Monthly Archives: August 2011

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.