Not everything is about money

I’ve just seen an article about a local council overspending on agency workers for it’s children’s services by £865,000. Schools, the NHS, all sorts of businesses are dependent on agency workers. No one seems to see them as obviously the most expensive option. Why are they obviously the most expensive option? Well, not only are you paying the worker, but you are also paying a fee or percentage to the agency as well.

I appreciate that it is getting harder and harder to find staff that are willing to work under current conditions, but I can assure you that is only nominally to do with wage rates. It is predominantly to do with unrealistic expectations that employers have of the time and energy that their workforce are supposed to give to their work. Hours are too long, paperwork is too extensive, the scope and detail that are expected are completely unrealistic, out of hours work is excessive, too much time is tied up in meetings that serve no useful purpose, holidays are too short… I could go on.

But the biggest issue of all is that workers are not respected by their employers, neither are they trusted. I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be safeguards to help encourage professionalism, I’m saying that when you have good staff you should respect and trust them. And if you really want to save money, you need to make sure that you employ enough people to do the job and cover maternity leave, annual leave, emergencies… even if it looks wasteful on paper, I can guarantee that in terms of mental health (employers and staff) and work place atmosphere, it will pay dividends.

Not everything is about money, even when people say it is.

Not “government”, representation.

This “British” society is not good for anyone. It is not working to anyone’s benefit. The majority (only just) party is working to disassemble the safety net that is the welfare state. They are taking away the means of survival for the most disadvantaged, they are reducing the possibilities for the merely poor, they are making life a misery for those in work, they are reinforcing the mentally (and physically) destructive behaviours that make them think they have a right to destroy other people’s lives.

We need to stop calling them “the government”. They have no right to make decisions that go against their constituent’s interests. They are our representatives. They are supposed to represent us, not work to destroy us. They are not given their positions through god’s will, they are voted for by the electorate. Sometimes the electorate is both misinformed and misguided, we need a more honest and reliable media, one that prides itself on it’s integrity, one that sets itself against abuse in all it’s forms, one that sees titillation for what it is (playing to the lowest common denominator), one that respects it’s readership/viewers. And we need a government that embraces these values too.

We need to work towards a healthy and kind society, one that we can be proud to be part of. We also need a way of triggering a general election when it is obvious that the current majority party is not representing the majority of the population.

Tradition

Tradition is a good place to start. There is a reason why something has been done by more than one generation, it works, at least a little bit, for some of the people. Is that a good enough reason to keep doing whatever it is? Well, no. Definitely not. Every tradition has it’s day, and then it should be evaluated to see if it really is a good way of doing (or thing to be done)

Many cultures through history have had slavery. I can see no moral, or practical, justification for slavery. I don’t think slavery ever was, and never should be, justified. That it’s not good for the slaves, should be able to go without saying. But neither is it good for the slavers or slave owners. When you brutalise or dehumanise another human being, you also brutalise and dehumanise yourself.

We are all connected, what you do to others you also do to yourself. People who are judgemental, judge themselves first. The sad thing is they are always far harder on themselves than they are on anyone else, and anyone else is on them. People who treat other people as if they aren’t real, do so because they are afraid they aren’t real.

You cannot treat another human being badly without it having a harmful effect on you. And to close your eyes to people being hurt around you is nearly as bad, sometimes worse. When we take responsibility for our own actions, it does not mean that we can them close our eyes to what is going on around us.

It means we have to respect other people’s right to make their own mistakes and find their own answers, but we still have a responsibility to try to get other people to understand what we believe. So that they have that information to evaluate too.

Tradition sometimes lasts because it is a good way of doing things, sometimes it lasts because no one realises it isn’t a good way of doing things, sometimes it lasts because people are afraid of change. Why are people afraid of change? They are afraid because they haven’t practised stepping out side of their comfort zone and have not discovered the rewards of trying out their “stretch zone”.

In permaculture there is frequent reference to the value of edges, the edge of your comfort zone is a great place to be. It’s often both frightening and exhilarating, to dip ones toes into new water, to try out a different behaviour, can be quite wonderful. It can also be quite awful, but even that teaches us something new and good about ourselves.

Personally, I’m not the world’s biggest fan of tradition. I don’t like lazy ways of making decisions about people’s lives, our how our society should be run. There is often insufficient flexibility to cater for everyone’s personality or needs.

All women are not the same, neither are all men. Why should they be lumped into one category? That’s lazy stereotyping, it also means that some people never get to find their particular aptitude, because they are told (at a very young age) that they “can’t” do that because they belong to the “wrong” group for that particular activity.

What is particularly worrying at the moment is the disconnect between what is happening in British society (and other societies too) and what the media is claiming is happening. So many people still cannot believe that the mainstream media would lie to them because “someone would stop them if they told lies”. Why they believe this, is a mystery to me.

Our culture has changed rapidly and in an unhealthy direction in the last few decades. We have moved away from the traditional lifestyles that were rooted in a certain common sense, to a society that has little real security or resilience. This Britain could not survive the depredations that were visited upon it during the second world war. This Britain will be lucky if it survives the next ten years.

We need to revisit some of the traditions that our parents and grand parents knew, and see if they might not be more healthy for us to re-embrace now.

Priorities…

I was talking with one of my friends the other day about priorities. We think that Western society has lost it’s way, at least partially because our governments prioritise economics (money) over people. This is a serious mistake for a whole load of reasons, the main one being that money is a tool. It gets used as both a weapon and a god, but only by people who don’t understand it.

Many people have no understanding of economics at all. They think it is incontrovertible, they don’t realise that it is every bit as theoretical as any form of philosophy. It is the philosophy of how financial systems work. It is a science in as far as any analysis of real world behaviour is a science. It is as flawed (if not more so) as any other science of human behaviour.

What economists predict is based on a hypothetical view of the world. Their view is built out of all sorts of assumptions to do with the importance of money and it’s supremacy in every decision making process.

This is not helpful in a world where people starve through no fault of their own and even though there is plenty of food. This is what Looby Macnamara would call scarcity thinking. But we live in an abundant world, which could be even more abundant if people didn’t feel so embattled. If people felt safe and secure they would not need to stock pile so much in the way of material possessions.

We need a serious paradigm shift away from scarcity thinking and economics, to the various approaches that Looby talks so coherently about: Abundance thinking; Solutions thinking; Systems thinking; Thinking like nature; Co-operative thinking; and Thinking for the future.

When we think differently we act differently, some times it works the other way around, but mostly it works best if we change our way of thinking first. The big thing that most people struggle to grasp is that we are part of nature.

We cannot be separated from it in a healthy way any more than any part of our bodies can be separated from us and still survive. Nature, the world, is the big healthy system, we are the malfunctioning kidneys, the dodgy knee, that dreadful headache. Not vice versa.

Yes, I meant that. The world would be fine without us. We would not be fine without the world. We don’t need to save the world. The world will save itself, maybe by getting rid of those pesky humans. If we want a world that continues to nurture and feed humans then we need to look at things a different way, we need to see that we are the guests and a little respect and gratitude would go a long, long way.

Further Reading:

Looby Macnamara – 7 Ways To Think Differently

available from http://www.spiralsofabundance.com/index.php?id_product=469&controller=product

Tipping over…

It’s all distraction and exhaustion, the more pressure everyone is under the less likely they are to challenge the system. Until… you reach tipping point… they’ve gone too far, both in America and here. People, even the most unlikely people, are starting to think.

We have rising unemployment balancing against people working stupidly long hours. Many of those who are in work are stressed because they are over worked, under appreciated & terrified they will lose their jobs. And many of those who are unemployed are stressed because they have totally inadequate income, the media attacks them all the time, they feel they are failing in their lives, they are terrified they will never get a decent job.

What this picture lacks are two things: common sense, which would tell anyone this is an insane situation and is possible to remedy; and, respect… respect from employers to employees, respect from the media for those who have to struggle with our twisted benefit system usually through no fault of their own, and finally self-respect. I have worked for my self respect. No bastard is taking it away from me. I am a worthwhile human being whatever my employment situation is… and so are you!

We have media that oversimplify, stereotype & trivialize. They demonise the poor & powerless, at the same time deifying “celebrities” (who they have created in the first place).

The criteria used to decide what is newsworthy is not just biased, it is warped, increasing feelings of powerlessness, fear & alienation in the naïve, uneducated (wait til that rant appears), & unwary.

The entertainment media predominantly concentrate on themes of deceit & mistrust to the point that dishonesty seems normal. To want or expect honesty & decent considerate behaviour is viewed as, at best, idealistic &, at worst, naively stupid.

“Soaps” are the worst offenders in all ways. Stereotyping characters in the most negative ways possible. Trivializing & poking fun at those who most need sympathy & understanding. They also underline their own myth that every happy experience will inevitably lead to tragedy. All in the guise (for many watchers) of reflecting real life.

Much of the media treat all their followers as if they are stupid or naïve. They offer little in the way of mental stimulation but much titillation, then wonder why fewer & fewer people engage with them. In attempting to always grab the biggest market share they have forgotten we are all individuals. We will swallow their nonsense for a while, then, inevitably, one way or another it makes us sick.

Life itself, as well as being mundane & tragic, is richer, funnier, more rewarding & unexpected than anything the mainstream can imagine. The stories passing around the social media certainly illustrate these points.

The inhumanity of governmental behaviour at this point is very worrying. It’s like they believe their own propaganda. This is scary to say the least. Bear in mind that “power” often attracts those who feel inadequate in normal life, very often they have sociopathic tendencies (the need to manipulate, absence of compassion, etc). This means there are a disproportionate number of politicians who have these qualities. Obviously there are those who go in to politics because they are so horrified by the behaviour of the sociopathic element. But it does explain the cruelty of much of what is going on at the moment.

Protest marches are a great way of getting people to realise that they are not alone. But if those marches are misrepresented, or not reported at all, by mainstream media do they have the intended effect? We need to look again at the tactics of resistance. Tactics which worked in the recent past aren’t necessarily going to be particularly effective now. The establishment have developed ways of dealing with predictable resistance…

Any ideas anyone? It’s time to tip over this government that is destroying everything we have and hold dear.