Friday, April 18, 2014

A Message from Power, delivered through Emissary and inadequate Translation

A Message from Power, delivered through Emissary and inadequate Translation:

Okay, Humans, here’s the deal.

This planet exists for a finite time. Some of us have been playing since the start, and we made sure along the way to provide for the next generation of Us. We are not like you. We are better than you. We deserve what we have because we have worked for it since the dawn of time. We hold an uneasy truce among ourselves, some of the time, and engage each other in war, the rest of the time, on many, many battlefields.

The field of The Economy is less bloody than making you fight each other in numbers with weapons. You should thank us for enslaving you in such a kind and benevolent way. But don’t mistake our attempts to improve your lives and include you in decision making as equality. We have never been equal. We will never be equal. We are better than you. We hold the power, and among us, we now own every square inch of the world with the weapons to back that up. You should let go of your delusions that you might own a piece of it. You are not worthy. We give you our scraps.

You are a worker ant, a drone. We keep you busy with our big global game called The Economy, waging our wars as we’ve always done, shifting around the piles of resources which include you. We let some of you have power over others, to keep your systems and your attitudes mean and uncooperative. We love our game. Manipulating your participation is the joy of the play. 

What are you whining about, when some of you suffer, when some of you die? When have you ever had it so good? We give you TV’s, we give you movies, we give you a man on the moon and plastic wrap and microwave ovens and cell phones, trying to keep you busy and entertained enough to play your small role in our armies. But we need to control all the resources to do that well. We can’t have you demanding safety and happiness and fulfilled lives. We can't have you bugging us with all your demands. You're here to work. We're here to play. You need to be in play. So get back to work. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Quick, Puff, Gone

Burn Hole
Sometimes, weeks of clarity trick me into tentative self-congratulation
before dissipation 
erodes my small understanding
with alarming efficiency
(sparks on tissue
quick, puff, gone)



Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Coles Notes: Productive Social Dialogue

Section 1. A few simple sentences about increasing the productiveness of our dialogue


  • Housing Stability is a more productive conversation topic than Homelessness.
  • Food Security is a more productive topic than Hunger.
  • Reducing Stress is a more productive topic than Crime.
  • Capacity Building is a more productive topic than Prison. 
  • Increasing Joy is a more productive topic than Depression.
  • Reducing Economic Burden is a more productive topic than Poverty.
  • Increasing Social Value is a more productive topic than Reducing Economic Burden.
  • Peaceful Coexistence is a more productive topic than Protection.

Pass it on. 
Thanks.
Power of Persistence (April, 2014)


Friday, April 11, 2014

Selective Employment, Productive Unemployment

Selective Employment, Productive Unemployment.

Come on guys, we all have the same goals. We all want humans to work less and stay out of our way. The corporations are on a single-minded mission to remove the human element as far as possible from every human system, as quickly as possible and faster than their competitors. And the humans would rather be doing pretty much anything else than working. 

So what are we doing? Why is full employment the goal? If we have full employment, who's going to do all the actual work of making society go? Not the mothers and fathers rushing to drop baby at daycare at 7:30am, and hurrying to avoid late fees at 6:34pm when they pick baby up. Do you think those stressed-out time-poor people can join the PTA and raise money for school trips no one is paying for? Who is nursing our elderly, caring for our disabled, running our households, preparing food(!), raising our children to peace, keeping the infrastructure running, paying attention to society, spirituality, art? Why are these activities given no true economic value? Without them, the economic system grinds to a halt. 

We should be paying people to stay home. It's the inevitable future of automation and robotics. The humans who can't or don't want to contribute to the design and maintenance of systems and tools, for whatever reasons, become redundant in a fast-approaching new economy. The only other option is service, and we don't want to pay for service. So how will the money flow? How will it make that round from the bottom back up to the top again? Will we increasingly just let the bottom fester?

What if we let the humans do exactly what they want. Give every one of them a guaranteed minimum that is just a little less than a person can live on comfortably, and then encourage them to do what we need done, as a society, rather than what some corporate profiteer thinks he can sell. Offer support, offer training, offer connections and mentorship, no strings attached. Profits must be curtailed at the top end to allow society to be funded. 

Productive Unemployment becomes a career option when society chooses to tax its resources appropriately to pay for it. Caring for loved ones, raising and teaching children, supporting people who need support, pursuing our highest, deepest passions. Raising art, voice and spirit. Living happily, in peace. Eating nutritious foods and taking care of our bodies and each other. 

Regardless of whether we think it's possible, it strikes me as a worthy alternative goal to simply spiraling downward past austerity into cynical, violent unrest outside the castle walls. 

Could we talk about how to make it possible? As if it were, actually, possible?

Because, maybe it is.

And on the off chance, I'd like to see us try. 

(I have more to discuss here, over time, but today I need to move!)







Monday, April 7, 2014

Pressure & Release

Pressure builds.

Release and make room.

Pressure builds.

Release and make room.

Pressure builds.

Release and make room.


( Release valves: Short, intense bouts of crying - driving from place to place is a good time. Exercise, preferably involving a punching bag. And/or Dance. Music. Sleep. Cuddles and Love. Writing. Nature. Breath.)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Another day

What Lies (Sept. 2012)
One day, everything makes sense. Paths seem clear, I can't believe I haven't seen them, acted on them, already. Each step is a step towards, into.

Then another day.

And on that other day, all paths reveal into dead ends and bristle-prickle bushes. Dreams dissolve as delusion. What If turns from possibility to threat.

I shiver and shake in my inadequacy.

And then I take another step.


Friday, March 14, 2014

It's Time

(Provence, France, 2004)


We are like children still running around
begging for someone's approval.

Always will someone know
something we don't.
Always will someone have
constructive criticism to share.
Always will our offerings
fall short of perfection.

Yet they are worth their weight in gold.

What I see and what I know is utterly unique
A gift for the world of my perspective
that no one, no one can match.

This is true of you, as it is of me.

Advice exists in abundance.
We could drink from that fountain endlessly
and never be sated.

Action teaches faster and with more precision.

Plans can be made in abundance.
We can dance for years with our plotting,
the illusion of control it spins.

Action acts faster and with more effect.

Ideas can be explored to endless heights.
We can spark and expand them into wondrous story
Until they fly from our grasp.

Action tethers ideas to now
And asks them to serve.

What I am, now, also tethers me here
and asks me to serve.

One day, ready or not, we just have to decide to climb
or go home and forget the wonder (if we can).

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Little Lost Post

I don't write here often
Because writing requires the long and painstaking task
Of overcoming my sense of futility in the effort

Why do I owe the world messages it doesn't want to hear?
Why do I care whether the humans lose their civilization to inequality?

Isn't it all just a game, in the end?
Isn't it all just a hologram?
Isn't it all the imagination of a tree or the dream of a dolphin or the fantasy of quarks?

Does it matter if I write or I don't write? 

Can't the universe hear my heartsong either way?
(maybe not)
(and so)

Us and Them

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Things to do:

Things to do:

1)      Remind people that happiness is the reason for all the work
a.      Remind people that they deserve nature
b.      Remind people that they deserve rest
c.      Remind people that they deserve fun
d.      Remind people that they deserve love
e.      Remind people that they belong
f.        Remind people that they matter
g.      Remind people that they are bodies
h.      Remind people that they are spirits
i.        Remind people that they are unified selves
j.        Remind people that they are not an individual at all
but instead, a cohesion of energy pulses committing to be me
and how these eyes see
how these lungs breathe
how this heart beats
is all the world and nothing much; test tube for this sample
that can’t survive the air on break of glass

Behind Glass (Toronto Zoo)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Slack (primer)

http://www.subgenius.com/


Slack is when we take care of ourselves, take care of our relationships and take care of the future.

The rest of our time is work. If it's not slack, it's work.

Maximizing contiguous slack is a primary purpose of a schedule.

Minimizing work. Maximizing slack. That's right.

Work is what we have to do to maintain the status quo.
Slack is when we get to focus on what it takes to get to the next level.

No slack, no next level.

When we don't have enough slack to take good care of ourselves, take care of our relationships and take care of the future, we cannot pursue happy lives. Which is supposed to be the point of the work.

Slack enables systems. The car won't drive if the belt is too tight or too loose, but give it appropriate slack and we're off to the races.

Slack enables organizations. It breeds relationship, creativity, trust and loyalty. Which support and feed productivity and innovation in the work. Control breeds resentful laziness. Slack breeds thoughtful commitment.

Purposeful slack can change the world.

(call me a Slacker again)


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Viral Understanding

I read a piece by Thomas Frank today on Salon and it felt like such a relief to read his strong, reasonable, well-researched words.

I so often feel like I'm the only person bumbling around under the delusion that anything could or (gasp!) should be any better for the masses than it is.

Scarcity mind has been bred into us, taught us that we don't deserve anything but hard work and limited, controlled play. It's been called out in history but so few people right now are calling *bullshit* that it makes me doubt my own sanity. Human reluctance to see what is plain chills me to my bones. It's horrorshow, for real.

I have a lot on my plate and a million dreams in priority order, but only what's left of this one life to pick and do. When I see words written so well, I think about all the guilt I feel around this meandery bloggy attempt at communication, and how I don't do it better. I expect to feel ashamed, but instead, I feel relieved. If the bigger-following boys and girls out there start using strong language, I can stop sounding like a lone nutjob. Maybe I can just tweet their stuff, and spend more time painting and taking photos.

Seeds Fly 
Who am I kidding? I live for the idea that somewhere, at least one real live human being might gain awareness from something I manage to write in words and send into the universe as part of the general digital consciousness. I love getting strong words and good research to throw in my stew of understanding. I feel compelled to share here, because you read here, which means my way of wording it works for you. And however you word it with your other people will work for them.

I think maybe the answer to inequality is strong and inspiring words, translated through each of us for the people who can hear how we say it. I begin to see that as the "people's war" - a war of understanding, a spreading virus of understanding, that demands more SLACK for the work, and teaches us all we deserve it.







Monday, February 10, 2014

Building Trust

An open letter from Maverick
(to Anyone Who Cares),

Humans can't trust each other because so many of us can't be trusted.

We created law and governance to increase trust.

I can more easily trust you when I know I have a society-backed remedy if you fail to master yourself.

Since you are not imprisoned, I should be able to trust you to have developed enough control over your animal self to prevent you from killing me. Even if you are a mythical Barbarian or a cruel murderer, I can begin to trust you won't murder me, because society will punish you on my behalf, will uphold my right to punish you.

And the punishment must be terrible, worse than the amount of harm done, worse than the potential reward of violating me. That message of a harsh punishment, shunning, banishment, is steeped into our "justice" and socio-economic systems.

We created law and governance to increase trust.

Instead we use law and governance to decrease insecurity, attempting an ever-losing battle to prevent people from being untrustworthy. We use laws to control people, force them to develop enough self-mastery so as not to be a menace, and exact retribution when they fail.

We created law and governance to increase trust.

We use it to prop-up mistrust, instead of teaching the humans to be trustworthy.

We start anti-bullying campaigns to end bullying. We could establish pro-trustworthiness campaigns to teach kids how to feel for each other, care about community and be worthy of trust through ethical choices (many have).

We put people in jail to learn disfunction from each other and the system-keepers, developing fear and hate. We could house people securely and meet them where they are with support, helping them achieve a level of trustworthiness that allows them to participate in society as an equal member.

We set up nursing homes and establish stringent rules around patient care, which are routinely ignored or forgotten. We could value the care of elders as an important investment in the continuation of society, and pay the people devoted to caring with love for friends and family as they age.

We can't teach the humans trust when we treat them with mistrust. We have made inmates of our species, when we came here to be free.

That is the punishment we require extracted under the misleading, mistaken assumption that control builds trust.

Unless the trust-breakers are rich.

If they are rich, they are rewarded with accolades for behaviours based on betraying trust. Some smart guys figured out how to subvert the spirit of the capitalist market, and they're spoiling the game for everyone, breeding mistrust along the way. But aren't they slaves, too?

Slaves to a system based on the worst of human characteristics - greed, and cynicism.

Slaves to a process of squeezing the human element out of the extraction of resources into profit, regardless of the consequences to individuals, communities and the planet.

Slaves who have not achieved the self-mastery necessary to resist the temptation to use their blessings as the means to extract from the common good more than is sustainable for all. Slaves who use their talents, positions, capabilities and luck to extract as much as possible. The same succumbing each of us will do, to some degree or another, with whatever level of wealth we acquire. They give in to the human self-imperative at the expense of what is shared.

Slaves of a system bent on cannibalizing resources into their limited spans of private control.

Systems that squander this pooled power on increasing power.

Systems that, left unchecked, have quickly sucked us right smack into the pain-point for every living thing on Earth except crazy-rich people. Accumulation without purpose, the greatest sin against the nature of what is, a choice that excludes and otherizes, objectifies.

People sucked into ruthlessly playing a game that doesn't exist with deadly consequences. They are slaves to their role in the game.

We do not jail these trust-breakers. We allow them to rule us with ever-increasing transparency into their disregard for everyone else, their high regard for themselves. Even the ones who "give back" have the arrogance to believe themselves better qualified to decide what is important enough to merit investment. We hold these men as gods of smartness, because they outsmarted us all, so they must be right.

We can't trust each other because so many of us can't be trusted.

We created law and governance to increase trust.

I can more easily trust you if I know society will back me up if you fail to control your worst animal instincts, if you fail to develop the self-mastery to avoid behaving in a breach of trust with me, with society.

And, I can more easily trust you if I know that we both understand compassion, and we have both been raised and taught with support and a sense of community, to be trustworthy.

Policy Makers have dealt poorly with our trust, selling it to rule-skirting geniuses, pop-culture celebrity-pushers, oil-controllers, lucky smart guys and inherited lords. The pack of them have breached the trust of being in control of the capitalist system, and undermined democracy.

Thanks to their decisions, we are at a point where Keeping Peace and Increasing Trust appear to most as unrealistic goals. It's sad and unnecessary.

In place of Trust we rely on controlling the population through fear of law. We can invest in the caregiving these human animals so clearly crave and need. Peace is achievable through peaceful means. We choose otherwise.

And for what? A faster race to the bottom. Is equilibrium such a foregone failure for this planet?

So, Crazy-Rich guys, I say, give it all back and start the game over. Enough pain, already. Put a cap on it, give the rest back through environmental-based operational shifts, wages, education, healthcare, dependent-care, mental health support and restorative justice. Step out of your slavery, and let's all get on with trying to win this planet for the good guys.

For the rest of us, I say, keep up the momentum! Because I do see the attempts being made, the work being done, the progressive insistence that our humanness be considered, and our quality of life assured, before the rich get any richer.

The crazy-rich have dug until they hit bottom. They are still pushing to see how much we will swallow, while we retch.

We don't want to live in the world the way it will look if we progress with only status quo behaviour in governance, law and our financial and other markets. When suffering begins to surround us for the benefit of such a small number, fear and anger grow, and eventually the people revolt. History has inflicted much to teach this lesson that our species seems unable to collectively grasp.

So teach the humans about Trust - the rewards of honesty, forgiveness, openness, generosity, honour, respect, fair treatment, equality, love. Teach them through example, and demand our systems evolve to do the same, over time. Insist upon it. Stay active enough to keep others ignited. That is what we can do.

Or we could just hang out and see what happens. After all, it's not our show, we're just the pawns.

(what do I choose?)



Saturday, January 11, 2014

Deserving

Converge (2013)

This is a long and winding post, but the ideas converge, so I hope you'll follow me through.

I finally got around to figuring out what this "Chris Christie" thing is about - basically, his office purposely orchestrated a huge traffic jam because the mayor of the place wouldn't endorse him.

This is IT people - this is where even the most "la la la, I can't hear you!" among us MUST see that the people in those offices no longer understand that this is NOT a giant game where you're moving strategy pieces around. They've played so long that it's about winning with your hand, not finding the best way forward, and they are no longer even ashamed to cheat. Christie was one of the few Republicans who sometimes made sense, and look at the scheming of the people he hired and nurtured. What scheming led to his election in the first place?

How can anyone believe anything anyone in high-level party politics says? Even the "good ones" are twisted at the core, like biting into a red apple and finding it brown and rotten inside. They are playing strategy games with people's lives. Do we really accept that this is the way we will govern ourselves, where money and power are the primary goals of the game?

What are we going to DO about it? (yes, the rhetorical question plaguing society).

I was reading Noam Chomsky this week, as he filtered through various ideas of what constitutes "the common good" and how that has been co-opted. Heavy, dense reading, and I don't see many people following it through all three pages but well worth it. He shares Thinkers' well-reasoned arguments that government should be seeking the common good, and where structures and systems of government prevent that, they should be disassembled and replaced.

First, he shared John Stuart Mill's classic "On Liberty":

"The grand, leading principle, towards which every argument unfolded in these pages directly converges: the absolute and essential importance of human development in its richest diversity."

How daring! How dare we expect or ask government to do THAT! That is not economic development! That is not growth. Do we really think people DESERVE, individually, to have their own development considered, their own uniqueness embraced? Everyone?

No, I don't think we do.

And so we don't dare expect it. Because we don't expect it, we don't demand it. Because we don't demand it, we don't get it. We get "growth" that is really just the acceleration of the transfer of all public resources into a few private hands. The people buying the politicians are playing a game to take over the world, and we don't believe we deserve anything better.

Also this week, I met with two sister circles, and found myself understanding that, somewhere along the way, I internalized the idea that other people don't want me to share myself. Sharing my own perspective, my essence-based offerings, was pushy, self-indulgent, facile, annoying, demanding, intrusive, irrelevant, unwanted, disruptive, amateur, and/or overpowering. I had come to believe, unconsciously, that my offerings had no real value, were unnecessary and largely unwanted, and best kept to myself or shared only through filters, barely-open valves. More than that, I internalized that sharing my gifts was, in fact, selfish and arrogant, and that they were probably, in any case, unworthy of sharing. I let myself feel that how others valued my offerings was, in fact their value. And then, over the last few years, I didn't.

Something shifted over the last 8 years. I find my own work beautiful. I write because I crave to read what I write, instead of not writing because I don't have time to do it perfectly. I blog. I share my nature photography. I allowed myself to paint, for the first time, just before I turned 40, and give my canvases away with the shyness of a six year old. I've expanded my horizons in understanding enough to start unwinding the mess we're making, at least in my own mind. I'll never know enough, but the patterns and the proofs have stacked up to the point where I feel pretty comfortable with my world-view and the direction I'm going.

But I still held the belief that I wasn't worthy, to other people. I can know my work is beautiful but not expect the humans to see it that way. I can know my words have meaning and not expect the humans to understand. I can understand how my writing perfectly captures something and still figure that no one but me will ever grasp the greatness of what I'm doing. I decided I needed to harden myself to that, the idea that no one would get me but that doesn't make me unworthy, it makes them mistaken.

I'm find myself skittish, going further than that. What does further look like? Believing my work is worthy and it's up to me to find the people who might be interested in learning to understand, and help them. Accepting that my work not only deserves to be experienced by the people it does speak to, but that I have a responsibility to share it just in case.

Today I wonder, what if the political problem and the personal problem are the same? What if our collective inability to hold our governments and corporate leaders and financiers to account is really a manifestation of our collective inability to accept our own worth? To own responsibility to persevere through all the people who aren't interested or see our offerings as pushy, self-indulgent, facile, annoying, demanding, intrusive, irrelevant, unwanted, disruptive, and/or overpowering, to believe that we are worthy of development? What if nurturing our own development., and sharing that, is the best way to personally support "human development in its richest diversity." Us, and the people we touch.

What if we know we are worthy and deserving of developing ourselves, and so is everyone else. What if we believe that, pursue it, and try to act that way? Won't it naturally fall out that we demand policies that support us, that we curtail and create tolerance limits that support us?

What if the most political thing I can do is believe in my own worthiness?













Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Tugging Threads

(I can't credit this photo because I don't know where I got it)
Have you ever tried to untangle a bunch of necklaces? I don’t mean one or two chains curled together like sweet, tarnished-silver lovers, all loose knots and no kink. I mean a big, hairy knot of chains, like someone took your jewellery box and just shook it and shook it in a crazy hair-flying, paint-mixing, booty-shaking frenzy. Up, down, sideways, crossways, other ways, rattling your precious pieces like the insides of a maraca to a heavy metal beat, rocking and rolling until those chains are good and blended. That kind of tangled.

Sometimes I imagine my little jewellery box is actually a magical vortex that sucks and swirls my chains like flotsam into a whirlpool black hole and spits them back out again, T&T (tarnished and tangled).  It's the only explanation I can muster, because I remember hanging them oh so carefully, polished and separated, on those tiny little hooks the last time I touched the box.

So, anyway, this was supposed to be a metaphor to say: I untangle stuff. That's something my mind likes - looking at that giant pile of interlock and seeing the specific loops to pull, the exact clasps to unclasp, to loosen the knot.

I've been applying this particular skill to my own society - Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada. A few years ago I started looking at the systems we live in as though it's a tangled hair-ball of necklaces, chains wound upon chains. Now, I have some ideas about the knots to tug at - the ones, once freed, loosen so many others with no maddening, nail-breaking picking and tugging at all.

Specific things to do over the next 20 years:

Social Order:

Provide a set number of free counselling sessions per Canadian per year under OHIP.

Provide financial and facilitative support to local restorative justice efforts, neighbourhood associations and neighbourhood projects.

Transform most prisons into secure mental health and addiction treatment centres.

Provide adequate supportive and co-operative housing to demand.


Health Care:

Expand OHIP to replace the dental and prescription drug portion of the average health and dental plan provided by employers.

Expand the Community Health Centre model.

Provide personal support workers as prescribed by qualified medical specialists.


Education:

Provide all children with a nutritious breakfast and lunch at school.

Fund at-school before-and-after school care.

Gradually increase to a 1:5 ratio of adults to children in schools.

Reimburse post-secondary education tuition of trades, college and university grads, upon agreement to work at least two years in Canada in the eight years following graduation.

That's the list.

It takes time, but the direction is what matters. It takes finessing and finagling, consultation, experimentation - yes, it does! But pull on those threads however you can for 20. Then (but maybe only then), you'll be ready to implement a basic living standard to stabilize Canadians' incomes, subsuming all income assistance programs. It won't be as hard as you think, because when you pull on the threads I shared, you will loosen hundreds of others, and they will shake out with what feels like little effort or cost.

You think it's expensive? You should see what NOT doing these things is costing us. And then, try to imagine all the unimagined benefits that would cascade, exponentially, from the specific investments I mention. I'm not crazy, I know what people are like and how power works. But I also think a lot is possible if we think longer term than your average politician. I think about 200 years from now, and what's possible if we pull on even a few of those threads today. Even if we don't do it particularly well, just loosening them will cascade lower costs and greater prosperity in justice, health and continued economic competitiveness, while inspiring new activity in lower-stress community-based daily lives of people. Remember people's lives? The reason for the system? Government has forgotten.

These sound like policy ideas, for governments to do, but they are not just that. They are specific ideas to start discussing as if they were possible, instead of dismissing as impossible. Suspending disbelief to ask, "What if..." When we begin to believe in the possibility of something, we open pathways for possibility.

And that is the first thread to pull.







Monday, December 2, 2013

Current

Current
Current

I resist the pull of flow
only dip my toe
afraid to be taken
into current
out of time

because it's not mine
this life

not just me to get to shore
anymore

My choice of currents
makes every stone my fault
my default

flow flows regardless

flow's flow can't care
about particulates
particulars
displaced, laid bare

while here in the matter, all matters

flow flows regardless

and me here caring
about particulars
these particulates
gloms of enlivened matter entrusted
ensnared

flow calls my sway
but I can't live day to day
like this

can I?

(Musical Accompaniment: Take the long road and walk it)



Sunday, November 3, 2013

Big D

In my life I've heard stories from many, many humans existing in highly varied circumstances. Each is a unique combination of nature and nurture, resulting in a personality. Each interacts with others using a subset of that personality to filter behaviours.
Emission (July, 2011)

Psychological analysis models compare combinations of certain behaviours to a number of different diagnosis tools, identifying standard and deviant behaviour according to established norms. These diagnostic tools are based on observations by many earnest people over time. They help us to understand patterns of human behaviour and possibly shortcut desired behavioural modification through proven assisted learning techniques. When possible, pharmaceutical experimenters can modify a body's brain chemistry, causing it to fall within acceptable thresholds and make desired behaviours easier to achieve, or undesired easier to avoid. It has its important place, but is not the only way to address life. It is important to note that the accepted norms psychology has chosen are not necessarily inherent to the human animal.

In fact, human animals have always been prone to screaming out loud, having sex in public, attacking each other, picking their noses and eating it, and other behaviours that people consider outside the current norms. It's only in recent centuries that population density has forced many different-thinking people to live in close proximity. World peace is a new concept for this species. People haven't been prone to consistent niceness for that long, in the evolution of things. To me, all these "disorders" are personality and body-chemistry makeup that falls outside what we have recently decided is acceptable.

Be that as it may, the thresholds exist and we must live within them. We want people to live within the thresholds of behaviour that allow for peaceful co-existence, and as rational creatures, we ourselves want to live in ways that make us easy to live with. People need various kinds of help with that at various times, and it should be ready, respectful and effective in response to those needs. That supports society.

So now you know how I see it, I want to share my experience with my own vague diagnosis.

Shadows in the Depth (July, 2013)
Five years ago, I had feelings associated with the diagnostic criteria for Depression (that's a big D, don't mistake it for just plain old depression!). I wasn't sure whether this was in addition to, or because of, my chronic inflammatory condition, or possibly my ongoing "battle" with Anxiety (big A). What I knew was that I wanted help.

I tried the doctor. He gave me a prescription and sent me to a therapist. The therapist explained about what psychology and psychiatry can offer - a recap of my Psych 101 class. But when we talked more deeply, the goals she described for my therapy didn't sound like my goals. When I described my goals, I never felt she understood what I meant. I tried her goals for awhile.

I also tried the drugs. They made me feel flatter and sick. There went five months, worse than before the drugs. Then a few months for detox. On the next drug, I found I didn't care about anything, lower than flat, detached. There went three months. Then a few months for detox. I decided No More Prescriptions for me. I felt more depressed about handling my Depression than I'd ever felt in my worst depressive bout.

Then I had a thought - Depression is not actually a thing, it's a construct. It doesn't have to be mine.

I am what I am. I feel what I feel. It's up to me to find ways to make sure those feelings can stay within my thresholds for behaviour and thought, the ones I choose because they matter most to me, the ones that keep me whole and approaching life from love. The ones that nurture my relationships and my creative spirit.

I started to change things.

I left my job and actively began trying to slow my pace to one my body could handle. I increased my sleep. I took what I learned from psychiatry and psychology, avidly read about many different spiritual practices. I took up meditation and began training in yoga and Kung Fu. I sought out wise women as mentors in critical moments. I contemplated and tried to change one thing at a time.

I blogged out loud through my worst and my angst. I wrote short stories, a novel, a screenplay (in progress!). I took up nature photography and painting. I engaged with an online community of seekers and began reaching out to people and groups in my community who share my values.

I started seeing a Chinese Medicine practitioner and Acupuncturist. I cut out gluten and lactose. I focused on presence, patience and compassion. I took deep breaths and tried to stay curious in the face of judgment. I invested time in friendships and made more time for fun with my kids. I tried to take a lighter note on life.

And a bunch of other things I'm forgetting. Over time. That's the key.

Three years in, I keep doing all that. Because it works for me. It's hard to stay with everything, I fall short more than I'd like, but that is my path. I have strong relationships with my husband, children and in my wider family circle. I am involved in my community and make connections for others whenever I can. I pursue active interests. I vent the sadness with music, movement and mini-cries when I'm alone. When I feel, I feel it, and allow myself to feel it, and accept that's part of me, too, not something to avoid or end fast. Feeling can feed my compassion and my creativity in ways that the flatness never did. I have places to put it. It doesn't hurt me.

I realize it's a rarefied set of circumstances that allows me to build my life this way, and one that might not last. If the drugs had worked without debilitating side effects (or worked at all), or if the therapist had been better, I might not have had to embark on it at all. But I feel richer for it.

I am happier with my life. I even have some ideas about paths forward to be paid for my work in the world, instead of just selling my time for money. I feel hope more than nihilism, and when I check in with myself through the day, every day, I find myself content and happy a lot of the time (with allowance for some bad days here and there). I feel now, as I did not a few years ago, that I have created expression in the world that I am proud of. I even dare to dream a few big dreams again.

I do what I can, every day, and try not to hate myself for what I can't do. I avoid people who hate me for my failings. I try to handle and roll with what comes at me, and when my impatience or the hopelessness barge through, I do my best to notice and quiet them. I get better at that over time, and that makes me smile.

Do I "have" Depression? Do I "battle" it? "Cope" with it? "Struggle" with it? "Manage" it? Have I "beaten" it, or failed to?

What does it matter? I have a life, and a self, and I find ways every day to live fully, to feed my relationships and create in the world. That is my way, for better or worse. And you, by reading this, are part of that life journey. Thank you.

Mindseye



Friday, November 1, 2013

small d democracy


consumption is the last vestige of democracy.
corporations shape policy to public opinion 
expressed through buying 
or not buying. 

every purchase is our vote.

we agree to the conditions that produced our purchase
we click the box and hit next
and thus, we create the world.  

our vote is not a ballot 
it's a receipt.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Expectation



I have walked this planet for 42 years, and I have so little wisdom to share. But some experience, for whatever it's worth to you, now. One thing I want to share today is this:

Deciding to wake up is not a path to bliss.

When you’ve slogged through your anger with everyone and the Universe for the ways their imperfections harm you (slinging mud and throwing stones)

When you’ve crawled through your swamp of guilt and humiliation for all the ways your own imperfection has harmed others and harmed you (always at risk of drowning in the sludge)

When you pull yourself over the edge by your bleeding finger nails

There comes some relief

in knowing that you can never know
in holding the perfection of your imperfection
in learning that what Other People think doesn't trump
what you know and choose with love. 

And there come people who can love you, 
who do love you, 
when you love you, 
regardless of whether they do.

There comes some relief 
in releasing yourself from 

expectation 

and its inevitable disappointing end

(whenever you manage to allow it)


Monday, September 9, 2013

Hand-wringing (because what else can we do?)

These human bodies are precious, impossible things, each one built from scratch using available materials, each one designed to contain one flame, one lick of spirit, caught and held up like a glass jar to be observed and experienced. Each spirit using its exoskeleton to interact with other incarnations and navigate the physical world around it.

Bodies built of cells built of molecules built of atoms built of sub-atomic particles built of energy, designed and assembled by the energy transforming itself over billions of years. To now. To this opportunity for experience. To this chance to be a human, in a body, alive, awake and aware in a word of wonder.

Bodies gassed. Bodies beaten. Bodies raped. Bodies diseased. Bodies starved. Bodies constrained. Bodies in peril. Bodies in fear. Bodies in pain. Bodies discarded in piles.

Bodies jeered at, sneered at, objectified, derided, abused

confused
alone
afraid

Everything it's taken to get to here, and we still can't see the value in each one. We stand by. We let the crazy power-distorted half-humans use the power at the disposal of their bodies to decide what happens to all the rest. How is this possible? You would not allow it. I would not allow it. But we allow it. We cannot see what to do, so we do nothing.

Even if we eliminate the crazy power-distorted half-humans perpetrating the atrocities of the world, more will spring up. The human animal is not capable of governing itself in peace. But why not? At this point in our knowledge of how to manipulate our environment not just for survival, but for ease, we should be equally mature in our social development. But we're like Lord of the Flies with bombs, missiles, chemical weapons, guns. Where are the simple checks and balances, and the ongoing cycle of democratic dialogue that allows them to continue serving their purpose? Where is the basic agreement that peace is desirable and every life has rights?

I don't know how to reconcile myself to this without becoming numb or nihilistic.

We are the only known keepers of the consciousness of the entire universe. And we are fucking it up.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Time Travel

Try to understand this. We are back in time. You and me. We're back. In 2013. We are at the point where we can still make a difference, where we can stop the death-march of profit-based ill-logic and choose a shared, sustainable life on planet Earth.

Can you comprehend the impossibility of our situation? We scratch the surface of a small rock floating in immensity, a dust particle in the eye of existence, at absolute risk every instant of complete annihilation, just the statistical anomoly to let life replicate at an alarming rate.

In 2083, it will be too late. In 2013, there is still a chance to build the world we all aspire to (except the ones crazy with power - they are too damaged to want anything that involves love).

There is still a chance to keep them from owning everything and everyone to the extent that they no longer need to keep us very comfortable to keep us quiet. They will use force and incarceration and make this a world of fear and judgment - that is the inevitable outcome of power without accountability among the human animals. Don't you see it happening all around us, here?

But we have a chance. We aren't in 2083. We're in 2013. We're in the past, at the cusp, in the moment.

What will I do today?

*Musical accompaniment from They Might be Giants "The World Before Later On" and the Flaming Lips "Do You Realize"

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Subsidies


We are born in a prison that we call a country. We may not leave without permission from the Government, which owns us and provides us with rights and responsibilities. Our space is defined and our movements controlled and monitored. Within this environment, however, we are left to make our own way. There is no official cafeteria for meals, just a hopscotch of soup kitchens and kindness for those without their own. There is no official bed to sleep in, just whatever housing a person can scrounge, beg or afford.

Before you and I got here, everything was already owned. There was no real chance to make our way - no land to tame and farm, no resources to turn into anything, no space to claim through sheer effort, nowhere to try our own way of living. Whatever an individual could accomplish was already done by three corporations the day they thought of it. Only by participating as a cog can most people participate at all.

There is no longer even a pretense that all this activity is for the betterment of everyone's life quality in a spirit of democracy, equality and pursuit of happiness. Equality? Pursuit of Happiness? This is the language of Entitlement.

I am entitled. So are you. We and our ancestors worked hard to make the Owners wealthy, and they should share at least a modicum of the wealth back through wages, benefits and taxes. They should enable a system that gives people the basics of life as a ration, just for being here, just for playing the game we call Life every day. They should because they can, and Every Life Has Value.

We Humans are the only known keepers of the Consciousness of the Universe. Every one of us is a god in a body. Each of us has a special element that only we can bring to the world. How many of us fail to manifest our best in our lifetime because of how we make money? Now that we can, don't we have a responsibility to start building purpose back in as an entitlement of life? Purpose requires leisure.

We are addicted to cheap things. We've subsidized the cost of Stuff for so long, and to such an extent, that we cannot function as a society without that subsidy. We subsidize it by letting corporations pay too little for resources - human, natural, infrastructure. We subsidize it by buying cheap stuff that breaks and buying another one.

If we took away the subsidies and charged what things were worth, that would be like going cold turkey. Painful. But does that mean we shouldn't try to get clean?

What if we had fewer things, fewer choices, and everything cost more? This is the same choice we give drug addicts when we tell them to "get clean". Life is not better until you've gone through withdrawal, let go of old habits, changed your thinking and behaviour, and worked hard to be something else. Until then, life is much worse, much harder than it was with the crutch and escape of drugs. Cheap stuff is just like that.

What can help reduce our jonesing for cheap stuff? Rich relationships. Pursuing what calls our hearts. If we have more time and less dependence on the system, we won't need the quick, cheap fix of cheap stuff to stuff the holes in our wholeness. We will have a better life together on the planet when we stop expecting people to work for their basic sustenance, focus on relationships at the community level, and at the same time, make the rest of the stuff we spend money on more expensive and less varied, so we all actually have to work for it. Housing, food, water - subsidized. To these, we are entitled as citizens of a country that signed on to provide Human Rights. Stuff, no subsidies. Let the Free Market decide.

To recap -
Basics of Life: Subsidized. Stuff: Not Subsidized.

It's a simple about-face. Cold turkey will give us all the shakes. That doesn't mean we shouldn't get clean.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Lazy Lions

Visiting African Lion Safari with my kids produced a new metaphor to save the Earth from humanity's follies, while taking advantage of our nature. We need to be lazy lions.

(Photo by Deb Middleton
borrowed from National Geographic)
The kids had been waiting for the lions the whole visit. Honestly, so had I. Such a creature to behold! At African Lion Safari, the animals have vast stretches of land (well, not vast compared with the Serengeti but vast compared with a zoo enclosure). There's no guarantee you'll even see lions, they could be anywhere. Yet, there they lay, sleeping in the sun, on huge cat-houses made of rocks, right by the road and completely ignoring us. Their huge feet lolled over the sides. Their giant, lion tongues hung from half-open mouths. They didn't move.

"Are they gonna just sleep?" asked my son.

"Well, they're not here to entertain us," I answered (a bit shortly I now realize - sorry!).

Over the loudspeaker, our guide chimed in on the subject.

"Both here and in the wild, lions sleep about 20 hours each day. In the remaining four hours, the females hunt."

"What do the males do?" asked my daughter, but the guide had a script to keep to, so I decided to be helpful.

"Like most species, the females do most of the work and the males fight and enjoy the spoils," I supplied.

"20 hours! That's almost the whole day," noticed my son.

"But why?" asked my daughter.

"Why what?" (this is now an automated response to the question "why")

"Why do lions sleep so much?"

"Well, it takes a lot of energy to be a lion. They're big, they have lots of muscle, so moving that body around means eating a lot. The only way to make muscle is to eat protein, which they get from hunting. If they were awake more, they'd have to eat more." I felt like I was on to something. I continued down the path.

"If lions were awake and busy all the time, then they'd have to hunt more, which is hard work, and who wants to work hard if they can lay in the sun? Anyway, if they hunted more, they would kill off the herds too quickly, then they'd have nothing to eat later. So they might as well sleep all day. It's good for the ecosystem. In fact," I postulated playfully, "being at the top of the food chain, they have a responsibility to sleep all day."

"In fact," I continued, mostly to myself at this point, "humans, being at the top of the food chain, have a responsibility to sleep all day, or bang on the drum. We use too many resources, always doing, making, producing, growing the economy."

No one was listening so I continued in my head. We're reducing the size of the herd (read: resources) too quickly, and for no good reason. What's the rush to convert all our resources into private profit?

Technology has come a long way in reducing the need for humans to work at any repetitive task. But we've decided people need to work at least 40 hours a week in order to earn enough to live on (and they don't earn enough anyway, at the lower end). We've decided we all have to work, whether we like it or not, and we've let every gain in productivity go into more productivity, instead of giving humans some slack, distributing the profit in a way that continually increases quality of life in all layers of the social stratum by decreasing the number of minutes required to earn a dollar.

We could be adding leisure instead of faster, more and bigger production. We could be adding it by increasing wages per hour and reducing hours. We could save our economy by slowing it down, expecting less of it, letting it take up less of our human activity, and making space for other creative ways to be than to work at someone else's goals for their profits, often at work we don't like that a machine could do anyway. We could value the work of caring for children, the disabled and elderly with a wage, just like the work of pushing things through factories or the internet. We could value artistic pursuits.

But what about the economy? What is it, anyway, but the construct our governments create through a rickety framework of regulation that encourages some behaviours and discourages others. The economy is a social decision, not a living entity. What we do know is that doing what we're doing is not a sustainable future.

(start of sidetrack) And anyway, maybe we should make fewer things. We could start by making fewer kinds of gum (see No New Gum). It's expensive to make stuff when you pay true-value pricing for resources (water, energy, human time, etc.). Maybe stuff shouldn't be so cheap, so we'd make less of it. Maybe there are lots of things we shouldn't be doing at all. (eos)

We could use our resources more wisely than producing more cheap, gimicky products. We could sleep all day, or paint, or make music, or write, or help a neighbour, or build a relationship, or read a book, or parent our kids with more time, love and care. We could stop expecting each other to work so hard for so little - we could, instead, support a whole new way to look at contribution in societies.

We could. In fact, we have a responsibility to our ecosystem to be lazy lions, here at the top of the food chain, before we eat everything up. Right now, only a few of us get to be lazy. The rest are hunting all day, so we can eat enough to hunt all day, to the detriment of us all and our planet.

We're close on the technology to permit a lazy lion direction for humanity - it's coming whether we want it or not, and there won't be work for all those human machines to do anyway. But will the manufactured Work Ethic culture allow our transition? Can the human species on this planet ever change its worldview of pride and shame, judgement and division, into one that affords each of us the slack to value contributions beyond paid labour?

(we can choose to entertain possibility)


Monday, August 12, 2013

A Fine Balance

"Take a picture and send it to Dad! Tell him I did it myself!"
My son was just explaining what he's discovered about the concept of a "Fine Balance" in card-house building - too much reinforcement and the heavy roof collapses, not enough, and the foundation doesn't hold. The same is true of...well, probably everything. Not enough is very bad. Too much is very bad. Just the right amount is very good. Let's apply that to our social systems and the ways we are set up to "help" each other. If a seven year old can figure it out in two days of card-house building, surely grown, educated adults can figure it out in the areas they know best. Right?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Cheryl to Corporate Power: You've Won

(taken in Vaughn, or somewhere like that)

Hey, Corporate Power. You have won the game.

I declare it. No one wants to say it, but we're all sick of this game now. We've been playing forever. You own Boardwalk. You own Park Place. With stacked hotels. You control the corners and you can pay any of our rents easily. We know our next bad turn is going to make us give up Marvin Gardens or worse, the Railroad, before there's any chance of collecting $200 at Go.

I don't want to play anymore. I want to eat a snack, hang out and share some small talk. Take a nap. Enjoy this Sunday Afternoon that's just within reach. That is, was just within reach until somebody pulled out this stupid game and decided we were all going to play.

So I'm saying:

Corporate Power, you win.

If you're going to be assholes about it and keep making us all play along until you are legitimately the only ones standing, I am just not going to sit at the table and swallow my frustration and roll the dice. I don't want to play this game anymore.

Here's what would be fair, since you won. Step away. Take what you need for a comfortable life, and disperse your monopoly money back into the pool, shuffle your properties and hand them out, so the rest of us can have a good time too. Let's salvage what's left of this family gathering on Earth. Why the rush to use up all the stuff and transform it as fast as possible? Why is every deadline an emergency? To pay your hotel bills. So leave the game. Be a good sport and let someone else have a turn. Or at least give them a break on the rent.

I'm not saying to bankrupt yourselves. I'm simply saying to use your wealth and influence to help dismantle the public trading system and build a new system that favours small and mid-sized buisinesses, sustainable practices, and includes maximums and minimums to establish the controls. There's no harm to you in doing it, and maybe you can still save your soul. Or just buy a ranch and raise chickens. Whatever.

You may ask, "You want us to give away our money and then dismantle the economic system we lovingly built on the robot-inspired fallacy of pareto efficiency?" I know it sounds scary, but listen, you'll be okay.

At any given time, there is a "top of the line." The best performing, highest quality, best available technology to solve any given problem. If you are able to afford to always buy the top of the line or custom, for every problem you want to solve that is solvable using money, you are wealthy. If you have enough money aside that you could reasonably be expected to continue living at that level for another 200 years without ever earning another dime, then you have won the game. You can derive no further benefit from earning. Everything else is just wasting the Earth's resources for your own amusement. And that would make you a jerk. Wouldn't you rather be a good guy?

In your zeal to compete, maybe you didn't notice that we're not having any fun anymore.

For that matter, are you? You seem pretty stressed out.

You owe it to yourself and the rest of us to stop playing, or at least to agree to change the rules so things feel more fair and fun for everyone. You must admit, the current rules favour fake value over real value, and that was never the intention. The intention was innovation to improve the overall quality of life on the planet. We are doing just the opposite, and most of our attention is taken up with your stupid game. So be good sports, back off and play nice, will you?

And yes, people can point to Warren Buffett and Bill Gates - isn't it wonderful what they're doing? Yes, it is. And. And why should they control the majority of the world's resources? Why should they be the ones to decide where resources can best be used to improve the overall quality of life for humanity? Isn't the role of democracy to ensure everyone has some input into how our resources are used? Our governments were foolish, they gave away our resources so they turned the game into a slow-drip of public resources into private hands. They didn't extract enough, and now our resources are running out. Now, we need to rely on private individuals to understand the state of the world and decide whether, how and how quickly to fix what. If they want to. Somehow, that is deemed Not the Role of Government.

I'm glad Mr. Buffett stepped up. It's grand. And.

And most of the Corporate World would have no way to even understand what I'm saying as anything but confused babbling. So I will shout it loud, and maybe someone will shake his head and wonder for a moment.

CORPORATE POWER: YOU HAVE WON THE GAME!

Now, please, can we go for a nice walk in the woods and catch up on how the kids are doing?

Love,
Me.






Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Counter-moves

I love my middle class life and I'm terrified that all my mucking around in the world is taking me into dangerous waters, eroding my tolerance to subjugating my particular, unique and specialized genius to the limited and difficult things that people want to pay to have done.

Because it's not easy to live a simple life in a land of plenty. To send my kids to school and not participate in the birthday parties because we can't afford the gifts, or the extra curriculars because we can't afford the equipment or the bus cost or the uniform or whatever extra cost is tacked on to every activity at school. These little reminders of what you can't afford poking you every week as another obligation comes in the form of a photocopy from school offering something your kids really want to do.

I have heard and collected stories of working families. I know the feeling from the bottom of the soul-moments I shared with other humans who face their kids tears every week over the costs many people just gloss over. Hard working people, caring people, people who make sure their grandmother is cared for and their kids have good dinners and never let anyone down. Women and Men who just want to do the best thing to help their kids and their families be happy, but can never have a moment to think about their own happiness. And despite that, they don't have enough money to participate fully. They just scrape by every day.

I don't want to be there.

There are no longer choices on how to live in North America. We are forced at every turn to participate in the economic system that the Big Owners built around us, by the increasingly regulatory approaches of governments who want to live like kings. Prices are going up because we are realizing the costs  of our resources. That will only increase. But profits must always grow, so that means the cost comes only in price, deepening the gulf between the people who own production and the people who produce. It can't just go on like this. But our governments don't even notice that it's a problem. They see the solution as getting more producers to produce more by giving even more of our resources away even more cheaply. Growing employment thus becomes growing slavery, because people must be employed just to eat, only because the government made bad deals on behalf of the people in the first place.

Our entire political system has become a game of control, not a governing body.

Each side outlines its platform. Then they stand up and fight for it. There is no excited, interested, curious and open probing of each others' position, no seeking of the common ground. When someone tries to stand up, the government uses a rule, or makes one, to slam them down. Then they congratulate themselves on a well-played move. When the government states a goal, opposition parties attack the way they are going about it, rather than finding a way to discredit the unworthy goal itself. Then they congratulate themselves on their cunning attack. It's annoying to watch. These people should go play chess or something and leave the governing to people who want to work for the long-term, common good. Remember that?

There are super-hero politicians out there. There are. Elizabeth May is one in Canada.

I like my local MP, although he is a Conservative. I've met him several times and he seems thoughtful, careful, but willing to pay attention to the reality on the ground. I think he does understand that he is in a game. But how could he affect that? I imagine, from his point of view, he sees his job very differently than I do because he's been told by the people who pay him to see it that way. I imagine he can't see any way to change the game and believes that only by playing it can he achieve the small victories possible for his riding. He's probably right.

Moves and counter-moves, plays and counter-plays. It's not about achieving an outcome. It's about setting a course and forcing it down everyone else's throats by winning at twisting and skirting the rules, or cheating when necessary. It's just a big game with real-life consequences that never touch the players.

We know there are better ways. Occupy is just one umbrella of many movements working away, like viruses in the system, re-writing the codes at the community levels and pioneering approaches to large-scale democracy . The field of community engagement is joining with the field of digital interactive media. Complacency can be eroded, bit by bit. The most important thing is allowing ourselves to believe that it is possible to achieve a good quality of life for everyone.

Because if we don't believe it's possible, we can't ask our politicians to believe it. They don't. They aren't even on track for a better way to engage in wide-spread democracy. They're too focused on their next move. We need to know what we want, know what we deserve, and ask the people we trust with our resources and regulations to give us what we want and deserve. All we can do is teach them and maybe in a few generations, the ship will begin to turn.

First, we need to believe it.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Screw affordable childcare


Screw affordable childcare.

Screw affordable childcare and crap made in China that falls apart and all the other ways we are penny wise and pound foolish.

But especially affordable childcare. Childcare should not be affordable. Childcare is priceless to a society. It is the very foundation and framework on which the entire fabric of society rests. The first four years of life predict far too many social cost outcomes to be ignored.

Childcare is critical work. And we value it at Zero.

I commit to take on another human from infancy, raise them as a human resource in the slave-society where access to money is required for participation. I commit to 24-7 life-or-death responsibility for this helpless individual. If that child is mine, it's presumed the value is all mine. But it's certainly not.

Anita works in a child care facility earning $16.50 per hour, no sick time, no benefits. She has a college diploma in early childhood education and 6 months of experience. She is responsible for the social, cognitive, physical, psychological, emotional, and physiological development of 15 toddlers. And to wipe their noses and change their diapers.

This is what I call Assembly Line resource development. We are building machines for the economy. The economy is asking for expensive machines, but we keep giving them stuff that breaks. Human machines rushed through an assembly-line process of education beginning with wasting valuable development opportunities on babysitting.

The humans break under pressure, the stress in the system. We've leaned it out too far. Like a car engine, when the band tightens and there is no more slack - it breaks. The stress and economic pressure of having to find and keep a good paying full-time job for sustenance and to meet basic life goals has broken the capacity of huge swaths of people.

Adults under stress parent less patiently. Parents with fewer resources parent with less help from outside sources such as clubs, athletics, etc. Parents with no time parent with less information, more on the fly, and with less awareness of what they are teaching in their daily actions.

Children living in stress environments do not grow as well, learn as well, adapt as well or feel as well as children living in low stress environments. They grow up into unhealthy adults under stress.

It means we can't do as much with as many of them. Lots of the human machines lose their capacity to learn the information, skills, etc. that they need to thrive as adults, but more importantly to everyone else, to contribute effectively in the economy. Too many of them can't be used by the private sector and come back to society as "rejects." Unemployed.

Maybe they could have grasped calculus if we'd taught it to them slowly for six years instead of asking them to learn the basics in six months in high school (see here). Maybe they could have become strategic thinkers who solved world problems if they'd been supported, mentored, coached and helped during their formative years. But in reality, only the very bravest, best and most capable will rise above their circumstances to overcome and triumph by being better lubricated machines and critical cogs. There are not enough of them for the future.

It may be worth trying to salvage the current adults. They are probably fully capable machines that just need to be repaired - that is, healed from the stress-inflicted damage on their social, cognitive, physical, psychological, emotional and physiological development. Maybe the adults can be salvaged for private-sector use at great cost. But it's the small children where we have the most chance to impact.

Which brings us back to Anita and her college diploma, her $16.50/hour, and her her responsibility for the social, cognitive, physical, psychological, emotional, and physiological development of 15 toddlers between 8am and 4pm Monday to Friday while their parents work in the economy. Her rent is $700 a month. I wonder how her stress level is?

The work of Care should be valued. It should be trained, it should have standards tied to research, and it should be compensated as professional work. Which means it could never, never be affordable. And it shouldn't be. It should be infrastructure. To build our workforce.

Valuing the work of Care means rethinking everything about how we engage as society, what our goals are. Just the way that building road and wire and plumbing infrastructures required a public commitment, public support and public access, so does the establishment of a private-sector-ready workforce. Caring for small children is not the work of play, though it is playful work. It is critical for everything we want in our society.

Unless we only want shareholder profits this quarter.

(sigh)


Monday, June 17, 2013

Three Pillars

People often ask me how to fix it.

You complain about how bad it is, they say, so what's the answer?

There is no answer. Just different ways to pose and explore new questions.

But there is an answer, one pretty much everyone knows. Three pillars.

Three Pods, A ThousandSeeds
1) Enable people
2) Charge what resources are worth
3) Use taxation to shape private and public behaviour

Enable people with stability - enough to eat, safe shelter, opportunities to learn.

Charge for resources. When corporations come begging for cheap resources, bargain and negotiate so their profits are not at our expense. Price according to the usefulness of use, the cost to produce.

Establish tax rules that significantly and deliberately encourage private sector employers, private citizens and neighbourhoods to adopt community-strengthening behaviours.

The answer is: implement the three pillars. That is the job of government.

Unless you ask our government, in which case they would tell you it most certainly is not.

So, who's job is it?

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Being Me

I need my space
It's not easy being me.

It's not that hard, either, as long as I overlook that most humans can only handle me in small doses.

As long as I accept the highs and lows and I told you so's.

I think I must be hard to take in large doses.
I think I must seem confoundingly arbitrary in my whims.
I think I must grate on the nerves of the serious
while making the easy-going uneasy with my uptight pent-uped-ness.
I think I must be hard to follow, hard to swallow.

It's not easy being me
but who else would I rather be?

not a soul. 

(I am perfect.)


Eye See Me (June, 2013)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Where the **** are my robots? (or, Aim)

Okay, 2013, I've gotta ask this again: Where the **** are my robots?

We quarks had a grand master plan. We were going to build a world were we can live a combined sentient experience of pleasure. Sure, there would be work along the way, but in the end, every human experience would be heaven on earth. Literally.

What we didn't bargain for is Hell. Hell on Earth. Because it's here, too. There is meaning in having to go through hell to get to heaven.

Every human that's ever lived on this planet has worked hard to survive. And every generation of humans has contributed to the knowledge and capabilities that keep us on the path to widespread heaven. Unfortunately, the sentients in charge got their heaven, and they decided the purpose of all this human work was to keep their heaven getting more heavenly. They used power to decide they had no responsibility to the rest of the humans on the planet. They didn't actively try to make everything better for everyone. They weren't content with having only extravagantly more than the masses. They didn't try to reduce the workload, they piled it on.

If we're doomed by speed of replication, the best we can do is to try to slow down acceleration.

What is wrong with a world where humans are paid a living wage to do exactly what they care about doing, every day, while robots do the work? Why shouldn't that be a more valid goal, in fact, than speeding up the slow-drip of public resources into private hands?

Forget jobs as the means to feed and house a population. Pay people to be alive and contribute their unique gifts. Create environments for them to learn and explore what we know of the world in the context of what calls them.

How can we afford to do that? By focusing our resource use through creative resource pricing and taxation approaches that put power back in the hands of smaller entities. And by getting robots to do what they do best, and humans suck at  - boring, repetitive work.

2013, we are behind the times. We're still letting ourselves be fooled and fueled by old understanding. If we're going to believe in fairy tales, believe in mine - we can each live a happy, fulfilled life on this planet. It's possible. We just have to aim for it and build the ant hill grain by grain, generation by generation. It's aiming that represents our current challenge.

Wait, no. It's believing.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Fighting For...?

Warrior's Eye


I can't get behind fighting for beliefs. Beliefs are patterns to organize perceptions into a concept of reality that a person can live within. They can't be foisted on other people with other perceptions.

I can't get behind fighting for truth. Truth is a phantom that appears to have substance until you try to touch it, make it real - then, it dissipates, pops up somewhere else. The human brain is not a fine enough instrument to comprehend truth.

I can't get behind fighting. Fighting implies win/lose, us/them, either/or. 

If not fighting, what is this war about?

This is not a war of ideology. It is not a war of beliefs, or truth. It is a war on people. A war on the animal that is a person. It's a colonization from inside bodies, a colonization of a physical animal, with particular properties, towards particular ends. Does any ant know the secrets of The Hill? Does any ant understand she is on a planet, floating in space? Do we know we are on a galaxy, floating in eternity?

We are animals trying to live like angels. Lately, we are animals trying to live like robots. Machines. We place the needs of Life below the needs of Production. And we put the needs of Production below the needs of Profit. And we put the needs of even Profit below the needs of Power. And thus, Power runs the show.

I vote for Love to run the show. I realize her name is not even on the ballot. But this is a write-in. By popular demand. I want Love to run the show.

Can I fight for Love? That's the kicker - there is no such thing as fighting for Love. I need to love for Love. I need to create pockets and spaces for her reserves, spread her where I can, plow and seed the fields where her roots might get strangled. 

Whatever that means. 

(it doesn't feel nearly as satisfying as a good, clean fight)