Monday, September 15, 2008


I get so furious and sad. In fact it brings me close to tears. The fact that we are so trapped in a story of our own creation and most of us don't even realize it. Those of us that do are not really sure what to do with this information - not to mention that our society constantly tells us that we are wrong to think that there is an alternative or that maybe there is something inherently wrong with this system - this culture!

I am not just referring to American culture or even European culture. I am talking about western culture but also the overarching human cultural story of violence, power, sex and capitalism. It is not that these are the only cultures that have or do exist. In fact we know that there are far more healthy ways to co-exist.

I just heard Derrik Jensen on the radio show Flashpoints on KPFA. I had not heard of him before but he spoke so blatantly to the ugly truth of our cultural situation. Sure - he may be attempting to highlight and emphasize the outliers in our culture - the extremes. But, he is right to do so in an attempt to capture the story line and the space in our media. What he said, that really struck me, actually there were two things that he said.

First, that when you seriously think about it and recognize the fact that when the Europeans arrived here in the USA they had been living here for close on 12,000 years. That the entire land was in pristine shape, that they lived decent lives filled with leisure and a deep sense of community (this is not to say that there were not issues and troubles with their lives).

In the course of the subsequent 400 years we have managed to pollute, decimate, and wipe out most of what was indigenous about this land. Were are we now? Well, according to the EPA you can't drink out of a single river or stream in the US because they are almost all poisoned with carcinogens. We have to work to earn salaries to buy food because all the wild food has been killed, co-modified or fenced off.

Somewhere along the line a sense of value and worth has been lost. The fact that we are part and parcel of this place has been removed from our sense of being. Derrik may say that this is a form of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome - that we live in a culture that traumatizes us from start to end; through our schooling systems, our police forces, our media of violence and sexism, our constant reminder to be afraid and our sense of having to work as slaves to the dollar bill.

Repeated stress, repeated trauma with no relaxation or down time. No sense of security has been emphasized, a sense of the ability to explore, to be who you are and to do what is natural to you and me.

I sit in my life now - at 30 years of age with my stunning wife and my beautiful baby and I wonder what I can do as a husband and father to provide the space and community that will raise a baby filled with a sense of safety and love, compassion and exploration. How do we do this in our own lives? How do we engage this in a way that both transforms our selves and our culture?

I wish I had the complete answer here. But, what I do know is that I do not want to be a slave to my money to the need to earn dollars, to be afraid and to feel stressed and overwhelmed. These things make us operate from a place of adrenaline and leads us to see life in a vision of a tunnel - thereby excluding options and opportunities that are there but outside of our tunnel.

I know that my contribution to this is around exploring and evangelizing a new form of value thinking - of what we value, how we value it and why we value it.

To me this is one of the roots of our problem - one of the big lies we have been fed. That of value! We need to value things that are not valued things that can't actually be commodified and that is why it is such a threatening space to go into. Because, as far as our economic and cultural system is concerned - if you can't commoditize it it holds no value. The problem is that the things that are of some of the highest value are not things at all but are rather rights and access. "fresh water" "clean air" "access to healthy food" "clean environment" "the right to rest" "the right to health care" "the right to relaxation and compassion"

What I do know is that I need to make this change in my life as quickly as possible because there is not much time to sort this out. There is no time to wait to see what happens - I need to voice my voice to share my ideas and help to lead this change - because this change will not occur till enough of us choose to lead.

I don't know what this is nor where it is going. But - I hope we will all help each other get there with love, compassion and joy!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Revalue Value

I think I am pretty convinced by much of the economics that exists today - I think that corporations have many incredible functions, that money serves a purpose that will not be easily replaced, trade certainly has its advantages as do certain clusters of specialization's. Therefore I wonder what drives the economy to destroy the very backbone of our existence? Is it because the economy is something separate from us? Has it really become so unembedded (to play of Karl Polayni)? Perhaps it has, perhaps we as a a society have forgotten that we created this entity, this thing called the economy. It is a product of human ingenuity, creativity and resourcefulness. It is not something separate from us like water, and sky - rather it is something that will not exist after us, it did not exist before us and perhaps we may even be able to live without it.

Therefore it is about taking ownership of the economy - not in a revolutionary overthrow the rich or the powerful. No, I am actually talking about it in a much more participatory and creative process. I like to think of it very academically but actually it is something far more creative actually something co-creative. It is a creation of a theoretical understanding and interpretation of our society and how we "need" to exist. The economy has been and continues to be in many different forms - socialist, capitalist, communist, authoritarian etc...there is a long list of many smaller and more refined understandings of these economic differences.

What I am after is how do we recreate our economy from a fundamental point - from the point of value! How is value understood and interpreted. And, why do certain things, the things that we hold to be the most sacred in so many levels hold minimal value in our economic system? How do we add to the story of our economy a new understanding of value. I play with it by calling it Infinite Value - this is a value that encompasses that which holds so much value due to its critical role in our sustenance as people.

This is my effort at going at the understanding that we do not need to save the planet - I am 100% certain that the planet will live long beyond our existence. The thing that needs saving is us and the way we can save ourselves is by valuing what is critical to our survival. This is not a dictatorial approach or a "rule" based approach that tries to constrain the behavior of people and companies with a set of arbitrary regulations that have been placed after long battles. No, this is rather an attempt to get the economy to recognize the value of certain elements upfront despite their apparent abundance or short-term lack of utility.

We need an economy that takes this into consideration. The economy is based on value and value is based on ideas that we have theorized and put together in books like Marx and Smith etc...It is at this place that we step into a realm that starts getting a bit more complicated. The essence, and to keep it simple for this post, is that I want to see how I can incorporate a value concept that recognizes that which is critical and holds Infinite Value.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Synopsis - I think

What I am trying to get at is the difference in ways of thinking and how effective these are in creating different types of opportunities and realities for us. This thinking is deeply embedded in Quantum Physics, Sciences of Cognition and in understandings of theory.

How we frame what it is that we believe we are experiencing leads us to identify certain limitations that may only exist because of the way we have theorized and framed our reality. If we can rewire the framework (the theory) that we have founded our reality on new opportunities will suddenly appear, along with new limitations. This is actually a very powerful concept that we can all use in our lives and always creates a sense of empowerment and hope. As long as we recognize that we have the most power over our thoughts and minds we can always find some new set of opportunities we previously would have never have recognized.

It is at this intersection that I want to explore the theory of value. How has value being theorized in a capatilist monetary based system and how has value actually landed up manifesting itself. This then leads into how can we add an additional element to value and create the ability for it to recognize things that hold a type of infinite value due to their i) critical importance to our survival ii) there current relative abundance iii) that certain things hold value prior to their relative scarcity.

The Power of Thoughts

So often we forget that there are power dynamics at play, that there are structural limitations in place (in some ways these may be slightly open to our interpretation and I think that quantum physics may have something to say about this). However one of the most powerful things that I have seen in action in my own life most clearly is our "state of thoughts".

In fact I think I want to coin this term. This is the most powerful force in our active lives, it is the one element that we actually have the most power over. The more we can rewire our brains to notice love, compassion, opportunity, light, empowerment and to associate our bodies with these thoughts the closer we get to a sense of satisfaction and calm. This is truly what we are after and it brings us a step closer to happiness.

I also think that this idea can be extrapolated outwards and incorporate and entire town, city, state, country and continent and ultimately globe. You see - how we all think about our lives impacts everything around us and most critically ourselves.

When I move from one space to another, one country to another we are empowered to realize the power of this thinking mechanism, this creating of reality and this experiential experience that we all go through.

When you leave America you realize that our culture is not really the "global culture" we are lead to believe it is. You also realize that we are not the only ones creating it and that ideas are just as permeable from there to here as they are from here to there. This is were the power dynamic actually starts getting really interesting in my mind.

It is actually part of the power dynamic - the light verse the dark perhaps - call the parts what you want but I think it plays into a level of the power dynamic. Why is it so often that those that believe in opportunity and success, empowerment and light succeed in their ways regardless of where they start in life?

You see it is the actual sustaining force - it is this that we work at trying to share with those around us. This is what is infectious, this is what makes America a wonderful place, it is also part of what is currently crumbling here in America and growing in other places, most importantly and interestingly for me, this includes Africa as a whole and most specifically South Africa.

When I go back to SA I experience the difference of the mindset I also see the mindset of my family and of their community. I contrast this with my community here and those I surround myself with. They are very different communities and they also live very different lives of economic opportunity. Okay, this can just be a structural difference - America has more money, more education and therefore more opportunity.

My first response to this is that there are plenty of people in SA living very successful and materially comfortable lives. It is, therefore, not a structural thing that plays the dominant role here in my opinion. The real difference is the difference of thinking - America was poor once too. It has had other advantages - slavery amongst its biggest. However, this can not account for all the difference. Okay - I may be going down a rabbits hole here...