Tender

Tender

Friday, March 22, 2019

This Space

Making Space (CAI 2018)
I can't leave my space. Of course, I can, but for some reason the very energy in my cells tell me that here, where I am, is the only place on Earth, and all the rest of everything, all the people, are in the ether.

I become acutely aware that this is a game, a very realistic existential experience. The energy it would take to create the reality of other places than this so that I could step into them seems heavy.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Running away from home (a Maverick Missive)

I Think I Need to Find the Key (Running Away from Home) - CAI2019
(painted in trance with the music of Happy Rhodes)

There is a thirst for water, a pull for air, a hunger for food, and a dissipation for spirit. We starve any to our peril. 

The more enmeshed we are with the energy of what is, the more spirit calories we burn, and the more recharge we require. Sleep is not enough. Moving meditation is not enough. Oneness with breath is not enough. Being in nature is not enough. Capturing the beauty of what is, is not enough. Creating through works is not enough. Expressing through language is not enough. Even communing in alignment with others is not enough. Together, all; together, they are almost enough to keep me from freaking out about the current peril I face on this planet every minute of every day. My pain is a constant nagging friend to remind me of what life is. 

The choice is: Ignore It, or Face It. The happy medium is a balance-board on rocky seas, where balance feels like swinging between off-kilters. Face It, and that means changing so much that the overwhelm kicks in and switches the filter to Ignore It, while the reality builds slowly under the surface with eruptions that make it impossible to completely live in the ignorance of bliss. Face It, and one must filter so much spirit into seeing that the need for spiritual fix becomes an addiction, a medication, a necessary time-suck, or rather, investment, in the work of being awake and seeing and living daily with the dissonance between what we know of how we live, and what our true integrity wishes were possible but no longer believes in.

Sometimes one must run away from home to get back there.

Please listen to the music of Happy Rhodes

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

How to Listen to Understand (a Basic Income prerequisite read)

When it comes to a Universal Basic Income, maybe you just can't reconcile yourself with the idea of people getting money for nothing. It's a sure path to laziness, you feel it in your bones, so whatever research proves your bones incorrect must be wrong. Also, we can't afford it. 

I have been where you are. I would like to share some different lenses to look through, which, combined, suddenly focused my vision on Universal Basic Income as a solution to a huge swath of Canada's issues. Are you interested in exploring those lenses with me? I'm happy to share, I just have to ask you to observe a few rules. 

One, Respect me. Acknowledge to yourself that I'm an intelligent, educated, well-experienced, paying-attention person with my children's lives at stake in this experiment of Earth working out well. 

Two, Trust me. I'm not trying to create a welfare state. All reforms are important, and with corruption in government, I see the potential for a UBI to become a tool of Social Credit insanity. Humans are not meant to be controlled so closely. We are wild creatures of the Earth. Advocating for a UBI is not isolated from those issues in any way, but even with the potential for harm if the humans continue to only let assholes and bullies be in charge of the world, it's still better than the dystopic alternative when people are hungry, desperate and afraid all around us. I am just trying to avoid that, and I think we can. We should at least try. So please trust my intentions are not whatever worst case scenario affiliations your mind might want to ascribe to me. I'm an interesting, caring person, doing my best with what I have. 

Three, Care about what I have to say. I've let my life get overloaded with responsibilities, so when I take the time to write on this, I'm not doing so frivolously. I am doing so because I believe that people need to choose different lenses to look through than the ones we've been taught and rewarded to accept. We need to think about this issue dispassionately, and passionately, and find that at both ends the answer is the same. I feel this enough to take the time to ask you to ask me for my lenses, and committing to writing about them. So if you're going to take the time to read what I write, please care about the future of the Earth, and about me as a human, and about what I have to share, even if you don't ultimately agree with it. Care. 

Four, Don't argue with me. I'm not writing about UBI to start a debate in any particular direction. I don't claim to know everything on this issue, though I feel confident I am better read on the subject than most people, and I also have a keener sense of human nature than most. I'm not saying I can't be wrong or I won't change my mind about the risks and rewards of a UBI, I'm just saying, this writing is not a request for that at this time. Right now, I just want to share where I've come to, because I think it should be shared, not because I'm trying to extend my understanding of specifics at this time. 

So, when you listen to me, I suggest you avoid listening through a critical ear, looking for where I'm wrong. I'm bound to be wrong in many ways. I'll find them over time, don't worry. I'll shift as I do. Looking for where I''m wrong is just a deflection for not wanting to engage where I might be right. It's a distraction from trying to understand.  I only know what I know and that, only emergently. Let that go. 

Five, Allow yourself to imagine I'm right. You probably think you're doing that, but take three deep, belly breaths and check in. Make sure. What if I'm right? Just for now, hold that possibility as possible. Allow it to be possible. 

Five, Honestly acknowledge your feelings without using your mind to beat them down. When you feel like something I've said rings true or hollow, ask yourself what you believe that makes you feel that way? Who told you what, to make you believe that? What happened? How did you come to that belief? Who does that belief serve? Then check back in with feelings before you go back to the rational mind. Because a UBI argument works on both the emotional and rational levels. 

Six, Imagine 
Imagine a future where we don't hold hunger and eviction over people's heads to make them do menial jobs, because we won't need people to do that work. But even though people won't have to work for bread, they will still work, at more valuable work. They also have time and bandwidth to contribute to their neighbourhoods, communities and families. In this future maybe there's a UBI, or maybe we got there another way, but imagine a reality where all citizens have a minimum standard of living that started at dignity. The economy keeps chugging, health and justice become proactive because wellness gets more accessible and crime becomes less compelling. Everyone has a place to live and food to eat every day. Imagine children, being raised in homes where the adults aren't afraid, stressed, and worried about money; those children going to school well-rested and well-prepared by attentive parents to learn for the complex jobs that will be the only jobs. Imagine neighbours taking the time to help each other because they have that time to give. Not everyone, but some, more than today. Probably a lot more, as kindness begets kindness like a virus. 

You may think that thinking about it is Imagining. It isn't. Imagining is like being inside a TV show. Walk down a street. Say hi to someone. Walk into a store where you take things off the shelf and your purchase is automatically logged, where robot mops clean the floors. Imagine looking into the window of a household that would have been in strife, fighting over money and housework; now, overlay the new hope of a home-based business and a new job taken, not for the salary, but for the challenge. Really imagine. For, like, 15 minutes. Just imagine what the future will be like, and notice how you feel. Hold that future as possible, just for a minute if that's all your disciplined mind will allow.

Now, if you can face it, imagine the stark future. The one where most people don't have jobs, where the stratification has split so thoroughly that the rich inhabit a different world than the rest of us, and that likely means you, even if you are currently well-off. 98% of us will live controlled by local thugs. Imagine the future where people who are rich live to 200 and people who are poor are dead by 45. Realize, we do live in a world similar to that, but in richer countries, we just don't have to see it. But now, imagine it's taken over your own city, the homes in your own neighbourhood have become multi-family units, and your own kids are going to scary schools far away, or not at all. Take a few minutes with this. Then go back to the more hopeful scenario. 

Seven. Pick. Pick which future you are aiming for. If you truly believe that the better future is impossible and the dystopia is overblown, you are aiming for dystopia whether you mean to or not. You're choosing its general direction. That's your perogative, but in that case, there's not much point in you bothering to read anything I write, because you probably won't be reading to understand. If you would rather convince yourself that the world is hard and we shouldn't bother striving for something better because it's too expensive, you should spend your time reading something else to support your approach.  

So, those are my seven rules for exploring this issue with me. I realize you may not want to follow them. I get it. So, don't. But in that case, I ask you with respect, leave me out of your process on this issue. I'm sharing for the purposes of sharing, not to engage further. I don't have the bandwidth right now. Accept or reject what I have to say, do your own reading and writing, but don't inflict debate on me.

By the way, these seven rules are very widely applicable when you are seeking to understand. If you want to be an ally but don't know how, if you want to give someone credit but feel yourself judging, when your better self knows that your cynical self is being unfair, you can modify these seven rules and really gain some wisdom. Just holding open the possibility that the other person might be right, and engaging a little imagination, can shift everything in your understanding if you let it. 

How to listen to someone to really understand? I used to think this was something everyone did, knew how to do, but the dire consequences of people's lack of ability to seek to understand have proven me wrong. I happen to have talent, knowledge and practice at listening to understand. I am offering a real-life example into the world, because I want to see our social systems move to a citizenship dividend model, currently being touted as a "Universal Basic Income" (UBI). But I don't have much time and energy to get into debates. I just want to put what I've managed to glean, which is simple but fairly substantial, into the world, so people can think about it. If you're interested in seeing through the lenses I've used to come to my current opinion on the issue, I hope you'll engage my approach, and stay tuned. 

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Negotiating a Blessing from a Tree

Forest Dwell (CAI 2018) 

Him. You hold yourself back. You don't do all you should. Maybe this isn't the right assignment for you.

Me. I am Being as best I can in this place, among these creatures, in this body. 

Him. That's what you're like. If you don't have to, you won't expose yourself to even the closest people. You hide and putter, it limits the reach of your effort.

Me. Yes. So?

Him. Why?

Me. Because if I show them who I am, I am vulnerable to them, and I don't trust them.

Him. What does that mean, trust them? How?

Me. If trust is about knowing someone well enough to predict how they are likely to respond to situations in which we are likely to find ourselves together, I guess I don't think I know anyone well enough to predict if they know me well enough to understand what I show in a context based in love and not in judgment or suspicion. 

Him. How will they know you if you don't show yourself?

Me. A little bit at a time. In small doses, quarter teaspoons, glimpses that let me gauge and determine what they are ready to see, what I am ready to show, case by case. And by referral. Someone I touch touches someone, moment by moment. 

Him. It's a slow way.

Me. Yes. 

Him. You don't have time to feed people quarter teaspoons, one at a time.

Me. When people see what you can be, they expect you to be that all the time. I prefer more quiet and contemplation, less doing, but if they see me, they will draw me into doing.

Him. All beside the point. It's Fear.

Me. Yes. This is Earth. Fear is one of the rulers here. 

Him. So, to stay comfortable and avoid the pain of engaging and subduing Fear, you will fail your mission?

Me. What is my mission?

Him. What is your mission?

Me. None of this is real.

Him. None of this is Real. 

Me. Am I failing?

Him: Are you failing?

Me.  ...

Him. What are you afraid of?

Me. The humans. I'm afraid of all the infected humans who are angry and looking from such limited views, with their souls so walled behind rock walls that empathy has dried up. I'm afraid that they might take that state of being out on me because I have come to their attention. That I won't have my peace if I'm seen. 

Him. That seems like a reasonable fear, actually.

Me. I feel like a slow and steady pace means I will only attract the most calibrated to my frequency. So I won't attract a bunch of noise, garbage attention. I will only attract attention in directions that help spread peace, quality attention. 

Him. That is your plan.

Me. ...that is my plan.

Him. And that is what you ask for blessing? Slow and steady, quality attention? Not fast and amazing, heaps of money? 

Me. I want heaps of money. Money motivates action. I don't mind if it comes slow and steady.

Him. Maybe, but these are package deals, sometimes. You have to pick, sometimes.

Me. I don't want to pick.

Him. Maybe you won't have to. Maybe Chance favours you. Certainly my blessing won't hurt your Chances. You want a blessing for...

Me. I want a blessing for... 

Him. You want a blessing for...

Me. I am not ready to accept your blessing.

Him. Yes you are. Or, maybe you're not. This is the moment.

Me. This is the moment. 

Him. Choose your blessing.



Me. I choose.

Him. You choose. And so it is blessed. 

Me. Thank you. 

Him. With love, child. 

(but who is this stranger you deal with?)




Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Conscience taxes

Conscience tax - the extra we pay to make ethical buying choices. You want meat from animals humanely raised, it costs more. Organic? Biodegradable? From Living Wage employers? Costs more. But more than what? Cruelty, environmental damage, exploitation?

This only sets us on a downward spiral. From a policy perspective, we should be creating our laws and taxation to encourage the behaviours we want to see. If we want to move to a more sustainable food system that doesn't rely on abjectly cruel practices, for example, we should be taxing meat that doesn't meet a minimum standard for how the animals are treated. That would change practices in a hurry. Imagine if you had to pay more for cruelty and waste than for compassion and sustainability? A cruelty tax. An exploitation tax. Would it cost more? Yes. It would cost more. We would need to consume less to spend the same amount. That's true. Do I like it? Not particularly. But I don't like spending money to fix my roof, either. We need to fix the leaks.

What humanely raise meat costs now, that's what meat should cost. Anything else is unethical.

In our society, we get exactly what we pay for.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Frozen Over

Frozen Over (CAI 2018)

This year has frozen parts of me
formerly flowing warm and vital
now slow and cold and stagnant
but alive and reaching
for the spring
when long winter, just begun
has spun its weary tale of death
to reveal life pulsing
anew
(I hope to see you, soon)

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Self(ish) - (A Maverick Missive)

(CAI 2018)
He tells me

*
we have found 

that some people are born with a stronger body than spirit, and the animal body dominates 
(base behaviour, selfish, fear-based, violent, pleasure-oriented)

while some people are born with a stronger spirit than body, so spirit takes control 
(self-discipline, healthy choices, 
applying Oneself with vigour and determination 
to One's purpose in coming to Earth)

the Many swarm around a central middle, body and spirit fairly evenly matched, always wrangling control, stumbling from foot to foot while trying to stay upright.

*
we have found

some people establish high degrees of integration 
body and spirit forming strong associations until
one cannot distinguish any separateness at all. 

thus emerges a Self. 

that is, a new being, 
a consciousness operating 
in comfortable flow in the place 
where body and spirit have carved out space 
together. 

an entity of both parts but sprung 
fully formed, integrated in 
their child's muscle memory
cell knowledge
arbiter, judge, neutral zone, 
cooperative space, enmeshing
creature of the Earth

existing only when this particular cup-full of Isness 
merges with
this particular conglomeration of cells from elements on Earth.

Elements continue to exist
re-joining the Earth.
Isness will continue to Is, melding and dissipating into All

but not so, Self 

a precious and one-time deal. 

*
we suspect

not all spirit-body pairs 
in their lifetime together
integrate a Self.

(he tells me I've got it all wrong but then sighs, and says, close enough, Child.)

the real world (CAI 2018)




Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Choosing optimism


Optimism
Unfortunately, historically, any social progress has always required painful social unrest and revolution. Now, Power has the weapons to absolutely shut down any unrest, in a way never before seen in history. So, it seems likely that we will see both the worst crackdowns (un)thinkable, and also a failure to move forward our societies. Many will suffer. Many will die or lose their freedom.

However, I find that in history, a great number of unlikely things have happened. From what I've seen, just three pieces of luck in either direction are enough to derail empires and make massive shifts. So I stay open to the idea that all these decisions are being made by humans, and humans might be reachable by spirit, by the Universe, by whatever common humanity demands that we try to be Just; three Favours of the Possible might change it all in my children's lifetime.

I have no choice but optimism if I'm going to stay and play. It seems more worthy than the cynicism that provides one of the few other paths to living with the reality of our current situation.

It follows, if I believe it's possible, that I need to provide my part, every day, in making it happen. Because whether it's possible or not isn't the point. The point is whether I act as though it's possible, or undermine its energy before it even begins by failing to believe in its possibility.

I'm working to earn three Favours of the Possible that will shift humanity into awareness of the value in life. Feel free to contribute - meet us in the ether.

A Blessing






Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Tea Time

He arrives for tea
He says,
Oh, child, don't you know
I am a million years older than you
barely a breath
I am infinitely larger and  impossibly smaller
in ways that you cannot comprehend
don't you know that I am just a spec of sand
on the path
to a gate that is locked?
If I am not even a brick on the road
what makes you think
you are one to walk?
Yet I stand beneath your feet
and wish you well.
I am no key.
(now drink your tea)

Friday, October 26, 2018

Caretaking and Taking Care

Co-dependent (CAI 2018)
There is an important distinction between caretaking and taking care.

Because we are all flawed and weak, we need to take care of each other. As we know each others' triggers, the things that push each of us over the edge, we might take care to avoid them or come at them differently. As we know each others' communication preferences and typical reactions, we might choose our words. Understanding each others' weaknesses in daily life lets us shift the burdens we share so that we carry what we're more able to carry, and hand over what we find heavy and they find lighter. That's relationship, and it's an important manifestation of love, for self and others.

Each of us is responsible to keep our flaws and weaknesses from inflicting upon other people, as much as possible. Reducing our negative impact means we are responsible to pay attention, know ourselves, understand our own flaws and weaknesses, and take steps to avoid those triggers and have mechanisms to deal with things when they push us past our limits. That's relationship. Developing that is another important manifestation of love, for self and others.

When we take care of each other, we are giving each other support as we spend our lifetimes, overlapping, trying to know how we impact and give off the most love and support we can.

When we caretake, one of us is carrying the full burden, because the other is not taking the responsibilities of self-awareness in a relationship. If we decide to avoid a trigger as a consideration of what we know bugs the other person, that is not the same thing as feeling responsible to avoid it, fearing what happens if we can't, and taking the blame if we fail and are inflicted upon. That is caretaking. It is not respectful. It does not treat the other person as capable of self-awareness nor does it support them in developing it. It's very difficult to be in a relationship with someone we don't respect. It's a heavy burden, over time, to caretake someone in relationship. It leads to much resentment, less love, less support, more fear, more anger, more hurt. Caretaking is an expression of love, but because it's also an expression of fear and disrespect, it's doesn't support a goal of putting out more love and support.

Unfortunately, the parent-child relationship involves a lot of caretaking in the early days. Parents must caretake infants and small children who certainly can't be held accountable for self-awareness, and must be taught it with love and support through the ways we take care of them over time. As children develop, they must learn to be accountable for their impact on others in relationship. Moving from caretaking to taking care marks the primary challenge of parenting other people from start to adulthood and beyond. Moving from being caretaken to being taken care of, as an equal human taking care of others in relationship, represents the primary challenge of the first twenty years on Earth.

Parents must take responsibility for decisions that children lack the context or experience to make intelligently. They use their power to do so, and relinquishing that power, allowing errors to teach, allowing difficulties to shape, feels both dangerous and irresponsible as people age through childhood under your care. Yet it is also irresponsible to impose your way of being on another human without respecting their choices or allowing them to learn through experience. Missing the mark on that distinction is a primary cause of friction between parents and the humans in their care. Caretaking and Taking Care often flip into each other without anyone noticing, but we notice the feeling of missed communication, resentment, secrecy, irritation, and other symptoms that we're not taking good care of ourselves, each other, and this place.

In a family unit with more than one person in early life, siblings can learn to caretake. No one likes friction. When one sibling knows another well and can help avoid triggers or support overcoming strong reactions or weak performance, they might do so to make their own life feel more pleasant or secure. But if they learn, or are told, that it's their responsibility to caretake their sibling, they will learn caretaking as a behaviour they take forward in life, mistaking it for a healthy expression of love. They may do this out of love for a parent they wish to caretake by sparing them the difficult behaviour of the sibling. These patterns can pass through families for generations. Discussing the differences between caretaking and taking care can provide important context in families.

When someone is trying to take responsibility, we take care of them in the ways we can, to help them with their work. When someone is not trying to take responsibility, but take our care for granted, we end up doing their work and that is caretaking. It's a funny word, because when I am caretaking someone, they are actually the ones doing the taking of care, without reciprocating with the efforts required to reduce their negative impact and increase the love they give off.

When we discover ourselves caretaking, it's not something we can just stop doing, wham, slam them to the floor. If we've let the people in our lives rely on us they haven't developed the muscles to rely on themselves. Not to mention, that is how they've learned to receive our love. It's perfectly natural that this happens in relationship, but when we want to reduce the friction and increase the happy, new pathways must be built before the old ones are severed. So we start having regular and honest communication about each of us moving our own part of the responsibility forward, and how we're able and willing to support each others in that. Because we care about each other, so we take care of what they legitimately need on the path to more love and support forward from all directions.

In relationship, we take care of each other and try to reduce our negative impact while maximizing love and support. Worthy goals for all of humanity and our relationship with our planet and societies.

Friday, October 19, 2018

On Being a Giant in a Small World (part 1)

Giant (2018)
Ways people leave when you’re a giant
(and helpful mantras for processing feelings about it)

People leave. Maybe you can relate. You may find these mantras helpful, or inspirational to create your own for other situations of being left.

The thing about being a giant is that I take up a lot of room. Most people, I walk into a room, and they feel smaller. It’s not my fault, I’m just a giant. I want to be in the room with people, and I want to talk and laugh and work with them, but when I walk in, I take up a lot of space just being me. Some people don’t feel like there’s enough elbow-room for them, no matter how big the room actually is, no matter how small I try to appear. They leave. My mantra for this is

“people come, people go.”

Some people don’t leave right away. Some people are interested. They look around and realize that the room is big enough for both of us, for all of us, to be giants. They look at me a little more closely than before and they realize that we’re actually the same size, or, at least, they don’t feel diminished by my size - they feel inspired to grow. It’s not that I got smaller. They realized they were bigger. They don’t need a lot of time with me - in fact, they might find me better experienced in doses - but they respect and care for me. These people often hang on, on the periphery, with occasional glimpses and happy chance encounters. My mantra for this is

“hello, giant, hope to see you again!”

Some other people don’t leave right away, but I leave them. They see my giant plight through loving eyes, and though they feel diminished or crowded, they gamely try to stick with me and be my friend anyway. They see me struggle with the smallness around me, and to them, my giant steps look like I’m lumbering around. They want to help or support me, but only in the ways they want to, which often doesn’t help at all. While these people are lovely souls, if they aren’t in my family, I don’t choose to stay where they are.

I’m proud to be a giant! I long to be my giant self without constant reminders that I’m different and people would like me better if I were smaller. Around these helping people, the “giant-friendly” people, I’m always crouching and stooping, smiling and reassuring, stepping back and holding back, so they don’t get scared. They often get scared anyway. It’s just as well. My mantra for this is

“thank you, goodbye.”

A few people stick like glue, until I unstick them. These are people who see my giant abilities with awe and a sense they could never be so amazing. From a place of worship, I can only fall when they realize I am not as giant as they think, and they are not as small. From a place of awe we cannot relate, and I just feel uncomfortable and pressured. A quick glimpse of my temper, even a loud laugh, is often enough to scare them away. My mantra for this is

“I don’t owe my gifts, I give them as I choose.”

Other people don’t leave right away, but I avoid them. These people don’t see me as a giant at all. All my stooping and smiling fools them. They see me as smaller than them, their giant self looming over me. That’s not how I see it as I watch them, knee-high, puffing themselves up taller. But even so, when they are with me, I start to feel myself shrink. I try to stay out of rooms they fill - usually those rooms are too small for me anyway.  My mantra for this is

“I’m too big for them to see me, and I don’t need them to.”

Some people try to stay, but I scare them off good and proper. These are the folks who see how giant I am, and though they feel small, they admire of some of my giant abilities, like lifting heavy things and making the floor rumble when I dance, or telling them that they are giants, too. These people often listen with wonder to my strange words like they are finally hearing what they’ve always suspected but never thought about. We have animated conversations scheming schemes only possible by combining our strengths. It feels like friendship and the potential adventures are intriguing. But these people, I scare off.

At some point I don’t hold back enough, and they see just a glimpse of my actual strength and my weakness. It’s not on purpose - I don’t plan it that way! But the moment always comes, when trust depends on knowing if they’re big enough, and strong enough, to take care of themselves; to not get seriously injured by playing with a giant for real. When pressed, not many feel they are.

These people are the hardest because I always feel so hopeful, for too long, that they really know they are giants and we might have giant adventures together. When it turns out that the whole time, when I thought I was looking them in the eye, they thought I was looking down, the disappointment tastes more bitter each time. The energy of breaking and loss gets into my bones and joints, it brings me down. I need days before I can stand up tall.

So I avoid people who seem like they might not pass when the test inevitably arrives, but some make it all the way to this point and then leave . My mantra for this is

“better now than later.”

Remember, all suffering stems from wishing reality different than it is. Everything is the way it is. It can only be the way it is, or we wouldn’t exist. So when you’re a giant, it makes sense to accept that people will leave for many reasons that have very little to do with your value as a person. It’s a good idea to be ready to stay whole and healthy with a solid grip on yourself when it happens. My mantra for this is,

“people come, people go. still, I’m glad I’m a giant.”

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Reaching out is bullshit

Heal Thyself
People say that when you feel hopeless, you should "reach out." I've always considered it bullshit advice. Reaching out puts other people in the position of having to help or having to say no, neither of which is particularly kind. People have their own shit to deal with. To step in, to step up, to offer you support, they have to put themselves out. To say no, they have to feel bad. And the squirming terribleness of reaching out only to have no one reach back, to receive their rejections again, is a million times worse than the imagined aloneness that hasn't been proven by trying and failing to find even one other human who actually wants to be there with you in your need. Every time, it just makes it worse. Reaching out just makes me more raw. Reaching IN is the only direction I can count on.


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Fighting an avalanche with a shovel

Fighting automation is like trying to stop an avalanche with a shovel. Most of the jobs it threatens first are not well-paid, secure, "good" jobs, anyway. What we should hope for is that automation wipes out jobs so fast that government has no choice but to consider alternate approaches to feeding and housing the population instead of relying on jobs that disappear as the population migrates further and further from a life of well-being; as more and more people fall into the shame and deprivation of poverty. Maybe it will make us fight for what we need to survive automation, rather than fight against it. It's possible we can drive socio-economic priorities towards a Basic Income to cushion the inevitable pain of humans suddenly not being the best and cheapest machines for things we never imagined could be automated.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Racism and Misogyny

(Primal, CAI 2011)
I think that there is a primal fear at the heart of racism and misogyny. The fear is that they, themselves, will be treated in the way that female-bodied and darker-hued people are treated.

They realize, somewhere in themselves, that their own sense of dignity, ego, id, self, the "god in a body" that they are, would not tolerate such treatment. They feel in their guts that, if they were treated that way, they would retaliate, they would become violent, they would look for any opportunity to undermine and damage the oppressors. They would be hatefully angry.

They know that they would not be stoic and okay with it. That's why they demand subservience, domination, control. They can't believe that female-bodied and darker-hued people are actually better people than them. Stronger. More dignified. More resilient. More capable of standing up in the face of intolerable behaviour and NOT striking back, not getting violent, not damaging, but instead, seeking peace. If they were us, they would be angry, so if we are not angry we must be sub-human, and if we are angry, we are dangerous.

They are afraid because they know they couldn't handle for a minute what we handle every single minute. They believe that, if they stop controlling us through fear and power, we could turn it on them, because that is what they would do. So instead, they assume that our general attitude of getting on with life despite oppression means that our feelings are less acute, that we simply don't feel dignity and pride the way they do. They assume that because we are accustomed to humiliation, shaming, degrading, overpowering, demeaning treatment, we must be lesser than them to tolerate it.

That's why even a glimpse of our anger feels so threatening despite their enormous power. It belies their assumption that we are less, and hints at the fact that we are, in fact, more. They are terrified of their own weakness in the face of our actual strength, which we have learned, through oppression, to cultivate with control they never had to practice. They have never learned how. That's why they can't muster a response that doesn't shoot spittle out their outraged mouths.

They are weaklings. They can't handle even 1/100th of what they dish out, and they don't understand how to respect us when we do handle it, when we handle it well, when we handle it with grace and dignity, and even manage to give them respect in the absence of reciprocation. They couldn't do it, so we mustn't be doing it, we must simply be less, feel less, have lesser consciousness, have lesser humanity. It's easy to believe that. Because if we were fully human, like them, we would rise up and kill them, the way they know in their hearts they would do if anyone treated them the way they treat us. I'd like to believe we wouldn't. I think we're stronger than that.

I think most of us actually want to help them learn to live in peace with us, rather than pitting our power against their weapons. We don't want to hurt them, we want them to stop hurting us. We want them to acknowledge that our humanity is at least equal to theirs. We want them to know that we do feel, acutely, just as consciously as them. That our gods in our bodies are not lesser than theirs. Bodies are bodies, whether they come female-gendered or male, whether they come in peach or beige or any hue at all. We are all humans, all equally entitled to the abundance of the planet, and we want them to stop acting like that's not true, and expecting us all to play along or they will control, harm, and even kill us. We want them to acknowledge that we are all human beings of equal worth. That's not unreasonable. But they can't handle even entertaining this line of thinking, because the implications are too enormous to their fragile egos and straw-man power structures.

What happens next?

Monday, October 1, 2018

Opinions and Debates

You may be entitled to your opinion, but you're not entitled to mine. There's no point in debating unless it's to seek common ground.

And while entitlement to an opinion may be comforting, is it satisfying?

Once we accept that we are too stupid to understand even if everything made sense, which it doesn't, we realize that WE ALL HAVE A POINT. And we are all also missing things.


If you use your point to eliminate, negate or destroy my point, you miss mine. And my point is worth hearing with an open mind and heart, because it is hard won and has grown and matured from simpler thinking that sounds a lot like most of the "debating" I see go by my feeds. You are at least as bright as me, so I have confidence that you can unclench your grip on what you already know and accept, and try to see things as I see for a time, just for the fun of it, just to see what's worth incorporating. It's a wonder, what I see. It's curious and dangerous, frustrating and fantastic, and it's just as real as what you've accepted.


If I hear your point but you don't hear mine, and I identify the common ground, you will feel like you've won, when really, I have taken in some information but you have lost out altogether. That's not a good use of either of our time and energy in the world.


My goal, instead, is that we learn to allow each others' version of reality to exist in respect for the person that each of us is. We allow the other reality to exist, just as real, inhabiting the same 3 dimensional space. We learn to allow this, without insisting that one is correct and one is incorrect, that only one version represents the True Reality. We allow the possibility that I may be wrong, you may be wrong, and in all likelihood we are both a little bit right and colossally wrong, because humans are stupid even at our smartest. And this place is really complicated.


So we can ask, do I LOVE the reality that I accept as real? Do I choose the view I hold, is it what I want for myself and the world? If you could wish the impossible, would you want the world to be this way?

Then, it becomes a choice. What reality am I working towards? How can I make minute corrections in my thinking, living, being, relationships, moments, choices, viewpoints, information seeking, experiencing, etc. that start to line up my actual reality with the reality of my wishes?

And then, we have a common seeking. Where is the reality I'm creating overlapping with the reality that you want to be real?

Together, we can wish the impossible. Where two or three are gathered, there lies a reality with some strength.

The existing physical and social conditions of Earth represent a fairly common experience, where many humans all agree about what reality is like.

The rest of our experience, outside the common experience, is our own special blend of reality. Trying to make other people see it, agree with it, and change their reality to ours, is the height of arrogance and narcissism. Instead we should seek what we love from what they see, and incorporate it into our reality. In this way, we add strength to that shared wish, we give it reality, by wishing for it, by acting towards it. We bring it forth. Slowly, like building a mountain with teaspoons, maybe. But maybe not. The length of time doesn't matter, if we care about the future 7 generations. We can pass our reality along, and let it evolve into something even better as it strengthens over time.


We can wish our reality into a future that is more beautiful, hopeful, fair, loving, and happy. We have the technical ability and the resources. We've tied ourselves into these systems that choke the true abundance of what we've built in the most shameful ways possible.

Believing in the reality you want, as possible, is an act of bravery. It is playing traitor to the systems that hold you up, that give you a sense of control and security in the world. It is letting go of the ropes of being right and understanding what the fuck is going on. Trust me, we have no idea.

It makes living a different kind of experience. It's easier to believe in the reality we're presented by the people we trust, who hold us up. Together, we give that reality more strength and we feel more insulated. Maybe we are. And, if that reality isn't the one I'd choose, it hurts my soul, regardless of whether we have a soul.


I know this in my bones, in my veins, in the painful joints and inflamed points, in my pressurized head, in my ears (Happy), in my skin and fingers and pouring through. My reality is that we can give reality to our wishes, in spoonfuls and grains, just by believing they are possible, just by acting as though they are likely, and I can help make them happen in my little small acts. If that's not true, if that's not real, to someone else's reality, I have both the humility and pride to say, I'm probably wrong somehow, but you are no more right than me, you're just looking at the elephant from a different perspective and seeing something different. I am looking her in the eyes.


So trust me or don't, these choices are our own to make.

But don't ask me to debate you. I've already won. I hope you do, too.


(musical accompaniment from Happy Rhodes https://youtu.be/ZkqZsWLAiRA)


Sunday, September 30, 2018

A missive from Earth, feeling discouraged

As far as I can tell, the strategy Power is pursuing through its pawns is focused on subjugating all humans in every single way to the will of, in the end, a single ruler of the world. A transcendent human, with those loyal to it benefiting from its benevolence, and more painful lives for all those who fall too far from the circle of the All-Powerful's perception of reality. Power wants nothing less than absolute rulership over All, enforced without any regard to the nature or inherent godliness of Life. It is willing to kill the Earth to get it. It works through whatever humans help it achieve those goals. It uses them, and then they die, but Power continues wielding its way through the Powerful, passed by handshake and head nod and the willingness to look away, to cheer on, to help. Each one that Power uses thinks he IS Power, that he OWNS Power, that Power is his. But the opposite is true. Power simply gloms on where it has the most chance of survival, of reaching its goal of never having to be afraid of anything, ever. Except, that primal goal is not being served by Power's instinct to push to the top of the food chain through any means necessary. That just makes Power sure that it must have complete control. If what they say about China's Social Credit Policy is true, Power has a much firmer grasp on its goal there, but that doesn't mean we won't catch up too quickly for comfort.

It's not the individual humans wielding Power that pose the problem. It is that we allow Power so much control over the doings of society. We don't have systems in place to protect us from the weakness of men against the lies Power tells them. We don't have ways that prevent the ways Power blindfolds humans to make us all stumble around, blind to what is true about the importance and singularity of life. Power is a lifeforce unto itself, like so many lifeforces we don't recognize, understand, or have the ability to notice or measure. Power is destroying this planet, seemingly for the fun of it. The humans participating are deluded into thinking that using Power to Control will make their own lives more safe and pleasant, and maybe some of them will come into that reward cleanly and without regret or soul debt. But if they find the strength to stand up to their own delusions, they might see that Life matters, and every action we take that doesn't support the honouring of every life force is a Grave Sin, maybe we could save this planet. I'm not religious, I don't have a belief in a god or a set of faith points. I just feel and know, through my own experience of Life, that Power works through people as soon as we let them have it without effective checks, and if we choose that, we will not save this planet. We may kill it, or it may kill us first, and in that case, I, for one, would hope for the latter.


Monday, September 10, 2018

Emergent

Emergent (early stages) CAI2018


I keep trying it on
the me-suit that's more familiar
the one you could love once she's
when she
if she
but it just never
fits.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Short of Genius

A Simple World (CAI 2018)


I'm probably lucky that I've never really shown genius at anything.

Certainly I'm above-average and even talented at a number of things. I discover more all the time, since they all come from similar roots. But no genius here. Just enough insight in every direction to fuel discontent without providing the balm of understanding.

Yet, from here, I can talk with the humans like one of them.

My creative outpourings always fall short of my own standards, but still, for a human, for a person with my limitations of nature and nurture, they surely represent something of value.

At least, for me.

Musical Accompaniment from the only voice that doesn't offend my ears lately: Happy Rhodes

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Forget the Humans: A very long post with perspectives on Basic Income

Sometimes my friends or family might wonder how I can support a "crazy idea" like a Basic Income. I won't get into the specifics of my conditional support, but after reviewing the data on the current costs of poverty, and seeing what it would take to move towards a minimum standard of living at a full level of social participation and no fear of bodily needs, I found it's the best idea so far.

The problem isn't really whether it's too expensive or impossible. The question is whether people want to do it, which they don't. They are too mad about the freeloaders getting by without working while they have to work hard and sacrifice. They are too righteous to ignore how terrible it is for people to be idle. We have been taught to ignore the needs of our bodies so we often don't realize how much time it takes to take good care of a body, mind, spirit, household and community, completely aside from work and luck. They don't realize all the data I've read that shows it's economically not only feasible, but likely cheaper and more productive, to keep everyone safe, fed and housed, but even if they did, they won't believe it because it doesn't match their idea of human nature. In any case, it's a question of will. People just don't like the idea.

Which brings me to the first voice.

VOICE1: ON BEHALF OF THE HUMANS


Human nature is fascinating. Arriving on this planet a pure spirit encased in helpless body, the hard-wiring combined with elements of environment result in very interesting programming that always runs under the surface of thought. Humans are ridiculous, evil, maddening, lovely, beautiful, loving creatures who barely know what they're doing at the best of times. They are selfish and giving, and you can't be sure which you're gonna get today, though over time, maybe you can guess. Knowing what people are like, we can set our expectations of them accordingly. Between me and most people, there is enough overlap and I have enough knowledge, experience and imagination to guess how they are likely to act in situations we are likely to find ourselves in together. From here, we can build trust.

Often, when people disagree with the ideas I choose to support, it's because our knowledge of human nature is different. The way we see people, what we expect of them, how much "should" we're willing to apply to our judgment of their behaviour, is different. I look at the circumstances people find themselves in, and I see they are almost always doing the best they can with what they have. The only humans I have found who are not interested in doing the best they can with what they have are severe addicts. They are addicted to different things, it leads to different behaviours over different timelines and to different degrees (some of which look like success and others, failure), but what they have in common is that they are all addicts. Like me. Like you.

We are all addicts. Whether it's TV, our apps, sugar, opioids, coffee, food, water, oxygen, or other ways we feed our body-based needs on a day to day basis, we are all 100% dependent on some basics of life to stay alive in our bodies, regardless of circumstances, effort, intention, past mistakes, current misfortunes or future better efforts. Right now, we have a body demanding and we feed the need.

Although we are addicts, we all work. We've been trained to assign value only to certain types of work. But the work of staying alive, dealing with whatever your addictions are, and being productive somehow, is work worth paying for. Further, the work of caring for children and adults who need help is work worth paying for. It's only done for free because it's the work of women.

Basic Income is the latest scheme that promises to solve it, and I provide it with my conditional support because it's the only thing on anyone's radar that even looks like it's headed in the right direction. But it's not about what scheme gets adopted or how it ends up getting messed up in the implementation. It's about agreeing that we should set a minimum income anyone gets, just for participating in society, and set it at a level that lets people take a breath and be their best selves.

I know it feels wrong when you think of all those deadbeats laying around while you work, but I disagree with you about human nature. I've looked around and the only deadbeats I've found have been severe addicts or the victims of major traumas; people who need our help, not our scorn. Everyone else, every single other person I've met, has been on a path to somewhere, hoping for their next break, looking for love and acceptance, trying their best to participate and matter. But no one is their best self under stress. Ensuring that a large percentage of our population lives in fear and stress means we don't see what their best might contribute to the endeavors of society. We see their worst, and we fear it. So the snake eats its tail.

Ensuring that people have an income that allows food, a safe place to live, and a high level of public access to social participation, including work, makes society better. We should enable it, like we enable infrastructure. If we took on the task of making roads all across giant swaths of land so there is nowhere you want to go that you can't get to by road, why can't we pave the way for people to have a happy life? Set them up right, like we would our children if we could, get them started knowing they can try things, take risks, and they will never fall below the level of being able to take care of themselves and participate in society.

Healthy people with the capacity to deal with all the hard challenges that life throws at everyone make for better neighbours. Eliminating desperation associated with the basic level of social participation will make for fewer costs in Justice and Health Care, two of our biggest costs, to pay for itself, yes. But, in addition, we can achieve the added benefit that life will feel better for all of us. People will be less stressed out and worried. They will, as a result, yell less at their kids. Who will, as a result, be nicer to each other and focus on school. Which will, as a result, provide higher levels of high-tech-ready graduates, ready to work in the new economy where there isn't much need for human effort. It will also produce graduates who are not suited to that, but have a better sense of how to take care of each other, take care of our spaces, and take care of ourselves and our addictions, who find ways to participate that the elite of today can't fathom. Community can blossom like a wild garden if you stop mowing it down before it seeds. 

We will do better, as a whole, if we bring the minimums up and take away the most basic levels of fear - security around day to day bodily needs, and the ability to participate with my gifts in society.

And anyway, there's no point trying to control them. Just watch how they act. But when they have access and capacity, they try hard to live in healthier ways, and that does bring down the potential costs of poor health, which stretch beyond hospital visits into the day-to-day functioning of every aspect of society. When they aren't afraid they tend to be less combative, more co-operative, better learners, and more enthusiastic contributors. They often bring incredible ideas forward when they are feeling creative and happy, challenged in a good way, in trust with their peers. You've seen it. At their best, humans can do anything. Even figure out how to make a common quality of life that we can be proud of.

VOICE2: FORGET THE HUMANS


To understand, you need to forget you're talking about people.

You have a machine. It's a huge, complicated machine, but when it's working it produces a product that sells itself, and makes you a fortune.

It's also a greedy machine. It needs you to constantly go out and gather the materials it runs on, so you need help to gather materials, and help to run it. You hire people. You try to keep it chugging all the time.

Unfortunately, at the centre of the machine is the old, original machine, around which all the fancy parts were added to make the product so special. This middle section breaks down often. It has mis-shapen cogs that miss or slip. It produces product, but the product is often dirty, broken, or otherwise scrap. Your workers have found that, if they bang on it with a hard object at just the right place, it seems to click a cog or two into place, and they get a higher yield of quality product for a few minutes. But it never lasts. There is a big dent where the spot is. Some products can be produced bypassing this machine, but that's already been optimized. This one part of your machine is limiting the number of quality products, which keeps your profits low, which stops you from paying for the repairs it would take to upgrade that part of the machine. 

What is the right business decision? Of course, one must bite the bullet, and find the money to invest, or shut down.

It's not so simple, though. Your engineer tells you, the original machine is the heart of the whole operation. It is what everything else is attached to. Mostly, those new sections can produce product themselves, but every so often, they need to move a particular way, and they interact with the original machine directly, cog-to-cog. All the other parts are working fine, except when they interact with that part. When it works well, it works well, but when a cog misses, it can affect the entire machine, section interacting with next section, resulting in a lower yield of quality, and increased scrap for the whole day, or a line stoppage. 

In order to upgrade this part of the machine, one must shut down another part, fix the place they come together, and then put it back together. This is true for every other part of the machine, and there are thousands. Thousands of interacting parts. And each part interacts with the next. Of course, the worst of the rot is at the heart of the machine. You can't get there and keep the whole machine intact and running. 

Oh, and by the way, they don't make this kind of machine anymore and you can't get another one. This is it.

To fix the outdated parts of the machine, we must take the cost of stopping and looking at the connection points for every other part. That can't all be done at once, but that doesn't mean that we should give up and let our machine rot itself away, producing ever-lower quantity of quality products and more and more scrap. The Engineer will tell us, we need a map of all the connection points, an understanding of how shutting one down affects the rest of the machine. We need a plan of action to replace the worn and broken parts, yes, but we also need to look at where they've worn away at the cogs on the working parts of the machine, where they come together. It's not simple. It's the cost of doing business.

Not investing in upgrading the heart of our system, the rot of out-of-bounds capitalism and money in politics, has broken and dented the cogs of people's day-to-day lives. Up and down the economic ladder, people are living every day, with all the challenges you can think to tell stories about. The entire system is clunking along.

This is not a good business decision. It has nothing to do with individual people (it has everything to do with individual people). They are the parts of the system that are chugging away, doing their best. They are the parts of the system that wear away where they interact with the rot. But they aren't happy about it. They don't choose pain or suffering or difficulty. Maybe they don't always respond to it the way another person thinks they should, but that is not up to any human to decide, as one is no better than the next, on scale. It doesn't matter.

WHICH LEADS ME TO...


Maybe we support people because our human hearts tell us that we can't leave any of our family behind in the path to a quality experience of Life on Earth, or maybe because they are clogging up our system and ruining the quality of things with their pain and suffering (how can I enjoy my happy life while they suffer or worse, complain? you can't get good service these days).

I don't care why. I care that we do it. I don't want the whole machine to grind down and be unworkable. I want to enjoy what we're creating. I want that for everyone. It's a simple upgrade at the end of the day. Put a cap at the top and make the money stay in the system, then use it to make peace possible. 

That it will take a long time only means we better be clear about what we're pursuing and get to it. 

It makes no difference what we think people should or could do about if's and when's that we as Judger aren't likely to experience. It's none of our business. We can't know we'd do better and we can't blame the disadvantaged for the ways their disadvantages compound to hold them down and make it harder than I could have imagined until people told me. 

I have talked with people who are strong, loving, capable, and much harder-working than I have ever managed, who could be bringing great things to this world if they weren't restricted by poverty. They have learned things about grief, healing, overcoming, and working through adversity and failure, that could benefit people who haven't had to practice those skills because of where they started or help along the way, or simple good fortune to never face an unexpected trauma.

People want to care for their elderly and children, which we want them to do. They want to volunteer in community and engage in recreation, which we want them to do. They want to be good neighbours, which we want them to do. Poverty takes life down to the bare minimums - what is the maximum I can extract from this minimum of energy, money, food, time that I have? When people are constantly engaged in those calculations, they can't be engaged in the innovation business seems to crave, or the consumerism that business seems to want to encourage. They can't teach their kids about life skills, or learn how to take good care of their minds, bodies and spirits. They can barely even manage to get through their days of expending energy that they never get back. And that's if nothing goes wrong (stuff always goes wrong). That's what it's like for the humans I meet no matter where I meet them. 

This way of living is a drain on their life-forces, and thus a drain on our whole system. They are not operating at capacity. They are worn and broken, when they could be creative and whole. The places where they interact with the "working" parts of the system tend to be worn and broken down by their broken-down-ness. But they are not lost or incapable. We can upgrade our system, by breaking down the problem, understanding the ways the systems interact, and supporting people to find their own way through the mess that life has thrown at each of us to work with, trusting each other to bring our best when we, as a group, make sure no one is constantly suffering.

And we'd better. Because unemployment is coming, 47% of all jobs gone in 25 years is the latest, and that's Oxford, not me. No more middle class. So let's make sure the bottom looks more comfortable than it does now, because most of us will see each other there. I'd rather not see you in Hell. 

It doesn't matter if I like people, feel sorry for people, respect people, admire people, tolerate people, dislike people, avoid people, blame people, judge people, love people. What matters is whether every part of our system is operating at capacity on the journey towards peace on Earth. If the systems we built don't support maintenance, they were badly designed and are not good business to continue without upgrades. It makes sense to set a minimum standard of quality of life. It makes sense to upgrade the heart of our system so that it beats twice, to give back the oxygenated blood to the system instead of starving it.

Every system needs control levels, the minimums and maximums for optimal output. Without a maximum, the energy in our system just dissipates and pools outside the system. That's a bad machine and a bad business model, and it's bad for people, too. We don't have to choose it. There's nothing natural or inherent in it. It's what powerful men built for themselves to make the world their sandbox. We don't have to let them keep playing this way. They don't have to choose to, either. They are humans, just like the rest of us. They could choose to raise the bar, use all the power they accumulated for something worthwhile. They could force government to provide a combination of effective government regulation that limits the amount of wealth concentration, creating adequate income to build a higher minimum standard quality of life, supporting the pursuit of peace.

Knowing humans, maybe they will.

But in the meantime, we need to at least ask it.