Monday, July 4, 2011

What Matters?

Sometimes, it's tough to get one of these started, because I write off the cuff and don't use an outline. So this one may be all over the place. I've tried looking at our world from an alien perspective. And it kind of makes me sad to see it that way. Once you suppress the notion to fall back into the safety of how we usually see the world and you look at what's happening, you can't help but feel like we have gone WAY off track.

On a global level, our world is in disarray. Because of nationality, race, religion, and borders, we are in a constant state of conflict. War is real. It's not a TV show. People die every single hour of every single day. Should it really matter to us if they are not American? I say it should matter. And you know it matters too. There are people starving and without shelter all over the planet. Should it matter to us if they are not American? I say it should. And, I also think you KNOW that it matters too. Life should be valued.

Television seems to matter....quite a bit. It's become our pacifier. Reality shows. Game shows. Shows about rich fantasy worlds that we mentally masturbate to, wishing we could have the perfect body, perfect mate, perfect house, perfect car, and a life of celebrity. If you need to get away from reality that badly, how about turning off the TV and creating a reality for yourself that will make you as happy as possible? We are allowing TV to live the life we want for us as we waste our precious time. Television can be a great tool for entertainment and education. But, we've started making the programming that discourages thought. We have shows talking about shows. We have shows that bring us the lives of others and how either "great" they are living or how "poorly" they are living. Opinion shows that tell us how we should feel about the news. I'd guess most people learn more about the world from Hannity, The Daily Show, and Hardball than they do from hard news sources or taking the time to learn about issues and hash them out on their own. Quite a bit of network television programming has become a drug. We have locked into the superficial or the lowest common denominator without thinking of the reality that lies in between.

Most of us look at issues like gay marriage, drug legalization, capital punishment, and abortion from a very staunch, unwavering viewpoint. That's all good and fine, but are we gaining anything as a human being by being so firm that we don't consider others? We need to form opinions.....educated opinions. But, we also should be taking into account the person on the other side of the issue. Why do they want what you do not? If you drop the preconceived notion of what you think their agenda is and actually bother to find out, you may bring yourself to a point where you are actually thinking about the issue without the many coats of paint (religion, up bringing, peer pressure, misinformation, distrust, fear) you have used to color your opinion. It's not that anyone has to really change their mind, as much as giving your mind a chance to change. Pull out your given ability. Let your mind work. Social issues matter, but understanding one another and being able to come to logical, workable conclusions should matter even more. Right now, the disagreement and political lock down we've allowed ourselves to fall into are prevailing and the solutions are not being approached. Ever wonder why we have the same issues come up in every election? We are not looking for solutions and common ground...........we look to impose. We look to win, no matter the cost to the other side and eventually, to ourselves.

We (human beings) have the ability to make this world what we want it to be. We have the tools to do so. But, we have allowed the foxes to run the hen house for so long, we may be past the tipping point. Our world is full of plague, death, hunger, and oppression. We are trashing the planet and exploiting it. We don't have to be. We don't have to be (to paraphrase Joe Rogan) mold just devouring up the land and resources. We don't have to find it acceptable that after 4,000 people (mostly civilians) were killed on 9/11/2001, that we go out and help to create over 100,000 civilian deaths (and that is a conservative estimate) according to a study by Brown University. Civilian Deaths-Brown Study  We don't have to find it acceptable that we take political military action against Libya because their government is fighting rebels, while we allowed the inhumane slaughter of hundreds of thousands in South Africa because of their religion and/or ethnicity. We don't have to accept that we actually pay farmers NOT to produce, while we have children going hungry here in the USA and all over the world.

We have made it socially acceptable that we are putting our children on synthetic meds to control their behavior instead of teaching them the value of having respect for themselves and others. We have stopped trying. We are just fine with alcohol, tobacco, sugar, coffee, tea and harmful man made drugs destroying our health industry and lives, but will pound the table and fight tooth and nail to keep marijuana (a benign substance) illegal. Why is it that drugs that keep us motivated to think a certain way and to follow a certain path in our lives are allowed, even encouraged to become parts of our lives, but the natural substances that cause people to think in a different way and are non-toxic (marijuana, DMT, psilocybin mushrooms, salvia) are kept illegal for adults? Our job is to consume and follow a path of production that will allow others to consume. But, as we become more and more locked into that, we are giving up the ability to realize that we have the power to shape the world the way we want it to be. Become aware....or conscious and then talk to others. Write your congressman or senator. Vote out those who are enslaved to corporate interests. Party means nothing. We are all in this together. It's time for the division to be over with.

At one time, when we were far less "advanced" than we are now, we lived on this planet in a manner that could be considered cooperative. Early civilizations worshipped both female and male gods. Women were considered the equal of men and there was a shared existence. These cultures used natural substances to gain insight. They used natural substances for food. They used natural substances for medicine. I wonder how much cancer, starvation, heart disease, and mental illness they had? We don't have to go back to living in the jungle or in caves. But, we can begin to get control of what is happening. We can feed the world. We do have enough energy sources to last us until the end of our existence. We do have the ability to understand each other, compromise, and to leave each other to our own pursuits in life. We have to take back the planet from the few who run it. It won't be easy. It won't be soon. The revolution must begin with you and you alone.

Ever heard someone say "Change yourself and change the world"? I've heard that a lot. I never understood it. Recently I sat and thought about it after reading some Terence McKenna, watching a documentary about different philosophies of life (both religious and non-religious) and conversing with a couple of friends. I get it now. If I don't change, the world won't. You have to allow yourself to think differently and to react differently to what you find acceptable and unacceptable. We are all different. If you want to be If you want to be treated with kindness.....treat others with kindness. If you want respect....give respect. See the world in a different way. People will notice. Over a period of time, you can have an effect on a lot of people in your life. Friends, family, can influence them in a way that will be beneficial to you, them, and our culture. We can't get started without starting.

I challenge you to value your life and the lives of others in a new way. Realize that you have a short time on this planet, you can make it more enjoyable, and you can be a part of changing things. Even if it's 100 years down the road, if we care about humanity and its' existence, we should be willing to put our best foot forward and begin the change right now. I know it all seems to big and we, as individuals, seem to helpless. That's why you have to think locally. Think about what you can do for yourself. Change yourself and change the world. See the world differently. I'll lay down a challenge....and if you do it, I'd be surprised if you didn't come away from it, at least feeling like it was worth trying.

1) Go two weeks without watching any sort of reality program that deals with how people live (Cribs, Lifestyles, etc). Instead, during the time you would usually spend watching those things, read a book on a science subject or watch a social or science documentary. Watch "Through The Wormhole" or "Universe".

2) Pick a subject that you are very passionate and firm on. Then learn about the opposing view or find a person who is in disagreement with you and find out why they feel differently. Interview that person, without adding your argument. Just ask questions and listen.

3) Find a couple of pieces of music that you really love (Beethoven, Beatles, whatever...) and listen to them with headphones on. Lay down in quiet place and just let yourself enjoy the music without thinking on subjects that have to do with your day, your job, or anything that you usually think about.

4) Spend some time thinking about "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" and what it means to you. What does it mean to others? Are those things available to everyone? Why or why not? Do you have an obligation to speak up for those who are not being able to enjoy those basic rights? Do you have the right to keep other adults from those things? What if it were you who felt slighted by that promise?

5) Go about your work and "have to's" in a different way. It's what you do. It's what most of us HAVE to spend some of our time doing, so why not put a different spin on it. Enjoy the feeling of purpose and accomplishment. If you have to spend your time on something you wouldn't ordinarily choose, either stop doing that job or change your attitude towards it.

6) When a family member talks to you during a task....stop what you are doing and be present with them. Stop and listen.

I don't know if doing those things will change your worldview, but I do know that those things have worked for me and a few others I know. I have a ton more I could write on this, but this isn't a book, so I'll have to stop somewhere. I'll provide a few links that may be useful to anyone who wants to put an effort into being a more understanding, aware, and perhaps even a happier person!

Recommended Programs

The Nature Of Existence    I highly recommend this one. Travel the world and get the thoughts of all sorts of people of different religions and cultures, about life, death, and in between.

BBC-The Secret You  A mind blowing 60 minutes. This show explores consciousness and just how little control we have over the very inner working of our mind and free will. If you choose to watch only one link I've this one!

Netflix: The Corporation  

Change Yourself, Change The World

Netflix: Flight From Death

Through The Wormhole w/ Morgan Freeman

Marijuana: Evil Drug or Natural Medicine

Science Saved My Soul

The Union

Recommended Reading

Food Of The Gods: Terence McKenna

The Moral Landscape: Sam Harris

The Ragamuffin Gospel: Brennan Manning   Although I am no longer a religious person, this is an excellent book about grace, acceptance, and forgiveness. I highly recommend it, as it should apply to everyone, not just Jesus or Christians.

Letters From Earth: Mark Twain

The Greatest Show On Earth: Richard Dawkins  If you don't understand evolution, this is the book to learn with. Very thorough.

Finally, I leave you with a few quotes from Henry David Thoreau...........

If a man believes and expects great things of himself, it makes no odds where you put him, or what you show him ... he will be surrounded by grandeur.

Have no mean hours, but be grateful for every hour, and accept what it brings. The reality will make any sincere record respectable.

Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.

That man is richest whose pleasures are the cheapest.

You can hardly convince a man of an error in a lifetime, but must content yourself with the reflection that the progress of science is slow. If he is not convinced, his grandchildren may be.