We’ve witnessed true evil this week, no doubt. And we all agree that those people shouldn’t have died, and that young man shouldn’t have had access to guns; but, let’s also agree that this world is also filled with joy, love, hope, compassion and beauty. Let’s pursue peace. Let’s embrace that we must change ourselves first, staring with our lust for violence in entertainment and our foreign policy. How can we expect kids not want to blow each other to bits if all they see are the wars in Iraq, headless bodies in Mexico and play pretend war on XBOX? We all have a place in this, we all must pursue peace ever single moment of our lives.
In my previous post, I quickly detailed a few challenges facing children. To recap, I believe children, to grow up whole and happy, must not grow in a void of our culture, but in abstract to our culture. I believe the goals our culture places on the raising of children (mainly an educated child capable of filling a role in the economy), are toxic and produce unhappy people. That goal, when actualized, is totally destructive to all things on the planet including people, animals, ecosystems and physical resources.
In this post I’d like to focus on how we might structure an alternative culture. I believe we must move past finger pointing to draft real solutions to entire problems, trying out those solutions and learning through failure. I do believe in the power of both hope and change, and believe societies and people can evolve, if we choose.
The first requisite of creating an alternative culture will be the determination to get it right. This will require true gumption. Our world (or any world for that matter) does not favor change, and so change will require focus and energy and a deep seeded belief that what we are doing is good, at least in our perspective. If we only half-heartily try to change, we will surely fail, especially on the scale and complexity that is required. We must be courageous to chase our dreams, and not settle, especially when our hearts tell us to push.
Secondly, we must unhinge our imaginations. Albert Einstein was correct when he said, “We cannot solve our problems by using the same thinking when we created them.” While we certainly can apply more intellectual rigor, more statistics and studies and more peer-reviewed research papers, I believe without dreaming we will fall short. When faced with enormous problems we must respond with enormous dreams.
Thirdly, we must doubt, as far as possible, all things (quote in Brianeese originally from Descartes). Doubt has to some extent gained a negative opinion in recent years, specifically in circles such as the military, business and religion. But, doubt is a potent tool when used truthfully. Doubt is the great cleanser that wipes away all things that are not firmly attached to the heart. I believe we fear doubt because it is like a flashlight in our hearts. But, we need not fear doubt if we can accept truth, as doubt will almost always lead to truth if given enough time and energy. We must doubt and question our society, from the mundane to the monument, to see the truth in each action. Why do we take a day to celebrate Mothers? Why do we send our kids away to be educated by another person? Why did we buy that extra car? In the end, we must question all the way down to the center of the issues we are trying to solve, so when we solve the issue we can build on a solid foundation.
Fourthly, and now more action oriented, we must retract from our society. Practically this means we will abandon the capitalist system outright as unsustainable and unhealthy, and seek to rebuild a society on differing values. In my previous post I mentioned a few values that are crucial to the development of children and society, and they are graciousness, thriftiness, manners, compassion, creativity, freedom, mindfulness and love (and I’d like to add joy and pleasure). I think it is important to note that I am not advocating a lifestyle of extreme rigor where hardships are celebrated- the point is not to punish ourselves, in a sense playing a modern martyr- but rather living in a way that is sustainable for ourselves and future generations while acknowledging this lifestyle may require substantial sacrifices compared to our current standard of living. This perspective does not denote a political affiliation, I’m not saying we need to be Republican or Anarchist- and furthermore I don’t think there is value is making blanket statements about business, corporations, banks and the lynchpins of our economic system- but we need to proverbially put all that we know on the “chopping block.”
Fifthly, we must seek to develop an alternative culture. True, lasting and good change can only happen on the cultural level. We can implement a recycling program, but if we do not have a culture of sustenance, we will continue to waste. We can implement a savings program through a community, but if we do not have a culture of thrift, we will continue down the path of consumerism. This is not to say a recycling and savings program are bad, I am simply saying they are not enough.
There are examples of alternative cultures in the United States. One such culture, called “The Farm,” has been in existence since 1971. Around 170 people exist together in what they call an “Intentional Community.” For those who think these people are lazy hippies, please note The Farm can be credited for a central role in organic farming and a pioneering role in modern midwifery, among many other things. While they have experienced their ups and downs, they exist in a sustainable way, and have done so for over 40 years. This is a wonderful model for an alternative culture. More information can be found here.
These five points are scraps of a dream to exist in a way that attempts to give as much as we take. I’ve attempt to detail a few thoughts, albeit incompletely, and next I will take these thoughts to a more practical level, and focus on communities as the cornerstone of culture.
Violet is now two weeks old (tomorrow, I guess), and I am slowly… slowly… coming back to life. I’ll be posting more, I have a few finished essays and more in my mind. I’m also hoping to have a few guest posts.
Well, in the spirit of being as extreme as possible, I’ve decided, when I can, to give up using electric lights after dark. Yes, that means using candles and going to bed early and getting up even earlier.
I guess a few reasons. Firstly, it really is a huge waste of energy to run the lights all night. If I had researched this post I’m sure I could have some crazy figures to support that statement, maybe tomorrow morning. Secondly, I sleep terribly. Terribly. I wake up 3 or 4 or 10 times a night; wide awake and ready to go. I wonder if my sleep cycle is messed up because I trick bodies into believing it is daytime by using artificial light. Thirdly, I’d like a life where I use less in general.
So there it is, we’ll see how it goes. Gotta go stock up on some candles!
Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
So, friends, every day do something
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
Go with your love to the fields.
Let’s get to know Murfinator. This is my newest master blog. Instead of having a myriad of specialty blogs that I never find time to write about, I’m going to focus on writing about what is on my mind and dumb it all in one place. I’m excited about this one.
I don’t view myself as an inherently rule driven person, rather quite the opposite, but I have found the need to establish principles by which I live and die. I think when we are honest with ourselves, the hard truth is that it’s easy to live as a machine. I wake up, go to work, workout, eat dinner, go to bed and then wake up again. This routine of brainless living can manufacture critical problems which, chances are, aren’t valid issues that deserve our stress. Instead, our problems seem to be merely distractions that simply break the routine and help us feel alive again.
Now maybe this is a bit extreme, but I have to believe that mindless living and mundane routines is a universal feeling of modern man. We have been conditioned by our convenience-driven society to be afraid of real risk and real problems. If you are like me working in a 9-5, when is the last time you really had something to fear?
And thus we consistently remain in this position. I’m old enough to know what I don’t know, but young enough to change. It’s not too late, and the goal of living life like there really is no tomorrow is not out of reach. But again, in human nature it’s easy to reach back to what feels comfortable and remain on the obvious path. So I’ve tried to brainstorm principles for my life as a way to remain proactive and push myself past mediocrity. This is my best shot, so here goes:
- Do not ever waste time, ever.
- Never quit but know when to walk away.
- Situations are neutral, perspective dictates whether they are positive or negative.
- Contain comfort but don’t suppress it.
- Life is both precious and beautiful.
- Never work for extrinsic motivators.
- Above all else, love to your fullest ability.
Now that I look at it seven seems like a lot, but I’ll stick with these for now.