A Vote for Yourself

This is a big day. Millions of people are going to voice their opinion by attempting to elect the person that most perfectly represents their own viewpoints and beliefs. This elected official will then fill his office and do exactly what the people that elected him to do.

This system works perfectly, except that no one on this planet or in this universe has experienced life in the exact same circumstances as you, yourself. In that sense, we are all at least marginally unique. Every single one of us varies at least slightly on our opinions of how things ought to be,and if in charge we would all do things differently. This means that no political candidate every truly represents you, they only represent themselves and their own beliefs.

Despite this, we are still expected to elect a person that can supposedly represent each and every one of us. We are expected to consent to a system that will place a person in charge of many aspects of our lives even if we do not support this person, and if this consent is not given, we are imprisoned through the use of institutionalized force and violence. As a society it seems we have entirely accepted the notion that our elected officials should dictate how the rest of us live our lives, even if we completely disagree with them. Our politicians realize this, and their focus seems almost entirely to pander to the people that will vote for them, giving them whatever it will take to appease them whether or not they actually believe the words they say. This has encouraged a society that is dependent on these elected officials in order to survive.

“A democracy will continue to exist up until the voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury.” – Alexander Tytler

And what has our dependency brought us?

1. A record number (and growing) of people that require the help of the government to buy the food they need for their very survival

2. Levels of unemployment that rival the worst economic times in our history as a nation

3. Large numbers of people that are entirely unprepared for an extended break in our supply chains

This list could likely include many more things, but these are the most apparent today.
The current economic and social environment has played some role in the struggles of these people, but ultimately failure rests on the shoulders of anyone that does not take the initiative to improve their own self-sufficiency. Most people bear at least some of the weight of this dependency, from the person that takes handouts rather than growing their own food, to the person that buys useless toys rather than stocking up on supplies to help during the advent of increasingly extreme weather events, to the person that searches for sources of income rather than sources of value in their own lives.

You can debate the amount of value that your vote for our political system actually has, but I won’t do that here. Whether or not you choose to vote today may or may not have an effect on your future, but a vote that is far more likely to impact you at the personal level is one that you make for yourself. Choosing the path of self-sufficiency will allow you to remove yourself from the political cycle that takes up far to much time of far to many people.

If you provide for yourself you have no need to elect an official that will provide for you, so on this election day I urge one thing. Take some time either today or this week to find one small thing that you can do to reduce your dependency on institutions, whether they be corporations or a branch of the government. Find a way to improve your life in a measurable way that does not involve dictating to or taking from any other person. This one small step has the potential to be the first of many that allows our society to find better ways to function without the need to find more ways to control other people.

If we all take the necessary steps to improve ourselves, we will no longer need to coerce one another to our own viewpoints.

Forever a Student

Occasionally I come across a person that resonates strongly with my words. While these people are few and far between when compared to those that disagree with some of the things I say, they are often the ones that I hear the most. This is a reaction created almost entirely by my own ego through the desire to make my words about myself rather than just letting them stand on their own. This idea that someone has learned from something from me is rooted in the belief that I am a “teacher” that is showing people around me the truth.

The role of the teacher in the Western world seems to be one in which a single person stands in front of many others and tells them the nature of how a specific subject works. This nature is taught mostly as a series of rules and guidelines in which the students are required to follow. As a student of music, I am mostly taught that well written music has a set of rules and guidelines that are called “theory,” and I am then told to create my own music according to these guidelines while simultaneously studying great artists of the past who seemed not to follow the very rules I am taught they created. 

I do not want to go to far in to the failings of American education in this post so I will make my point. We all seem to develop this notion that at some point we become teachers and are meant to tell other people what truth is. This idea only divides humanity as we are each constantly at war with one another, attempting to show how we are closer to perfection than those around us. But we must understand one thing. Each of us was born in to our own individual experience of this collective existance and you can not force another individual to fit in your own idea of the truth. We must realize that we are each here to try to understand those around us and apply that understanding to our own version of this truth.

This means that we will forever be a student of the truth and we learn by finding the understanding between all of us. The truth is not within any single one of us and we need to learn to replace “I” with “We.”

External Struggle, Internal Celebration

Fleet Foxes – Bedouin Dress

“Banish the word ‘struggle’ from your attitude and your vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration. We are the ones we have been waiting for.” — Hopi elders

I know its been a while, and my message for this post is simple. We are not here to struggle through life, fighting the things that hold us back. We are here to find a way to live the best we can in the environment we have been given. We all are put through events that are meant to shape us, and how we are shaped is entirely up to our choices. We can choose to be overcome by the obstacles put in front of us, or we can choose to overcome them.

People have been choosing to Occupy various places of power over the past few weeks. While the change these people want might be good, the internal changes they are offered will have a much greater effect. It is your choice to rely on large corporations and other centralized institutions, and while the path of decentralization is much tougher, the payout is much greater. Creating external change in the world is a struggle, whereas internal change is sacred to only you.

Whatever you choose to do, do it in peace. Understand that external change never occurs exactly as you want, and you can not rely on external change to make you happy. These centralized banks, investors, and governments get their power from us, and the best way to remove this power is at it’s roots in the decisions we make every single day. It is time once again to become responsible for the outcomes of our own lives and to experience life the way we want it. That is what this collective mind shift is all about, and it precedes politics, it precedes money and debt, and it precedes any form of ruling body. Understand that you have the power to do this only within yourself and the only one that can accomplish this is you.

Power to the People.

Things that Hide Away – The Dear Hunter

We live in a centralized society that is created through our fascination with specialization. When someone chooses to specialize in something they are essentially taking on the idea that they want to have the power when it comes to that specific kind of knowledge. While this is not necessarily bad, this tends to put power in the hands of a select few. I created this blog with the plan to show light on the generalist qualities of man and show how a general understanding of the world would balance humankind and lead us in to a decentralized future.

All of the major governments of the world currently operate under this centralized idea. From the republic of China to the democratic-republic of the US, from the European union conglomerate to dictatorship of Iran, all of these governments are top-down creations in which a centralized authority determines how the nation’s people will live. Subsequently, the creations that come out of this are centralized institutions as well. We have countless corporations that are run in almost an identical way to the dictatorships of the world where one person makes decisions that determine the paths that thousands of lives will take. If an oil company decided to stop producing oil, many of use would have problems acquiring the energy we consume. If the nearby corporate owned grocery store couldn’t ship its food, many of us would starve. If our government ran out of money (the printing presses would have to be broken) many people would lose the government handouts they rely on.

This makes us dependent on the choices of a few people, and takes the power over our own lives out of our hands. In turn, our society becomes one that is top down like and upside down pyramid with the people at the top providing for the base of humanity. But this dependence is a choice that we make, we do not have to succumb to the illusion of luxury these institutions create, and in order for us to evolve in to a higher society we must reverse this societal construction by empowering people at the individual level to allow them to shape society around them. This will create the foundation that is necessary for us to form a society that is powerful as a whole.

This means that we need to encourage self-reliance in each individual. Create an environment where people can provide all they need for themselves and you will not have to provide for them. That is not what we have today. Today, most people rely on some organization for employment so they can have an income. They then take that income and use to to buy things like food, transportation, housing, and entertainment from other organizations. These organizations then use that money to pay their own employees, thus continues the circle of dependency with each person depending on something else to provide for them.

But what if these people could provide their own necessities? What if there was a way for everyone to provide their own energy, food, and means of production themselves? Would they still need a job to make money? Why would they even need money?

The truth is that we are already incredibly near to creating this environment, and I outlined this partially in an earlier post. We are nearing an age where each and every one of us will be completely responsible for our own well being and I have the utmost confidence that we will rise to the occasion. It is time for each and every one of us to choose to live our own lives rather than someone else telling us how to do so.

The Future Will Never Arrive

“Everybody’s working for the weekend.”

A while ago I had a friend tell me that I would always have to do something in my life that I won’t enjoy so that I can enjoy other aspects of my life more. There would always be some aspect of “work” so that I could “play” later. The thing that most surprised me about this statement from my friend was that everyone else involved with this conversation agreed with him. Many people seem to have this notion that unhappiness now will lead to happiness later.

This is very apparent in our monetary system. People take on debt (negative wealth) in order hopefully insure they will be prosperous later. These people hope that someday in the future they will no longer have a burden of debt and things will be better for them. This encourages them to “work” jobs that they may or may not enjoy so they can gradually reduce the amount of negativity (debt) in their lives so they can be happier in the future.

The problem arises when it becomes apparent that the future will never get here. All you have is what you are right here, right now. The past is gone and it will never come back, and the future will always be out of reach. If you choose today to take on something that makes you more unhappy that is all you have, nothing else.

This system may have worked for many people before you, and it might work for some after, but one thing I have learned in my relatively short life is that change is the only constant now. The world as it was 22 years ago when I was born is nothing like the world today. Many of the things we have now could hardly have been imagined back then, and the only thing I have learned about planning for the future is to plan for it to change.

With that amount of uncertainty, how can anyone plan out their debt for the next 20-30 years? How can anyone rely on anything except what they have right now in this instant? Yet somehow, many people are still finding ways to push their happiness further and further in to the future and fall in to the traps our society has created.

I am sorry if this post seems vague, but it is still a vague concept to me. I am constantly told by many people to invest for my future. Sometimes this investment involves taking on debt in order to have it pay off later, but other times it involves storing my wealth so I can access a greater amount in the future. Instead of being told to focus on what I can contribute to the world right now, I am told to wait and try to find a way to contribute later.

This is a concept that continues to push me in circles in my head, but I keep coming back to one question. If I can’t live in the present moment with peace and happiness, what is the point of living at all?

How to win at knowledge

Our world society absolutely reeks of dualistic qualities. Every single argument seems to get boiled down to one set of options that go along the lines of left vs. right, right vs. wrong, or us vs. them. Too many people seem to think that they have the solution and everyone else around them is wrong. This creates an environment where the quest to increase one’s own knowledge takes on this idea that one must “win” at knowledge and show how they know something better than everyone else around them.

The epitome of this culture is shown in our political world where we are told to elect someone that best represents us using something called a vote. This “representative” then accepts this election to office as a signal that his ideas are what is deemed correct by the people, and he must push these ideas in to becoming policy. Of course it seems that more and more these elected officials do not actually represent the people that put them there, and their votes are mostly coming from people that are just frustrated with it all and are hoping to use what little power they have in our government to attempt to create whatever “change” they can. This has led the American government to becoming a mixture of a democracy, republic, and a hint of mob rule as the person that can get the largest group of people behind them is the one that is given power.

But as I have stated before, no other person can EVER fully represent you. You are the only one that has all of your beliefs, dogmas, and knowledge set. No one else in this world carries the exact same set of each as you, so how can you ever elect someone that represents you?

Iceland recently did a really awesome thing where they crowd-sourced their constitution on the internet. ANY citizen of that country could go online and work with any other citizen on getting things they wanted in to their constitution. Isn’t it strange how we live in a culture where it is odd to ask the people how they would like to be governed? Instead we are supposed to rely on officials to tell us how to best live our lives. We have old, balding men deciding how 5-year-olds should be taught. We have men with no biological education telling people that a plant will hurt you if you use it. And we have people with a lot of money telling you that you should borrow some from them (with interest of course).

This all comes from the idea that one direction is the correct way to go and the other direction is wrong, this is commonly called duality. Instead of having leaders that look at all aspects of a problem and all possible solutions to try and find the path that makes the most sense, we have ideologues that run on one single “solution” at the expense of all other possibilities. Can you see how we praise the people that are the most close-minded?

The truth is that when it comes to knowledge, we either all win or we all lose. We either come to a greater understanding amongst each other or we find new ways to further divide ourselves. Winning at knowledge is not proving another idea wrong, it is understanding every aspect of the things you disagree with and adding that understanding to your path.

In the words of my favorite rapper, Mos Def “Life is a test and we all got the answers.”

“To beat the man, you must become the man.”

A friend of mine said the above line to me once.

I am lucky in that I am surrounded by people of incredibly diverse backgrounds on a daily basis. I get the chance to hear ideas on topics that vary greatly from my own every single day, and this works incredibly well to increase my understanding of what is happening in the world.

This also means that I am constantly tested in my knowledge and wisdom, and my failures are often brought out in front of me so I can see them clearly. This kind of experience is both humbling and empowering, and I would not have it any other way.

The people I am surrounded with have widely varying levels of cultural programming that has been created over a lifetime through an imperceptible gradient. Younger people are not exempt from this programming, it has just taken on a very different form with the newer generations. As each generation transitions to adulthood, they tend to push their form of programming more and more until certain ideas begin to dominate while others are lost. Due to the different nature of programming between generations, there is often glaring problems the younger people see that are invisible to the older generations.

I often share my opinions on world events to the people around me, and I must say that my programming can’t be much more different than that of many of them. The disagreements far outnumber the agreements, and many of my statements are considered outlandish.

Before I go on talking about myself to much, I want to get to my point. The people of the Western world have been almost entirely convinced that we can bring about any change we want by using our precious possession called a vote. This vote will supposedly help get someone that represents us to a place of power so we can see the change we want. Of course there is no person out there that can perfectly represent another. There will always be differences, and this ensures that your voice will never be entirely heard.

The next step would be to then become that politician or private entrepreneur that has the power to bring about this change. But when the system is designed to benefit a few people that conform to  certain model that is currently excepted, the average person with average ideas will not be accepted. You can only be a successful politician if you can raise enough money for your campaign so a housewife with no business experience has very little chance of getting anywhere.

This leaves us with only one remaining choice. We can choose to not be a part of this exclusive system that does not accept certain people, and this is much easier than it seems.

Every time you give something helpful to another person without expecting anything in return, you choose not to play the game. It does not matter how small the gift is.

Every time you find a way to make something you need, or fix something that is broken yourself, you don’t fall in to the trap of a monetary society.

Every time you find a way to enjoy your life without being forced to pay in return, you take back your freedom.

There are many that believe we are facing a world wide systemic collapse of our money system. This is a system that has monetized everything possible, including life, and we are slowly being killed by our own fascinations. I believe this collapse is very possible, but I will not argue the points here, because this system is no longer relevant. The only thing that matters is our life system, which includes our physical, mental, and spiritual health. It has been put at risk because of our material obsessions and we are currently on the brink.

I have faith that humanity will overcome this challenge that we have created, and in fact, we are already rebuilding this life system. Our capitalist society may collapse tomorrow, but it will not matter in the least, because the love humanity is capable of will always overpower any other force. We do not need to become the man in order to fix the system, because we have been the man all along. We have always had the power to shape our lives for the better, its only a matter of whether or not we choose to acknowledge it.

It’s Debt, Silly

Some are shouting “We must raise taxes, especially those on the wealthy!”

Others proclaim “We need to spend less, and tax less, that is the only way for us to continue growth!”

But most are meekly stating “Maybe we should look somewhere in the middle for the answer?”

A lot of people you talk to these days will tell you that one of these three solutions is the answer to our continued economic woes. But all three of these have one problem, they operate under the idea that our current failing structure can be repaired when the real issue we are facing cuts not just to the bone, but completely through it.

The world as a whole is a debt based society. Almost every relevant culture today has accepted that taking on debt is the best way to grow faster than everyone else, and the focus is put almost entirely on this idea of economic growth. At some point in history we collectively adopted this idea that growth is what we need to strive for, and we should achieve this by any means possible. Any period of time that does not have growth is considered a “recession” and we are taught early on to fear that word. This means that we must always continue to grow towards infinity, which of course is impossible in a finite world with finite resources. At some point we must decide the we have had enough. The point where we would have been forced to make this decision would have come a long time ago if we hadn’t come up with the ultra-handy invention called debt with interest.

Do you want to go to school? Buy a house or a car? Start a business? Try doing any one of those things without taking on a single penny of debt. I have, and I have failed. Like most people in our modern culture I was duped in to the idea of accepting a debt burden over my head. Granted my failure is not anywhere near as heavy as the failures of many others, but it is still an amount of money that is much, much larger than my income.

You might be wondering, is debt really that bad? Is something that allows me to get a nice shelter and transportation really one of the roots of our problems?

Imagine something for me for just one second. I want you to think of a world in which no one can get even a single dollar of debt. Where you only can buy things that you have the money for right now. Would you spend $20,000 for a new car when you only ha$5,000 saved up? How could you? How could anyone? If only a few can get the money to pay the high price of $20,000 there would be no market for cars of that price, but there would be a great market for cars that cost $5,000. Of course that would mean sacrificing some features that most people think add quality to their purchase. But it turns out that most car companies are just adding more flash such as heated seats, dvd players, and computerized control rather than improving the core functions of the vehicle itself. This is most apparent by the fact that we still use an engine technology that is over 100 years old, and fuel efficiency has hardly improved at all. So this extra money we have created for ouselves through debt has only allowed us to buy toys that are slightly more fancy rather than things that are more useful, but this is an entirely different rabbit hole to get sucked in to.

Under a debt based society we can get that fancy car with the touch screen computer in the dash. We can get that large house that uses electricity in an extravagant, inefficient way. All we have to do is dedicate the next 30 years or so to servicing that debt, and assuming all things work out and no more debt is needed, we can finally own those shiny things.You see, debt lets us seem like we are more wealthy than we actually are, but this is only an illusion. This is an illusion that has been engrained in to every last one of us since we were small children. We saw our parents get that nice house, have two or three cars, and plenty of toys to fill our home with. This is what many call the “American Dream,” but of course a dream can never be reality. It will always be just out of reach and it is not the road to happiness, because happiness itself is the road we should be on. Being happy is not a destination, it is a choice that you either choose or don’t every waking moment of your life.

This debt-ridden road has been long, and the illusion it created is so tangible it is incredibly hard not to fall for. We have spent generations trying to get to the destination this road leads to, but we are discovering slowly that the destination does not exist. Debt has always and will always be a burden, and until we get rid of this burden we can never be free.

Bound by need to viscious villainy.

I borrowed this title from one of my favorite musicians, The Dear Hunter.

Oh how awesome it is to live in a society where I can get almost anything I want as long as I promise to pay the seller back over time in the future. I can take months to pay off a fancy TV, years to pay off and shiny, brand-new car, and decades to pay for a house before I actually own it, and it seems most of today’s people agree with me on the idea of taking on debt in order to build personal “wealth” for the future. Of course, our wealth is often measured entirely by the amount of money we are worth, but I digress.

I as well as most of the people reading this blog have been tricked at least once in to thinking that taking on debt right now will make us more valuable in the future. I mean, how can we not be? Almost every single person you have ever met (at least in the US) has taken on debt at some point, and for many of those people things seems to have worked out well for them.We all have lived in an environment that allows us to do so because chances are things won’t change much over the next 15 to 30 years. This allows us to be bound to a pool of money that is larger than ours for the extent of our debt, turning us in to slaves to that loan.

In the words of a very wise man: “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender”

See how we have been tricked? We have been fooled in to believing that it is good, and sometimes necessary to enslave ourselves to another all in the name of “wealth.” We no longer have to contribute something to the world around us before we can get something in return. Instead, we are given something and then asked to do whatever is necessary in order to repay it.

For many of us, that means we will work 40 hours a week (or more) at a job we don’t particularly enjoy but is bearable for now. For others, that means they will work as hard as they can, only to have everything taken away because of an unforeseen change in their financial system.

But as a whole, this mentality has led to a world society where a few get to reap the benefits of living above their means by sucking most of it away from the unfortunate majority. We hold at least part of the responsibility for this situation. We have asked for this material wealth and  it has been given to us in all of its slave-educing glory. I believe this road is reaching it’s climax, and what lies on the other side is anyone’s guess.

We could use this bad situation as a learning experience, and look for ways to live our lives without a fascination on debt. Or we could continue down this path borrowing more and more, until we have completely sold ourselves out the the people we rely on. Each and everyone one of us have control over this situation for ourselves, and if enough of us decide to make the first steps towards a life non-reliant on debt, the road will only become clearer.

Machines that Divide Us.

I want to start by getting something out in the open. I am a true child of the 21st century, and I love to watch the progression of technological development. I have a smart phone, a laptop, fast desktop computer, and a few other gadgets, and I believe these technologies give me opportunities to improve myself every day.  I also own a car, though you may not know it because I hardly drive the thing. I live in a medium size city that provides me with ample opportunity to ride my bike to most of my destinations.

This entirely changes the meaning of my daily commute to work. Instead of my trip being a transition to whatever my destination, it is an actual event itself. Since I am traveling about half the speed of most cars, I have plenty of time to observe the areas that I pass through. I see every house, every person, all of the other commuters in their cars, and I have plenty of time to absorb what is happening around me.

When I drive my car, I get none of those things. A car is nothing more than your very own little environment in a box that passes by the world faster than one can take in the sights. Everything about a car separates the passengers from the world around them. The windows keep out the outside environment and the AC/heat assure the operate that they will have optimal air quality. The radio cuts out the noises of everything and means that you will only hear what you want to. The high speeds mean that you will never get to see everything that you are passing by.

Not only do these things cut you off from the world, but they also cut everyone else off from you. When another driver sees you coming down the road they see your car, and will probably never see you.

They see only the machine, and not the person.

This becomes most apparent in road rage. If you are walking down the sidewalk and someone accidentally bumps in to you, the other person will probably look at you and offer some words of apology. This simple apology can completely diffuse the situation and show you that this other person is human just like you and is prone to accidents.

If that same person were to cut you off on the road you would see a machine that inhibits your commute. This machine would not apologize to you, it would not show any remorse, and in fact, it would not even recognize that you exist. You would never see the human part of the equation.

The automobile is a perfect example of technology that we use to separate ourselves from each other. Yes, it does give us the chance to visit people that live further away from us, but without the technology we probably wouldn’t move very far away anyways.

When I ride my bike to work, I can interact with the world around me. I can say hello to the crossing guard that I pass by, see the people that live in my area, and experience the beauty of the weather of that particular day. In my car I get none of that.

This is just one of many examples of technology dividing us. How often are you texting someone when you could be talking face to face with a stranger next to you? Maybe you visit someone’s facebook page instead of visiting them in person, or get lost in cyberspace while someone next to you in physical space desires your attention. I will tell you that I am just as guilty as the next person.

These technologies have unlimited potential to draw us closer and closer together, but the same things that can do that can also push us further and further away. We exist in a world of duality with everything consisting of good and bad, and it is up to each and every one of us to find the right balance.