Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Growth Without Patience

We call it "building a fire."
One must create a fire slowly, first finding small twigs and pieces of paper. It takes time and attention, a little piece here, a little bit of oxygen there…adding larger and larger branches until the fire is roaring.
An easier method, one made for the impatient and short sighted is to add some lighter fluid. This quickly creates flames, but is more volatile and liable to explode.
One method requires patience and skill; the other, fueled by need and instant gratification, needs only the fluid and a squirt.
China has used the quick-lighting method of expansion and they are on the brink of an explosion. Their unprecedented economic growth- growth driven at all costs- is having serious implications on the people and the environment of China, as well as the rest of the world.
This spring, a World Bank study done with SEPA, the national environmental agency, concluded that outdoor air pollution was already causing 350,000 to 400,000 premature deaths a year. Indoor pollution contributed to the deaths of an additional 300,000 people, while 60,000 died from diarrhea, bladder and stomach cancer and other diseases that can be caused by water-borne pollution.
China’s environmental agency insisted that the health statistics be removed from the published version of the report, citing the possible impact on "social stability," World Bank officials said.

All growth- on an individual scale or country-wide should be done with some attention, using all available knowledge, and applying the previous experience and lessons of those who came before us.
Expansion for its sake alone, without any thought for conscious development or evolution, is bound to explode.
At the very least, it maintains the status quo.
It is the machine state at work with extreme power- without the Being in mind.
China is one huge machine- producing goods for the rest of the world- its leaders tout progress while the workers themselves are dying of cancer. The majority of people do not have clean drinking water and much of the rivers are not even clean enough for industrial use. The Communist party realizes there is a problem, but the mechanism is moving at a pace which seems too fast to stop, and it’s gaining momentum. The government is trying to keep the health statistics secret.
Most of the people now are just caught in the cogs, trying to eat and fulfill their basic human needs- but when enough people are dying from the pollution and its subsequent manifestations, people may have a moment of clarity in which they will see the machine apparatus. Then there will be unrest. And the machine will struggle against the necessary changes, changes that could ultimately help billions on the planet and countless others.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Early Decisions

The attempt to keep the machine rolling along, creating more unhappy, unconscious, sleepy humans. It is a seemingly innocent
proposition. Beginning this fall, students at Dwight Morrow High School in New Jersey will be asked to pick a major. With this
declaration, they will devote their academic time and elective classes to fulfilling the requirements of the major. School
administrators hope this will give the students a competitive edge in college admissions- because "college admissions officers have said over the years that they favor students with expertise in particular areas since it demonstrates commitment and passion." But this is not true passion, it is the image if it. Asking a 13 year old to decide on a career path, then forcing that student to complete the required classes in order to graduate, is not the mark of passion. It is basically making someone jump through the hoops of public education; something Universities have perfected.Whether or not it will prove useful to students is somewhat irrelevant. Most people are unhappy and unfulfilled in their
chosen career paths anyhow. Picking it earlier probably won’t affect the long term. The more subtle thread of this story is
the larger machine structure. The societal need to funnel people into specific categories and fields. Modern society needs cogs, it needs nurses and teachers and construction workers. There is not enough space for people to be living spontaneously, to be following their true desires or passions.In an unconscious attempt, school boards and government agencies target people at a younger age, putting them onto the black and white path of limited choices. Deeper than this is the real question: For who and what are we working for? Are jobs supposed to fulfill us-should they give us meaning? This is the another great illusion. We have sought meaning everywhere around us- job, family, religion…the main things we identify with…the things we can look at and say, "yes, that is me, that is what I love and believe in." These are not real, they are not who we are. Everything we look to as an identity is a lie, a construct of the machine to try and create a reality that makes sense.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Image of the Title

Please call me Chief Lydia, or if you prefer, Lydia who Brings the Moon to Daly City.
In Nigeria, I would be able to buy these titles, officially adding them to my name for the price of
$200,000 to $250,000, ultimately with the hope of renewed respect and esteem. It is a craze among the wealthy and Chiefdom has become common.
Financial manager Reginald Ibe, a chief of the Igbo people in the south-east, echoes this disquiet. "Chieftaincy titles have practically been bastardised these days," he says. "Everybody
wants to acquire one chieftaincy title or any other title. The number of honorary PhDs we have in this country is symptomatic of a people who have failed in so many aspects of life."
Originally, Chiefdom was not a title, it was a position earned through direct action. To be a chief was like becoming a small god- a man had proved himself worthy, by his actions.
Scarcity makes things special. Diamonds are considered precious, not just because of their beauty, but because of their rarity…for the time and labor required to dig them from the earth. It is not like picking up a piece of gravel, it requires patience and skill.
Likewise, the position of Chief was important, signifying to the people the man’s character. But many have become lazy, wanting the respect and prestige without earning the right for it. Money, it seems, is all that is required. In Nigeria and even here, in the US, $250,000 is an obscene amount of money to acquire a title, but this shows the eagerness for respect, the desire to standout from the general populace.
This is buying an image.
The image of a respectable man, the image of an intelligent, compassionate person.
These titles, now commonplace among those with bank accounts, have defiled ancient tradition, making the title no more important than a rotting banana.
The title is an afterthought. The position is earned through action and Being. The title without foundation is merely a distorted ghost reflection of what once was. Ultimately everyone can see that, even if it is not spoken.