Insecurity

In Britain today insecurity is endemic. Our current society promotes it. There is a decrease in job security; the benefit system is now a lottery with claimants waiting for the moment when they will be sanctioned and left with no way of buying food or paying bills; families are split and spread around the country (if not the world); additionally, there is seldom a community that anyone can fall back on.

It has often been the case that governments have viewed insecurity as a useful tool in controlling the general population. This is because of a couple of basic misunderstandings. The truth is that a government’s role should NOT be one of control. Also, insecurity is only effective for control when it can be maintained at a certain level.

Once insecurity reaches a certain point it becomes something else, it becomes hopelessness, total disconnection. People who are either hopeless or disconnected are not easy to control. Governmental response to such people is to marginalise and/or criminalise them. They do this because of the first misunderstanding (the government’s role should NOT be one of control).

Over the generations the role of government has been distorted and twisted. If we look back to Athens we find something very different from “democracy” as we experience it. Not that we could, or even should, replicate it now. It had it’s own flaws and inconsistencies. But it’s intent was different. It was an attempt to make decisions for the whole community without being reliant on a system rooted in “might is right”.

“Might is right” is how you get a monarchy. You maintain your monarchy by adding some mumbo jumbo about the “divine right of kings”, and then prop it up with the “old boy’s club”.

In Britain a version of democracy was grafted on top of that. It’s not surprising that it has become a form of control that works to support those that have at the expense of those that have not.

And we come back again to insecurity. The “haves” know that their position is not secure, so they use their greater access to governmental positions to try to bolster themselves. Their understanding of the world is warped though by their financial privilege, and the belief that some people are more important than others.

At the other end of the scale, that belief is echoed, and those who have little believe they are worth less and gradually move away from mainstream society. Some are very angry, and an angry person who believes they have nothing to lose can become violent very rapidly.

This is a violence that is increasingly near to the surface. It is a violence that is unlikely to be directed to any positive end. It is an unnecessary violence and a violence that will hurt everyone. It is created by “man’s inhumanity to man” as Burns said. I, for one, am looking for a different answer. A way to assuage people’s insecurity, to recreate community, to reconnect individuals with each other and the wider world.

We all need to be more confident in ourselves, we all have something of significance to offer. None of us is worth less that anyone else. We can turn away from the negativity and nihilism of mainstream politics and media. We can invest in ourselves and Transition to a kinder, more supportive world.

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Smile!

In this day of insanity, as so many days before, we need to hold fast to what we know to be right. We are all human beings first, even before the beliefs and experiences that lead us to feel we are different. We survived on this planet long before anyone invented money, and we will do so again, after money has faded away as a bad memory.

We have changed the way we live our lives to a point where we have little contact with the truths that previous generations understood deep in their bones. The reality that life is nasty, brutish and short, life is part of a cycle. In the midst of life we are in death. Tragic but unavoidable.

Last night I watch the faces of the people on their way home after work. There wasn’t a single smile. This is not what peoples lives should be. If you find you don’t smile on your way home, at least at the thought of what is waiting for you there, there is something fundamentally wrong with your life.

When you understand the truths of the natural world, you also understand that it is important to make your life as rich (not materially, but emotionally) as possible. To make sure you smile as often as possible; to be creative whenever you can; to be out in nature whenever possible; to often be with caring, interesting people; to be alone, at peace, when you can; to pursue things that interest you; to help others; to do mundane jobs when they need doing; to learn new things; this kind of variety all helps to make your life richer.

When I was a child I had little self confidence, I was also painfully shy. I had firstly to learn that I could stand on my own two feet, that I was capable of looking after, not just myself, but also others. That I was capable of at least as much as most other people.

Secondly, I learned that I didn’t need to be shy. Many people are only interested in themselves, they tend not to even see other people as real. People who are interested in you fall into two camps, those who are genuinely nice people, and those who need to use you to prop themselves up. The only ones whose opinion you need to care about are the genuinely nice people, and you don’t need to be shy with them, they’re not judging you.

We need to re-root ourselves both in nature and in genuine, caring relationships. We need to relearn that we are capable beings with abilities we would never have guessed if we hadn’t actually tried them.

We also need to step away from the awareness that there are so many people out there who know so much more than we do. All that awareness brings us is insecurity. We don’t need to be insecure. Insecurity is a wedge between people, it pushes us apart. It means that instead of valuing what we’ve got, we focus on what others have, or have achieved.

Each of us has a unique way of bringing things together, a unique way of looking at things, we can all create ripples, not tidal waves. But ripples can travel far and, if repeated often enough, create real change.

So, smile! You have much to smile about. Create ripples, the world needs to change, more now than for many generations. Be the change you want to see, and be joyful about it.

Everything is Political

Some times going shopping is very difficult. Not because of lack of money, though we are a long way short of well off, but because we are increasingly aware of the fact that every financial decision is a political decision.

I am a great fan of orang-utans. I am aware that their habitat is being destroyed in order to grown more palms to process to make palm oil. Therefore I do not want to eat anything with palm oil or palm fat in it. This means that almost any processed food is out. That’s not so bad, processed food is seriously lacking in nutritional value.

But what about tea or coffee? As a confirmed caffeine addict I can’t do without it, but how fair is Fairtrade? I know Fairtrade insists that local people get paid a reasonable amount for their work, but what about other issues like, is this a crop that should be grown in this area or not? Do the farmers embrace sustainable farming practices? Do they treat their animals and other human beings well? What is their dependence on oil? And should we really be importing goods from countries that would benefit far more from feeding their own people than from gaining western currency so that they can import food from other places that probably need it even more than they do?

I hope you read that previous paragraph very carefully, because I don’t want to be accused of being unfair to Fairtrade. I’m just using them as an example to help illustrate how complex the whole nonsense of buying has become.

Additionally there is the problem of which corporations do you really want to give your money too? Nestlé is mining water from various drought stricken states in America. Then selling the water back in bottles.

Very often even when you think you have made a good decision in spending your money you will discover that the company you trusted has been bought by one of the mega-corporations, sometimes directly, other times through one of their subsidiaries that most people don’t realise has any links with the mega-corporations.

But even on a small local scale, what about having your hair cut? Do you go to your local hairdresser? Is it part of a national chain? Which companies do they get their supplies from? Are these companies you want to support? Do you really want to support the “beauty” industry (I think it should be called the “insecurity” industry, it exploits peoples feelings of insecurity about their appearance).

And so it goes on… nothing is without links to other things. Making choices is very difficult today. You could spend hours each day researching whether a company is one you want to support or not. Or you could do what most people do, ignore where your money is going and buy what you think you want. Both are still political decisions. One is exhausting and potentially very frustrating (though I guess sometimes you might find a real winner), the other is an abdication of responsibility that actually supports the status quo.

When I talk about the status quo (not the band), I do not mean a system that will protect our lifestyles, I do not mean a system that will keep us safe and comfortable. I mean the system (or culture) that has gradually moved us away from the lives we knew as children, I mean the system that is changing increasingly quickly, and becoming more and more inequitable. It is both a political and a financial system, and it exploits anyone without the wealth to protect themselves.

The financial and political systems are interlinked to a frightening degree. In America the latest election was more or less bought by the party that had the wealthiest corporations backing them. In the UK the Conservative Party and UKIP are supported by huge financial injections from people who have a vested interest (they think) in keeping the poor poor and divided.

They are people who have very little understanding of just what they are supporting. They tend to see things in terms of right or wrong. They have never stood on their desk in the classroom to discover that your perspective changes both what you see and how you see it. Life is complex, everything is interlinked, every choice can either support the current system or help to ease things in a slightly different, and possibly better, direction.