Category Archives: Happiness

On Consumerism

Standard

Jfsoftbrainswiki

Photo details: 1980 NYC Stencil and photograph by John Fekner. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We live in a world where television, billboards, magazines and even toilets are hoarded with sales pitches trying to convince us that a particular brand of soup is what will rid us of our loneliness and make our lives happier. Every day we are bombarded with ideas and concepts to such an extent that we subconsciously start accepting them (almost like Inception). ‘Advertising’ is selling the viewer the idea that consumption (of a particular product) will lead to gratification. In fact, almost all advertisements tap into our insatiable appetite for prestige, power, happiness and status, making the idea quite seductive. Consumerism today has become a pastime, ideology and even a source of addiction. In fact lots of economists and philosophers like to think of consumerism as the singular idea that has successfully taken over the world we live in today. People from all regions, religions and ages indulge in the idea that – more is always better!

But really… is it?

Over the years we have become relatively richer. Businesses have spread, the globe has gotten smaller and we have conditioned ourselves to strive for higher salaries and affluent lifestyles. But has that made us happier? Much like our salaries, rates of divorces, suicides, reports of violence and, not to forget, the number of people suffering of depression, has steadily increased, which makes you really ponder about whether money can really buy happiness.

A recent study conducted by the North-western University, tested how people responded to consumerism and materialism. Results showed that groups that were exposed to images of luxury goods and wordings that rallied consumerist values, showed a higher level of depression and anxiety as compared to those that were shown neutral scenes without consumerist images and words. The former also demonstrated social disengagement and negative environmental behaviour. Economists like to call this, The Modern paradox, where people are progressing materially, but regressing, socially and emotionally.

Can this be one of the reasons why hermits and monks do so well on the happiness scale? Clearly having more choices and going the material way, does not seem to work in the favour of happiness and self-growth. Then why do we pursue it? What makes us so vulnerable to the idea of buying more stuff?

According to a few evolutionary psychologists, the urge to buy more may be deeply embedded in our nature. Studies have shown that young men get a higher testosterone spike when they drive a sports car as compared to driving an ordinary one. This is called the ‘Peacock effect’. Much like the peacock that flaunts its assets to look attractive to its mate and pose competition to its rivals, humans advertise their affluence to look more attractive and desirable. So in effect, in today’s world people like to believe that the possessing affluent goods will make them more desirable.

Although such studies may help us understand our weakness for giving into consumerism, are we also looking for a ‘genetic/ psychological’ reason to excuse ourselves for our consumerist behaviour? It is time we realise the damage we are doing to the environment and ask ourselves isn’t what we have enough. Probably, we should all start following Bhutan’s method of measuring our Gross National Happiness along with our Gross Domestic Product. But for now, like Galen V. Bodenhausen says- watch less TV!

Via the Coffee Science Table: http://coffeetablescience.com/2013/04/06/the-science-of-consumerism/)

The 20s’ Earth Summits- Legal meetings Where Corporations Unite to the Destroy Planet Earth

Standard

The Rio+20 Earth Summit and the G20 Summit are starting to convene to start the negotiations on a global sustainability framework.  The common goal of these summits is to create an economy that serves the health and well-being of both people and the planet.

20 years after the 1992 UN Rio Earth Summit, the environmental movement has been green-washed by the world’s leading corporations. The environmental institutions and ministries have been increased in number while the environmental crisis has been deepened and widened Carbon emissions reach “troubling milestone” as 400 ppm recorded at Arctic monitoring stations . What a contradiction!

Globalization has more disadvantages than advantages. Since 1970, our world’s financial actors decided to create a single global capital market in which financial economy is highlighted. Financial economy is the one who is dominated by finance and financial actors. People have been daily exposed to financial markets in aspects which go home-ownership, to financing, to schooling. Instead of financial markets providing money for what people need, money is increasingly invested into financial markets just to operate and expand Great short film explaining what the UK and the EU really mean by the ‘Green Economy’ they are pushing in the Rio+20 talks.

Unfortunately, this is the goal of capitalism- accumulating more and more capital while constantly increasing the gap between rich and poor. A good example on this would be the large dams – and particularly the complex multipurpose schemes once again being promoted by the World Bank – that provide energy to extractive industries controlled by multinational corporations while bypassing the rural poor. 94% of the people of Democratic Republic of Congo still have no access to electricity in spite of the billions of dollars that have been poured into the Inga hydro-electric project in the country over the past five decades Infrastructure for whom?

In the summits, debates are focusing attention on a foundational choice between two divergent paths to the human future, which are the money path and the life path Rio+20: A Defining Choice. Financial markets are now seeking new investment opportunities, and this is where nature comes in picture. We hear about ‘green economy’ from the Rio+20 Earth Summit and about ‘green growth’ from the G20 Summit. This is called greenwashing. This means that financial markets take control over nature. In other words, this means commodification or financialisation of natural resources.

In UN conference-speak, the privatisation of the atmosphere is known as carbon trading, the privatisation of the world’s forests is known as REDD and the privatisation of everything else known as “payment for ecosystem services” Rio+20 Earth Summit: time to change the narrative. Much of this has been done by companies and politicians under the banner of ‘sustainable development. Within the rubric of ‘green economy’, corporations are seeking new technological ‘false solutions’ to the climate and other environmental crises, including dirty forms of ‘clean energy’ (nuclear, so-called ‘clean coal’, fracking ‘natural gas’, hydropower, hydrogen, biofuels, biomass and biochar); dangerous Carbon Capture and Storage experiments; and other whacky geoengineering gimmicks such as Genetically Modified trees to sequester carbon, sulfates in the air to shut out the sun, iron filings in the sea to create algae blooms, and large-scale solar reflection such as industrial-scale plastic-wrap for deserts At Rio+20: Values versus prices. In this context, sustainable means to be able to keep making money into the future Big business goes to Rio. As Leo Tolstoy said:” I sit on a man’s back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means except by getting off his back.”

It is absurd to let corporations profit in the name of  ‘saving the planet’ Suzuki: ‘Absurd’ to Let Corporations Profit in Name of ‘Saving Planet’ . It is absurd to continue growing exponentially in a finite planet. The laws of thermodynamics state that very clearly. These summits have failed for the same reason that the banks have failed.

However, there is hope. It is true that these summits might have failed, but this time the light of reason is descending gradually upon the world. There are many examples of the rejections of ‘green economy’ around the world. Oppositions to Rosa Luxemburg Foundation as she wants to demonstrate that green economy is a contested term, which can be filled with many different contents – according to different interests Beautiful green world? On the myth of the green capitalist economy. In the early morning hours of June 16, 2012, three hundred women and children arrived in the hamlet of Belo Monte on the Transamazon Highway, and marched onto a temporary earthen dam recently built to impede the flow of the Xingu River. Using pick axes and shovels, local people who are being displaced by the project removed a strip of earthen dam to restore the Xingu’s natural flow Three hundred people breach earthen dam, free Xingu River from Belo Monte project. A new report by International Rivers, challenges the top-down approach to infrastructure projects promoted by the World Bank and the powerful Group of 20 Infrastructure for Whom? A Critique of the Infrastructure Policies of the Group of 20 and the World Bank. The water warriors gathered at the plenary discussion on Water as Commons in Countering Green Economy, Privatization and Commodification during the opening of the Cupula dos Povos in Rio de Janeiro Water Warriors reject corporate control of water at Peoples’ Summit. La Via Campesina has been actively participating in the construction of this activity in order to denounce the false solutions of the same failed economic model that is now being dressed in green under the name “green economy” Peasants of the world mobilize against green capitalism in Rio. Moreover, after working through the night on Monday, international negotiators agreed on a framework for “sustainable development goals” that could help guide a wide-range of policies on issues like poverty eradication, clean energy deployment, sustainable cities, and fisheries management. But with very few specifics on how to actually implement these sustainability goals, the text has angered almost every single civil society group observing the negotiations The State Of Play In Rio: Draft Agreement Sparks ‘Alarm And Concern’. Plus, when the indigenous people speak like this  Kari-Oca 2 Declaration- Indigenous Peoples Global Conference on Rio+20 and Mother Earth.

I am wondering… why the Rio+20 Earth Summit and the G20 Summit start at the same day? Why isn’t there a single summit? Such conferences bring more depression than hope.

Political systems which were supposed to represent everyone now return governments of millionaires, financed by and acting on behalf of billionaires. The past 20 years have been a billionaires’ banquet. At the behest of corporations and the ultra-rich, governments have removed the constraining decencies – the laws and regulations – which prevent one person from destroying another. George Monbiot said: “To expect governments funded and appointed by this class to protect the biosphere and defend the poor is like expecting a lion to live on gazpacho” The Mendacity of Hope.

Such summits should be leaded by indigenous people; not by corporations. Also to notice that capitalism is male-based system; it degrades women. See How capitalism degrades women. As a result, our world needs women leaders instead of males. Mother Earth is a ‘she’; that’s why our world needs women leaders.

What our world needs is a moral system. We must focus on local economy instead of green economy. We need a real economy- not a trojan horse for bankers. We must focus on food sovereignty. We must protect the commons. We must defend the public control of finances. The Earth will be fine. The real conflict is not between humans and nature. It is between humans. It is between current and future human generations.

We should mobilize. We should mobilize more aggressively. There is hope in everything, and it is certain. There is hope on each rope we hang.

Some Thoughts about Education

Standard

Education … not sure what it is especially in nowadays

The only thing that I am sure about is that real education is the one which focuses on moral sense

Real education is that wisdom which emphasizes on happiness as a chief element

Now, talking about moral sense? No, we are talking about capitalism here

We are talking about money

We are talking about a paper

A fake paper which has been taken so seriously over the decades

A fake paper which is being the main driving force of our world’s destruction

I believe that education is a right. However, when higher education is only available when extra-money is paid, education is not a necessity anymore

Education becomes an illusion

The only real education that you can get then is by reading

Read… read all the time… read as a matter of principle, as a matter of self-respect. Read as a nourishing staple of life

Read for yourself

Read for your health

Read for your brain

Read for the educated people who are still not able to read

Read for the sake of a genuine humanity

If you really want to evolve, read. Read as much as you can.

Read to really evolve. Do not evolve on a fake paper. Do not evolve by playing. You can’t evolve by playing monopoly.

Money …. Money …. Money …

We are running after money. We are running after a printed paper.

We are living in irony.

We are living in a century in which parents are attracting their children into a cycle of life and premature death.

What to say about parents feeding their children McDonalds-crap- on breakfast time?

We simply say “crap!”

We are living in a world in which CV is a substantial paper to get a job

The only genuine thing in a CV is when you summarize who you are in five or six words

Atleast, you know that you are not special

On the other hand, CV is a mostly another fake paper; like money

See my friends what happens when people view money as an end in itself rather than a way to another end like happiness

Here is a thing, I don’t believe in grades.

I don’t believe in superficial education

I only believe in love.

I believe that we, humans and other living things, are connected through an invisible web of energy

I believe that we are all equal

I believe that there is no upper hand

Just love

Love everything you love, everyone you love, with all your might.

Check this enlightening video: Herd Mentality – The Schooling System

“Before our white brothers arrived to make us civilized men, we didn’t have any kind of prison. Because of this, we had no delinquents. Without a prison, there can be no delinquents. We had no locks nor keys and therefore among us there were no thieves. When someone was so poor that he couldn’t afford a horse, a tent or a blanket, he would, in that case, receive it all as a gift. We were too uncivilized to give great importance to private property. We didn’t know any kind of money and consequently, the value of a human being was not determined by his wealth. We had no written laws laid down, no lawyers, no politicians, therefore we were not able to cheat and swindle one another. We were really in bad shape before the white men arrived and I don’t know how to explain how we were able to manage without these fundamental things that (so they tell us) are so necessary for a civilized society. “ – John Fire Lame Deen

The poor are no longer with us; These bills are long unpaid – Thoughts triggered by ‘Degrowth in the Americas’ conference

Standard

No one’s poor any longer. Listen to politicians. They mourn the middle class which is shrinking as we watch in the mirror. The poor have been already into the oblivion pail of not to be spoken words. They are as lepers were treated once, to be shipped off to fortified islands of the mind to rot quietly. If poverty is a disease, quarantine its victims. If it’s a social problem imprison them behind high walls. Maybe its genetic: how often they catch easily preventable diseases. Feed them fast garbage and they’ll die before their care can cost you, of heart attacks, stroke. Provide cheap guns and they’ll kill each other well out of your sight. Ghettos are such dangerous places. Give them schools that teach them how stupid they are. But always pretend they don’t exist because they don’t buy enough, spend enough, and give you bribes or contributions. No ads target their feeble credit. They are not real people like corporations.

Capitalism is a form of colonialism. It has been a taboo subject in the United States. Among politicians, journalists, and academics—and in public conversation generally—the word has been avoided or else exclusively praised in over-the-top prose. Professional economists have used words like “perfect competition” and “optimal allocation of resources” and “efficiency” to teach their students and assure one another how absolutely wonderful capitalism was (and is) for everyone. Attending ‘Degrowth in the Americas’ conference (the title is very clear to give an idea about the topics held in the conference), I was very interested to watch two documentaries: GrowthBusters (a documentary done by Dave Gardner. It focuses a lot on overpopulation; therefore, promoting ‘Endangered Species Condom’ was one of Dave ideas to reduce population growth- the elephant in the room), and Surviving Progress (a documentary in which some of the world’s foremost thinkers, activists, bankers, and scientists challenge us to overcome “progress traps”, which destroyed past civilizations and lie treacherously embedded in our own). According to GrowthBusters, it is a cultural myth when we say/believe that growth equals prosperity. In addition, in Surviving Progress, the brilliant David Suzuki was mentioned. Suzuki said:”Economics is not a science.” He adds:” You see, as long as those trees are alive, they are taking carbon dioxide out of the air and putting oxygen back. Not a bad service for an animal like us who depend on it, you might think. But to an economist that is an externality. Not a bad service for an animal like us who depend on it, you might think. But to an economist that is an externality. Those trees are clinging to the soil so when it rains the soil does not erode into and destroy the salmon spawning beds. That is an externality. Those trees pump hundreds of gallons of water out of the soil, transpire it into the air to affect weather and climate. That is an externality. That tree provides habitat to countless bacteria, fungi, insects, mammals and birds. That is an externality. So in our crazy system that forest, as long as it is standing, performing all of those functions has no economic value. And this is nuts!”

“Green Economy” and “Sustainable Capitalism” are oxymorons as well as being two forms of greenwashing. Those who advocate sustainable capitalism are often challenged to spell out why sustainability adds value. Yet the question that should be asked instead is: “Why does an absence of sustainability not damage companies, investors and society at large?” From BP to Lehman Brothers, there is a long list of examples proving that it does.

Economics and ecology are words built on the same root – ‘eco’ – from the Greek word ‘oikos’ meaning home. Ecology is the study of home. Economics is the management of home. What ecologists try to do is to determine the conditions and principles that govern life’s ability to flourish and survive.

What if globalization is really meant to mean we are ALL connected rather than emphasizing on technologies, industries, free-market, and capitalism? What if globalization is really meant to mean that WE are ALL LOVE?

We notice that the price goes up every time history repeats itself. What about forgetting the payment of the debt, including the ecological debt, by developed countries to developing countries and starting a new era? A new era in which forgetting to apply the market rules to Nature is a necessity. A new era in which we ,humans, need is to forge a new system based on the principles of:

  • peace, harmony and balance among all and with all things;
  • complementarity, solidarity, equality and social and environmental justice;
  • collective well-being and the satisfaction of the basic necessities of all;
  • recognition of human beings for what they are, not what they own;
  • elimination of all forms of colonialism, imperialism and interventionism.

We cannot keep promoting such destructive model of development that does not acknowledge the planetary limits of economic growth. New technologies should not mean limitless, reckless economic growth propelled only by capitalist motives. Scientific advances, under some circumstances, can contribute to resolve certain problems of development but cannot ignore the natural limits of the Earth system.

Intellectual property rights over genes, microorganisms and other forms of life are a threat to food sovereignty, biodiversity, access to medicine and other elements that are essential for the survival of low-income populations. All forms of intellectual property over life should be abolished.

To predict disaster, to invoke treachery and malice, to spin tales of rotten luck to make it not happen: it doesn’t work. The wind is still rising with hail in its teeth. The waves are piling up then spilling back way, way baring bottom you’ve never seen. There’s ashes in  the wind, darling, a taste of ashes in our food ashes on our lips in bed eyes blinded with ash. There’s a mortgage on my spine I cannot pay. Somebody has bought my teeth and wants them out tomorrow for dice. There are real monsters under the bed, hungry for blood. They own the land this house stands on to stripmine for coal. Santa isn’t coming. The bounty hunter is. There’s a lien on your ass and the bank is itchy to fore close your future. If you’re going to stand get up. If you’re going to fight, get moving. Nothing comes to those who wait but hunger’s claws digging into the soft belly. If you value your blood, fight to keep it in your veins. You have nothing to lose but your life and it was sold to them decades ago by your parents’ parents. Their greed is endless. Your patience shouldn’t be.

Reverence

Standard

Day in and day out the inhabitants of lonely planet earth kill, maim, conspire, steal, abuse, violate, destroy, poison, fight and, well, hurt each other’s feelings. It is a wonder that we – a socially constrained pack of wild animals – survive. We may not survive in the long run. Some cold-minded scientists suggest the earth’s population will be extinct in 1000 years and claim to have evidence to support it. All this is due to what is called the “cycle of stupid”. The cycle of stupid is the most vicious of all cycles. This cycle has deep philosophical and causes most of the angst on the earth today. It happens when intelligent, sentient beings (people) act like they couldn’t be denser if someone hit them over the head with a stupid stick.

Why our world is corrupted, why sustainable development (even if it is an oxymoron) is not met yet?

Sustainable development is reached when the three pillars- economic, social and environmental aspects are reached in integrity. In fact, economic, social and environmental aspects are all related. In a short-written piece analyzing what Friedman wrote on the environmental sources of the Arab Spring in nytimes, Professor Rania Masri stated that “separation of use of natural resources from economics is a fallacy” when Friedman said: “economics *is* the management of natural resources.”

Another factor contributing to the destruction of our environment is the strong belief in Social Darwinism. Other than having about as much purpose as gravity, Social Darwinism is portrayed, especially nowadays, with its links to scientific racism, eugenics, imperialism, and the notion that the “more fit” out-compete the “less-fit,” “more-fit” usually defined since Darwin’s day as the ones with the guns, the money, the means and the meanness and a hankering for other people’s lands. While saying Social Darwinism, four words echo in my mind, which are industrialization; globalization; capitalism; tragedy of the commons; and climate change.  After all, natural selection shows us that cooperation, and not just competition, can be a successful strategy for survival.

What each one of us needs is reverence. Reverence is the feeling of awe in the face of something greater than us. People from all cultures experience reverence, and the experience is accompanied by a sense of humbleness. With reverence, we treat each other and the world around us with respect.

I am passionate about the natural world. I prefer hearing and feeling a place, then engaging with it. Reverence towards the land, as I feel when I think about the food I eat entering my bloodstream and replacing old tissue, or when I look up at a Redwood tree and acknowledge an organism that survived through immense environmental pressures over the course of one hundred human generations, organizing particles from the earth and atmosphere into something that supports and survives in ecosystems that we are only beginning to understand.

Many of our best scientists, including Einstein, pointed out how our ethical systems have long lagged behind our capacities for invention and economic development. And clearly, the lack of an ethical container is the first half of what’s wrong with capitalism.

The issue is that the root causes of global warming should be solved; not the symptoms. Notice that all climate summits emphasize on solving the symptoms of the environmental problems. The Rio+20 looks just a celebration of the previous climate summits.  Economic (triggered by capitalism) and population growth are the two major causes for this global problem. What our world needs is an ethical system just like economic one. Also, despite the development of a growing environmental consciousness and the movements to which it has given rise in the last century, the environmental crisis continues to deepen. There is nothing in the record or on the horizon that could lead us to believe the situation will significantly change in the foreseeable future.

The solution is to replace capitalism with a social order based on an economy devoted not to maximizing private profit and accumulating ever more capital but rather to meeting real human needs and restoring the environment to a sustainably healthy condition.

There is a light of hope now. The time has come for global action to build a new world economic system that is no longer based on the illusion that limitless growth is possible on our precious and finite planet. Encouraged by the government of Bhutan, the United Nations held a High Level Meeting for Wellbeing and Happiness where 650 political, academic, and civic leaders from around the world came together on April 2, 2012 to discuss a New Economic Paradigm.

Change comes from within. Small steps do count. Instead of waiting for policies and politics to take the right track toward a sustainable world, each one of us should take environmentally-friendly action or responsability on the individual level. This is one of the ways to understand and participate in democracy. When understanding that citizens are the fuel of their government’s fire, changing the distribution of power becomes relevant.

On a final note, I want to say:” There are dreams. There are emotions. We are all connected. We are all energy.”

The picture below is taken somewhere in Iceland (http://www.bustler.net/index.php/article/choishine_wins_bsa_unbuilt_architecture_award_for_land_of_giants):

Three Things that make Animals more Interesting than us- Humans

Standard

We became alone along animals- afraid of death.

Evolution has always sparked my mind. I always wonder who are we as ‘Homo Sapiens’. We, humans, have become so impressed by ourselves to an extent at which we are not capable of controlling our own actions.

Humans are social animals. So what certainly differentiates us from animals? Certainly, the human mind and its potential abilities. However, from my experience, I always see that animals are more interesting than humans as species. This is due to noticing three factors, which are: the huge gap between poor and rich (or capitalism); sexuality and borders.

First, capitalism or the big gap between poor and rich can’t stop getting my attention. It reminds me of the predator prey relationships. Talking about humans, we only see one type of predator prey relationships, which is ‘rich preying on the poor’. Talking about animals, all types of predator prey relationships are present. This is a difference that makes us, humans, realize that animals are more interesting than us.

Second, sexuality is a controversial topic among humans. However, it is a natural thing among animals.Honestly, I don’t care if something is unnatural. Babies incubators aren’t natural. Dialysis machines aren’t natural. I will tell you what ‘natural’ is. ‘Natural’ is earthquakes, stinging nettles, wasps, shit, pain and death.

Third, talking about borders, we know that our world is shaped by laws of physics (i.e: speed of light, gravity, entropy, etc…); chemistry (i.e: chemical reactions, molecules properties, etc…) and biology (i.e: carrying capacity, etc…). And despite what we know and unlike animals, we- humans- take the concept of borders among us so seriously. We, humans, draw lines around our property, around our being, around our country, and thus, to our thinking. We go to war and die. You know what? Nature couldn’t give a shit about humans boundaries. Take for example a spawning salmon. Can you imagine a spawning salmon coming from Alaska and saying:” Oh shit! I can’t spawn here?!”. An example on this in which humor is used here as a positive tool is:” For sale: (used) farm 10452 km2. Sea view. Lots of animals (copied, w modification)”. Explaining this example would be:”  We can work towards liberating our land from its owners and liberating our minds from foolishness and division. We have a few good leaders and more good people so all is not lost. Plus, we have a sea view- a view based on the absence of borders.”

We have come to a century in which day in and day out the inhabitants of lonely planet earth kill, maim, conspire, steal, abuse, violate, destroy, poison, fight and, well, hurt each other’s feelings. It is a wonder that we – a socially constrained pack of wild animals – survive. We may not survive in the long run. Some cold-minded scientists suggest the earth’s population will be extinct in 1000 years and claim to have evidence to support it. All this is due to what is called the “cycle of stupid”. The cycle of stupid is the most vicious of all cycles. This cycle has deep philosophical and causes most of the angst on the earth today. It happens when intelligent, sentient beings (people) act like they couldn’t be denser if someone hit them over the head with a stupid stick. It seems that our actions aren’t humane. As a result, I can’t be that proud of evolution.

To end, “When asked, as frequently am, why I should concern myself so deeply with the conservation of animal life, I reply that I have been very lucky and that throughout my life the world has given me the most enormous pleasure. But the world is as delicate and as complicated as a spider’s web. If you touch one thread, you send shudders running down all the other threads. We are not just touching the web, we are tearing great holes in it” ~Gerald Durell