Reflections on society, politics and nature – vol. 70

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.

MOSKOW VS WASHINGTON DC, 1434

I saw this meme with an image of Moskow and Washington DC in the early 1400s. Moskow has churches and big buildings. Washington, D.C. has native American tents. There is no commentary, but I suspect the idea is to show that Russia had civilization back then and North America did not.

That’s misguided at so many levels.

NORTH AMERICA AND RUSSIA ARE BOTH EUROPEAN CIVILIZATIONS

The current North American civilization and Russia are both European civilizations.

What we see in North America today is not the civilization of the indigenous people. (Some of us wish it were.)

NATIVE AMERICAN CIVILIZATIONS

The image combination may suggest that the Native American civilization was somehow primitive or inferior to the Russian civilization at the time.

If so, that’s a questionable view.

The indigenous people in the Americas had their own civilizations.

Even from a conventional European view, many of these were sophisticated and advanced. For example, we can find democracy, equality between the genders, sustainable agriculture, sophisticated architecture, advanced languages and mathematics, large buildings and cities, and so on.

INDIGENOUS CULTURES CAN BE SEEN AS MORE ADVANCED

If we want to compare civilizations, the way we do it obviously depends on our own views and what we value. If we use the filter of traditional European values, then the European civilization will necessarily appear superior. But those are not the only valid and valuable views and values. Other values may be more essential and important, especially today.

European culture and civilization is, in many ways, unhealthy and damaging to nature and people. It sees humans as separate from the rest of nature. It has an idea of a remote sky-god. It sees nature as infinite and here for humans. It sees humans as superior to other beings. It values intellect over heart and the wisdom of the body. It’s traditionally racist and sexist. It has often been colonialist. It has an extractive mindset.

In contrast, many indigenous cultures see humans as part of the web of life. The divine is right here in and around us, which is more conducive to reverence for life. They often have a more ecological mindset and a more ecologically sustainable way of life.

The first is ecocidal and suicidal. The second is more life-centered.

Of course, is not always that simple. There is much value in European culture, and many indigenous cultures have views and habits that most of us wouldn’t like to be exposed to. But in general, European culture is profoundly misguided on some essential and basic things, and many indigenous cultures were and are not.

NOT MEANT TO BE SCRUTINIZED

I understand that these memes are not meant to be scrutinized like this. The people posting them do it for emotional reasons. In this case, the meme only works if you don’t think about it and follow racist logic.

Some pro-Russian propaganda can be surprisingly naive. Still, it’s sometimes adopted by some Western folks on the left.

Why? It’s likely because Putin and some Westerners on the left both like to criticise the US and Western Europe for their policies and how they sometimes treat the rest of the world. They use a “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” logic.

I am also no fan of much of what the US and Western Europe have done and are doing. That doesn’t mean I leave my brain at the door and adopt the views of Russian propaganda.

A MORE SANE VIEW

For me, there is a more grounded and sane approach.

European culture – whether it’s in the US or Russia or anywhere else – is profoundly misguided on several essentials. It has a power-over orientation, an extractive mindset, it sees nature as infinite and primarily existing for human use, the sacred is separate and “out there” somewhere, and so on. That’s found equally in the US and in Russia, and it’s ecocidal and ultimately suicidal.

Indigenous cultures often have views and orientations that are more sane and ecological. These are one piece of the puzzle in transforming into a more ecologically sustainable civilization.

That’s far more fundamental and essential than any US vs Russia debate. And if I wanted to go into that particular discussion, I would certainly not adopt a “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” orientation.

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Water in Barichara

Barichara has wet and dry seasons. The dry season is usually December-April, with two or three good rains within that period. Some years, it rains a lot through the year. In other years, the dry seasons last longer.

We are in the dry season and just had a very welcome early morning rain here. I measured it, and it was around 5cm. I imagine many beings are very happy for it – people, animals, birds, insects, and plants.

The roof of our small house is about 100m2. 1mm of rain on one square meter gives 1 liter of water. 1mm of rain on this roof is 100 liters. This rain gave 5,000 liters of water from the roof. That’s quite a lot.

There is no lack of water here, and it is important to manage it well.

FINCA MILAGROS

We collect water from town in one large and one smaller tank. That means we have water for a while even if the water from town doesn’t flow.

We will install a several-step water filtration system (from sand filter through eventually UV light) for clean drinking water. The alternative is water from large plastic bottles, which is terrible due to all the microplastic particles in the water (200,000 in small plastic water bottles from a recent study).

We will soon start collecting rainwater from the roofs here. I am not sure how big the tanks will be, and we may expand. For now, we are thinking of 2×15,000 liters for the larger house that’s being built (220m2 roof surface) and one 15,000-liter tank for our small house. These tanks will be filled up quickly with some good rains, and we will use the water to water plants. (Perhaps also for showering etc., not sure yet.)

Finca Milagros has one large pond and 3-4 smaller ones. We want to channel rainwater better into these ponds, and make them deeper, so they can hold more water. This is important for the birds, animals, and insects relying on that water, it helps the vegetation and life in the areas around the ponds, and it also helps to replenish the groundwater.

The land here has been grazed so only the area around the big pond has a more mature forest. The rest is various degrees of young forest and arid land. Vegetation helps slow down the flow of water and helps the water absorb into the ground, so that’s one of many reasons we are planning to reforest the area with native trees and bushes.

Bare soil is eroded when it rains. That’s why we are planting cactus and succulents there, mostly native. We are also planting hardy native trees there, mostly boca ratón right now. And we are doing some simple landscaping, mostly with rocks, to reduce erosion.

There is a dry river going through Milagros. It’s dry because of deforestation. Forests bring water into the ground (slows the water flow and makes the ground more porous) and reduce evaporation, both of which give water to the river. With reforestation, there is a chance we can bring the water back into the river, especially if we are also able to help reforest the land higher up.

BARICHARA

As far as I know, there are no groundwater regulations here. That’s enormously important. We need to prevent too much use and contamination of groundwater. (Many houses here use septic fields that leach blackwater into the groundwater.) Depleting the groundwater reserves has a huge impact on the ecosystem. Both depleting and contaminating it has serious and devastating consequences for the very long term. Protecting the groundwater is hugely important.

The water that comes from the municipality (aqueduct) is contaminated. That’s another important thing to work on since not everyone can afford good purification systems or to buy drinking water separately. It’s a vital public health issue.

Reforestation is also hugely important. Forests hold humidity and create rain. The other side of Cañon del Chicamocha has more forests and there are always clouds there. I assume they also receive more rain. They (partially) create rain for themselves.

The photo is of the other side of Cañon del Chicamocha at sunset

agua, barichara, santander, agua subterránea, protección del agua

At the start of every disaster movie is a scientist being ignored

At the start of every disaster movie is a scientist being ignored.

– Paraphrased tweet by Neil deGrasse-Tyson

Yes, that’s true for many movies.

It’s also true for us collectively in real life right now.

When it comes to climate change, scientists are being ignored in two different ways. One is that some deny the findings and think they know better. The other is that we accept it but collectively don’t make the required changes.

Similarly, scientists talk about global ecological overshoot. That’s a bigger picture that includes climate change and is far more serious and important. We support our civilization by using the metaphorical savings of Earth, which looks fine for a while until we hit the bottom of the savings account and all – ecosystems and our civilization – come crashing down. This too is being ignored by most people.

This has been one of my main concerns and focus – and sometimes work – since my teens in the ’80s. For a while, I thought society and humanity would be smart enough to take it seriously before we were in the middle of the crisis. Now, I am not so sure. And really, I cannot know. I cannot know how it all will unfold. All I can do is to be a small part of the solution and act in my own life in the ways I can – voting for parties taking this seriously (in my case, the Green Party in Norway), protecting and helping to regenerate the land we have here in the Andes (and also collect water, use solar energy and create a food forest), talking with people about it if they are interested and receptive, eat mostly local and organic, and so on.

Image by me and Midjourney

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Rural challenges

We all live within an ecocidal civilization, and we all notice and are marked by it in different ways.

SNAKES IN PARADISE

In my case, I have a regeneration project in the Andes mountains. We built our tiny house here. We will plant nearly a thousand native trees in the next few weeks. We wish to make this land into even more of a paradise than it is. We live in a peaceful and magical neighborhood with just a few small farmers and people like us with regeneration and rewilding projects.

There are snakes in paradise, as so often. In this case, the main snake is a huge hotel project being built right across from where we are, in full sight of our house, and where we had more buildings imagined. They are planning an open party and event building right there, which will likely produce a lot of noise. They are also planning the hotel with three-digit rooms, swimming pools, a replica of a traditional town, and a shopping center with chain stores.

To me, this is all madness in this neighborhood. It will create a lot of noise. It will increase the traffic here, on a tiny road where two cars already have trouble meeting. It will take business from innumerable small family-owned businesses. They will deplete the groundwater which will impact all of us in the neighborhood and the ecosystem here. (The trees and vegetation are dependent on a good groundwater level.) Almost nobody wants them here. And the project was approved through what people say was a not-so-transparent process.

These kinds of destructive projects are symptoms of our ecocidal civilization. None of us can escape it. (Unless we are apparently very lucky or have enough money to buy our own island, and even then we are impacted.)

HOW AM I DEALING WITH IT?

How am I dealing with it?

It’s not just one way.

We are in conversation with lawyers, community organizers, and the new mayor.

We are looking at our own personal options and a range of options. (Including at our land.)

I know that this, to me, is all happening within and as the consciousness I am. The consciousness I am is forming itself into it. I am doing ho’oponopono for the hotel project and the ones behind it, and also the distressed parts of myself. (Of course, that it’s happening within the consciousness I am doesn’t mean it isn’t also happening in an outer world in a conventional sense. I have to assume that’s the case. And I am open to the possibility that it’s all happening within and as the divine. No matter what, it’s lila. It’s the play of the consciousness I am. It’s the play of life and the evolution of this living planet and the universe. It’s the play within the divine forming itself into all of this, whether we call the universe the divine or assume all of existence is divine consciousness.)

I am also using tonglen with the people behind the hotel project.

We are using a lot using different Vortex Healing tools and approaches to move the situation in a direction better for the neighborhood and nature here.

I am working on the issues in me that reflect and mirror these kinds of situations. Since the dark part of the dark night started 10-15 years ago, projects and my life in general have repeatedly fallen apart in amazing ways. Something happens that’s a dream for me, it’s starting, and then it falls apart. That has happened over and over in many areas of life. (I lost my health. I lost my dream job. I lost my house and all my belongings. I lost the opportunity to do an amazing PhD in exactly the area I wanted. I lost an amazing relationship that looked perfect. I lost the opportunity to become a US citizen and even lost my residency due to a weird combination of a vital project I needed to finish in Norway, the pandemic, and because Norway was one of the last countries in the world to allow dual citizenship. If I buy something I really like, it often gets destroyed almost immediately. (For reasons outside of my control.) And so on and so on. It seems endless. What parts in me have a charge around this drama and loss? How is it to invite in healing or those parts of me?

How do I see these people? The people behind the destructive project? Can I find it in myself? Can I take the stories I have about them, turn it to myself, and find specific and genuine examples for how it’s true? Can I relate to it with kindness and understanding in myself? Can I find peace with it in myself? Can I relate to it more intentionally in myself?

LILA & MORE

As mentioned above, I see this as lila. The play of the consciousness I am. The play of this evolving living planet and universe. The play of the divine, in whatever way we understand that. (As the universe, as a consciousness that forms itself into all there is.) It’s an opportunity to deepen into that recognition.

It’s also an opportunity to ground even more in my nature as consciousness and all of this happening within and as what I am, and temporarily forming itself into all of this.

It’s an opportunity to find genuine love for the parts of me coming up (reactivity, sadness, grief, anger) that want to protect me and are forms of love.

It’s an opportunity to take action in my personal life and the community.

It’s an opportunity to invite in healing for issues in me mirrored in what’s happening. (Anything in me that has a charge around and connects with loss and drama.)

It’s an opportunity to find in myself what I see in them and relate to it with more kindness and more intentionally.

EVERYTHING IS INVOLVED

Everything is involved in this situation – our ecocidal civilization, the worldview behind it of separation and power-over orientation, politics, corruption, sustainability, community, emotional issues, taking action, prayer, divine support, and it’s even a small part in how our civilization and how humanity unfolds.

The question is: How do I deal with it? How do I wish to deal with it?

UPDATE A FEW DAYS LATER

We have received amazing support from the Vortex Healing community in working with the land and situation here energetically. I am very grateful and curious to see how it unfolds. Amma has also been involved in an amazing way.

The princes in the tower: Buying into Tudor views on Richard III and what it says about us

I have been following Philippa Langley’s work for about a decade now, after initially hearing about her fascinating story of how she found Richard III in a car park in Leicester. Yesterday, I listened to a Gone Medieval podcast episode where she talks about her research into what happened with the princes in the tower.

For centuries, historians and the public at large have largely bought into Tudor propaganda about Richard III, including that he had the princes in the tower killed because they were rivals to his throne. While all the time, there was an absence of contemporary documents suggesting they died at that time, and other documents strongly suggesting that the princes lived for years later.

WHY IS THIS INTERESTING?

Why am I interested in this?

It’s not because I am particularly interested in Richard III, although I am generally interested in history.

It’s because it says something about us – individually and collectively.

BUYING INTO PROPAGANDA RATHER THAN LOOKING AT REALITY

In this case, we have the Tudor family that violently took over the throne of England. They were concerned about their perceived legitimacy, so they wanted to bolster their image by depicting Richard III – the king they disposed of – as a shady character. They received support in this project from many who saw the benefit of being on their good side, including Shakespeare.

Historians apparently largely bought into this propaganda, including the story of Richard III having the princess in the tower killed. They were happy to base it on works of fiction and the popular view without closely examining the data supporting or contradicting that story.

WE ALL DO IT

We all do this. We all buy into certain stories because it’s a popular view or because it gives us something. We often do it without closely examining the stories and what supports or contradicts them.

We do it collectively, and we do it in our own life.

Fortunately, we all also have a Philippa Langley in us. We have a part of us willing and able to investigate to find what’s genuinely more true for us.

WHAT ARE SOME COLLECTIVE EXAMPLES TODAY?

I’ll give a couple of examples of how we collectively seem to be doing this today. These are my typical bee-in-the-bonnet examples (!).

WHAT WE MORE FUNDAMENTALLY ARE

One popular view is that we most fundamentally are this human self. We are fundamentally this person, a doer, an observer, and so on. Even most philosophers and psychologists seem to buy into this view without apparently examining it very closely through phenomenology or logic. It may or may not be accurate in a third-person view, but is it what we most fundamentally are in a first-person view?

What I find is that to myself, I am more fundamentally consciousness and the world to me happens within and as that consciousness. And I am capacity for all of that – I am capacity for the consciousness I am and all that it forms itself into.

We can find the same through logic. If we “have” consciousness, then to ourselves we must BE consciousness. And if the world to us happens within and as consciousness, it happens within and as the consciousness we are. The consciousness we are forms itself into our whole field of experience. It’s all we have ever known. This consciousness has no outer edge. To us, we are oneness and the world happens within and as oneness. We are even more fundamentally capacity for all of this. And so on.

GLOBAL ECOLOGICAL OVERSHOOT

Another is a set of collective assumptions about our ecological crisis. For instance, that it’s mostly about climate change, we still have time to deal with it, someone else will do it, and we can solve it through technology or peripheral tweaks to how we collectively organize ourselves.

This is obviously a naive view. We have been in a global ecological overshoot for decades. We would need more than two Earths to support our current collective consumption. That means that we are spending from our ecological “savings account”. This looks more or less OK for a while until we hit the bottom, and then our lifestyle collapses. In this case, it’s the planet’s ecosystems that collapse and our civilization with it. It’s inevitable when we are in ecological overshoot. There is no other way it can end.

WHY DO WE BUY INTO THESE STORIES?

Why do we collectively buy into these stories even if the data is available to show us something else?

I assume it’s similar to why historians have bought into the Tudor propaganda about Richard III.

It’s the popular view so it’s more convenient and comfortable to buy into it. We may be socialized into these views and don’t find a reason to question them.

Going against it is often inconvenient and uncomfortable. We’ll find ourselves in the minority. We’ll meet resistance. Our views may be dismissed and ridiculed.

We may not feel we have the time or energy to investigate closely. Something else seems more important, interesting, comfortable, and so on.

We have other priorities. We may prioritize agreeing with the popular views and being included. We may prioritize living our life without adding extra revolutions and changes. We may prioritize something else over what we would find is more true for us. We may prioritize comfort.

HARNESSING OUR INTERNAL PHILIPPA LANGLEY

How can we find and harness the Philippa Langley in us?

One is to examine our priorities. What’s most important to me? To hold onto my views or to find what’s more true for me? To stay with what’s familiar or to open myself up to something new and different and something my mind may not be able to predict in advance?

Another is to examine my fears around it. What do I fear would happen if I prioritize what’s more true for me? What do I fear would happen if that happens? And so on. How likely is it to happen? Am I willing to have it happen? Would I be able to deal with it?

In general, I find that inquiry is very helpful here combined with sincerity and a willingness to prioritize reality over my personal preferences and wishes and fears. Of course, that’s not something I can always do in all areas of life. But I can investigate one area and one line of assumptions at a time, and do it with as much sincerity I can find in me. And I can use my experience of friction – discomfort and stress – as a pointer to when and where I am holding onto assumptions that are out of alignment with reality. In find that the Work of Byron Katie is very helpful here, as are the Kiloby Inquiries.

Why would we do this? Isn’t it more comfortable to just go along with our current ideas of how things are?

It may seem more comfortable. What I find, through examination, is that it’s actually more comfortable to find what’s more true and honest for me. Living is a fantasy is inherently uncomfortable. It’s something my mind needs to create and defend. It’s out of alignment with reality so there is inevitably friction between my views and reality. Finding what’s more true for me is more peaceful since there is less to defend and there is less inherent friction. (There will always be some friction since there is always more layers and and more to examine.)

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Reflections on society, politics and nature – vol. 68

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

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

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

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

PEACE -> LESS RELIGIOUS

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

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

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How do I keep my heart open with all the terrible things happening in the world?

Finding it in myself is one path to keeping my heart open.

If I only see it “out there”, it’s difficult to keep my heart open. It’s too easy to go into judgment, separation, self-righteousness, and so on.

If I recognize in myself what I see in others, with concrete examples and viscerally, my heart opens to myself and others.

HOW CAN I DO IT?

The Work of Byron Katie is one of the most effective ways I have found, especially with the guidance of an experienced facilitator. (When done with sincerity and specificity, and allowing ourselves to take in what we find.)

Tonglen is also effective, as is ho’oponopno.

Other forms of inquiry can also be helpful like the Kiloby Inquiries or even the Big Mind process if skilfully facilitated.

WHY WOULD I WANT TO DO IT?

For me, the answer is that it’s more comfortable.

It’s more comfortable to have an open heart to myself and others.

It also helps me respond with more skill and discernment, and less from reactivity. It makes me slightly less annoying and more effective in the world.

REAL LIFE

Is it easy? No, obviously not.

It’s easy when I feel generally good and somewhat removed from what’s happening, and I am doing these practices in the comfort of my home or a spiritual center.

And it’s not so easy when I am in the thick of it and my own hangups, traumas, and painful beliefs are triggered. Going into my old habitual patterns is sometimes easier, at least for a while until the storm fades and I can relate to things with a little more clarity and kindness again.

That’s part of the process. It’s messy.

I can open my heart to that too – to my own struggle and the struggle of others. There too, we are in the same boat.

How we align ourselves in international conflicts, and with international law & human rights

It’s interesting to see how people respond to the current wars in Ukraine and Gaza.

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

Some align themselves with the reverse and support or justify Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and support the Palestinians.

Some align themselves with the underdogs – Ukraine and the Palestinians. (I tend to have sympathy with the underdogs and it’s also a common Norwegian view.)

Some may even support Russia & Israel. I imagine some jews in Russia would.

The above is more of a tribal orientation. Our priority is to support one or the other for ideological, identity, or strategic reasons. And it leads us to sometimes overlook or minimize clear violations of international law and human rights.

Some align themselves with human rights and international law and prioritize these over any other sympathies and affiliations. All sides in these conflicts have likely committed war crimes and human rights violations, and it cannot be justified. This is, obviously, more of a modern orientation.

Where am I in this? It’s probably clear from how I write. I am definitely in the last category. I am on the side of international law and human rights, and on the side of the civilians.

Russia is clearly breaking international law by invading Ukraine and committing war crimes. (I am all for supporting Ukraine in defending itself, that’s what I would want for Norway if we were attacked.) The horrific Hamas attack on Israeli civilians is clearly against international law. Israel has committed systematic human rights violations against Palestinians for decades. (Which has fueled a lot of resentment and hatred.) The international community has allowed them to do it, which is clearly very problematic. And Israel is violating international law and committing war crimes in their current and equally horrific attacks on civilians in Gaza. We can understand some of the background for what’s happening – for instance, historically and through a collective trauma lens. And there is absolutely no justification for these actions.

Of course, I am a child of my culture as much as anyone else. These views reflect the views of many in Norway. We tend to be on the side of the underdogs since we often have been the underdogs historically. International law and human rights are highly valued. We want to support Ukraine since we would want to be supported if we were invaded. And there has been a long tradition of sympathy with the plight of the Palestinians in Norway.

Why do I write about this? It may seem obvious to me and many others and it’s still a vital reminder. The essentials cannot be repeated too often, and it’s especially important at a time when tribalism of different types seems to thrive. And even more so because we live in a time when our civilization is under increasing pressure, especially from collapsing ecosystems, and we can expect even more tribalism in response.

This is a time when valuing human life – and prioritizing it over tribalism, ideologies, identities, and desire for revenge – is more important than ever. Not just for their sake, but for our own sake. And not just because escalating the cycle of violence eventually comes back to hurt us, but because it hurts us immediately.

We dehumanize ourselves when we dehumanize others. We hurt ourselves when we hurt others. That’s not just a poetic or wishful way to look at it. It actually happens and we’ll find it when we look.

Image by me and Midjourney

Reflections on society, politics and nature – vol. 67

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

ISRAEL & PALESTINE

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

Here is my response:

There are many layers here.

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

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

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

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

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Israel & Palestine: Hurt people hurt people

The drama in the Middle East keeps unfolding. These days, with the horrific attack by Hamas on civilians in Israel, and the response by Israel inflicting larger-scale horrors on the Palestinian population in Gaza.

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

And yet, the essence may not be that complicated.

THE ESSENCE

The essence is that hurt people hurt people.

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

The creation of Israel displaced or made a minority out of the non-Jewish people living there. (Of course, the Jewish people deserve and need their own country, but it still has consequences. Nobody likes to be displaced from their own country or be made into a minority.)

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

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

Many have hurt the Jewish people throughout history. The international community hurt Arab people by creating Israel. Hurt Israeli people continued to hurt Palestinian people over the decades. Some hurt Palestinian people hurt some Israeli people. Hurt Israeli people respond by hurting Palestinian people even more severely. This hurts new generations of Palestinian people who, likely, will continue to hurt Israeli people. The cycle of violence continues.

TRAUMA / FEAR / ANGER / REACTIVITY

Trauma creates fear and this fear is often expressed as anger and reactivity, and sometimes by hurting ourselves and others. (We cannot hurt others without hurting ourselves, and the way we treat others is a mirror of how we treat ourselves.)

This happens everywhere in human life – in ourselves, in families and other small groups, and in large groups and politics.

THE LAYERS

How do I know about this? It’s not just because it’s been part of my training and work. It’s because these dynamics play themselves out in me and my life as well. The world, as it appears to me, is a mirror of me. I am a mirror of the world.

And how do I respond?

A part of me wants to speak up for the Palestinians – especially the civilians living in Gaza in a horrific situation – since they are the underdogs in this situation.

More essentially, I see traumatized and scared people hurting others and themselves and responding in confused and very understandable ways.

More essentially, I see myself in what’s unfolding.

Even more essentially, I tap into love for all of us and all life, as confused and hurting and amazing as we all are.

Image by me and Midjourney.

Note: When I hint at the history here, I know reality is far more complex. For instance, the creation of Israel was messy and complicated, as is the history of Gaza.

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Anti-science?

Some seem to take a general anti-science orientation. They think they don’t like science for whatever reason. Maybe they don’t like some of the content of current science as they see it. Or the way it’s being used. Or they don’t like the elitism they see in it. Or they cherry-pick and like some fields of science and not other fields of science.

To me, much of that seems misguided. Some of it lacks differentiation, and the last one lacks consistency.

THE TWO WINGS OF SCIENCE

Science has two wings. One is the methods of science, the approach to finding out things. The other is the content of science, the worldviews and the ideas you typically find within it.

THE METHODS OF SCIENCE

The methods of science are common-sense approaches to get an idea of what’s going on. We observe. Find and describe patterns. Have some thoughts about what’s happening. Test it out. Refine our thoughts. And so on.

If you are generally against the scientific methodology, it means you are against figuring things out and doing so in a sincere, honest, and grounded way.

And there is always room for grounded discussion about specifics. There is always room for improvement in how we do things.

THE CONTENT OF SCIENCE

The content of science is different. It’s colored by our culture and typical worldviews in our culture. (And it, in turn, colors our culture and worldviews.) It’s always changing. It’s always up for revision. It’s provisional.

Much of the current content of science will be seen as obsolete a few decades or centuries from now. And a different culture may understand a lot of the content differently. They have their own worldview and understand it in a different context.

SOME IDEAS ARE MORE SOLID THAN OTHER

That doesn’t mean the content of science is arbitrary or doesn’t have value or that other ideas are equally solid.

The content of science comes from research. It’s typically backed up by solid logic and solid data, and it’s tested over and over. It’s not equal to any random idea someone may have about something.

THE PEOPLE IN SCIENCE

The people performing science are trained and they check each other’s work. Scientists are invested in proving each other wrong, and they will if they can.

What scientists come up with is not equal to what any random person comes up with, and that includes people in other fields of science. (If a microbiologist makes a comment about climate change, it’s not worth more than what any random person would say about it. It’s not their field.)

This is the same in any area of life. We give more weight to what people with expertise in a field say and do. (Which doesn’t mean they are always right. They are humans and biased as we all are. And the content of science changes with changing worldviews and new information, experience, data, and context.)

Most people in science want to do the right thing. They do their work with sincerity. They speak up when they see something that’s not right. They are like you and me.

And, of course, most are not at all the stereotypical lab-coat type of scientists.

THE POLITICS OF SCIENCE

Then there is the social and political dimension of science.

Science is a tool. It’s done by people and used by people. And sometimes, the way it’s used does not align with our personal or collective values. That’s to be expected. It’s inevitable.

It’s something we need to be informed about and involved in. We can spread information. We can organize and take them to court. We can create attractive alternatives. We can vote with our money and ballot.

IS IT OBVIOUS?

It seems that this should be obvious. Don’t we all learn this in school?

And yet, when I look online and in society, it seems that many don’t quite get the basics of science and how it works in society.

Image: Created by me and Midjourney

Conspiracy theories – why people get into them & a few more reflections

I see people getting caught up in things that – even if true – are typically far less important than what we know is happening in the world. We know our civilization is in the middle of a massive ecological crisis. We know our civilization is currently ecocidal and suicidal. We know we need a deep transformation to survive. So why choose to get caught up in something more peripheral?

I have written about conspiracy theories before and thought I would briefly revisit the topic.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

Why have I taken time to write about conspiracy theories?

There are several reasons.

If a number of people are caught up in (poorly supported) conspiracy theories, it threatens our collective ability to make grounded and informed decisions.

Conspiracy theories generally distract us from far more important issues. What we know is going on in the world today – unraveling ecosystems, massive overuse of Earht’s resources, grotesque social inequalities, and so on – is far more important than what most conspiracy theories are about.

The phenomenon is interesting from historical, social, and psychological perspectives. It tells us something about how we function individually and collectively, including in times of crisis.

Analyzing conspiracy theories is a great way to learn history, psychology, valid reasoning, scientific methods, evaluating the solidity of data, and so on.

What I see in people, including those caught in conspiracy theories, mirrors something me. It mirrors dynamics I can find in myself. It won’t take the same form, but the same dynamics are inevitably here in me. It’s an opportunity for me to discover more about myself.

Questioning my judgments about conspiracy theorists helps me find clarity around those and similar thoughts, and find what’s more true for me. This helps me relate to myself, others, and conspiracy theories in the world in a more clear and effective way.

SOME EXAMPLES OF CONSPIRACY THEORIES

What are some of the conspiracy theories?

Here is just a small selection of the old, recent, or current ones:

Flat Earth. This ignores a huge amount of data that shows that the Earth is round, including people flying and sailing around the world, the curved horizon and things disappearing behind the horizon, the simple stick-and-shadow experiment of Eratosthenes that anyone can do for themselves, the shape of the shadow of Earth when it falls on the moon, the shape of all other large objects in space and what gravity inevitably does to large masses (make them round), and so on. It also ignores that a huge number of people will have to be in on the conspiracy, including pilots, sailors, astronomers, astronauts, and so on.

The Covid vaccine is designed to kill off most people in the world. It hasn’t happened yet, and there is no reason why it should.

Covid doesn’t exist. It’s a variation of a well-known type of virus. There is nothing about it very much out of the ordinary. Also, pandemics happen about once a century so this one was right on schedule. There was nothing surprising about a pandemic coming about this time.

The pandemic measures implemented by governments are designed to remove people’s freedoms and will not be reversed. These are common-sense pandemic measures that we know from history work. They are standard recommendations from epidemiology. There is nothing unusual or surprising about them. And there is absolutely no reason to assume they are anything but temporary. (Most if not all have already been removed.)

Climate change is not happening, or it’s not generated by human activities. What we see in the world today closely fits climate change models from the early 1970s. Nothing about it is surprising. The general physics is also simple: We collectively put a lot of gasses into the atmosphere that allow sunlight in, this light is converted to heat when it hits the Earth, and these gasses then trap that heat. That’s why they are called greenhouse gasses, it functions like a greenhouse.

The sexual allegations against Russel Brand are staged to discredit him since he speaks truth to power and is a danger to those in power. What he says is nothing new and nothing unique. It’s pretty banal and he is often missing the bigger picture. And no matter what, he is certainly no threat to the current system. There is no need to fabricate any allegations against him. Also, what happened was broadcast and captured on tape minutes after it happened. And fueling these kinds of conspiracy theories only makes it more difficult for women to speak up against sexual abuse, and it’s already more than difficult enough for them.

Vaccines are dangerous. This is perhaps not in itself a conspiracy theory but it’s often mixed in with them. Yes, of course, vaccines are dangerous. All medications are. Some bodies react strongly to vaccines, as they likely would to the actual virus, and they can get seriously ill or even die. Anybody who is minimally informed knows that. It’s a matter of weighing the risks and benefits and making up your own mind. Nobody is forcing you to do anything. It’s up to you to be informed and make the best choices for you.

The Covid-19 vaccine doesn’t work. Again, not exactly a conspiracy theory in itself but often mixed in with them. If you live in the uninformed illusion that vaccines always prevent a disease 100%, then I understand why you may see it that way. But in the real world, they definitely work. They prevent serious illness, which innumerable studies show. They protect the ones most at risk for serious illness and death.

Anti-woke views are similarly not a conspiracy theory in itself but are often mixed in with them. They come from the far-right and are adopted by some who generally have a left-wing or progressive orientation.

I know very well that any and all counter-arguments or counter-data to these conspiracy theories are expected by the ones into them and they have their own counter-counter arguments and counter-counter data. The question is, how solid is the logic? How solid is the data? Would it hold up in a court of law? If not, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong, but it may be good to examine it more closely and perhaps hold it more lightly.

Of course, some conspiracy theories turn out to be true. When conspiracies have been revealed in the past, it’s been through the work of diligent reporters and historians. And they have been uncovered through finding a good amount of solid data that can be verified by anyone.

WHAT DO I SEE IN CONSPIRACY FOLKS?

What do I see in people caught in conspiracy theories? What are my judgments? What do I imagine is going on?

Here are some examples, and not all apply in all cases.

Some seem not very well informed about history. For instance, we know from history that times of collective crisis tend to fuel conspiracy theories. Pandemics inevitably lead to conspiracy theories. There is scapegoating and attempts to blame someone for the pandemic. There is denial – it’s not happening or it’s not as serious as people say. There is resistance to the common-sense measures implemented to reduce the impact of the pandemic. All of this is typical and predictable, and yet people repeat patterns from history without knowing that that’s what they are doing.

Some may go into conspiracy theories to feel better about themselves. They can tell themselves they know, while others don’t. They know something most others don’t. They see through the scam while others don’t. In this way, they can boost their self-esteem.

Some may prefer a simple answer over the complexity, unpredictability, and messiness of the world, even if that simple answer is a stressful story. They prefer to have someone to blame rather than admitting that a lot of problems are systemic and we are all part of it, or that life sometimes is just random.

Some may go into conspiracy theories because it fits their identity. They have created an identity for themselves as an outsider, against the mainstream, critical of power, and so on. Conspiracy theories fit into this, so they adopt them because they fit and reinforce their familiar identity. (Conspiracy theories become mainstream to them.)

Some may want to poke at the “elite”. Their main motivation is to go against the political, academic, and scientific community and get a reaction. That’s more important to them than reality and grounded arguments and data. Reactivity trumps reality. (They don’t bother doing the work to argue against the “elite” in a more grounded and solid way that actually could bring about more lasting change.)

Some may follow someone they trust. They may know and look up to someone, for instance, a media personality, teacher, or friend. That person goes into it. So they go into it too.

Some may have a desire to split apart communities. For whatever reason, they seek to split apart families, friend groups, organizations, and even whole countries. This may come from reactivity. It may be a strategic political reason. Or a combination.

Some may paint themselves into a corner, and find it difficult to back out. They may realize, at some point, some of the craziness of the conspiracy world, and they find it difficult to leave. They would have to leave a community. They would have to admit they allowed themselves to be duped. They would have to admit they based it on poor data and reasoning. They would lose a certain identity. And so on.

Some may not be very familiar with the dark side of how the world works. They take little pieces of information that are new to them and blow up their significance. They don’t see it in perspective and the bigger picture. For instance, corporations and commercial media are obviously in it for profit. That doesn’t mean they are part of some grand intentional conspiracy to mislead people. Biases and misleading people inevitably happen anyway for a variety of reasons.

Some want to blame individuals and organizations instead of looking at our systems. A lot of what’s happening in the world comes out of the way our systems are set up. There is no need for individuals and organizations to do anything intentionally to make it happen. For instance, our economic system was set up at a time when nature was – for all practical purposes – limitless. With our current numbers and technology, this system is inevitably destructive to nature and suicidal to ourselves. Similarly, our social system (politics, economy, education, etc.) is set up to largely preserve the status quo, including the privileges of the already privileged. That’s how any system works. No grand scheme is needed. (And all of it can and will change, that’s inevitable too.)

Some may wish for community. They find a community of like-minded conspiracy folks. They feel they belong. They feel seen and understood. (Even if the seeing and understanding are mostly just people reflecting conspiracy theories back to each other.) They have an outer enemy which reinforces and justifies their community and cohesion.

Some may go into conspiracy theories for entertainment, either consciously or because they are compelled to seek entertainment (and distraction from something in themselves or their life). They like the sense of discovery, drama, and excitement.

Some may feel their mind has been opened up to things outside of the “mainstream”, so they get into anything outside of what they see as mainstream. They don’t realize they have joined a new mainstream.

Some base their arguments on weak data without realizing how weak the data is. They latch onto outlier data and assume these are true while 99.9% of other research and data are not. They ignore that outlier data exist in all fields of science and that these are 99.9% of the time based on faulty data and interpretations. Or they find articles that sound and look scientific but are written by non-experts in the field and published on questionable websites and then pretend these are more solid than research and articles done by experts and published in reputable journals.

Some seem unfamiliar with valid reasoning and logical fallacies. They typically commit a series of well-known logical fallacies in their reasoning. For instance, some said that limited and common-sense pandemic measures (that we know work from history) are a violation of human rights. Human rights have nothing to do with wearing a mask or quarantining yourself if you are sick. You already accept a large number of guidelines and laws created to make our society work. These are just a few minor and temporary ones, so why get upset about them?

Some use pieces of information from science without understanding how little they understand. They pick up bits and take them as solid data or solid logic because they are not familiar with the bigger picture. They are not experts in the field. They don’t know how to examine data well. They don’t know how to detect fallacies in the arguments. They don’t examine the source well enough. They don’t have the maturity in the field to realize how little they know. In short, they assume they understand more about a field than experts who have devoted decades of their lives to it

Some may not be aware of the inconsistencies in their views. If they need their car repaired, they go to a car mechanic. If they need a kidney transplant, they go to a kidney specialist and surgeon. If they need a bridge designed and built, they go to an engineer. And yet, when it comes to whatever their conspiracy is about, they suddenly distrust a whole field of experts. They don’t trust climate scientists if they are into a climate change conspiracy. They don’t trust epidemiologists about pandemics. They don’t trust geographers (and many other fields of science) if they think the planet is flat.

Some may start with the conclusion. They fit whatever comes up into their existing conspiracy worldview. For instance, someone pointing out weaknesses in their logic is obviously brainwashed or part of the conspiracy.

Some seem to live in an apparently horrific worldview. For instance, how do you experience the world if you assume that normal airplane condensation trails are meant to poison people? (And that pilots, airlines, and so on are in on it.) Or if vaccines are meant to kill people? (And again, where a large number of people are in on it. In this case, diverse governments around the world, WHO, pharmaceutical companies, and perhaps even doctors and nurses.) What kind of world is that? What kind of view do you have on humans?

Some may not personally know the types of people they have conspiracy ideas about. If they knew more of these people, they would probably realize that they are people just like them, and most of them would never agree to be part of anything like it. It’s easy to project the shadow onto a mostly blank slate, and far more difficult if you actually know these kinds of people. (And these kinds of people are the normal kinds of people, like you.)

Some don’t realize the immense privilege they have, and that the privilege allows them to go into certain views and conspiracy theories. For example, we live in a society (relatively) free of many serious diseases because of vaccines. And the people currently holding anti-vaccine views benefit hugely from decades of vaccines without apparently realizing it.

Some may be caught up in blind shadow projections. They imagine terrible things in the world without recognizing it’s a projection. They don’t recognize the characteristics and dynamics in themselves. (Of course, it’s often in the world too, one way or another, although perhaps not exactly the way we imagine it.)

Some may use conspiracy theories as a distraction. They get into conspiracy theories because they are compelling and distracts them from their own discomfort and what they don’t like about their own life.

Some may use conspiracy theories to intentionally mislead others. Either because it gives them some personal satisfaction. Or as a more intentional strategy to confuse a social issue and create division between people. (Sowing doubt is often effective in preventing or slowing down collective action. We see that with climate change, as we saw it with the tobacco industry a few decades ago. Polarizing a population is an effective way to weaken a country, as we see with Russian troll farms targeting the US and Western democracies.)

Several conspiracy theories and certain related views (anti-vaccination, anti-pandemic measures, anti-woke, etc.) start at the far right and are then adopted by people with a traditional left-wing or progressive orientation. This is well known, and people still adopt these views as if they don’t know what’s going on. They don’t know that they, in many cases, are intentionally being duped and manipulated. (See “Everything you have been told is a lie!” Inside the wellness to fascism pipeline,
The dark side of wellness: the overlap between spiritual thinking and far-right conspiracies, and other articles on this topic.)

Finally and more to the point, I see people getting caught up in things that – even if true – are typically far less important than what we know is happening in the world. We know our civilization is in the middle of a massive ecological crisis. We know our civilization is currently ecocidal and suicidal. We know we need a deep transformation to survive. So why choose to get caught up in something more peripheral?

WHAT DOES THIS MIRROR IN ME?

The question then is, how does this mirror me? How and when do I do the same?

The short answer is that I can likely find all of this in how I see and relate to conspiracy folks

Just writing this list helps me recognize when I do something similar.

I have done more systematic inquiries, mostly using The Work of Byron Katie, and plan to do more.

Images: Created by me and Midjourney with the exception of the cartoon

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The best politician?

The leader of the conservative party in Norway (Erna Solberg) is in hot water these days. Her husband clearly used inside information from her and her government to work the stock market. He bought and sold large amounts of stocks at crucial moments, often the day before her government announced policies that significantly influenced the value of those stocks. She has thrown him under the bus and abandoned any responsibility for this situation, even if she – crucially – is legally responsible for making sure these things don’t happen. And she has received a lot of criticism for it.

A friend of mine on social media says he doesn’t agree politically with her in everything but feels sad since she sees her as the best politician in Norway.

DIFFERENTIATING SKILLS AND POLITICS

In many ways, I admire that approach.

He discerns between political skills and the content of politics.

He acknowledges that she has skills and characteristics many would like to see in a politician, even if we don’t agree with all or most of the content of her politics.

It’s a useful distinction and it reflects sincerity and intellectual honesty.

THE CRUCIAL SKILLS SHE DOES NOT EMBODY

Yes, she may have skills and characteristics many would like to see in a politician.

At the same time, she clearly does not embody certain skills I see as crucial for a politician.

She does not seem to have much interest in thinking in the big picture and long term.

She chooses to ignore the dire warnings of scientists.

As I see it, this shows that she lacks crucial political skills.

CAN SHE BE THE BEST POLITICIAN IF SHE OPERATES WITH HER HEAD IN THE SAND?

Is she the best politician if she is ignoring the warnings from tens of thousands of scientists? If she is not taking what they say seriously and is not prioritizing deep and profound changes in all our social systems. (Not the least our economic system which is blind to existing within an ecosystem with limited ability to produce resources and absorb the products of civilization.) Is she the best politician if she lives with her head in the sand and pretends it’s all mostly OK with just a few problems here and there that can be fixed with minor tweaks? Will future generations see her as the best politician? *

Yes, she may be skilled in some facets of being a politician. And can she be the “best” if she is ignoring scientists and the biggest issue humanity is facing today? Can she be the best politician if she is ignoring that humanity is using far more resources than Earth’s ecosystems can keep up with? If she is ignoring – to take just one of many examples – that the acidification of the oceans may lead them to collapse with disastrous consequences for all of humanity and most life on Earth?

DERAILING THE DISCUSSION? OR FOCUSING ON THE BIGGER PICTURE?

I know that this sounds, in some way, like the talk of a teenager, and it’s exactly the kind of things I said as a teenager in the ’80s.

Some will say that what I am bringing up is beside the point. He obviously talked about certain skills independent of politics, and I switched the focus to the content of politics. That is, in some ways, a derailing of the original conversation.

And yet, what do we see as included in essential and crucial political skills? Isn’t taking science seriously an essential political skill in our modern world? Isn’t looking at the big picture and thinking long-term an essential political skill?

When we talk about these things, do we choose myopia? Or do we look at the bigger picture? Can we afford to leave the bigger picture out of the conversation?

* No party in Norway is really taking this as seriously as they need to. Even the Green Party is watering it down to make it more palatable for more people, which is pragmatic and probably a wise approach. That says more about the voters than the political parties. They are the ones who prefer to not look at reality.

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Why do I love woke?

Woke is an adjective derived from African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) originally meaning alertness to racial prejudice and discrimination. Beginning in the 2010s, it came to encompass a broader awareness of social inequalities such as racial injustice, sexism, and denial of LGBT rights.

– from the Wikipedia entry on Woke

I love woke.

I know it’s popular to criticize woke these days, even among progressives and liberals. *

So why do I love woke?

LOVE IT WITH WARTS AND ALL

I could say that I don’t love all of it. I don’t love some of the weird and obviously misguided and overzealous expressions of it. But that’s not completely true.

I even love the misguided parts of it. It’s what always happens when something new is adopted on a larger scale. It’s something for people to digest and process. And it’s something for us individually and collectively to learn from.

WHY I LOVE WOKE

Why do I love it?

It’s a huge step forward compared to most of what we have seen in human history and most of what we see in the world today.

It may be just a glimpse of a more radical inclusivity in human history. Who knows what will happen in the future.

And I love inclusivity.

It allows for a far more rich society and for us to benefit from that richness. I love seeing minorities respected and included.

It feels good to treat people as I would like to be treated, with respect, welcome, and an acknowledgment that I too am valuable and have something to contribute.

It allows me to feel more included with my own peculiarities. And we all have those peculiarities. Even if we think we don’t, we may. And, at the very least, we have a very real potential to be in the minority in the future in one way or another. (In my case, it’s a disability.)

It’s a mirror for inner inclusivity. It’s an invitation for me to embrace more of my inner diversity. To get to know and consciously embrace more parts of me, which makes my own life far richer and opens up new possibilities for how to live my life in the world. If I want to explore and embrace my own richness, how can I not also do it in society?

A NAIVE VIEW?

Is this a naive view?

Perhaps, but I don’t think so.

I am very aware of many of the misguided and slightly ridiculous expressions of it.

And I am certainly not naive about how rare it is in human history and culture. It’s rare to find that kind of humanity and intentional inclusivity.

NOTE

* This is an example of how something starts at the far right, and then for whatever reason is adopted by liberals and progressives. Are they aware that they are adopting ideas from the far right? Are they aware that they do exactly what the far right wants them to do? Are they aware that they often, perhaps without noticing, allow themselves to be shamed into it?

Are they aware that the right-wing folks who started with the woke-bashing do so in order to try to maintain their (often white male) privilege? And to justify continued bigotry and marginalization of large groups of people in society?

In my view, if you are against woke, that says something about you, and it’s not very favorable.

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How CFS feels

This perfectly captures how it feels to live with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

I may look fine or OK to others. I am often able to mobilize for short periods and appear relatively normal. And my experience of myself is very different.

HOW IS IT TO LIVE WITH CFS?

How does it feel? It’s almost impossible to describe, but here are some attempts:

It feels like having severe influenza minus the congestion and fever. It’s equally difficult to think and get up from bed and do things.

I have strong brain fog: It feels like cotton in and around my head. It’s difficult to remember things. It’s difficult to make good decisions. (Sometimes, it’s difficult to make even the simplest decisions.) It’s difficult to take in information. It’s difficult to stay focused for more than five or ten minutes. (I typically have to watch movies in short segments over several days.) It’s difficult to string together words. (which is why these writings are short, choppy, and feel like a list of points.) It’s often difficult to find words. In bad periods, it’s difficult to relate to life and what comes up in the way I do when I have more energy. In short, the executive functions are impaired and it gets worse the worse the CFS is.

I get worse after just about any activity, and sometimes a lot worse. Any type of “explosive” activity (walking fast, heavy lifting, etc.) is just about impossible since it causes a severe crash. And any type of activity at all worsens the symptoms and requires a period of recovery. Simple and essential daily life activities are often all I can do. And, in periods, even that’s very difficult.

I have to schedule extra rest before, during, and after any planned activity. If I am meeting someone, or if I have an appointment of any type, I typically have to rest for days before and after. I have learned to do things slowly.

It takes a long time to recover from infections and other illnesses.

In short, my system lacks resources. It lacks the resources to do things. To have conversations. To take in information. To process. To think. To consciously and intentionally relate to life and what’s coming up in me. To recover after other illnesses. And so on.

At an energetic level, I and others have found a pattern: My system seems very disorganized when I have a crash. That’s perhaps not surprising. It takes energy to keep a mind-body system organized. When it’s energized (using Vortex Healing), my system again becomes more organized.

SOCIAL, MEDICAL & POLITICAL ASPECTS

This is challenging enough in itself. On top of this are the social, medical, and political aspects.

Most people don’t understand it very well and may assume it’s just mild tiredness. They typically see me when I am able to mobilize for a few hours, or in the better periods, and they don’t see what’s happening the rest of the time. Some get upset that I have to cancel appointments, and don’t realize how much effort I put into trying to make it happen. Or they think that my long periods of not staying in touch mean I don’t value the connection.

CFS is a kind of “pariah” illness. It’s poorly understood. There isn’t much research. Politicians and policymakers don’t take it very seriously. Many doctors don’t know much about it. There is no mainstream medical treatment. (In Norway, the largest newspaper – Dagbladet – seems to have a campaign to show that CFS is just a matter of “pulling yourself together”.)

This will very likely change. I am sure they will understand the mechanisms better. (The trigger seems to often be a combination of physical and/or psychological stress, often involving a viral infection.) They may even find an effective treatment or cure. If or when that happens, CFS will be included among the acknowledged and understood diseases. (There will still be diseases in the pariah category going through a similar process.)

HOW I HAVE EXPLORED IT

I have lived with this since my teens, and I have tried a wide range of approaches.

I have found a diet that works for me. (Eating low on the food chain. Reduce or avoid sugar, wheat, and dairy. Drink lots of water / herbal teas. Have bone broth daily. And so on.)

I have found that sun and moderate to warm climate work well for me. (Cold weather impacts my system strongly, as does very hot weather. Both place an extra demand on the very limited resources of my system.)

I have learned to rest before, during, and after activities. I have learned to portion out tasks over time and move slowly.

I have used a wide range of herbal medicines. For instance, a combination of Siberian ginseng (eleuthero) and echinacea seems to work well. (I fill my own capsules and have around five large ones daily. Siberian ginseng gives energy and echinacea helps my immune system. I have used this for long periods, and am now taking a break.)

I discovered that hyperthermia treatment seemed to help me greatly for several months. (I would like to try it again but it’s expensive and I need to travel quite a distance for it.)

I have tried a wide range of alternative treatments. What seems to work the best is Five Element Acupuncture. (Helps for a day or a few days.) Breema. (Gives an amazing sense of health and wholeness beyond the struggles of this human self). And Vortex Healing. (Energization and removing pathogens.)

And I have also found different forms of inquiry to be very helpful. (The Work of Byron Katie, Kiloby inquiry, Headless experiments, Big Mind process, and so on.)

UPSIDES

There are also upsides. It has been an invitation for exploration and transformation. It’s an invitation to find my value independent of my resume or activities in the world. To be more authentic and transparent. To find value in rest. To find the gift in asking for and receiving help. And so on.

In many ways, CFS is an invitation to examine and see through many of the assumptions in our society and find what’s more true for us.

It can bring a correction to some of the lopsidedness of our current civilization. (Including valuing people according to their resume or activities, valuing doing over resting, and so on.)

Reflections on society, politics and nature – vol. 66

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

SUPPORTING MILLIONS OF BEINGS

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

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

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

DEATH IS BAD?

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

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

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

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

Without death, no evolution and no life.

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

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

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Reflections on society, politics and nature – vol. 65

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.

OUR MANY ANCESTORS

And imagine the many non-human ancestors going much further back… to the first one-celled organisms. Our earliest ancestors are the ancestors of all of us alive today of all different species. We are all intimately connected.

PRIDE MONTH

June was Pride Month, and there were lots of rainbow flags outside of stores, government buildings, and homes.

I overheard a conversation where they said things along the line of: “It’s a bit too much”, “Why make such a big deal about it”, and so on. It was not directly queer-phobic, but obviously disapproving of pride month and the limited way it’s been marked in Norway.

To them, as heterosexuals in Norway, it seems like it’s too much. It shouldn’t be such a big deal.

To me, it looks very different. Historically, queer people have been oppressed and even killed, so having pride month is the least we can do to show that they now are included and accepted. Around the world, queer people are still oppressed and killed in many places.

From a sheltered Norwegian perspective, perhaps it seems a little much. But from a historical and global view, it’s the least we can do.

I love living in a country that’s inclusive and accepting in this way, and I love Pride Month and people putting up rainbow flags.

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Meat, health, and ecology

The Norwegian government released new dietary guidelines with the health of humans and the ecosystems in mind.

In short, they recommend eating whole foods, eating low on the food chain, avoiding processed foods, and avoiding alcohol (there is no safe lower limit to alcohol intake). (This is the way I have mostly eaten since my teens.)

To me, this seems like basic common sense. It’s what makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. It’s the type of food our ancestors lived on and our bodies are designed for.

And, predictably, to some, it seems highly offensive. Are you telling us we can’t eat meat anymore? That we shouldn’t enjoy alcohol? That I can’t have my snacks and pizza?

There is also a discussion specifically about meat. The guidelines recommend reducing the meat intake as much as possible. Some point out that there is disagreement among scientists about whether red meat is problematic for our health. And although that’s an important point, it’s also missing the point.

Meat production is one of the biggest causes of deforestation, and it generally has a huge impact on our ecosystems. Our obsession with eating meat is one of the largest contributors to our collective and individual ecological footprint.

The guidelines explicitly take both health and ecological sustainability into account. Reducing our meat intake won’t harm our health. And it will help us reduce our ecological footprint. That’s more than enough reason to recommend reducing our meat consumption.

And in the bigger picture, our meat intake is intimately connected with our health. Without healthy ecosystems, we cannot be healthy. What happens with the Earth happens with us.

Although the finer points may be up for discussion, the bigger picture is not that complicated.

Image: Created by me and Midjourney

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If you don’t like the outcome of certain policies, blame the voters and yourself, not struggling minority groups

I heard someone today blame struggling minority groups (refugees) for the lack of funding for certain groups of people in Norway.

To me, that’s absurd. This is a question of policies and political priorities. That group is not helped sufficiently because it has not been a priority. And it’s not been a priority because people have voted certain political parties into power.

If you want to blame someone, blame those voters. Blame yourself if you voted for them, and for not getting engaged to make a change. Take a look at the real cause of the situation.

Don’t put the blame on other struggling groups. They are not in any way to blame.

The people who tend to blame minority groups in this way are often the very same people who vote for political parties that created the situation in the first place. They blame struggling minority groups for the policies they voted into place. (Often by voting for conservative and libertarian parties.)

And the more shameless political parties do the same. They blame minority groups for the consequences of the policies they themselves put in place.

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Reflections on society, politics and nature – vol. 63

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 FEW IMPRESSIONS FROM RETURNING TO NORWAY

I am just back in Norway, and a few things strike me.

I love being here. It’s quiet, safe, and civilized. The nature is beautiful, as is spring. The public transportation is great, at least where I am. (Oslo area.) I am looking forward to spending time at some of my favorite areas here. (The forest near where I am. The harbor in Oslo, Frognerparken, the botanical garden, the museums, Hovedøya and other islands, Bygdøy, and to go swimming in the ocean.) I am also very much looking forward to going to spend time at the cabin which is at a lake southeast of Oslo. (Østmarka.)

I also notice…

The abundance of insects, birds, and wildflower fields from my childhood is gone, along with the wild edges that used to be in people’s gardens. Now, people have lawns, few flowers, no wild edges, and they seem to love a manicured desert. I rarely see any insects, apart from a few bumblebees. The flowers I see have very few insects on them. And the swallows and many other birds are gone. There are probably many reasons for the dramatic loss of insects over the last couple of decades: industrial agriculture and insecticides, loss of nature, loss of meadows and flowers, and more.

This loss of insects is hugely concerning. It’s part of a continued and increasingly dramatic unraveling of our ecosystems and our own life-support system. So it’s baffling to me that so many seem oblivious to it, that there is not more focus on it in the media, and that it’s not one of the main priorities in politics and for the voters. (I have written about this in other articles.)

The food is noticeably more expensive, as I knew it would be. Also, there is still very little organic food in the grocery stores, and it’s more expensive than chemically produced food. Considering the dramatic loss of insects, and that insecticide use in agriculture likely plays a big role, it would make sense for the government to subsidize organic food and organic food production. Why are they not doing it? I am not sure.

As an aside, I also took a look at some popular history magazines read by a couple of family members. Ironically, these magazines seem out of touch with history. They largely focus on the history of Western Europe, war, technology, and famous men. And they leave out just about everything in history I find important and interesting: The history of ordinary people and the marginalized. The “green” history of the world and human interactions with ecosystems. The history of worldviews and orientations. The history of other cultures. And so on.

Of course, these magazines reflect and are aimed at more folks with a conservative mindset, and I am coming from a more progressive mindset, so it’s predictable that I would have that reaction. And it’s still a bit surprising to me that they take such an old-fashioned approach to history.

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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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Reflections on society, politics and nature – vol. 62

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.

WE ARE GOOD, THEY ARE BAD

I saw one of the old-fashioned stone age stereotypes this morning and was reminded of the “we are good, they are bad” or “we are superior, they are inferior” attitude.

Of course, stone age people were just like us. They were as smart, kind, sensitive, stupid, cruel, and so on as we are. They just had different technology and different understanding of the world. They lived within their own culture, just as we live within ours.

COMMON FORMS OF STUPIDITY

I definitely have a judgmental part in me.

I saw people supporting Brexit for somewhat absurd reasons, ignoring what we knew would very likely be the outcome. (UK businesses moving to the EU, weaker bargaining position with other countries, trade barriers of several kinds, loss of subsidies from the EU, problems with the Irish border, still having to align with EU regulations to facilitate trade, and so on.) And now, when what was predicted is happening, a majority in the UK wants to join the EU again. To me, that whole process seems like stupidity. A waste of time, attention, and resources, and something that was brainless from the beginning.

I see people wanting Ukraine to accept Russian occupation so we can avoid a nuclear war. Who are you to decide that? That’s only for Ukraine to decide. And would you accept an occupation and foreign authoritarian leadership without a fight? Very likely not. And judging from Putin’s words and actions, it’s very unlikely that he will stop with Ukraine. If he is not stopped, there is no reason for him to not continue invasions of former Soviet countries. He is trying to recreate a Russian empire from the past. To me, the appeasement attitude in this case seems incredibly short-sighted and naive.

Most importantly, I see people operate on a business-as-usual mindset, knowing full well that just about every climate scientist is saying we are heading full speed into an almost unimaginable ecological disaster. A disaster that will be the end of our civilization as we know it. How can they do that? How can they continue to vote for politicians who don’t take this seriously? How can they continue to live their lives as if nothing is happening? How can they keep prioritizing as if this is not happening?

TRANSGENDER ETC.

I love that the younger generation seems more flexible and open when it comes to gender identities and sexual orientations. They allow themselves to explore and be more fluid and less restricted by labels and tradition. That seems very healthy.

I also just had a conversation that touched on transgender issues. A friend of my wife is a writer who explored what it means to be a woman in her writings, and apparently some of that has triggered some in the transgender community. I don’t know more about that situation so cannot say much more about it, and I’ll certainly not take sides. (I suspect the author may have been a bit insensitive in her language, and that the reaction may be a bit over the top, but even that may be wrong.)

Here are a few of my own thoughts on the transgender topic.

First, it’s not something I have first-hand experience in so these are obviously, in some sense, an uninformed outsider perspective. I’ll be the first to admit that, and leave the insider perspective to those who have that experience.

And as a member of society, and someone who has explored my inner world, I have a few things I can share.

We all have what we label feminine and masculine characteristics, and they are labels. The wholeness we are seeks to know itself as that wholeness, and that includes embracing and getting to know and live from our feminine and masculine characteristics. This is something far more universal than any of the labels we may use. For all of us, no matter labels or age or whether we feel we are biologically man or woman, it can be very healing and freeing to get to know and embrace both our feminine and masculine characteristics.

We can also embrace and express whatever gender we like, independent of our biological sex, and this may change over time and situations and phases in life.

And if someone wants to change their biological sex, that’s up to them. Although I also think that such a relatively profound change needs both support and a few restrictions. For instance, it makes sense if someone has to be legally an adult before doing it. And it makes sense that there is a process in place where people get to explore more in-depth their desire and find what it’s really about before they go through with the change. Clarifying can only help. It will either strengthen their clarity and resolve for the change. Or they may find they can better meet their need in a different way, or that it’s really about something else. And sometimes, the genuinely best strategy to meet that need may be to change their biological sex.

Why such a process? Because doing it on an impulse may lead to regrets later. And because it’s always good to clarify our intention and needs before doing anything that involves a major and lasting change.

This is also a situation where there is a lot of cultural baggage, much of it unhelpful. There will be a lot of opinions from friends, family, and inside our own minds. And there are money interests. All of this muddles the water. So it’s good to go through a process where we clarify our intention, motivation, and needs, and how to best meet our needs.

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Reflections on society, politics and nature – vol. 61

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.

MAKING A HORRIBLE COMPROMISE?

I saw a Western commentator saying that we’ll need to make a “horrible compromise” so Putin won’t escalate the war, and with a horrible compromise, he means giving parts of Ukraine to Putin. I understand the concern about Putin resorting to biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons in desperation. Especially since his army is weak, disorganized, and lacks modern equipment. And I also see it as a somewhat absurd comment for several reasons.

According to most sober military analysts, Ukraine can win if they continue to receive support from the West. And especially if they receive what they ask for. They may well push Russia out of the newly occupied areas, and even Crimea. (For some reason, many seem hesitant to give Ukraine what they need to end the war quickly. They say it is because they don’t want to escalate the war, but that seems short-sighted. It will only drag the war out and give Russia a better chance of eventually winning. It seems far better to give the Ukrainians what they need and ask for.)

It’s up to Ukraine to decide whether or not they want to compromise. (And they clearly don’t.) It’s not up to the commentator or anyone else.

Putin will likely not accept a partial victory. And even if he would agree to a deal where Russia takes parts of Ukraine, there is no guarantee he won’t go for the rest later. He very likely will.

In general, a good guideline is to never give in to bullies. It only encourages them and other bullies and leads to worse things in the future. The West has allowed far too many horrors from Putin already, both internally in Russia (oppression) and externally (invasions).

Yes, war is terrible and awful beyond imagination. But in this case, it’s necessary if Ukraine is to maintain its independence.

And yes, the West often makes buddies with dictatorships, especially when money and oil are in the picture. There is no lack of horrors committed by the US and its allies. And that doesn’t mean we can’t do the right thing now, and that we can’t support and encourage it.

In general, this situation is similar to Europe in the 1930s, before WW2. Great Britain and others wanted to appease Hitler instead of standing up to him, and Hitler started invading and occupying Germany’s neighbors. Hopefully, we have learned something from history.

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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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Reflections on society, politics and nature – vol. 59

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 ZEAL AND IMMATURITY OF THE NEWLY CONVERTED I: CONSPIRACY THEORIES

When I see conspiracy theorists, I often see the zeal and immaturity of the newly converted.

Often, these are people who may have discovered some grains of truth that are public knowledge but they were not aware of before. And they go overboard with it without understanding much of the history, context, or how to use this information in a more nuanced and reasoned manner.

And then they want to educate others about it. They become self-appointed missionaries.

This is the zeal and immaturity of the newly converted.

It’s not wrong or bad. It’s understandable and most of us have done it at some point with something we discovered that was amazing or shocking to us. But it is good to have some perspective on it and know that it is the zeal of the newly converted, and there is a more mature way to relate to it.

THE ZEAL AND IMMATURITY OF THE NEWLY CONVERTED II: HEALING & SPIRITUAL PRACTICES

This can obviously also happen when we find healing modalities and approaches to spirituality that works for us.

In my case, I tend to not do it since I know there are lots of approaches out there and what works is often individual. But I do fall into this pattern in the reverse: I tend to not talk about things that are relevant, interesting, or even useful just because I don’t want to proselytize. (This also ties into a pattern of wanting to hide, even if what I hide could be interesting or useful to others.)

STORY ARCS

Stories, at least in our European-influenced world, have a certain format. We have a beginning, middle, and end. We get to know the characters and setting, there is struggle and conflict in some form, and then resolution. And so on.

Most stories in our mainstream culture follow this format.

And I understand why. These types of stories feel satisfying. They feel complete. And they mirror inner processes when they reach a kind of completion. (Which is always temporary and part of larger processes.)

At the same time, it gets boring when most stories have to tie up loose ends and reach a kind of resolution and completion. Why not leave some mystery? Why not leave it more open-ended?

This comes to mind since we are in the next-to-final season of Stranger Things. (Which I love.) I suspect the story is reaching a kind of resolution with more and more loose ends tied up. That’s fine. But I suspect I would have enjoyed it even more if they left more unresolved.

When they want to give the readers or audience a neat ending, the resolution is often a bit disappointing. Leaving it open leaves more room for imagination. And it’s also closer to real life where a lot is not tied up in this way.

CIVILIZED AND BARBARIANS

This is an old classic and sometimes worth repeating.

If we see ourselves as civilized and others as barbarians, it’s often so we can dehumanize them and do terrible things to them – rape, pillaging, genocide, theft of land and natural resources, and so on.

In that case, who are the real barbarians?

Calling someone a barbarian is clearly a projection. We call others barbarians to dehumanize them and justify injustice, and we are the ones acting in barbaric ways.

There are many synonyms for barbarians in this context: uncivilized, brutes, heathens, non-Christians, poor, foreigners, and so on.

Today, this is especially relevant to how we treat non-human beings. We call them animals, make a strong mental division between humans and animals, and justify treating them terribly through that mental division and by seeing them as less than us.

JUDGING A SYSTEM BASED ON THE LEAST FORTUNATE

This is another classic that is sometimes worth repeating.

How do we judge a society or political system?

I judge it based on how the least fortunate are treated and live.

If a system mainly works to the benefit of those who already have what they need, and leaves the rest to live in poverty and struggle, it has already failed.

And if it provides good safety nets and real opportunities for the least fortunate, then it has some merit.

LONG COVID

Like many others in the CFS world, I thought one of the worst consequences of the covid pandemic would be post-viral syndromes, now known as long covid.

I assume this will keep getting attention as we are more aware of its prevalence and seriousness.

There are several reasons to be cautious here. For instance, it seems that even with vaccines and having had covid and recovered, it’s still possible to get long covid from a new infection. And there is always a chance of new mutations that increases this risk.

Personally, I have been relatively lucky. I had covid in February (four months ago), and still have Covid brain – especially when it comes to memory. Of course, most recover fine. And I also know a couple who still struggle with relatively serious and debilitating after-effects of their covid infection at the beginning of the pandemic (almost two-and-a-half years ago).

BROTHARIAN?

I find that when I have bone broth regularly, I feel deeply nourished and my cravings in general are diminished or fall away. I have a much-reduced craving for sugar and often feel a slight aversion to it. And the same for meat.

It seems that my ideal diet may be bone broth with otherwise mostly vegetarian food.

What should I call this? Maybe brotharian?

JUNE 18, 2022

VOTING ON BEHALF OF THE NON-HUMAN SPECIES

There was just a presidential election where I am, and the one elected has the interest of the less privileged at heart.

For me, when I vote, I vote on behalf of the less privileged. (Who often vote against their own interests based on identity.) And I especially vote on behalf of non-human species and future generations.

Reflections on society, politics and nature – vol. 58

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.

REGENERATION AND CULTURE

My wife and I became stewards of some beautiful land in the Andes mountains. It’s been heavily grazed in some areas, so we wish to help the land return to a flourishing and vibrant state. And that includes allowing a natural succession of native plants until – over some decades – the ecosystem reaches more maturity.

We hired some locals to clear paths through the land and gave them very clear instructions of only clear walking paths, wide enough for one person to pass. What they instead did was to clear-cut one large area, leaving only the more mature trees. This is apparently what the locals do, and our instructions probably didn’t make much sense to them.

Although it was a painful lesson, we also learned that we need to be present to oversee these kinds of projects. And we need to find local people to work with who understand what we wish to do with the land. (This happened back in February or March this year.)

PUTIN AS VICTIM AND SAVIOR

Since Putin is in the public eye these days, he is a good mirror for all of us.

Putin seems to identify with two particular archetypes: victim and savior.

He sees himself – and Russia – as a victim of historical events (e.g. the dissolution of the Soviet Union), of the West and NATO, and a possible victim of just about anyone around him.

He also sees himself as a kind of savior, as the new great leader of Russia and a new Russian empire.

Victims can be reactive and violent. And saviors can be ruthless. (Including through invading and occupying neighbors.) In his case, it’s a dangerous combination.

And the question here is: How does this mirror me? If I take my stories about Putin and turn them to myself, what do I find? How am I a victim in how I see him? (I see myself, Ukraine, the people in Russia, and the world as a victim of Putin’s actions.) How am I a savior in how I see him? (I see myself as taking a more sane and sober approach, which is better than his.) How does this play itself out in other situations in my life? It may not look as extreme or obvious as with Putin, but it’s likely here.

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature – vol. 57

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.

SURVIVOR BIAS 

I listened to an old interview with a Norwegian saboteur from WW2 and his story was of one amazing lucky escape after another. I have heard similar stories from other surviving saboteurs from WW2.

Why this apparently amazing series of lucky turns?

It’s an example of survivor bias. The ones who survived did so because they were lucky in all the situations that mattered, and they told their stories. Those who died were not so lucky when it mattered, and cannot tell their stories.

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature – vol. 56

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 COMPLEXITIES OF THE WORLD

If we put pressure on someone to get a particular result, they will typically push back – either right away or after a while – and we end up with the opposite outcome.

This is something most of us learn early in life, although Putin may not have gotten the memo.

For instance, due to Putin’s invasion, the public support for NATO membership in Sweden and Finland has gone from weak (20% in Finland) to a clear majority. That shift happened in less than a week and it’s not likely to revert any time soon.

A predictable and almost inevitable consequence of Putin’s current aggression towards a neighboring country is that more of Russia’s neighbors will want to join the EU and NATO for their own protection.

Putin has not only created a situation where more countries are far more motivated to join NATO for their own protection. His invasion of Ukraine has also created the perfect window of opportunity for more countries to join. The Russian military is caught up in a bungled invasion and does not have the capacity to invade any other country in the period between they start a membership process and they actually become members. 

This is also why former Soviet republics have joined NATO since the fall of the Soviet Union. They know that Russia has a history of invading and occupying their neighbors and wants to protect themselves. They do the sane thing. (And, yes, I know there are lots of problems with NATO but that’s separate from this and another discussion.)

Read More

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

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.