“The Earth does not belong to man; Man belongs to the Earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.” — Chief Seattle
These words of wisdom by Chief Seattle constitute one of my favourite Native American Indian quotes. It reminds me of some thoughts I posted in my blog recently, such as:
Humans need to remember that they do not create or sustain Mother Earth. Mother Earth creates and sustains us.
Instead of seeking to dominate and control Earth, we need to respect and cooperate with Earth and our fellow inhabitants (including animals and plants).
The monetary system and political system have created artificial value and boundaries respectively that discriminate and divide humanity and the environment. Yet in actuality, no one is more important or valuable than another because everyone is created equal. Similarly, no one is an island and no “country” stands alone. What affects a person in one place affects another person elsewhere, and what affects the environment affects us human beings too and vice versa.
So, when we do our part to protect the environment, we are helping ourselves because we will enjoy clean air and water. Similarly, when we help our brothers and sisters in need, we are helping ourselves because we are all one.
Let’s talk about balance. What is balance? For a long time (ever since I was a young boy), the concept of balance has been at the back of my mind. To me, balance is finding that happy medium between pleasure and pain, or enjoyment and suffering.
For example, when we want to travel from one place to another, we can choose to walk, run or take a bus (I am using a very simple example that we all can relate to in our daily lives). When we walk, we will reach the destination in a matter of time. When we run, we will reach there more quickly. When we take a bus, we reach there in the shortest time. So what is the point I am trying to make here?
Simply put, there are advantages and disadvantages (or pros and cons) for each choice. For example, when I walk, I get to exercise a little and it is good for my health. Compared to running, I do not fall down easily, so the risk of injury is very low. I use up less energy when walking, so I also do not tire easily. In addition, compared to taking a bus, walking is a non-pollutive way of travelling. But on the flip side, walking is also the slowest among the three options. If I need to get to my destination quickly, then walking will be the least favourable of these options.
How about running? Running is also a great form of exercise, besides walking. Although running exerts more energy than walking, it boosts my cardiovascular health better and produces more feel-good endorphins. It is also an environmentally friendly mode of travelling. However, I will tire easily after running for some time. Besides, there is a higher risk of injury when running, such as falling down or experiencing leg cramps. So, the faster I run, the greater the risk of injury. But then again, I will also reach my destination more quickly.
Finally, taking a bus is perhaps the most comfortable mode of travelling compared to walking or running. It is also the fastest. However, a bus pollutes the air because of the smoke emitted from the exhaust pipe. (This means that we enjoy the benefit of travelling quickly at the expense of our health and the environment.) Besides, a bus may break down along the way (although the chances of this happening are usually very low for well-maintained buses). Also, travelling by bus does not allow the opportunity for exercising.
So, there we have it. Three different scenarios to illustrate how we can find a balance, in terms of travelling and considering the various factors involved. This principle applies to other aspects of life too, such as eating, working on a project, and so on.
Example of finding a balance in using energy resources
“Many people believe that there is too much technology in the world today, and that technology is the major cause of our environmental pollution. This is not the case. It is the abuse and misuse of technology that should be our major concern. In a more humane civilization, instead of machines displacing people they would shorten the workday, increase the availability of goods and services, and lengthen vacation time. If we utilize new technology to raise the standard of living for all people, then the infusion of machine technology would no longer be a threat.”
I was thinking to myself: If technology has been abused and misused, why did it happen then? The answer I came up with is that companies chose to misuse technology, such as using fuel resources (oil, coal and natural gas) for short-term gains at the expense of people and the environment. After all, these fuel resources are easily available (before they run out in a few decades’ time), so the profit-oriented companies prefer to use them to produce electricity and manufacture products, since they are cheaper to use compared to solar energy or geothermal energy. The result is that they make profits in the short run, but stand to lose in the long run (in terms of their health and quality of their living environment due to pollutive by-products such as smoke, acid rain and oil spills). So people will need to find a balance in using energy resources wisely and sensibly, in order to benefit one another and the environment while minimising any side effects.
How do we find a balance in life? I think each of us will have to find our own answers, and consider how we can make choices in life that will benefit not only ourselves but also others and the environment, for the greatest good.
The Venus Project Simplified: We simply want a world that isn’t restricted by politics, money and elitism and doesn’t destroy the earth for profit, we want to ensure through our existing technological capability that every human being is fed, clothed, housed and has access to clean renewable energy and a relevant education without having to “Earn It”.
Like what the video shared, it will be expensive in the long run to keep repairing outmoded cities, and therefore new cost-efficient and self-sufficient cities need to be built from ground up. I think modern societies can consider implementing such cities, or at least plan for a transition for old cities to evolve to newer cities that use clean, non-fuel-based and renewable energy resources and technologies.
I like the idea of having indoor and outdoor agriculture – I was thinking to myself recently that people can be allowed and encouraged to cultivate fruit and vegetables in public areas so that everyone can share in harvesting the crops. Currently, in my country, it seems that it is illegal (or forbidden) to plant crops in public – what a waste of space. It is mainly the fault of the profit-oriented monetary system that discourages such practices of public sharing of common goods. If we were to do away with the monetary system (or the current self-serving concept of it), we all can make better use of the common space we have in order to create abundant food supply for everyone in the community. I also look forward to seeing the vision presented in the video come into fruition more and more, whereby science and technology is wisely and sensibly used for the betterment of humanity and the environment.
Young people need to look at the world in a fresh new way and say: “Enough is enough, you guys screwed it up, we need to take our planet back.”
I like what Rainn Wilson shared about people, especially the younger people, needing to stand up for their future, and not necessarily buy into all the ideas and practices laid down by the current leaders in politics, religion, and so on. As he put it, there might be some good ideas and good intentions from the leaders or establishments, but generally the current systems are not working well for most of the people because of the self-serving nature of the systems. I do think the spiritual revolution is happening and gradually gaining momentum, such as the young Severen Cullis-Suzuki who silenced the world for 5 minutes with her impassionate plea at the 1992 Earth Summit for the authorities to take actions to address poverty and environmental crisis, and more recently, the relatively young Peter Joseph who is playing a role in waking the world up to see the failings of the monetary socio-economic system in being sustainable and equitable for humanity and the environment, and proposing alternative scenarios of a better world for everyone.
“Our economic system is premised on the notion of endless growth. Its unintentional manifestations include global warming, dwindling resources, proliferating pollution, the accelerating extinction of species, water and food shortages, all set against the backdrop of a burgeoning global population.”
Like what the article says, degrowth is not a new model to replace the current ailing and unsustainable economic model but rather “more a tool for opening up a discussion on the failures of and alternatives to the status quo.” More than just a philosophical idea, it is a practical mindset that helps people to rethink about what is truly sustainable and how to provide goods and services that will benefit people and the environment instead of exploiting them at their expense. It is about realising each of us is in this together and has a part to play to overcome the illusion of status and work towards a better future through reclaiming our human rights and restoring the environment we live in.
Sandra Kyrzakos further discusses the idea of a world where people can not only survive but thrive, and offers practical insight on how this can be created by everyone.
I agree with the interviewee that the problem with the current concept of money creates classism and egoism among people, leading to unnecessary divisions and inequality, in which the haves discriminate against the haves not. This is intolerable or unacceptable because everyone is born equal and deserves equal esteem and treatment. It is inconceivable that there are starving people given that there is more than enough food to feed every person on earth.
I think the proposed new approach to money as a currency to be given to every person as equal allowance is worth considering since it does away with any kind of status or hierarchy as it treats everyone as equal and no one owns anything or owes anything as there will be no debt or interest incurred. It will encourage people to continue working according to their talents without worrying about wages or performance appraisal, and purely for the sake for serving humanity in their own capacities. After all, people still need services such as libraries, transport, cleaning etc to go about their daily lives, and this alternative system of equal allowances can help support people to survive and thrive without the problems of inequality and scarcity. This proposed idea may be an ideal bridge to a future system that is totally independent of money, that is based on sharing resources and meeting needs of every person. I hope modern societies will seriously consider implementing such equitable and sustainable systems.
In addition, I find this topic crucial because we are all in this together – what affects one person affects others as well. I am coming to realise more and more that money (or the traditional concept of it) degrades the value and dignity of human beings, and anyone can be a victim of being discriminated by others who are swayed by the greed for wealth or by the illusion of social status. It takes a collective effort by the community to readdress the issue of inequality and discrimination caused by the current concept of money.
Once the current monetary system eventually dies out on its own, and everyone seeks to have equal share of resources that meets everyone’s needs, those who refuse to accept the change will find the transition painful because they will lose their so-called status. The new equitable and sustainable system of sharing resources and having equal allowances will also result in those who truly want to work to benefit and serve others will step up and be trained in their chosen profession, such as doctors, as pointed out by the interviewee in the video. And if the current doctors choose to leave their profession just because they are not happy that they are no longer earning higher income than others, it only shows that their underlying motive has been to accumulate wealth and acquire status rather than putting people’s health and well-being first.
We can only be kept in the cages we do not see. A brief history of human enslavement – up to and including your own. From Freedomain Radio, the largest and most popular philosophy conversation in the world. http://www.freedomainradio.com
This is an eye-opening and thought-provoking video. The concept of human farms reminds me of the novel “Animal Farm” by George Orwell, which is a sociopolitical satire describing the same scenario in our modern societies. Every modern society that is run by a central government or authority has varying degrees of enslavement and control, through the use of violence, taxation, propaganda and so on. I think only some indigenous societies that are self-governing and have an egalitarian culture are truly free in a sense. Hopefully, more people will seriously consider a peaceful and peace-loving form of anarchism and learn to live a responsible and self-governing life that will render the ruling authorities redundant, or at the least, disempower them from enslaving the people like they used to.
About “Animal Farm” by George Orwell
George Orwell is the one who was famously known for his quote “In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” I just found out that his book “Animal Farm” can be read for free online here. It is one of the books I read for my own enrichment and reading pleasure during secondary school when studying English Literature. Back then, I didn’t really know it is a sociopolitical satire about the current systems in modern societies, and today, I can appreciate the insights offered in the novel as I begin to understand a bit more about how politics are run in the societies.
Thoughts on what took place in the human mind in the evolutionary process that made us slaves
The answer that came to my mind to the question on what took place in the human mind in the evolutionary process that made us slaves is the desire for power and control by some people to enslave others (through implementing their own exclusive or elitist ideology for the masses). I think the problem with most government or political systems is that the authorities profess to do all the thinking and decision-making for the masses, and the rest do not get to exercise their ability to think for themselves as much as they need to. It is then easy for those in power to become corrupt and manipulate the masses for their own agenda. I was re-reading the first two chapters of “Animal Farm” just now, and I see a similarity – once the animals in the farm have succeeded in overthrowing the dictatorial farm owners, the more outspoken animals such as the boars began to take charge of the whole farm, and started to rule over the other animals. It is the same thing under a different name. So I think one way out of enslavement is actually to empower every single being, instead of relying on one person or one party to lead the way in every aspect of our lives. We are our own co-creators and teachers and saviours, each responsible for our own individual as well as collective evolution and development.
I have noted that the beginning of the video focused more on the perspective that humans tend to have a fear of death, and some authorities decided to capitalise on that fear to control people. I think that is what many organised religions do too to control and manipulate people too, by using the innate fear of death to indoctrinate people about their own theories of death and afterlife, such as the so-called “heaven” as reward and “hell” as punishment. In the same way, governments that use military and might to rule by fear are perpetuating the problem of enslavement, so part of the way out of enslavement would be to promote non-violence and respect for all peoples.
From what I gather from the video interview, the outcome of the transition to a new system depends mainly on the people at the grassroots level as it won’t serve much the interests of most politicians and the profit-oriented corporations to initiate the transition from the monetary system.
It is interesting that they mentioned Singapore as one of the countries in Asia where the Zeitgeist movement have a presence, perhaps because the majority of people are exposed to the Internet and a number of people would have known about the movement. In general, I understand from the interview that some major cities may transition to a new system (that is more collaborative in nature and less competitive) faster than others, depending on how soon a critical mass is reached to start or facilitate the movement, and how prepared they are physically and mentally to form communities to share resources and support one another. There might be some resistance or chaos from those who want to hold on to the status quo, as Jacque Fresco pointed out, hence the more people are aware of this movement, the better it will be as more people will understand the crucial need for a transition that begins with the cultural mindset and the less painful will be the experience and they need not wait until they suffer major crises to realise the importance of having a more sustainable and equitable community where everyone can share the resources.
In this video, Peter Joseph summarised the main problems of the current monetary-based socioeconomic system. From my understanding of the presentation, the monetary system has played a role in facilitating the industrial revolution, resulting in the use of technology in the agricultural, manufacturing and service sectors, which gradually replaces human labour in these sectors, starting from agriculture and mining. The flaw of the monetary system is that it is used by corporations to create artificial scarcity and value of resources, which is meant to perpetuate continual or cyclical consumption in order for the corporations to continue to make profits. This resulted in deliberate inefficient use of resources to manufacture goods of less than optimal quality and durability so as to keep consumers buying new goods to replace worn-out ones.
I also learnt from the presentation that the current socioeconomic system has reached a stage where it can no longer sustain itself much longer because technology in the form of automation has mainly replaced human labour in agriculture, manufacturing and increasingly in the service sector. As a result, jobs are becoming increasingly scarce, and without jobs, people will not be able to afford to buy many of the goods, and hence the question was posed: “Should the focus of society be to create and preserve jobs or should the focus of society be to maximize production and create abundance? It is either one direction or the other. You can’t have both. Sadly, what you are seeing in the world today is the deliberate withholding of social efficiency for the sake of preserving the status quo.”
Like what Peter Joseph shared here, the world needs to embrace a new paradigm that will ensure everyone receives the benefits of peak production and abundance equally without the constraints and discrimination imposed by the limiting self-serving monetary system that is becoming obsolete by the day. The challenge is for people to let go of this obsolete system and forget about their status quo and embrace a better and more equitable system that will meet everyone’s needs and remove the problems of war, poverty, environmental degradation and so on, as mentioned in the video:
“While money has indeed served a positive role overall on the course of our social evolution, adaptation and change and improvement is still unstoppable. The fact is, most of the original problems, which required the development of the economic system we see today, are no longer pressing due to the dramatic advancement of science and technology. We now have the means to move in to a new paradigm one where the negative by-products of our current social establishment such as perpetual war, human exploitation, poverty and environmental destruction are no longer tolerable. What is advocated here is merely a next step in our social evolution as dictated not by a person or group’s opinion but by statistics, trends, basic inference and extrapolation all deduced by the scientific method.”
Interestingly, towards the end of the video, Peter Joseph also shared his observation that historically, humans living in indigenous societies are egalitarian and non-hierarchical in their social structures, which shows that humans are not inherently greedy.
“Before the agricultural or neolithic revolution which occurred about 10,000 years ago, hunter-gatherer societies actually had a non-hierarchical, egalitarian social structure. The social values were based essentially on equality altruism, sharing and literally forbid upstartism, dominance, aggression and egoism.”
May we all around the world move towards a new culture based on equality and sustainability and create an environment that cultivates our innate kindness and altruism.
All in all, I think the presentation summarises the problems of the current system well, which provide a strong impetus for people to seriously consider, prepare for and embrace a better and more equitable and sustainable system that will benefit not just themselves but also others.
I agree with the gist of Carolyn Baker’s message about the need to prepare for the coming collapse of the current world system and it helps to about making preparations now. There is nothing wrong with talking about so-called “negative” things because we are only facing reality by taking the necessary practical measures to adapt to a new, more conscious world that will be less dependent on modern day conveniences and pollutive oil-run technologies, and more focused on building communities and learning survival skills, such as growing foods, gardening, making things with our hands, and building communication networks (logistical skills). The idea of supporting one another and seeing one another as necessary for our collective survival and evolution resonates with me because I believe in collaborative living too, instead of competitive living that is propagated by the current system.
“Wake Up! Our World Is Dying, And We’re All In Denial”
“We experience our own pain, but also the pain of the earth and of people and animals suffering all over the world. Environmentalist Joanna Macy calls this pain “planetary anguish.” We want to help, but we all feel that we have enough on our plates without taking on the melting polar ice caps or the dying oceans.”
I believe this is what some of us are experiencing even as we are increasing our awareness of our interconectedness with one another, and we experience not only our own pain but also the pain of the earth and of others suffering all over the world. I can understand that some of us feel that our hands are tied even though we want to help because of our current enslavement to the monetary system. I think only when we face the hard truths about the failing system can we begin a process of transformation, as described below.
“Once we face the hard truths about our environmental collapse, we can begin a process of transformation that I call the “alchemy of healing.” Despair is often a crucible for growth. As we expand ourselves to deal with our new normal, we can feel more vibrant and engaged with the world as it is.
We can be intentional when we’re shopping, planning a trip, or working in our communities. We can be citizens of the world, rather than consumers, and we can vote every time we hand over our debit card.”
Yes, I always believe we are citizens of the world, rather than patriots of individual nations because in reality there are no boundaries (which is illusory and man-made). By making changes in our individual lifestyles and our personal outlooks, we can make very real changes in us and around us. Though the changes may seem small and insignificant, we have the power to make a difference through the ripple effect. I think this practical and spiritual preparation goes beyond the superficiality of mere positive thinking as it makes way for empowerment of every human being, because everyone can realise it is within their ability to make the world better in their own ways instead of depending on someone or some organisation to lead the way. I also agree with the concluding part of her article:
“We who are alive today share what Martin Luther King, Jr., called “the inescapable network of mutuality.” We aren’t without resources. We have our intelligence, humor, and compassion, our families and friends, and our ancestry of resilient hominid survivors. We can be restored.”
Yes, with our intelligence, humor and compassion, as well as the growing community of resilient and willing fellow survivors, we can be restored through living and growing in our network of mutuality.