakening, and they support living from – and as – this awakening.

CHRIST MEDITATION

I have gone back to heart prayer (Jesus Prayer) and Christ meditation over the last few days.

The heart or Jesus prayer is simple and from the Eastern church. Say in your mind a simple prayer, for instance: Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me. Synchronize it with the breath so the first half is on the in breath and the second half on the out breath. And then synchronize it with your heart beats. (Lord Jesus Christ _ Have Mercy Upon Me.) Keep saying the prayer through the day.

It may be easiest to start with the words, then add the breath, and finally the heart beats. After a while, it becomes second nature. And after a while, it’s as if the prayer is saying itself. There may even be a sense of it continuing during sleep.

Give yourself over to the prayer. Allow it to work on you. Notice and allow.

A good informal introduction to this prayer is The Way of a Pilgrim. Some of the descriptions of the effects of the prayer may seem fanciful but most (all? I don’t remember anymore) are accurate from my own experience.

The Christ meditation is also from the Eastern church. Visualize Christ in whatever form works for you (for me, as light and consciousness) in your heart, in front and behind you, and over and below you. Perhaps 1.5 meters outside the body. Rest with this. Allow it to work on you.

And if Christ doesn’t resonate with you, use any expression of the divine that works for you. This practice is also found in other traditions, for instance in Tibetan Buddhism where you use your Guru or an aspect of Buddha Mind.

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