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.

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature – vol. 69

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.

PACIFIC NORTHWEST EARTHQUAKE & TSUNAMI

When I lived in Oregon in the 2000s, I was aware that we were roughly due for another major (8 or 9) earthquake. If I remember correctly, they seem to happen about every three or four hundred years and it is about that time since the last one.

I made sure to have earthquake insurance on the house and was surprised when the insurance agent said it was very unusual.

This is another example of people not taking science seriously. There will be another major earthquake in the Pacific Northwest. It’s roughly due, although it’s difficult to say exactly when. It could be within our time or in one, two, or three generations.

For me, that’s all I need to take precautions and be prepared. And it seems that for many, it’s a reason to not do much and hope for the best.

For instance, in Japan where they have more of a living memory of tsunamis, they build tsunami towers where people can go to be safe. In the US, they only have three (!) so far.

If Europeans had lived in the Pacific Northwest when the last major earthquake and tsunami happened, they too would have a memory of it, and they would be more likely to do something about it.

As it is, there is only the information from the scientists, and that does not seem to be enough.

Image by me and Midjourney

MASTERS OF THE AIR

I have watched the three first episodes of the Spielberg/Hanks production Masters of the Air which follows Band of Brothers and The Pacific. I remember I thought The Pacific was exceptionally good and I also liked Band of Brothers. With this one, I am not so sure. I’ll watch it to the end, but I am somehow less invested in it.

I get the sense that the storytelling is not aimed at making the audience care about the characters. The interactions seem superficial and I haven’t learned much about any of them so far. I know next to nothing about their background, their relationships with people at home, their hopes, dreams, and passions. I have seen short movies that have made me care far more about someone within a minute than I care about any of these characters after three hours.

With Spielberg and Hanks involved, it’s difficult to understand why this is so. Was it an intentional choice? Did they hire writers who are not good at making people care about the characters? Did they get distracted by the technical challenges?

Update: I have seen a couple of more episodes, and although I find it worthwhile to watch, I am not very invested in the series. For me, it would have been more interesting if I got to know the main characters more as humans – with relationships, dreams, hopes, fears, talents, passions, and so on. It would also have been interesting if the series followed both Allied and Axis airmen, humanizing both sides.

Update: I am now watching episode 6, and it seems they are slowing down the pace a bit and making it more personal.

Read More

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.

Read More

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”.)

Read More

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.)

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature – vol. 60

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.

JUSTIFYING INJUSTICE WITH SPIRITUALITY

Religion and spirituality have always been used to justify injustice.

The most recent one I heard was from a wealthy woman in a country with many living in poverty. She justified her wealth, and her inaction and support of conservative politicians that wants to keep people in poverty, with karma. The poor are just reaping what they sowed in past lives. And she also added that they chose that life to learn something. So she doesn’t have to do anything to help or to righten the injustice.

To me, it’s very different. Yes, it’s possible there is something like karma that continues across lives, but it’s more about mind patterns, and if there is some kind of karma as she talked about, it would mean we all have infinite amounts of an infinite variety of karma.

And what it comes down it is how I relate to the lives of others. I don’t justify my own relative wealth and I certainly don’t justify poverty. I know it all comes from what we happen to be born into in an unjust system. And I do what I can to change that system, including by supporting policies and politicians working for that change.

ADOPTING THE MINDSET OF THE COLONIZERS

Some modern societies pat themselves on the back for giving indigenous people some autonomy and for honoring, to some degree, their culture.

That is, of course, a step in the right direction. But it’s good to keep the larger picture in mind.

The larger picture is that colonizers and the mainstream Western culture have oppressed the indigenous culture for centuries – through genocide and violence, and by banning their religion, forcing Christianity on them, separating children from parents, and so on.

Now, they have lost so much of their original culture that the little that’s left is not a threat anymore. So it costs almost nothing to allow them some autonomy and allow them to have the little that’s left of their culture.

The oppressed have adopted the mindset of the oppressor. They have internalized the Western culture sufficiently to no longer be a threat.

DISTRACTIONS AT A CRUCIAL TIME IN HUMAN HISTORY

We are in the middle of a huge ecological crisis that will – and already is – impacting the whole of humanity, and especially the ones with the least resources. This crisis is created by human systems that don’t take ecological realities into account, and this especially applies to our economic and related (production, transportation, etc.) systems. And the solution is either a profound systems change brought about by a collective realization of what’s going on and a will to change, or a massive die-off of humans along with many other species.

This is undeniable. We have know for decades that this would happen. We know this is without comparison the major issue of our time.

And yet, it’s not prioritized. Media have occasional stories on this topic, but don’t weave it into just about every single story as they should considering its importance. People still vote for politicians and policies that don’t prioritize this shift. Most continue to live their life as if nothing is happening. (Partly because they may now know what to do.)

And some actively chose distractions and try to get others involved in the same distractions. One of these meaningless distractions is conspiracy theories and anti-science views. Why on Earth spend time and energy on this what we KNOW is happening is far worse and more dramatic than any conspiracy theory? Why spend time on it when we know that the major challenges in our time – ecology, poverty, and so on – are systemic and the consequences of systems that made sense, to some extent, when they were created and now absolutely don’t anymore.

When I see this lack of action, and the active distractions by some, I have to admit I feel less encouraged. Will enough of us come to our senses in time? Will we identify the systemic causes and what needs to be done? Will we take the actions needed?

CONSPIRACY THEORIES AND LACK OF INTELLECTUAL HONESTY

It’s no surprise that the conspiracy world is riddled with a lack of intellectual honesty.

For instance, when it comes to the covid vaccine some take the inevitable examples of a few who have a serious reaction to the vaccine and use that to discredit the vaccine in general. We know some bodies react to certain vaccines strongly, that’s not a secret. This is about the bigger picture.

They pretend that vaccines should prevent illness and say they don’t work since they don’t, and dismiss the real reason for taking the vaccine which is to prevent serious illness and death. (Which it does well.)

They talk as if vaccines are mandatory while they obviously are not. You are perfectly free to not take them.

They pretend that since masks don’t work 100% it means we shouldn’t use them. And I am sure they too know perfectly well that here too, life is imperfect. Nobody says masks should work 100%. That’s not their purpose. Their purpose is to reduce viral load, which they do well and which is crucial for how severe the illness becomes. Also, they obviously reduce transmission from the inevitable spit that comes out of our mouths when we talk. And the good ones do prevent transmission well. (I use the best ones from 3M.)

They pretend that the common-sense pandemic measures taken by many democratic countries not only unduly restrict their freedom, but is a step in some conspiracy to keep restricting their freedom. To me, this seems childish to the point that I am baffled that adults would want to appear so stupid. We already live with a large number of restrictions and responsibilities that helps society function, and most people are happy with it because we are used to it and we know it works. And there is absolutely no reason to assume that this is a step in keeping restricting freedom. When it comes to pandemics, we know what works and what doesn’t from history and epidemiology. And the vast majority of the measures we see in democratic countries follow what we know works. And to me, responsibility is as or more important, especially in these types of situations. I am happy to change my life if that means the more vulnerable among us are more protected. This is not about me, it’s about the more vulnerable.

We know that harebrained conspiracy theories flourish in pandemics. So why repeat history? The conspiracy theorists in pandemics in the past now look pretty stupid to us. Or, rather, uninformed and scared and reacting to their fears by trying to find safety through conspiracy theories. (By going into these conspiracy theories, they feel they know, they have human scapegoats instead of living with the inherent unpredictability of life, they have something to distract themselves from their discomfort, and so on.) So why do these people willingly mimic the people of the past? Probably because their need to escape into a sense of knowing and having someone to blame is greater than their interest in intellectual honesty.

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

Reflections on society, politics and nature – vol. 55

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.

OPINIONS AND WHAT THEY ARE ROOTED IN

Some people like to pretend that their opinions about something are equal to the views of others.

One person’s opinion is equally valid as someone else’s, right?

Wrong. This is obviously wrong even on the surface.

Yes, we have views, orientations, and opinions. Yes, none of us can know for certain our view is absolutely true. Yes, our views are always provisional and up for revision.

And no, they are not equal.

They are more or less rooted in solid data and theory.

The more it’s rooted in solid data and theory, and the more it has been examined and tested and found to hold up, the more weight a view holds.

For instance, one outlier academic study that goes against innumerable solid studies does not hold much weight. It can be interesting. It may be worth looking into it further and doing more research. And, in itself, it’s not worth much.

We also know this from daily life. If a group of people sees and touch a tree, and one insists that the tree is not there, it’s pretty safe to assume we can disregard the outlier view. There is always a very small chance the person is right, one way or another, but for practical purposes, we can set it aside.

This is basic common sense that some seem to disregard these days.

QUESTIONING THE MAINSTREAM VIEW?

Someone on social media wrote: I love Joe Rogan because the dares to question the mainstream view.

My response is: Anyone can – and often do – question the mainstream view. And if it’s rooted in bad logic and bad data, as is the case of Joe Rogan, then it’s not worth much. It’s just more noise and distraction.

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature – vol. 54

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

WHY DO PEOPLE IN THE WELLNESS WORLD SO EASILY MISLEAD THEMSELVES?

Quite a few people in the wellness world buy into anti-pandemic measures views and conspiracy theories in general.

Why? Why do they seem so gullible?

I suspect it may be connected with several things.

They may not have a very solid education. They may not be trained in the history of science, logical fallacies, media literacy, and so on.

They may be a bit naive about the world. They may not previously have known about the many flaws inherent in just about anything humans do. And they don’t have a more nuanced and mature view which leads to discernment and knowing that we don’t always have to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

They may have an outsider identity and they may be suspicious of the mainstream. So they automatically gravitate to any view opposed to the mainstream medical views.

They have found their own “alternative mainstream” and absorb the views held in that subculture. They want to belong. They want to assume they got it.

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature – vol. 53

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 TRUTH IN THE SEEDS OF CONSPIRACY THEORIES

There are several relatively obvious truths in the seed of many conspiracy theories.

The medical industry is in it for profit. (Obviously, since we live in a capitalist world and generating profit for the shareholders is the main aim of any business.) The medical industry is corrupt. (Of course, since they are powerful and in it for the profit.) Multinational corporations influence and partly control politicians and media. (Again, obviously, since they can and it helps them in generating profit.) When power is removed from people, and the bottom-up vs top-down balance is too far in the latter direction, it’s obviously not good. (And it happens because there is always a shift between the two.) The current system is rigged to benefit the already powerful. (It was set up that way, so it obviously works that way.)

All of this is obvious. It’s what any moderately informed young teenager knows.

I easily agree with all of this and more. I have known about it for almost my whole life, apart from the very first years.

And yet, I don’t agree with the conclusions of conspiracy theorists.

I know all of this and more, and I still agree with the pandemic measures. They are common-sense measures that history shows works. They are what epidemiologists have studied and found works for decades. They are not something anyone made up now.

I know this and more, and see it as systemic and not something that requires sinister scheming from any one group of people.

WILLING TO SACRIFICE OTHERS TO BE A REBELLIOUS TEENAGER

When I see people who have anti-mask and anti-vaccination views, I often see people willing to sacrifice others in order to make a point. They are willing to sacrifice others so they can be rebellious teenagers.

Yes, I agree with a lot of their reasons. (The ones grounded in reality, not the conspiracy theories). And I don’t agree at all with their conclusion.

I know the medical industry is corrupt. Media is owned by multinational corporations. Politicians are influenced by the interests of big money. Even a moderately well-informed teenager knows that.

At the same time, I know the history of pandemics. I know what history shows us is working and not working in terms of limiting the impact of pandemics. I know something about epidemiology. I know that the pandemic measures we see today are not at all invented now. They are well tested, make sense, and are aimed at limiting the impact of the pandemics. I know that in a time of crisis, the government – which is not “other” but us collectively – needs to take stronger control.

So even knowing all the things I know about the system we live within, I chose to wear a mask and take the vaccine and do the other things. I do it because it’s the responsible thing to do. I do it to protect the most vulnerable among us. I do it because not doing it is not going to help the situation in any way at all.

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature – vol. 52

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 BIGGER PICTURE ON CONSPIRACY THEORIES

There is a relatively obvious (?) bigger picture on conspiracy theories.

And that is the life, the universe, existence, the divine seems to wish to express, explore, and experience itself in always new ways and in as many ways possible.

All beings live in their own world, and often these worlds intersect to some degree. Especially within the same species and community, beings tend to experience the world in similar ways.

In our age of online echo chambers, a huge amount of smaller global communities are formed. Some of these are formed around a shared passion for something within culture or nature. Some are learning communities. And some are conspiracy communities.

Conspiracy theories are one of many ways life or the divine explores, expresses, and experiences itself.

It’s part of the diversity of perception and mental guidelines for life within humanity right now.

It doesn’t mean the views are grounded in reality. It doesn’t mean they are logically very sound. And it doesn’t mean these folks are not sometimes a danger to democracy.

But it does mean it’s all happening within a bigger picture.

PUBLISHED SCIENCE ARTICLES – ON VACCINES, MASKS, THE PANDEMIC ETC.

A friend on social media referred to very weak articles published in less than reputable journals online.

Here is my response:

In any area of science, there are published articles that don’t fit the mainstream view. In most cases, the findings are not grounded in reality. This is just part of science, and – as I said – you’ll find this in any science and on just about any topic. Just because something is published doesn’t make it valid or something that reflects reality.

Especially these days, there are lots of online journals that, at first glance, look serious and scientific. They use the language and format of reputable publications. But the content is very weak and would likely never be published in serious and respected journals.

Personally, I have seen several articles on pandemic-related topics, published in these types of journals, that are almost laughably bad in terms of data and logic. And, often, the articles are written by people with some sort of credentials, just not in the area they are writing about. Which means they have no credentials at all. They have close to zero credibility.

For the findings and views to be taken seriously, it has to be published in reputable journals, the findings have to be replicated several times, there has to be a sound theory behind it, and competing theories and approaches have to be thoroughly disproven.

This is science 101 and I assume just about anyone learns about this in school.

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature – vol. 51

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.

FREEDOM & RESPONSIBILITY

Some countries require proof of vaccine for entering public spaces like restaurants and movie theaters. In response, some vaccine skeptics say: “I am in control over my own body. Nobody can tell me I can’t do certain things just because I chose to be unvaccinated. It’s a violation of human rights.”

To me, it’s a weak and partly nonsensical argument.

We live in a society, and in a society, we have certain freedoms and responsibilities. That’s required for society to work reasonably well for as many as possible.

We already accept a lot of restrictions to our freedom. We accept that we shouldn’t drive drunk. Kill people. Steal. Damage other people’s property. And so on.

Requiring a proof of vaccine is just one of many restrictions. It’s temporary. And it clearly helps society as a whole, including us as individuals.

We know that those vaccinated are less likely to be infected and seriously ill. That means they are less likely to pass it on to others, and they are less likely to end up in a hospital, take up valuable spaces there, and cost society money. The more people are vaccinated, the sooner we can get through the pandemic, and the less risk there is of new and more transmittable mutations.

For me, requiring proof of vaccine for travel, entry to restaurants, and so on, is among the least we can do to limit the impact of the pandemic.

Personally, I am very happy to accept a limited (very small) personal risk by taking the vaccine, if this can help society as a whole. It’s the least I can do.

Note: It’s almost not worth mentioning, but it’s not a “human right” to enter restaurants and movie theaters. And it’s not a “violation of my body” if someone requires me to be vaccinated to enter those places.

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature – vol. 50

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.

ART HISTORY

In the early ’90s, I studied art history for a year (full time) at the University of Oslo. Since they called it “art history”, and since I was young and naive, I was looking forward to WORLD art history. The history of art from the earliest times and across all cultures. That was what I expected, hoped for, and wanted.

To my surprise and disappointment, the course turned out to be the history of WESTERN art, and really just the art of Western Europe and the European culture in North America.

I was left with several puzzling questions:

Why didn’t they have a course for WORLD art?

Why did they call a course that had such a limited scope “art history” without any qualifiers?

Why didn’t they address or acknowledge this obvious discrepancy?

The answer is probably a kind of ethnocentrism. They – consciously or not – may have seen “real” art as the art of western Europe and the European culture in North America.

I imagine that now, 30 years later, they are a little less provincial and more conscious of this. Hopefully, they include the art of the world and not just a small section of the world. Or, at the very least, they label the course accurately.

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXXXIX

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.

AN ATTITUDE AMONG THE PRIVILEGED TOWARDS THE MARGINALIZED

One attitude among the privileged towards the marginalized is that they are lazy, could work and make more money if they wanted, and so on. If they don’t have more money, it’s their fault.

This is obviously wrong in most cases. The privileged are mostly privileged they are because they were born into that situation. They had role models. Money. Resources. A good education. A network. And so on. All creating and supporting their privilege. And the marginalized typically have none of that.

So why do some among the privileged maintain this attitude?

There may be several reasons.

They are parroting what they have heard from others.

In their own privileged life, it holds true. If they themselves – with all their privileges – don’t have a relatively carefree financial life, it would be because they were lazy and didn’t want to work, and they could work and make good money.

They want to justify the current social situation, their own privilege, and that they are not doing more to improve the lives of the marginalized. Assuming the marginalized are lazy etc. is an easy (and lazy!) way of doing just that.

They don’t know anyone marginalized. They don’t have the inside view or information. Or they know some and see them as the exception.

They are not motivated to seek out contradictory and more accurate information. They have a good life. They see the current social structure as justified. They may feel they can’t do anything about it anyway. They don’t want the distress of learning more about how others live.

Any system seeks to maintain itself, and this is one of the ways our social system – with wast inequality between people and nations – is maintained.

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXXXIII

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.

SUDDEN SYSTEMS CHANGES

Earth is an immensely complex system, and its behavior is similar to any system.

It stays mostly (dynamically) stable within certain limits. It accommodates human inputs up to a certain extent within its usual state, and if or when these inputs build up sufficiently, the Earth systems will shift more dramatically to continue to adjust to and accommodate these inputs.

And since we – as a species and society – are adapted to the previous state, this will be challenging to us. We’ll have to adapt to these new states, and the transition won’t be easy or comfortable.

Most likely, it will involve a lot of human suffering, especially among those who already are marginalized, and it will also involve loss of life of both humans and other species and loss of species.

We are already seeing this and in the middle of it, and it will get worse.

It also means that we can expect sudden, and to some extent unexpected, changes in climate and ecosystems. Right now, we are seeing it in a dramatic heatwave in the Pacific Northwest of North America, beyond what climatologists and meteorologists expected. This is just a small taste of what’s very likely ahead.

When I got into system views in my teens, in the ‘80s, this was already predicted within the systems world, even if the mainstream didn’t take it seriously. Now, those predictions are coming true.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXXIX

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

MOON LANDING

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

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

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

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

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXXVIII

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

VALUES, STRATEGIES, AND POLITICS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click READ MORE to see more posts on this topic.

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXXVII

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

SOME LAYERS I USE WHEN I LOOK AT SOCIETY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A SAD IRONY OF CONSPIRACY THEORIES

There is a sad irony in the conspiracy theory world.

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

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

Click READ MORE to see more entries like this.

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXXVI

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

POLITICAL DIMENSIONS I FIND USEFUL

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

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

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

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

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

Click READ MORE to see more entries in this post.

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXXV

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

A CONSPIRACY TO USE CONSPIRACY THEORISTS

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK READ MORE TO SEE MORE POSTS LIKE THIS….

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXXIV

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

WHAT DO CONSERVATIVES CONSERVE?

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

– Edith to Sherlock Holmes in Enola Holmes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE 2016 US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION FORECAST WAS WRONG?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXXIII

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

DISREGARDING SOCIAL ISSUES

I am watching Enola Holmes and enjoy it very much.

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

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

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

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

Click READ MORE for more brief posts.

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXXII

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

From 2001: A Space Odyssey

AN ALIEN INTELLIGENCE WILL BE ALIEN TO US

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

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

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

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

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

Click READ MORE to see more posts on these topics.

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXXI

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

POST-COVID ILLNESS & CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME

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

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

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

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

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

BREXIT WOULDN’T BE DIFFICULT?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXX

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

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

John Fuglesang

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

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

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

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

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

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

AUGUST 22, 2020

IDEALISTIC VS PRAGMATIC IN US VOTING

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

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

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

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

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXIX

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

NORWAY’S REASON FOR NOT RECOMMENDING FACE MASKS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHAT CONSERVATIVES AND LIBERALS FEAR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JULY 31, 2020

ADOPTING THE RELIGION OF THE OPPRESSOR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click READ MORE for more brief articles on society and politics.

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXVIII

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

WHY DO I CELEBRATE OUR NATIONAL DAY?

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

What can I find that feels genuinely right to celebrate?

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

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

JULY 5, 2020

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

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

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

Click READ MORE to see more brief posts on politics, society, and nature.

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXVII

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

THE UPSIDE OF TRUMP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUNE 6, 2020

POLICE BRUTALITY

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

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

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

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

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXVI

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

Gritty wholesomeness

I was very skeptical when I first started watching Outlander but I have come to love it. I love it mainly for its gritty wholesomeness.

It shows flawed yet fundamentally caring and healthy people dealing with a series of raw and gritty challenges. And there is something wholesome in the best way in that. It reminds us of those sides of ourselves.

In that sense, it’s a bit like The Little House on the Prairie for grown-ups, and especially season four and five since they are set in North America.

I also like that it shows modern people in a time that was far more tribal and eye-for-eye, and how they adapt and learn to survive in that situation. They needed to find their warrior as we all sometimes do.

Click READ MORE to see more entries.

Read More

Reflections on society, politics and nature XXV

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

Who is it for?

I watched Won’t You Be My Neighbor, a 2018 documentary about Mr. Rogers. A few times during the interviews, the question came up of whether his TV show had an impact on society as a whole and if it was worth it. He even seemed to have that question when he was asked to say something after 911.

To me, that’s the wrong question. For me, the question is: Does it have an impact on one person? And perhaps several people? That, in itself, makes it worth it. And that’s how society as a whole change, even if it’s just a little. Changed individuals changes society. And, who knows, his show may have impacted several of the people who later came – or will come – in the position to make larger changes.

That’s how I see this website as well. I write mostly for my own sake and that’s enough. And if just one person gets something out of something here, that’s icing on the cake. That too, in itself, would make it worth it.

Read More